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Snorkeling in Iceland – Silfra Fissure

Snorkeling in Silfra Fissure is an adventure you cannot miss in Iceland! The Thingvellir National Park UNESCO World Heritage Site is the only place in the world where you can swim between two tectonic plates in a rift filled with glacial melt-water. This easily accessible place with breath taking landscape and extreme underwater visibility must be on your bucket list! Are you ready to dive in the ice-cold Icelandic waters? Then read here what you need to know about a Silfra Fissure Snorkeling Tour!

Anett Szaszi - Snorkel Around The World

Written by Anett Szaszi

Anett is a certified scuba diver, freediver, and an expert in snorkeling with more than 10 years of experience. She fell in love with the ocean while snorkeling in the Red Sea on a vacation to Egypt back in 2008. Since then, she has been traveling to discover the world’s best snorkeling spots and sharing her experience and tips to inspire others. Find her photos on @anett.szaszi Instagram too!

Why you should go snorkeling in Iceland?

Iceland has an impressive landscape: volcanoes, fjords, glaciers, waterfalls and icebergs offer the world most impressive hiking routes for adventure seekers. You might not think about this beautiful country as a water-sport destination, but surprisingly, you can go diving and snorkeling in Iceland!

The island was formed by the movements of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. The two continents are drifting apart continuously, about 2 cm every year.

This movement causes tension between the plates that is released through earthquakes from time to time. When this happens, cracks, rifts and fissures are born.

The Silfra is one of the biggest rifts that was opened after a bigger earthquake in 1789 and flooded with glacier water turning it into a world-famous snorkel and dive site! Snorkeling here is absolutely unique; this is the only place where you can swim between two continents!

Silfra Fissure snorkeling tour info

A snorkel tour lasts about 30-45 minutes. After arriving to the fissure, you need to prepare yourself: dress up into your dry suit and put on your snorkel gear. Once you are ready, enter the water, make yourself comfortable and start ‘flying’ in the crystal clear water as the gentle current takes you forward.

Silfra fissure cold water snorkeling tour

On a Silfra fissure snorkeling tour you will explore the four different parts of the massive Silfra rift:

  • The Big Crack – this is the narrowest part of the area where the tectonic plates are the most closest to each other
  • Silfra Hall – a 8 meters (26 ft) wide and 14 meters (46 ft) deep open hall where the colors and the clarity are the most intensive
  • Silfra Cathedral –feel yourself like flying in a mystic cathedral with surrounded by caves, huge rocks and divers below you in the 23 m (75 ft) deep water
  • Silfra Lagoon – at the end of the tout you reach a shallower (5 m/16 ft deep) area, a perfect place to relax

Snorkeling in Iceland gives you the opportunity to enjoy beautiful nature above the water and underwater as well. Sometimes raise your head out of the water, and observe the untouched environment around you.

If you are wondering if there are fish in Silfra, the answer is yes! Good observers might spot tiny fish and some critters, but don’t expect big marine life. Here the underwater landscape and the extreme clarity are the main attractions beside the fact that you are snorkeling between two continents!

How to get to the Silfra Fissure?

The Silfra is situated in the Thingvellir National Park, at the rim of the Thingvellir Lake, only 45 kilometers (28 miles) from Reykjavík city. If you decide to go snorkeling, you have two options. The most comfortable way is signing up for a full day Silfra Fissure snorkeling tour with pick up from Reykjavik.

Alternatively, you can choose the self-drive solution and meet your guide in the park. If you drive to Silfra from Reykjavik, take the Route 1 towards Mosfellsbær then continue on Route 36 before it turns towards Mount Esja. Finally, change to Route 361 that leads to the car park. The Silfra parking is the P5 and lies about 5 minutes walking from the entry point. The parking costs 750 ISK per car.

How cold is the water in Silfra and why is it so clear?

The water temperature at Silfra is constant all year round, about 2-4 C (35- 39 F). This is one of the purest glacier water on the world providing divers and snorkelers extreme clarity.

The visibility is around 60-85 m (200-280 ft) in the summer, but can reach 80-100 m (260-330 ft) in the winter months making the Silfra one of the longest underwater visibility dive sites of the world!

The water comes from the Langjökull glacier and it takes about 30 years to go through the underground lava to reach the Silfra Fissure.

The lava works as a natural filtering system; this is the reason why the water is so clear here. Moreover, the groundwater is absolutely potable, so if you are on a Silfra Fissure snorkeling tour, feel free to drink from it!

Tip: did you know that you can swim in crystal clear freshwater in Austria too? Check out our snorkeling in the Traun river post for information!

Best time to go snorkeling in Iceland

Despite of the low temperatures, the water never freezes due to constant motion making Silfra Fissure snorkeling tours possible year round!

Ideally, schedule your visit for the summer months when the daylight periods are longer, the air temperature is pleasant and the nature is vibrant. Moreover, the underwater landscape is more magical thanks to the greens algae that grows in summer.

snow around you while you are snorkeling :)

Winter tours are also special when snow covers the landscape although it needs extra preparation due to lower temperatures and shorter days.

Between November and February only a few tours are available per day, so make sure to arrange a date/time in advance with your travel company and arrive in time!

What to Wear on a Silfra Fissure snorkeling tour?

The fact that the water temperature is just barely above freezing level requires proper snorkeling equipment. But don’t worry, the gear is usually included in the package.

Your guide will provide you with a dry suit, neoprene hoodies, shoes, gloves such as mask, snorkel and flippers. What you need to bring is warm undergarments (long-sleeved shirt and pants) and towels.

If you are a warm-water type snorkeler and are not comfortable using a dry suit, it might feel a bit awkward to swim in a thick suit. Take your time until you start feeling comfortable. Since your drysuit will be filled with air, you won’t be able to submerge, just enjoy flowing on the surface with the gentle current!

Tip: choose thermal or wool underwear that dries quickly. Avoid cotton that absorbs water! Your dry suit might leak slightly, so take extra clothes to change!

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