• Einar Páll Svavarsson

10 most interesting, impressive and fascinating basalt column attractions in Iceland


Stuðlagil basalt column canyon in 2016 before bcoming a tourist attraction
Stuðlagil basalt column canyon in 2016 before bcoming a tourist attraction

Iceland is truly a geological wonderland. For geologists, the island is a significant source of research offering a rich variety of places to study than most places on the planet. Some of the geological wonders are also one of our most popular tourist attractions, like basalt column stacks and all kinds of basalt column formations. Although this beautiful structure, originating from basalt lava, is found in many places in the world, Iceland is probably the best place to find many beautiful basalt columns. At least where the distance between them is relatively short. The basalt column is a magnificent rock formation that has inspired many artists and designers and has sometimes been elevated to a divine level as was the case with our famous church Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavík.


Basalt column places that you will enjoy

Litlanesfoss waterfall basalt columns
Litlanesfoss waterfall basalt columns

When choosing from the many basalt column places in Iceland, we only had two main premises. On the one hand, the place had to be a joy to visit and on the other, relatively easy to access. Of the 10 places, we choose at least four to five that are among the most visited tourist attractions in Iceland. Places that people love to visit and photograph. But all the ten we chose are truly places that we can label as stunning natural wonders and places you will not regret visiting.


1. Stuðlagil canyon in Jökuldalur

Stuðlagil Canyon when I visited the canyon with my daughter Halla in 2016
Stuðlagil when I visited the canyon with my daughter Halla in 2016

The newly discovered Stuðlagil with its fascinating story at Jökuldalur valley in the Northeastern Region of Iceland is probably one of the most beautiful basalt column attractions on the planet. As I have discussed in another article about Stuðlagil I am the person who discovered this unique place and put it on the map. In 2016, I discovered Stuðlagil and turned it into one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland with my writing and photography. The cathedral-like cliff formation around the turquoise blue river is breathtaking. When you are down in the canyon, it feels like one of the otherworldly places or another dimension. The many forms of the basalt column are simply unique and a feast for photographers and those who enjoy the spectacular handwork of mother nature.


For more information about Stuðlagil and its location on the map of Iceland click Stuðlagil

2. Gerðuberg

Gerðuberg basalt columns
Gerðuberg basalt columns

Gerðuberg at Snæfellsnes Peninsula is an almost unbelievably regular cliff composed of hundreds of stacks of basalt columns. From the road, it looks like any other cliff in the landscape, but once you approach, the beauty of this natural wonder opens up. You can observe the stacks from below and above and it does not require steep climbing. Like any basalt column attraction, there are many interesting photo opportunities and the best photo taken by Gerðuberg is yet to be submitted to the internet.


For more information about Gerðuberg and its location on the map of Iceland click Gerðuberg

3. Reynisfjara

Reynisfjara basalt columns
Reynisfjara basalt columns

Throughout the years before Iceland became a favorite destination for tourists, Reynisfjara was never a big attraction when almost only Icelanders traveled the country during summer. We can even say that Reynisfjara was invented as one of the major tourist attractions in Iceland by our visitors, the tourists. And not without reason, one of the most interesting parts of Reynisfjara is the basalt column cliff by the black beach not far from the sea stacks of Reynisdrangar. There are probably thousands of photos floating on the internet taken of people climbing the basalt column in Reynisfjara.


For more information about Reynisfjara and its location on the map of Iceland click Reynisfjara

4. Hljóðaklettar


Hljóðaklettar basalt columns
Hljóðaklettar basalt columns

Like Stuðlagil in Jökuldalur, Hljóðaklettar or Echo Cliffs is more like a wonderland constructed by patient people dedicated to minute detail rather than by the hand of mother nature. Or it might be the place where she worked on her art skills. On arrival, you are tempted to think that this is a bit weird. The many rock formations and patterns are almost deceiving and can easily fuel your imagination. In a place like this, you can easily understand why Icelanders were so interested in the stories of elves and small people living on cliffs as most of our many folklores reveal.


For more information about Hljóðaklettar and its location on the map of Iceland click Hljóðaklettar

5. Kálfshamarsvík

Kálfshamarsvík basalt column stacks
Kálfshamarsvík basalt column stacks

Another great basalt column formation by the seashore, just like Reynisfjara, but very different. Kálfshamarsvík is a small bay on the Vatnsnes Peninsula in the Northern Region of Iceland. When you approach, it seems like just another flat bay by the shore, but as you come closer, the magic is revealed. The many rock formations, including the many basalt column formations, makes Kálfshamarsvík one of the most interesting attractions in Iceland and surely one of the most interesting basalt column attractions on our little island.


For more information about Kálfshamarsvík and its location on the map of Iceland click Kálfshamarsvík

6. Dverghamrar

Dverghamrar basalt columns
Dverghamrar basalt columns

The Dwarfs Steep Cliff or Dverghamrar is one of the wonderful gems in the Southern Region in Iceland just by the Ring Road. It is a perfect place to watch basalt columns without much effort if you are on a family tour and driving your own car on the Ring Road. This is also a good place to stop for a picnic and relax as it is surrounded by wonderful landscape. But as the name implies the basalt columns are quite small, and caution is needed as you might be surrounded by small people and elves. They are not particularly keen on having traffic of people by their homes.


For more information about Dverghamrar and its location on the map of Iceland click Dverghamrar

7. Svartifoss

Svartifoss waterfall basalt columns
Svartifoss waterfall basalt columns

When you have two magnificent natural wonders combined into one, like a basalt column cliff and a waterfall you most definitely have a winner. This combination of mother nature is so irresistible that you easily are hypnotized when placed in front of it. Svartifoss is relatively a small waterfall in a small spring-fed river, but when falling over the basalt column in this quiet place, it just fills your heart with enormous joy. It is one of those places that is so relaxing that it seems to lower blood pressure and could possibly replace tranquillizers. The basalt column cliff is beautiful and would be worth visiting even without the waterfall.


For more information about Svartifoss and its location on the map of Iceland click Svartifoss


8. Arnarstapi - Hellnar in Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Arnarstapi basalt columns by the shoreline
Arnarstapi basalt columns by the shoreline

There are many reasons to walk the hiking path from the small hamlet Arnarstapi, in the Snæfellsnes peninsula, to the tiny hamlet Hellnar. One is to view the many basalt column formations by the seashore. On this somewhat easy walk, there are many formations, and most of them are cliffs packed with birds, especially in spring and early summer. It is a very lively and enjoyable walk for everyone, and one of the attractions is the many basalt column formations.


For more information about Arnarstapi - Hellnar and its location on the map of Iceland click Arnarstapi – Hellnar

9. Stuðlafoss

Stuðlafoss basalt columns
Stuðlafoss basalt columns

The newly discovered Stuðlagil canyon in the Jökuldalur Valley drew more attention to the Stuðlafoss waterfall and the basalt columns cliffs. The waterfall is in many ways similar to Svaritfoss although the stacks are reversed. It is also a combination of a small waterfall and a small cliff of basalt column formation.


For more information about Stuðlafoss and its location on the map of Iceland click Stuðlafoss

10. Aldeyjarfoss

Aldeyjarfoss basalt columns
Aldeyjarfoss basalt columns

In contrast to Svartifoss waterfall and Stuðlafoss waterfall, Aldeyjarfoss is fed by a mighty glacial river. The river falls from a cliff, which is a major artwork of basalt columns. It is a waterfall viewed by many as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland although it did not make it to our list of 10 most impressive waterfalls. The basalt column surrounding the waterfall is one of the most impressive ones in Iceland.


For more information about Aldeyjarfoss and its location on the map of Iceland click Aldeyjarfoss
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