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  • Writer's pictureEinar Páll Svavarsson

Lake Kleifarvatn is the largest lake on the Reykjanes Peninsula in Iceland


A view to Kleyfarvatn lake
Lake Kleyfarvatn at Reykjanes Peninsula

Kleifarvatn, the biggest lake on the Reykjanes Peninsula and one of Iceland's largest, sits near the Mid-Atlantic Ridge fissure zone, not far from the Seltún geothermal area. Being raised in Keflavík, I have a good knowledge of the Reykjanes Peninsula. The entire peninsula served as an outdoor recreation area and camping ground, where I often participated in Boy Scout camps near Kleifarvatn Lake.


Kleyfarvatn placed on the map of Icealnd at Reykjanes
Kleyfarvatn placed on the map of Icealnd at Reykjanes

This lake is exceptionally deep, with a depth of 97 meters (318 feet) at its lowest point. Its most unique feature is the absence of visible surface drainage outlets, meaning no rivers run to or from it. The water level only changes with the groundwater. In 2000, an earthquake created a fissure at the bottom of the lake that soon began draining the water. It diminished by 20 percent, but soon, the fissure was refilled, and the lake returned to its previous levels.

Kleyfarvatn lake
Kleyfarvatn lake

The Kleifarvatn area is rapidly becoming a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts among tourists. A comfortable trail surrounds the lake, where you can enjoy the dramatic and ever-changing volcanic landscape. The lake itself attracts local anglers who like to fish for trout in a peaceful, colorful environment. The lake is also believed to be inhabited by a monster, a serpent-like creature the size of a large whale that has been spotted surfacing from time to time. Although I have traveled to and by Kleifarvatn Lake for many decades, I still have not seen the monster.

Sunrise at Kleifarvatn lake Reykjanes Peninsula
Sunrise at Kleifarvatn lake Reykjanes Peninsula

Kleifarvatn is usually visited on sightseeing tours of the Reykjanes Peninsula. Recently, scuba diving tours have begun in the lake. On these tours, divers can see the hot springs and feel the bubbles while exploring the world between two tectonic plates. The only other place where this is possible is Silfra Ravine. The water here is a lot clearer, with visibility of up to a hundred meters, but it has much less life than Kleifarvatn.

A good place for a selfie - Kleyfarvatn lake
A good place for a selfie - Kleyfarvatn lake

Sightseeing tours include an array of sights on the peninsula beside Kleifarvatn. These include the aforementioned geothermal areas, a ‘bridge between the continents’, the Reykjanes lighthouse, and the many fishing villages nestled in the lunar landscapes and recent volcanic craters. Sometimes active and erupting and somtimes dormant.


Kleifarvatn lake in winter
Kleifarvatn lake in winter

Kleifarvatn is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. The area invites exploration, whether through hiking along its shores, capturing its haunting beauty through photography, or engaging in birdwatching. Fishing aficionados can enjoy casting their lines for Arctic char and brown trout, making the lake a versatile destination for various interests. So, if you're looking for an unforgettable adventure, visiting Kleifarvatn is a must!


If you're planning to tour Iceland in a rental car, make sure to read this article about the type of car that would be best for your trip.




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