Why is Snorkeling in Silfra Popular in Iceland

What is Silfra

Silfra is the only place in the world where you can snorkel between Earth’s tectonic plates (North American and Eurasian) – located in Thingvellir National Park.

Different Tectonic Plates under Iceland

Below Iceland’s surface, huge tectonic plates are constantly moving all year round, that are pushed by immense temperatures originating from Earth’s core. Iceland is located near the meeting point of two different tectonic plates, known as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which has resulted in a lot of volcanic activity in the area, hot springs, as well as the Silfra Fissure. This area is also referred as the Thingvellir tectonic plate area.

How Tectonic Plates shape our Earth

Tectonic Plates are everywhere around the world – there are total of 7 of them. Without tectonic plates, our earth would not look the same, and would probably be uninhabitable. The following are two examples of how tectonic plates impacted Iceland:


Tectonic plates are the main reason to why we have mountains. This happens when tectonic plates smash into each other.

Volcanoes in Iceland

Nowadays tectonic plates in Iceland are moving apart from each other – resulting in a long hole across the island. In fact, Fagradalsfjall volcano (Iceland’s newest volcano which erupted in March 2021) formed in the same way – the volcano is located where the tectonic plates meet. One day in March, tectonic plates in Geldingadalur area spilt up in two, and lava started coming out from the crater deep in earth. This formed the volcano.

What continent is Iceland located in

As we mentioned before, Iceland is located in the middle of two different tectonic plates. Therefore this means that Iceland is located on both continents. Reykjavik and the west side of Iceland sits on North American plate, while the east on Eurasian.

Why Snorkeling in Silfra so popular

Silfra snorkeling is an incredibly exciting and unique experience that you and your family will remember for years to come.

Near the rifts at Silfra, you can see how two continents meet up like mountains. While you’re snorkeling, you will reach a spot where continents are just 1 meter away from each other, making it possible for you to touch both the North American as well as the Eurasian continents at the same time. No other place in the world offers this opportunity, therefore very few people have ever done this.

If you’re joining any of the snorkelling tours in Silfra, a dry suit, a thermal undersuit, fins, and other equipment will be provided to you upon arrival. A thermal undersuit will keep you warm and insulated against the cold water, while the dry suit will keep the water away from entering you, which eventually keeps you dry and warm at all times – letting you focus on the beauty of the wondrous world below the water.

Once you reach the surface of the water, you will see an entirely different world than you are used to. The beautiful texture of the volcanic rock combined with the filtered clear blue water which comes from a glacier close by makes the water in Silfra one of the clearest waters in the world. The visibility underwater exceeds over 100 meters – therefore making Silfra one of the best places to see life under land.

Water in Silfra Fissure

The water is considered to be one of the cleanest waters in the world, due to the flirtation that happens through the pores of old lava fields underneath the ground.

Silfra is not part of the ocean. Where does the water come from?

The water comes from a Langjökull glacier about 60 km (37.2 mi) north. So the water in Silfra is basically melted parts of the glacier.

What is the water temperature in Silfra?

Water temperature in Silfra remains constant all year round – from 2°C to 4°C (35.6°F – 39.2°F). This is because the fissure is constantly filled with the melted glacial water (glaciers in Iceland do not stop melting during winter time).


Things to do in Thingvellir national park

There’s plenty of experiences to do when visiting this famous national park, from horseback riding to exploring waterfalls. Most of the things you can try out for free or at a low cost (if you have a car), while other places require you to have a guide or a tourist package. You can visit one of the prettiest churches in Iceland, hidden away in the national park, or you can go for a long hike to get fresh air and gorgeous vistas.

However during the last 10 years, Snorkeling in Silfra has been one of the most visited places in Iceland.

What if I don’t have a car?

There are no buses going to these places, as public transportation is in still very new to Iceland. However most of these places can be visited on most of the Golden Circle Day Tours.