Kleifarvatn Lake – West Iceland

Home » Iceland Photo Locations » Landscapes and seascapes » Kleifarvatn Lake – West Iceland


On the south-west peninsula of Reykjanes lies a unique lake called Kleifarvatn. The odd-shaped lake is on the edge of the Krýsuvík  volcanic system.  Kleifarvatn is a fairly large lake by Icelandic standards. It used to be the deepest lake in Iceland until some large holes were discovered in Jökulsarlon. Kleifavatn is in an active volcanic zone on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Hence, the landscape changes every few hundred yards. You will see this if you follow the road on the American side. Kleifarvatn is unique because there are no rivers running in or out of Kleifarvatn. The lake is fed by underground lava tubes.


Super-Jeep Tours to Thorsmork


Kleifarvatn is just a short drive from Reykjavik and is a feasible detour on the way to or from the airport. The road is gravel and is usually fine for a regular car, but in the winter, the route can often be difficult or impossible.

There is an interesting hot spring area at the western end of the lake called Seltun. Here, you can have a semi-sauna in the steam coming from Queens Hole as you watch bubbling mud. Be careful, though this place has exploded a few times in recent history.

Just past Seltun is Grænavatn (Green lake) which is also worth a visit.

Lake Kleifarvatn in Winter.
Ice at Lake Kleifarvatn.

Photo Tips:

Kleifarvatn can be tricky to photograph. A lot of the landscape is ugly, with some grotesque shapes that make a regular composition difficult. Luckily there is a lot to explore mostly on the road side of the lake.

Winter is more interesting because the ice and snow break up the boring browns. The lake is affected by wind so it is common to have huge ice flows on one side of the lake.

When the lake level drops steam vents are revealed at the Southwest end of the lake. Continuing past this end of the lake takes you to Krisuvik and the Southern edge of the Reykjanes peninsular.

Allow plenty of time for exploring, any chance to stop the car safely, hop out and take a walk around looking for interesting shapes and colours in the foreground. These shots were all taken with 24mm.


Explore Caves

The lake side is littered with caves which can be interesting in Winter and can provide welcome shelter from the changeable weather. Here we have some Winter icicles on the left and the cover for on the right – by Hanna Birna Geirmundsdóttir (model: Vesna). This picture was shot from a cave on a rainy day.


If you time your trip right with some nice light, Kleifarvatn can be quite rewarding.

Kleifarvatn detour Iceland #Iceland photo tour

Travel tips:

Possible with regular car in good conditions. In Winter check access on Road.is

Kleifarvatn Night
Kleifarvatn Lake at Night.
Ice on Kliefarvatn Lake
Ice on the bans of Lake Kleifarvatn.


Golden Circle Tours
Photo bus day tours

The Golden Circle tour is a nicely paced, adventure filled, photo tour in South West Iceland. The tour visits Geysir, Gullfoss waterfall…


Multi-Day Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Summer night photo tours

Multi-day Iceland Tours with erupting geysers, waterfalls & sea cliffs & then stay in a fishing village waiting for auroras on…

South Iceland Multi-Day Tours
Iceland glacier lake

A multi-day tour of South Iceland will give you incredible photo opportunities. The South coast is rich with, glacier ice, towering waterfalls…