Swim between two continents in Iceland

Silfra Erdriss in the Rift Valley of Thingvellir National Park | Photo by vvoennyy
Silfra Erdriss in the Rift Valley of Thingvellir National Park | Photo by vvoennyy

Swim between two continents in Iceland

by Elizabeth Jones
Stripes Europe

Iceland seems to be at the top of everyone’s list of places to visit with its record of epic things to experience. I have my very own bucket list specifically for Iceland that includes watching the magical hues of the Northern Lights in a glass-ceiling igloo, taking a dip and unwinding in the Blue Lagoon, feasting my eyes across the planet’s most mesmerizing geological features including active volcanoes, glaciers and waterfalls.

What else could the land of fire and ice offer to heighten my temptation of buying a spontaneous ticket? Not much I thought. That was until I stumbled across a video of people diving between the Silfra fissure. The Silfra fissure is the only place in the entire world where a person can swim between two continents - North America and Europe. If that doesn’t make every adventurous traveler’s heart skip a beat, I don’t know what will.

As if that fact alone wasn’t enough to wow me, the clarity of the water throughout the fissure is over 100 meters. The crystal clear water comes from the nearby Langjökull glacier and makes its way to the northern end of the Thingvellir Lake where it streams from underground wells into the fissure. Before pouring into Silfra, the water passes through permeable underground lava that filters it, making for some of the most transparent waters in the world.

There are multiple diving and snorkeling packages to tour the Silfra fissure that include all of the necessary gear. The diving tours require a diving certificate, so get your certification before you leave or take the snorkeling tour instead. Tours are open year round. In the summer, the green algae illuminate the landscape throughout the fissure. In the winter, snowflakes fall into the water giving a snow globe effect.

Although exploring the Silfra fissure can be done in any season, I’d recommend visiting when the Northern Lights are most visible in Iceland, which is between September and April.  The Lights can be seen throughout the whole year, but are most active in dark, clear skies especially throughout the winter months. The water in the fissure fluctuates between 35-39 degrees Fahrenheit year round - so you’ll be immersing in cold waters no matter what season it is, therefore going in the wintertime won’t make much of a difference in temperature.

Iceland is truly one of a kind, filled with grand adventures. I’m ready to knock out bucket-list-worthy experiences left and right in just one trip to Iceland. 

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