How to visit the Geopark
Katla UNESCO Global Geopark is very accessible and the main road in Iceland, road 1 which is often called the Ringroad as well, goes through the Geopark. It is therefore easy to get to the Geopark, for example it takes about 2 hours to drive from Reykjavík to the western part of the Geopark. The road system within the Geopark is good as well, where road 1 is the main road and most other roads lead form it. The smaller roads will take you further around, into the highlands or down to the coast, but please keep in mind that many of them can be gravel roads.
The picture above showes the location of Katla Geopark within Iceland, the boundaries of the Geopark as well as the main roads there. For a more precise road map of the area within the geopark, it is best to see the Icelandic Road administration map here.
Along the information you can find on the Geopark’s webpage about traveling within the region, a google map where the main services are listed is accesible here, a useful tourist map is available here, each of the three municipalities that make up the Geopark also have webpages, Hvolsvöllur, Vík and Kirkjubæjarklaustur, and South of Iceland also has a webpage were you can access information for the entire region.
It is easy to travel through the Geopark and you can travel by car or by a bus. The bus service runs from Reykjavík and stops in the three villages of the Geopark and the harbour for the Westman Islands. You can also catch one of the several day tours leaving from Reykjavik that stop within the Geopark. Bus trips into Þórsmörk (Thorsmork) leave from both Reykjavik and the town of Hvolsvöllur (the N1 gas station car park). Below you can find more information on how to travel to and within the Geopark.
The bus service is an easy way to get to the area from Reykjavik and the bus stops in each one of the three towns in the Geopark. From there you can continue your travels, either by bus or other means. You can see the timetable for the bus that goeas through the Geopark here, and the bus that goes to Landeyjarhöfn harbour here.
For clarification, you can take bus nr. 51 to each of the three towns and you can take bus nr. 52 to the town of Hvolsvöllur and the harbour (Landeyjahöfn) to catch the ferry to the Westman Islands.
There are multiple bus companies that have day trips, or longer trips, to and through the Geopark. A quick google search will bring up some options.
Bus service to Þórsmörk:
There are a few bus providers to Þórsmörk, a google search will help you find one. You can also grab a bus from Hvolsvöllur N1 gas station car park.
Car rentals and other bus services:
There are multiple car rentals in Iceland, please see below what to keep in mind while driving through the Geopark.
The ferry to the Westman Islands:
You can book your ticket here: https://herjolfur.is/en/
If you are driving through the Geopark, here are several things to keep in mind:
Here you can find the top 12 tips for driving in Iceland and we recommend that you read them. We also would like to add a few things that are important when traveling through the Geopark:
- The weather can change very quickly, especially during wintertime, and roads can close with moments notice. It is best to follow the weather on www.en.vedur.is, the status of roads on www.road.is and weather and other warnings on https://safetravel.is/.
- Large parts of the Geopark are agricultural lands, with sheep farming being one of the main types of agriculture. You can therefore, especially on the side roads, expect to come across some sheep on or near the road. Their behaviour is often not predictable and can run across the road without warning. Please keep that in mind and be careful.
- Since large parts of the Geopark are agricultural lands, you can also expect to come across tractors on the main road. Their speed is limited and are often transporting heavy loads. Show them patience and understanding, they are often not driving very far so you won’t be stuck behind them for long.
- The area of the Geopark is rural area, where the distance between gas stations can be high. Please keep that in mind before you head off to the highlands for example, as there is limited change of refuelling your car once you turn of road 1.
- From middle of August to early September it is not unusual to find birds sitting on the roads. These birds are young Fulmars that have not reached the ocean yet and it is believed that they think that the roads are rivers (that would take them out to sea). The birds on the roads can of course lead the dangerous situations, especially on road 1, as people slam on the brakes or try to turn around them. We have no good advice what to do here, we just wanted to make you aware of this problem.
Make sure you have a safe journey and arrive prepared for your visit in Iceland by visiting the website Safe Travel Iceland, filled with important information!