Iceland is one of the most unique places in the world because you can snorkel between two continental tectonic plates. But this is not the only thing that is unique about this country. It is also home to the Bridge Between Continents. True to its name, when you visit the Reykjanes Peninsula, you can walk from Europe to North America.
If you like to seek out unique attractions, then this is definitely something you should add to your travel bucket list.
What is the Bridge between Continents?
The Bridge between Continents (also known as Midline) is a 15-meter footbridge that is located in the Reykjanes Peninsula. This bridge lets you cross a gaping rift that exists between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.
The island of Iceland spans the two tectonic plates, and the line that separates the two is called the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. This line runs from the northern to the southern end of the country’s western region. There is a section on this ridge that lets you walk over this line of separation, and it is one of the most sought after destinations in the Reykjanes Peninsula.
These tectonic plates continue to move, and they drift apart by a few centimeters every year. Therefore, the gaping rift is still drifting, and the tectonic activity is still very much alive. This activity results in the appearance of linear fractures (or fissures) that form as a result of the tension buildup on these plates’ movements.
The Bridge between Continents is a small footbridge that was built over one of the major fissures. It was constructed as a symbol of the link between Europe and North America. You can cross this bridge and then claim your certificate from the Reykjanes Information Center. This certificate will serve as proof that you walked across the bridge from Europe to North America (or at least above the continental tectonic plates).
This is definitely an experience that tourists seek out. There are not too many people in the world that can claim they were able to do the same!
How to Get There
If you want to try this once-in-a-lifetime experience while in Iceland, you need to first get to Reykjanes Peninsula. The peninsula is located approximately an hour drive away from Reykjavik. Take the road off route 425.
The bridge itself is located at the easternmost portion of Reykjanes Peninsula. You can find it along road 420. This is a roadside attraction, so it is easy to find. Plus, there are also many tours that operate in the area. They are your best option if you want to see this unique attraction without the hassle of driving there.
For those who are driving to get there, you must follow a paved path from the car parking area until you find the bridge. On your way to the bridge, you will find signs that depict information about the continental drift theory to provide insight about the tectonic plates beneath the bridge.
Once you cross the bridge, you will also notice a sign that says “Welcome to Europe” on one side, and “Welcome to America” on the other.
What to See at the Bridge Between Continents
Iceland is the only place in the world where the tectonic plates of two continents are visible from the ground. Hence, tourists who visit Iceland should not miss out on the chance to see it up close. The Bridge between Continents was built as a symbol of this connection between Europe and North America, making it a remarkable geotourism attraction.
To make the most of your visit, here are a few things that you need to know:
- The tectonic plates that the bridge is built over are estimated to move at a rate of 2.5 centimeters per year. This activity mostly happens beneath the ocean floor. However, the movement will become evident after hundreds or thousands of years from now.
- The bridge is open for visitors at no cost. Therefore, you won’t need to spend a dime in order to see this unique attraction, giving tourists more reasons to want to visit it. There is also no parking fee at the site.
- This is a year-round attraction. You can visit it anytime you visit Iceland.
- The best time to visit the bridge is during the daytime. That way, you can truly appreciate the awe-inspiring sight of the tectonic plates. You can also explore the area under the bridge. If you want a more expansive view, you may want to walk up the rocks.
- Before it was named Bridge between Continents, it was known as the Leif the Lucky Bridge. It was named after the famous explorer Leif Ericson who was the first Icelandic man to visit North America, more than 1,000 years ago.
- When you visit the bridge, feel free to explore the area around it. On the North American side, there are rock formations you can climb on.
- The terrain near the bridge is filled with volcanic ash. The wind blows the volcanic ash over the surface of the land. The presence of the lava fields is a stark reminder of the geothermal activity in Iceland. While the landscape in the area appears to be desolate at first, you will actually find a wide range of living plants such as grasses, wildflowers, and mosses.
- It is recommended that you walk under the bridge. There is a path that you can follow to get there. This gives you the opportunity to closely examine the unique geology of the continental walls.
- When you visit the bridge, please note that pets are not allowed. It can also be very crowded during peak seasons. Make sure you plan your visit properly so you can make the most of the experience.
Iceland is always full of surprises. Whether you want to be in awe of otherworldly landscapes or you want to see something unique, it won’t disappoint. The Bridge between Continents is definitely a must-visit when you are in Reykjanes Peninsula. But even if you are staying in Reykjavik, it is worth driving to in order to witness this one-of-a-kind natural phenomenon.