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Best Caves in Iceland

Caves are one of the most prominent features of the diverse landscape of Iceland. Not only do their geological formations draw visitors from across the world, but their links to Icelandic history and folklore mean they are deeply embedded in the culture of the country. Whether you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the Icelandic elves, or simply want to explore the depths of a lava tube, discover the caves you won’t want to miss when exploring Iceland. 


The fourth-longest lava tube in Iceland is just 30 minutes outside of Reykjavík. A visit to Raufarhólshellir will allow you to experience the inner workings of a volcanic eruption. It’s also been renovated recently and has won awards for the lighting that brings out the true character of the tunnel. This 5,200-year-old tunnel is accessible all year round which means it can easily fit your Icelandic itinerary, however, if you visit in winter, there is the addition of stunning ice sculptures that form just inside the entrance.

2. Leiðarendi 

If you’re exploring Reykjavík, Leiðarendi is only a 25-minute drive from the capital. Nestled in the Tvíbollahraun lava field, next to the Blue Mountains of Iceland, Leiðarendi is the epitome of an Icelandic lava tube. Formed by volcanic eruptions on the Reykjanes Peninsula, Leiðarendi is mesmerising. You’ll notice stalagmites and stalactites along the walls, as well as lava flakes that fall from the roof due to erosion. The scenery inside this lava tube is incredibly diverse and beautiful, but do not be tempted to visit without a professional guide. 

3. Surtshellir 

Named after the fire giant of Norse Mythology, Surtshellir is a lava cave in West Iceland. Based in the Hallmundarhraun lava field in Borgarfjordur, Surtshellir features prominently in Icelandic folklore and mythology. A visit to this Icelandic cave comes with the additional perk of being able to see Stefanshellir, the lava cave with which Surtshellir forms a complex. 

The Surtshellir Lava Cave which was formed by volcanic activity in Iceland.

4. Thrihnukagigur 

In the Blue Mountains of Southwest Iceland lies a crater called Þríhnúkagígur, which translates to “Three Peaks Crater”. If you venture inside, you’ll be able to witness what a volcano looks like from within. This 4,000-year-old volcano has been dormant throughout its history making it safe to explore. The magma chamber itself has a humongous opening and once you get to the bottom, the structure looks like a colourful citadel!

5. Lofthellir

If North Iceland is the focus of your trip, Lofthellir’s underground ice sculptures won’t disappoint. This lava cave near Lake Mývatn is 370 metres long. The tour of the hidden depths is quite demanding so make sure you’re in good shape before you commit. Like most popular caves in Iceland, it’s also accessible only with a guide.

6. Vatnshellir

The Snæfellsnes Peninsula in western Iceland is rightly called “Iceland in Miniature.” Of all the highlights of Iceland’s diverse landscape that can be found there, Vatnshellir Cave is among the most interesting. This 200-metre-long cave is extremely wide and features a spiral staircase that leads all the way down to its pit. Make sure to dress warmly for your hour-long guided tour as it will get chilly as you descend!

The interior of the Thrihnukagigur volcanic crater in Iceland.

7. Grjótagjá

If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you may be familiar with the steamy surroundings at Grjótagjá, a hot spring cave. According to old Icelanders, this cave was once home to infamous Icelandic trolls. Though the hot springs within the cave may look tempting, the high temperature of the water means it is not safe to bathe here, so please do not attempt to do so. 

Caves are among the most fascinating attractions in Iceland. From the colourful formations and light that illuminate the interiors of the caves, to getting a glimpse of a volcano’s inner workings, a visit to these wonders is a must for all potholers, spelunkers and explorers. Book your rental car and start exploring the best caves in Iceland. Once you’ve ticked off the best lava caves, why not make a start on the glistening ice caves?