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Caving in Iceland - Explore Lava Tube Caves & Ice Caves

The underground treasures of Iceland's volcanoes

Extreme Iceland has the most comprehensive selection of caving tours in Iceland. We offer everything from scheduled day tours to private multi-day tours.

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A few notable caves in Iceland

Caving at Thingvellir National Park

Thingvellir is a rift valley formed by the continental drift between the North American and Eurasian Plates. The Thingvellir area has a high concentration of volcanic activity and newly formed lava fields are seen all over. There are a number of lava tube caves in these recently formed lava fields.

Cave Vorduhellir

Vorduhellir lava tube is around 1100 metres long and is the longest of all known lava tubes in the Thingvellir National Park.

Hiking through the lava tube is a fun experience but should not be considered an easy feat. In places you may have to get down on hands and knees and in lots of places you may have to duck your head, but most of the time you should be able to stand upright.

Most parts of the lava tube not been changed by any geologic events for nearly 9000 years, although some breakdown have occurred in parts of the lava tube. The ancient lava flow left behind some interesting formations and patterns that show clearly how the magma flowed freely through the tunnel and how it solidified over time, making these unique patterns. It is really easy to get lost in the Vorduhellir lava tube and people are advised to use the services of expert guides such as the guides of Extreme Iceland.

Cave Tvibotni - Two storied lava tube

Tvibotni is an astonishing lava tube in the Thingvellir National Park and it lies deep within this prominent lava field. The lava tube consists of a spacious chamber and there has been almost no breakdown.

The Tvibotni lava tube has a huge amount of beautiful lava formations. A part of the lava tube consists of a false floor, so there’s a second level. Caution should be taken whilst exploring the upper floor. This cave is larger than expected for a lava tube. When you enter the second half of the upper floor the area has a width of 10 metres and is 10 metres high from floor to ceiling.

The entrance is a gaping pitfall and people are advised to use a ladder to get in and out of the lava tube. Many people consider the Tvibotni lava tube to be one of the most beautiful lava tubes in the Thingvellir National Park.

Cave Gjabakkahellir

Gjabakkahellir is one of these lava tubes which was formed during an eruption about 9000 years ago. The tube is open in both directions, so it is easy to walk through it. Gjabakkahellir is 364 metres long. Gjabakkahellir has a lot to offer the explorer. The entrances are very close to the main road, during the winter time it offers magnificent ice sculptures. Those who are looking for beautiful lava formations will find Teat Stalactites, shelves and many other amazing formations in here.

Lava tube caves near the Blue Lagoon and Blafjoll Mountains

There are a number of lava tube caves in the lava fields in the vicinity of the Blue Lagoon on the Reykjanes peninsula.

Geirdal Lava Tube cave is well over 200 metres long. Geirdal is divided into narrow tunnels, which you have to crawl through, and spacious domes. Geirdal is positioned in Arnarsetur-lava field which covers about 22 square kilometre and which was formed in an eruption around the year 1230 A.C. The lava tube cave, Kubbur, is about 100 metres long and partially on two levels.  Kubbur is also on Arnarsetur-lava field.

Tvigigahellir cave it situated in Eldvarpa-lava field. Eldvarpa-lava field is around 19 square kilometres and was formed from an eruption in a great fissure about 2200 years ago. The path to Tvígígahellir cave is fun to tread and the scenery is astonishing. The Tvígígahellir cave has three openings to the ceiling, and actually joins two volcanic craters by a 15 metre long tube. When inside the cave it’s illustrative to see how volcanic craters are formed by eruption and it’s easy to see the journey of the once molten magma around the crater’s walls.

The main ski resort in south Iceland is located in the Blafjoll mountain range near the outskirts of Reykjavik and its neighboring towns.

This area is great for every kind of outdoor activity, hiking and exploring caves whether it is summer or winter. And the greatest fact of all, it’s only half to one hour drive away from Reykjavik. Just west of Blafjoll mountains lies Strompahraun lava field and within it an abundance of lava tubes are to be found. The largest of them and best known are Djupihellir, Langihellir, Tanngardshellir and Rotahellir.

• Cave Langihellir is around 660 metres long with several openings. The main chamber is over 300 metres long. In here we can see a plethora of lava formations that clearly show the flow of the lava and the solidified results of that flow.

• Cave Djúpihellir is around 260 metres in length and is a labyrinth of a lava tube. It has several entrances and skylights, there are two chimneys. Djupihellir is partially on 4 levels with spacious chambers on all sides.

On the top level are 2 main chambers with a narrow tunnel between them and from both chambers there are openings to the level below.

• Cave Tanngarðshellir is 160 metres long. It’s an interesting lava tube that is mostly free of breakdown and with amazing and peculiar lava formations of all sizes and colours. An ancient lava passage, unusual patterns on the floor, amazing colour variations and the row of teeth itself.

The English translation of the name Tanngardshellir is “Cave Dental Arch”.

• Cave Rótahellir is around 380 metres long and is quite deep below the hardened lava. Multitudes of roots hang from the ceiling of the lava tube. The longest of the roots have been measured at almost 2 metres in length. The cave gets its name from those roots.

Lesser known caves at Reykjanes Peninsula

Hvammahraun is the lava field that originated in the volcanic crater of Eldborg in Brennisteinsfjoll. It covers over 36 sq. km and it has passages to the lowlands in the south and in the west of the mountain.

The roadway to the south shows how great volumes of lava thrust themselves into the surging sea in the inlet of Herdisarvik. We’re able to see where it tumbled off 10.000 year old cliffs into the fizzing ocean. Great amounts of lava also streamed down two gorges known as Mosaskard and Natthagaskard. Uphill from here are 3 very interesting lava tube caves.

Located at Natthagaskard gorge at Reykjanes peninsula, as you get higher up, the scenery gets more beautiful and more terrific with each step. At the edge of the gorge there are 3 lava tube caves. Each lava tube has its own characteristics. Hallur Cave is the first lava tube and it’s around 200 meters long. Hallur’s main characteristic is that it leans downwards due to the fact it was the passage for the lava flow down the mountainside.

Annar í Adventu is another lava tube, 200 metres west of Hallur Cave, and its length is around 220 metres. It has two openings. The southern entrance opens up on the sheer mountain face and from there the scenery towards the sea is amazing, this happens to be an uncommon sight from Icelandic lava tubes. Natthagi Cave is the largest of those three caves, 400 metres long. Natthagi has 3 entrances or openings and they’re all skylights. Natthagi boasts of many beautiful lava formations and is among the more interesting lava tubes found in Iceland.

Floki Cave, near Hafnarfjordur, is one of Iceland's longest lava tubes. The eruption that created Tvibollahraun lava field was probably the first volcanic activity that occurred after the island was settled in the year 874 A.D.

A great number of caves are in the Tvibollahraun lava field, but the largest of them is the one named Floki. It only takes about a half an hour to drive from Reykjavik to a parking lot near the cave.  From the parking lot it takes you around 30 minutes to walk to the cave’s entrance.

The cave is 1096 metres long and it forks in several directions and can be difficult to navigate. Preparations should be made before entering the cave and people need to be well equipped with flashlights and lanterns. The length of the cave at 1096 metres makes it the 10th longest lava tube in Iceland.

There’s a lot of peculiar and amazing lava flow formations inside Floki lava tube. Some of them have unique forms and hues of colour. If you are open-minded enough and have a vivid imagination, you may be able to mark out “crocodiles” and “dinosaurs” in the unique lava flow formations that are all over the cave.

Brennisteinsfjöll Mountain Ridge - Sulphur Mountains

Brennisteinsfjoll is the synonym for extraordinary natural splendor just south of Reykjavik. This area is covered with hardened lava from 3 distinctive volcanoes nearby. Due to the geography of the area not many have researched it or traveled.

The lava flow from Eldborg Crater, in Brennisteinsfjöll Mountains, flowed through a rift. This is now called Hvammahraun lava field. In that lava field there is a lava tube named Ferlir. Ferlir Cave is well over 500 metres long and is a real labyrinth with magnificent lava formations, glassed walls and vivid colours due to sulfide minerals and oxidation.

Northeast of Eldborg Crater lies the lava field of Kistuhraun which was created from a fissure in the volcano Kista around the year 1000 A.C. Near the volcano Kista there are many lava tubes hidden in its hardened lava field.

Kistufellshraun lava field is the northernmost of the three lava fields in this area and it came from the crater Kistufell around 4000 years ago. The crater is about 400 metres in diameter and in ancient times 3 lava streams flowed from it in different directions. One of the passages is particularly magnificent due to the extreme scale of the forces of nature. The passage has several huge lava tubes, but in many places the ceilings have collapsed.

Lava Tube Caves at Snaefellsnes Peninsula

In Hnappadalur valley in the eastern part of the Snaefellsnes peninsula there was an eruption early in historic times which created the crater Gullborg and the lava field Gullborgarhraun which covers around 15 sq. kilometres.

The magma flowed in several very large subterranean passages, which later on were transformed into lava tube caves.

The volcano known as Gullborg is a magnificent crater that’s well worth taking a look at. Ramparts of hardened lava and small passages atop the hardened lava show clearly how the molten magma once flowed.

Gullborgarhellir lava tube cave is the longest of all the lava tubes in this lava field. The lava tube extends from a pitfall not far from the crater itself.

The length of the cave is estimated to be around 670 metres. Through the first 170 metres, we walk on a tongue of hardened lava, which probably flowed into the cave in the latter part of the eruption. The tongue is rather rugged under foot but once you are over this there is a flat cave floor all the way down to the end of the lava tube. The lava tube's ceiling has not collapsed to any extent. It is rather big and has some unusual lava formations.  This is a fun lava tube to explore. At about 260 metres into the lava tube, the cave forks in two directions which then join again further on in the lava tube. Each tunnel is almost as wide as the main tube itself.

The innermost section of the lava tube is off-limits due to fragile lava formations and is cut off by a sturdy chain. In front of the chain you are able to view those fragile lava formations but you must not cross over the chain.

Vegghellir lava tube cave is the second longest of the lava tubes in the Gullborg lava field. It’s around 320 metres long. It runs parallel to the Gullborg lava tube and they are not far apart.

Inside the lava tube, there are 2 cylindrical chambers, each around 7 metres wide and 10-12 metres high. Each chamber has big shelves that run along the walls and they clearly show how the lava tide flowed during most of its existence. Not far from the bottom of the cave lies a chimney, 13 metres long that runs all the way to the surface. A certain magnitude of molten magma must have flown through that chimney in earlier times. The Vegghellir lava tube’s name is derived from a wall that is around 74 metres into the lava tube. The wall was laid with rubble and breakdown from the floor of the lava tube and it’s around 4.5 metres wide. The wall is also almost as tall as a man and extends almost to the roof of the lava tube.

No other man-made remains can be found in the lava tube and it’s thought that the wall was built by convicted outlaws that took cover in the cave around the year 1222. The outlaws were able to defend  themselves from behind the wall if they were attacked, however,  they were still captured when they wandered away from the lava tube while they were going for a bath in a nearby geothermal pool! The lava tube is mentioned in the Icelandic Sagas (The Sturlunga Saga) but was lost to modern man until the year 1957 when it was rediscovered. The lava tube, the viking wall from 1222 and the chimney in the bottom of the cave are all sights worth visiting.

The geothermal pool that the outlaw vikings were going to, to get a bath when they were captured is in the neighborhood of the lava tube and it nice to take a dip in it after an exhausting cave trip. Hnappadalur valley also boasts from having a mineral well that has the most volume of water in Iceland, the well is named Raudamelsolkelda.

Hallmundarhraun lava field in West Iceland

Hallmundarhraun lava field was formed in giant eruption close to the Langjokull glacier around the year 930. Therefore it is likely that the first settlers in the Borgarfjordur area, the Vikings watched the molten lava flow when these giant lava caves were formed. The Hallmundarhraun lava field covers over 242 sq. kilometres. It consists of several large tubes, and some of them are Iceland’s longest and deepest lava tubes.

Hraunfossar (e. The Lava Falls), come from underneath the Hallmundarhraun lava field and cascade down the lava rocks. 

Cave Surtshellir

Surtshellir is the largest and best known of all caves in Iceland. Much has been written about Surtshellir and it is told that in earlier centuries a band of outlaws resided in the lava tube.

From there they raided the countryside and stole livestock from neighboring farms. They fortified the cave and made the authorities’ task in finding and apprehending them more difficult. Today, 1000 years later, the remains of their settlement in the lava tube can still easily be seen.

Surtshellir lava tube is almost 2 kilometres long or 1970 metres. It has 5 skylights, all rather large except for one. The main part of the lava tube is almost 9 metres in height, although in the bottom part of the tube the ceiling is much lower. It will take a whole day to explore every corner of the cave, but if you’re willing to just see the main parts of this famous lava tube, the tour will only take around 2-3 hours.

Stefanshellir lava tube lies not far from Surtshellir. The main entrance to the cave is about 300 metres from Surtshellir’s northernmost skylight. Only about 30 metres divide the lava tubes from being joined into a single lava tube, so it’s really easy to consider them a single lava tube.

Cave Stefanshellir

Stefanshellir lava tube is 1520 meters long and if we add that to the length of Surtshellir lava tube they combine to give 3500 meters of great lava tubes.

The lava tube itself has very little breakdown and fairly smooth floor, so it’s easy to walk around the tube. The main entrance of the tube is a pitfall and can not be seen from far away. The lava tube forks in every imaginable direction and it’s really easy for those who don’t know the tube that well to get lost in the myriad of passageways.

The flat, dark, glacial sands seem to go on forever. Yet suddenly, the majestic Mælifell appears to rise up out of ground before us. Standing almost 200 meters (660 feet) above the surrounding plains, the view from the top will live with you forever. The mountain was formed during a series of eruptions under the huge glacier that covered this region during the last Ice Age. The short, steep climb is of course optional and weather dependent. Yet, just to be in this amazing location is truly a special privilege never to be forgotten.

Cave Vidgelmir

Vidgelmir lava tube is the farthest away of the three lava tubes in Hallmundarhraun lava field. It takes about a half an hour to drive from Surtshellir lava tube to Vidgelmir lava tube. Vidgelmir is around 33 kilometres from the main crater and about 5 kilometres from Surtshellir lava tube. Vidgelmir lava tube is 1585 metres long, the highest point inside the tube is 15,8 metres and at its widest it is 16,5 metres in width.

The tubes volume is well over 150,000 cubic metres. It is clear, with those measurements in mind, that Vidgelmir lava tube is the largest of all lava tubes in Iceland. The pitfall which also doubles as an entrance is huge, 75 metres long and 15 metres wide and it is also very deep.

The cave starts with a narrow tunnel which leads into the main chamber and from there all the way into the bottom of the tube. This cave is huge and there is so much to see. It’s easy to see why Vidgelmir lava tube is considered one of Iceland’s most precious gems.

Tvibollahraun Lava Field

In the lava field Tvibollahraun, only 30 minutes drive from Reykjavik, you can discover a large number of beautiful and exciting lava caves. You are able to take a stroll through the lava field, enjoying both the scenery of the capital and also the lichen entombed lava formations of this ancient lava field.

Spenastofuhellir lava tube is around 200 metres long and it has some fantastic lava flow formations such as stalactites. Volundarhusid Cave (e. The Labyrinth) is only 100 metres south of Spenastofuhellir lava tube. Volundarhusid lava tube is also 200 metres long and has 6 entrances and it forks in every imaginable way just like a labyrinth. It is a colourful lava tube with great lava formations that are very pleasing to the eye.

Nyrdri-Lautarhellir lava tube is nearly 200 metres away from Volundarhúsid. It has 4 entrances and is partially collapsed. Parts of it are high enough for you to stand up without having to duck your head. There is a narrow tunnel in the southern part of the tube that leads to a chimney, which you can climb up. The lava tube is in total around 150 metres long. Sydri-Lautarhellir lava tube is around 170 metres long, in most places it is high enough for you to stand but if you want to see it all, you will sometimes have to crawl around. The lava tube offers some interesting lava formations.

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