Lava Cave Tours | Guide to Iceland

Lava Cave Tours
Hidden beneath Iceland's lava fields, incredible magma caves and tunnels exist. A tour of these fantastic volcanic formations is guaranteed to take your breath away.

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Caving in Iceland

Iceland has a truly unique and fascinating geological history which is very much still alive and evolving. This is perfectly exemplified by the fact that you can stand inside a dormant volcano. What better way to experience this raw dynamism than to delve that little deeper and explore the country's caves?

While travellers will want to prioritise seeing the sights on the South Coast and Golden Circle, including Gullfoss waterfall and Thingvellir National Park. However, exploring a lava tube in Iceland has to be among one of the most unique experiences you will have in your lifetime.

Given Iceland’s volcanic natural landscape there are many lava caves and lava tubes you can explore all over the country. However, be prepared to get your knees dirty and be sure to wear the helmet you will be provided with. 

One of the most epic adventures you could hope to take while travelling in Iceland is the descent into Þríhnúkagígur magma chamber. Situated in the Blue Mountains, this impressive dormant volcanic dome is truly remarkable and large enough to fit Iceland’s iconic Hallgrímskirkja church. 

Caving tours are tailored to the novice and the experienced, so even if you have never stepped foot in a cave, you can join day tours and be expertly guided through some of the most dramatic and enigmatic natural phenomena hiding beneath one of Iceland’s many lava fields.

Under normal circumstances, when a volcano ceases to be active, the magma chamber cools and solidifies. In this case, however, the magma drained away leaving this magnificent and rare feature behind.

You will not be able to resist the feeling of awe as you stand inside a brilliant geological structure as it creaks with the strain of its ancient journey.

 

Frequently asked questions

Is there natural light inside the caves?

Most lava caves will be pitch black as soon as you are away from the entrance, although some are fitted with light installations to help you navigate your way within the cave. 

Are there walking paths into the caves?

The caves Raufarholshellir and Vidgelmir both have walking paths, but most other lava caves do not.

How many caves are there in Iceland?

There are hundreds of known caves around Iceland, and likely thousands that remain undiscovered.

How do lava caves form?

Lava caves form when a river of lava cools from the outside, forming a rock-crust surrounding still flowing lava. When this lava has flushed out, all that is left is the tube that cooled around it. This tube is then discovered by experts in the field and once it is deemed safe, visitors are invited to explore.

Can I enter a cave by myself?

It is highly discouraged as it is extremely risky. You need helmets and lights, and it is very easy to get lost in certain cave systems. In addition, not knowing the caves very well could lead you into more unstable conditions which could cause you harm.

How many people will be in one caving group?

Most operators have a ratio of one guide to eight customers, though the number of guides/customers will vary depending on the tour provider.

What equipment do I need to go caving?

You will need a helmet, a torch, and crampons in winter. All of these will be provided for you.

Can I wear my sneakers?

Good hiking shoes are much better as they provide better grip and ankle support.

Are lava cave tours operational during Christmas time?

Some lava caves close for the winter, but many, such as cave Leiðarendi, are open throughout the year. Most operators provide services during Christmas.