Regína inside  Loftsalahellir cave South-Iceland

A Local's Favourite Caves in Iceland

Raufarhólshellir cave South Iceland

In the past few years, I have taken up a new interest - visiting the caves of Iceland. And I have discovered the most colourful lava tubes in different parts of my country, and extraordinarily beautiful ice caves, which envelop you in all shades of blue colours.

In this travel-blog, I want to show you my favourite caves, which I have visited on my travels in my country. Along with many other interesting caves in Iceland.

Top photo: Raufarhólshellir lava cave

1. Víðgelmir - the largest lava caveVíðgelmir - the largest lava cave in Iceland

Víðgelmir lava cave

Among the largest lava caves in Iceland is the huge Víðgelmir in Hallmundarhraun lava field in West-Iceland. It is simply referred to as The Cave.

Víðgelmir lava cave has been made easily accessible and guided tours are available into this very colourful lava cave - or lava tube.

It is extraordinary really to be able to visit these lava tubes imagining the utter forces of nature which created them.

Víðgelmir lava cave IcelandVíðgelmir lava cave

Víðgelmir is 1,585 km long, 16.5 metres at its widest and the highest point of the lava tube is 15.8 metres!

Víðgelmir is not only among the largest lava caves in Iceland, but it is also one of the largest in the whole world in cubic measure, 150,000 cubic metres!

This huge cave is located in the Hallmundarhraun lava field, which got created during the Viking age in Iceland some 1100 years ago. And Viking age pearls and animal bones have been found in the cave!

Regína in Víðgelmir lava cave

Víðgelmir lava cave

These lava tubes were formed when lava from volcanic eruptions created a forceful river of lava. The lava on the surface began to cool down and created a crust above the lava river.

After the eruption stopped an empty lava tube was left behind filled with beautiful colours and lava formations. And that is what makes a visit to these lava tubes so popular.

Víðgelmir contains myriads of stalagmites, stalactites and beautiful icicles and the walls are decorated with beautiful lava in a wide range of colours.

Víðgelmir lava cave

Víðgelmir lava cave

I chose this tour Víðgelmir Cave Explorer, which is a 1.5-hour tour.

There is also a combined Into the Glacier and Into the Cave tour.

You can read much more in my travel-blog and see many photos of this beautiful cave:

The Extraordinary Lava Formations and Colours in Víðgelmir Lava Cave in West Iceland and find out how it became to be haunted.

2. Raufarhólshellir - The Lava TunnelRaufarhólshellir - The Lava Tunnel

Photo from the guided tour of the Lava Tunnel Raufarhólshellir

The colourful Raufarhólshellir lava cave - the Lava Tunnel - is Iceland's 4th largest lava cave. In June 2017 it was made easily accessible with stairs and footbridges and guided tours are now offered into the cave. 

Raufarhólshellir is 1,360 m long, 10 m tall at its tallest and some 10-30 m wide. The roof has got a couple of openings, through which snow piles up making this cave look very characteristic.

Raufarhólshellir - The Lava Tunnel

Raufarhólshellir - The Lava Tunnel

Raufarhólshellir is extraordinarily colourful as you can see in my photos and the ice in some places makes the lava colours iridescent and sparkling, which is ever so pretty and makes for such beautiful photos :)

A scene from the Hollywood blockbuster Noah was filmed in this lava cave, where the Cave of Noah is - Raufarhólshellir!

Raufarhólshellir - The Lava Tunnel

Raufarhólshellir - The Lava Tunnel

I am glad that it was made more accessible as even though I had visited this cave on several occasions I had never been able to enjoy its extraordinary beauty of it to such an extent before as it was very rocky.

Guided tours depart into the cave from 09:00 until 17:00 every hour on the hour. I have joined the standard tour, but there is an extreme 3-hour tour where the guides take you to the end of the tunnel where much more beautiful lava formations and colours can be seen.Raufarhólshellir - The Lava Tunnel

Raufarhólshellir - The Lava Tunnel

Read more and see many more photos in my travel-blog:

The Lava Tunnel: the Extraordinary Raufarhólshellir Lava Cave in South Iceland, where you will also see that the lava cave has a secret.

3. Vatnshellir - Into the UnderworldVatnshellir - Into the Underworld Snæfellsnes

Vatnshellir - Into the Underworld is very colourful

Vatnshellir - Into the Underworld is a very special lava tube on the Snæfellsnes peninsula in West Iceland, right below the mystical Snæfellsjökull glacier. The guided tour will take you some 200 metres into the lava tube which reaches 35 metres into the ground!

Vatnshellir cave is located in the Purkhólahraun lava field, in which there seem to be loads of lava caves, 4 of which belong to Vatnshellir cave. Seeing that they are so deep in the ground spiral staircases have been fitted to make it easier to visit these beautiful caves.

Vatnshellir - Into the Underworld Snæfellsnes

The stairs leading into Vatnshellir lava cave

Vatnshellir means the Water cave and it got its name from the fact that water for the cows at nearby Malarrif was fetched in these caves.

The collective name of the caves is Undirheimar or the Nether Regions, but the individual names are VatnshellirBárðarstofaVættargangur and Iður. 

You can join guided tours into Vatnshellir cave all year round; 3 tours per day in the wintertime and 9 tours per day on the hour in the summertime from 10:00-18:00. The duration of the tour is 50 minutes.

Vatnshellir - Into the Underworld Snæfellsnes

Vatnshellir is so pretty and colourful

Read more in my travel-blog:

The Colourful Vatnshellir Lava Cave on Snæfellsnes in West-Iceland & its Beautiful Lava Formations

4. Lofthellir - The Largest Ice SculpturesLofthellir lava cave at Mývatn

Lofthellir lava cave at Mývatn - amazing ice sculptures

Lofthellir cave up north in Mývatn is a magical lava cave - deep inside it, you will see the largest ice sculptures yet discovered in any cave in Iceland!

To see these ice sculptures you will have to crawl on your stomach through a narrow opening and swing on a rope on ice - it is both scary and fun and so worth it :)

Lofthellir, which is 3,500 years old is 370 meters long with a height of some 10-15 in the main chamber and on a 70 metres long part the width of the ice floor is some 15 metres! So after crawling and swinging, we were rewarded with a beautiful lava chamber.

Lofthellir lava cave at Mývatn

Sliding on ice inside Lofthellir lava cave at Mývatn

I have written a travel-blog about my visit to Lofthellir:

The Extraordinary Ice Sculptures in Lofthellir Cave in Mývatn North-Iceland where you can see many more photos inside and outside the cave.

5. Ice Caves in IcelandInside an ice cave in Iceland

Inside an ice cave in Iceland

I am not only a fan of the lava caves in Iceland, but I am also crazy about the ice caves as well.

Visiting ice caves has become increasingly popular in the wintertime in Iceland and I have visited 2 beautiful ice caves myself. The crystal ice cave in Vatnajökull glacier took my breath away. 

Regína Inside an ice cave in Iceland

Inside an ice cave in Iceland

The ice caves vary from year to year, but the ice cave I visited was huge and had all the shades of the colour blue as you can see in my photos.

During our visit we were totally emerged in the most bright sapphire and aquamarine colours, giving us an out-of-this-world experience.

In 2021 the ice cave we had visited had collapsed and a new one had formed. It is called the Sapphire ice cave.

Regína inside the Sapphire ice cave

Inside the Sapphire ice cave in 2021

The other ice cave I visited was a beautiful aquamarine ice cave in Fláajökull glacier (see my photo below).

If you want to visit an ice cave then you can join the ice cave tour, which takes you into an ice cave in Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, which is an outlet of Vatnajökull glacier, Iceland's largest glacier.

A Local's Favourite Caves in Iceland

Inside Fláajökull ice cave

Ice caves can only be entered with a trained glacier guide, who knows the conditions of these caves.

These seasonal ice caves can be visited in the wintertime only, but Katla Ice Cave can be visited all year round. 

In 2021 we also visited the Black Diamond ice cave which is very beautiful.

The Black diamond ice cave in South-Iceland

The Black Diamond ice cave

Read more in my travel-blogs about the ice caves:

A  beautiful Crystal Ice Cave in Vatnajökull Glacier in South-Iceland and

Amazing Aquamarine Ice Caves in Fláajökull

Katla ice caveInside the Katla ice cave South-Iceland

Inside the Katla ice cave

The Katla ice cave is breathtaking, darker than the ice caves I visited earlier, as there is black ash from volcanic eruptions pressed between layers of the glacier.

This ash came from Katla itself, the most dreaded subglacial volcano in Iceland. 

The Katla ice cave is located in Kötlujökull, a glacier tongue from Mýrdalsjökull glacier, Iceland's fourth-largest glacierRegína Inside the Katla ice cave

Inside Katla ice cave with the guide

The departure for the Katla ice cave is from Vík, which is closer to Reykjavík than the other ice caves, some 187 km compared to 372 km to Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon.

You can also choose departure from Reykjavík for the Katla ice cave.

I revisited the Katla ice cave in 2021 and it was now in another location. The ice caves collapse and new ones are discovered, so the experience is never the same.

Regína by Katla ice cave in South-Iceland

Visiting Katla ice cave in 2021

Here you can see all the tours of the Katla ice cave.

Here is my travel-blog about the Katla ice-cave: The spectacular Katla Ice Cave in South Iceland is open all Year round

Langjökull ice cave with Mountaineers of IcelandRegína inside Langjökull ice cave Iceland

Inside Langjökull ice cave

There are 2 man-made ice caves in Langjökull glacier, Iceland's second-largest glacier: the Ice cave tunnel, which I show you in my next chapter no. 6, and the ice cave on the east side of the glacier, which you reach on a 25-minute snowmobile ride - on which you ride yourself.

An ice cave was discovered on the east side of Langjökull glacier, and then the Mountaineers of Iceland dug into the glacier and created a beautiful ice cave.

Inside the ice cave, you will find an ice-altar, and a wedding has taken place in the ice cave. And the cave has even been consecrated.

Langjökull ice cave Iceland

Langjökull ice cave

We spent some 25 minutes inside the cave admiring its beauty and the guide told us the interesting story of the ice cave.

Read more in my travel-blog about my visit to the ice cave, which also included a dip in the Secret Lagoon:

A Fantastic Visit to the Ice Cave in Langjökull Glacier - Snowmobiling and a Dip in the Secret Lagoon

All the tours by Mountaineers of Iceland

6. The Ice Cave Tunnel - Into the GlacierThe ice cave tunnel - Into the Glacier

The ice cave tunnel - Into the Glacier

Inside Iceland's second-largest glacier, Langjökull glacier, you will find the Ice cave tunnel - Into the Glacier. This man-made ice cave tunnel, which is 500 metres long, will take you some 30 metres down into Langjökull where you will find 5 man-made chambers, one of which is a chapel!

It is both an exciting and a strange experience finding yourself all of a sudden inside a glacier walking through white and blue corridors of snow and ice, after being driven on the glacier in huge monster trucks.

The ice cave tunnel - Into the Glacier

The ice cave tunnel - Into the Glacier

The floor of the ice cave tunnel is relatively even so everybody can visit this cave, but you will be provided with crampons as you enter the cave for a better grip.

I asked the tour company if the cave is wheelchair accessible and they said yes, but then you will need an assistant with you.

Find  Into the Glacier tours here

Find the combined Into the Glacier and Into the Cave here (Víðgelmir lava cave included)

Remember to dress warmly as you are entering a real glacier - have fun :)

Regína at The ice cave tunnel - Into the Glacier

The ice cave tunnel - Into the Glacier

Read much more and see many more photos inside the ice cave tunnel and of the monster trucks in my travel-blogs:

Visit the Ice Cave Tunnel in Langjökull Glacier in Iceland - Into the Glacier

Langjökull Ice Cave Tunnel & the beautiful Hvalfjörður Bay.

7. The Lava Church in HljóðaklettarThe Lava Church in Hljóðaklettar

The Lava Church in Hljóðaklettar

Apart from the lava tubes, you can visit several smaller lava caves, which are sometimes called churches, like the lava caves in Dimmuborgir and Hljóðaklettar. I am just going to tell you a little bit about Hljóðaklettar - Echo Rocks in the ruggedly beautiful Jökulsárgljúfur canyon up in North Iceland.

In Hljóðaklettar you will feel like you entered another world when you hike between volcanic plugs which take on all kinds of forms.

Kirkjan - the Church in Hljóðaklettar Jökulsárgljúfur canyon

You can see how massive this cave is compared to me

Here you will see columnar basalt aplenty by the massive glacial river Jökulsá á Fjöllum, which has eroded these formations into all kinds of beautiful forms, all of which have a name, like the Castle, the Troll, the Man and woman trolls and the Church.

The acoustic church is extraordinary - shaped in a symmetric arch, which makes it look like it were man-made. Be careful of falling rocks though while visiting this lava cave.

The Lava Church in Hljóðaklettar

The Lava Church in Hljóðaklettar

The sun was right behind me in my photo below so this was the best I could do, but you can take some very dramatic photos on this spot.

You can read much more about Hljóðaklettar and Jökulsárgljúfur canyon in my travel-blogs:

The extraordinary Hljóðaklettar - Echo Rocks in Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon

Jökulsá á Fjöllum Glacial River and the amazing Waterfalls in Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon

8. Laugarvatnshellir Cave - the Cave PeopleLaugarvatnshellir Cave - the Cave People

Laugarvatnshellir Cave - the Cave People

Another interesting cave is Laugarvatnshellir Cave in which two families lived in the last century and two children were even born in this cave.

According to written sources, then 8 of the Icelandic caves were lived in for some period of time, but Laugarvatnshellir is the best known of these caves (source: Manngerðir hellar á Íslandi).

Laugarvatnshellir Cave - the Cave People

Laugarvatnshellir Cave - the Cave People

Last year Laugarvatnshellir Cave was restored and opened up to the public and you can get a guided tour from the Cave People.

The Cave People of Iceland will show you how the inhabitants of the cave lived not so long ago.

You pay a small entrance fee and will be given a 20-minute tour and get to know all about the living conditions of the cave people and the folklore connected to the cave.

Laugarvatnshellir Cave - the Cave People

You can read much more and see photos from the inside of the cave in my travel-blog:

Laugarvatnshellir Cave & the Cave People of Iceland, where I tell you about the folklore and elves by the cave.

Some other interesting caves I have visited in IcelandInside Surtshellir cave 

Surtshellir cave 

Now I have shown you my 8 most favourite caves in Iceland, but I cannot write about lava caves in Iceland without mentioning the longest one of them all, Surtshellir, where outlaws resided. This cave has got 5 openings.

There is something about its name that makes me shiver, but that is only me because I had a bad experience inside this cave. 

I have only entered it once and the lady in front of me fell flat on her face, well, she actually fell on her face and stuck her head in a hole in the lava - and one of her feet in another hole! And she was not wearing a helmet, which is a must when entering these rock-ribbed caves.

Surtshellir cave 

Surtshellir cave 

After she was rescued from this dreadful predicament she was understandably quite bewildered, so I accompanied her out of the cave.

Now I only ever visit the Íshellir - the Ice cave part of Surtshellir, in which you will find pretty icicles as you see in my photo below. The moral of this story is: Never enter such caves without the necessary equipment. I removed my helmet for the photo below only because I look like a mushroom in a helmet ;)

Surtshellir cave - Íshellir Regína inside

Surtshellir - Íshellir

There are so many caves in Iceland, several of which I have visited, but most of them I have yet to visit.

Many of them are man-made and some of them have crosses carved on the cave walls, some of which might even date back to the time the Irish monks inhabited Iceland - before the Settlement of Iceland by the Vikings.

Hellarnir á Hellu - the Caves of Hella in South Iceland

A Local's Favourite Caves in IcelandInside the Caves of Hella - the narrow corridor connecting 2 of the caves

The best example of such caves is Hellarnir á Hellu - the Caves of Hella on the land of Ægissíða by the Hella village in South Iceland.

Here some 12 man-made caves have been discovered and the owners of the land invite us on a guided tour of 4 of the caves.

​It is believed that these caves were created and used by the Irish monks who were in Iceland when the first Viking settlers arrived, so they might predate the settlement of Iceland.

A Local's Favourite Caves in IcelandThe Caves at Hella

There are even speculations that there had been an Irish settlement in Iceland for many years before the Vikings arrived in around 874.

On the walls, you will see many old engravings and even some runes. The caves are both haunting and mysterious, and candles inside the caves add to the mysterious atmosphere in the caves.

A Local's Favourite Caves in IcelandEngravings on the walls of the Caves of Hella

I am going to write another travel-blog about these interesting caves, this is just a preview. You can book a guided tour of the caves on the website of the Caves of Hella.

Hellnahellir cave in South Iceland - the Cave of Caves

A Local's Favourite Caves in IcelandInside Hellnahellir cave

On the same day that we visited the Caves at Hella, we visited the largest man-made cave yet discovered in Iceland - the Hellnahellir cave - the Cave of Caves in Landsveit in South Iceland.

The long man-made cave consists of 3 caves. These caves are believed to date back to before the settlement of Iceland like the Caves of Hella.

So this preserved cave is most likely more than a thousand years old and might have been created by the Irish monks or the Irish people who might have lived in Iceland before it was settled by the Vikings.

A Local's Favourite Caves in IcelandThere are many engravings on the walls of Hellnahellir cave

We booked a guided tour of the cave by the farmers at Hellar and were guided through the long caves. On the cave walls, there is a myriad of engravings.

Here you will find crosses in abundance along with many other symbols and engravings like at the Caves of Hella.

I am going to write a more detailed travel-blog about these caves with a lot more photos and information.

Rútshellir caveRútshellir cave South-Iceland

Rútshellir cave in South-Iceland

I have written a travel-blog about one of the man-made caves in Iceland, which has got an interesting history and a cross carved on the wall: the peculiar Rútshellir cave.

You can find out in my travel-blog why it was believed that this big tuff pillar of rock was a heathen temple in Viking times. 

Regína inside Rútshellir cave South-Iceland

Inside Rútshellir cave in South-Iceland

In Þjóðsögur Jóns Árnasonar - the Collection of Folklore by Jón Árnason, which I often refer to in my travel-blog, I found an account of Rútur, who lived in the cave and was killed there in his stone bed by his enemies.

Read more in my travel-blog. The peculiar Rútshellir cave

Steinahellir cave

A Local's Favourite Caves in Iceland

Steinahellir cave

You will find another cave in South Iceland by the ring road. It is called Steinahellir cave. I think that it is now closed to the public.

Steinahellir cave was the site of the parliamentary assembly for the locals Eyfellingar for more than 80 years and has been preserved since 1975.

A wooden panel was added to the mouth of the cave to preserve it, but some visitors don't realize that it is a preserved historical cave.

A Local's Favourite Caves in IcelandIf you see this yellow sign then the site is a protected archaeological site

I once met two young guys on bikes in the cave. They were lighting their camping gas stove inside the cave, happy to have found a shelter.

There are brittle bladder ferns (tófugras) growing on the ceiling of the cave, so cooking is not allowed here. And if you tamper with the brittle bladder ferns misfortune will happen Icelandic folklore tells us.

There are many stories connected to this cave, both historical stories and stories about ghosts and elves, so I am going to write another travel-blog about Steinahellir cave.

Loftsalahellir caveRegína inside  Loftsalahellir cave South-Iceland

Inside Loftsalahellir cave in South-Iceland 

I have noticed that Loftsalahellir cave by Dyrhólaey island has become popular for a photoshoot, but this tuff cave was earlier used as an assembly place for the farmers of this area in Mýrdalur.

Loftsalahellir is located opposite Dyrhólaey island in South Iceland, which is a very popular attraction. You can read more about it including who was the last person to be hanged there and whose grandson he was in my travel-blog:

Cape Dyrhólaey in South Iceland - the One with the Big Arch

Sandstone caves en route to ÞakgilCarvings inside a sandstone cave in South-Iceland

Carvings inside a sandstone cave

In some of the sandstone caves, I have found a lot of carvings on the cave walls. You will see initials and dates, some of which are hundreds of years old, like the ones you see in my photo above, which I took inside a small cave in South Iceland by Þakgil.

The cave below is called Stórihellir - the Big cave - and is also to be found in South Iceland. Dances were held inside the cave for the people living in the vicinity of the cave.

Stórihellir cave is located by the road leading to Þakgil but cannot be seen from the road - but after our visit to the cave, we found out that we had actually parked the car on top of the cave!

Regína inside Stórihellir cave South-Iceland

Inside Stórihellir cave in South-Iceland

You can see more photos of this cave in my travel-blog: Þakgil and Remundargil Canyons - Beautiful Hidden Gems in South Iceland.

Sönghellir - the Singing Cave - Snæfellsnes Sönghellir - the Singing Cave Snæfellsnes

Sönghellir - the Singing Cave

Sönghellir - the Singing cave is located on the Snæfellsnes peninsula in West Iceland and is another cave with carvings of this sort, but this small cave has also got great acoustics.

We have got several Sönghellir caves in Iceland, but this one is believed to be the first one by this name in Iceland, as it got named by the first settler of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, Bárður Snæfellsás, who is the Protector of the peninsula.

Bárður apparently stayed with his men in this small cave, while he was building his settlement farm at Laugarbrekka close by.Regína in Sönghellir Snæfellsnes

Checking out Sönghellir

Like in so many of the sandstone caves in Iceland you will find old dates and initials and a cross on the walls of the cave.

These initials were left in the cave by the people who sought shelter there through the centuries.

The oldest carving found on a cave wall is in Sönghellir, the date 1483! Such carvings are important to the history of Iceland and it is not allowed to change or add to them.

Carvings in Sönghellir cave Snæfellsens

Old carvings in Sönghellir cave

You can read more about Snæfellsnes in my travel-blog:

 The Magical Snæfellsnes Peninsula - Part I.

And about Bárður in my travel-blog:

Bárður Snæfellsás - the Mythical Protector of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in West-Iceland.

Kirkjan - the Church in DimmuborgirKirkjan - the Church in Dimmuborgir Mývatn

Kirkjan - the Church in Dimmuborgir

An interesting lava cave is to be found at Dimmuborgir - the Dark Cities up north in Mývatn. It is called Kirkjan - the Church and is the best-known lava formation at Dimmuborgir.

It is a cave that looks like it is man-made. 

A Local's Favourite Caves in IcelandKirkjan - the Church looks like it is man-made

It is open in both ends forming a high-dome-shaped lava roof and resembles a Gothic church a bit. It looks totally different from the outside, where you will think that this is just a small cave. 

To find this lava cave at Dimmuborgir you follow a route called Kirkjuhringurinn - the Church Route

The Cave of the Yule Lads in DimmuborgirRegína in the Cave of the Yule Lads in Dimmuborgir

The Cave of the Yule Lads in Dimmuborgir

In Dimmuborgir, you will find another interesting cave - the cave of the 13 Icelandic Yule Lads!

The Icelandic Yule Lads are the offsprings of the terrible trolls, Grýla and Leppalúði and thus they are ill-mannered and mischievous, so woe to those who are snooping around in the cave when the Yule Lads return ;) 

A Local's Favourite Caves in IcelandThe beds of the Yule lads, we found one sleeping there 

Inside their furnished cave, you will find natural, made-up lava beds and the personal belongings of the Yule Lads. Their laundry is hanging up to dry and it looks like they just popped out for a minute.

Well worth a visit - if you can find it ;)

You can read more in my travel-blog:

Mývatn in North-Iceland - Part II - Dimmuborgir lava field & the Cave of the Yule Lads.

Grjótagjá lava caveGrjótagjá lava cave Mývatn

Inside Grjótagjá at Mývatn

Grjótagjá is a very interesting lava cave close to Dimmuborgir. It has got two openings and is half-filled with hot water. Before the eruptions of Mt. Krafla in 1975-1984, it was used for bathing, but nowadays the water is still way too hot for bathing and forbidden by the landowners.

Grjótagjá is such a mystical cave and as such Game of Thrones supposedly used it as one of their film locations; Jon Snow and Ygritte's cave and love scene. Although parts of that scene were filmed in a studio from what I could see when I watched the scene.

Grjótagjá lava cave Mývatn

The difference between these 2 photos is that the first one is taken with flash and this one is without flash

To my dismay, I read in our morning paper (July 2018) that the landowners, who had gracefully allowed guests to have a look into Grjótagjá and take photos, had to close a part of this beautiful cave.

Some people had shown such great disrespect as bathing and sleeping inside the cave, washing their shoes and their dishes in the water and some had even defecated there :(

Read more in my travel-blog:

Mývatn in North-Iceland - Part III - Grjótagjá, Stóragjá & the Mývatn Naturebaths, with many more photos of Grjótagjá and its neighbouring Stóragjá rift.

Gýgjagjá in Hjörleifshöfði - nicknamed the Yoda CaveRegína by Gýgagjá in Hjörleifshöfði - nicknamed the Yoda Cave

Gýgjagjá in Hjörleifshöfði - nicknamed the Yoda Cave

On the south side of Hjörleifshöfði promontory in South Iceland, you will find a distinctive palagonite cave with a huge opening. This is Gýgjagjá and it is some 20-30 metres high.

I find the opening of the cave to be so distinctive, as there are 2 separate openings one on top of another with a kind of bridge between them.

Photos from both outside and inside are really cool and I have heard that this cave is rented out for photoshoots.

Gýgagjá in Hjörleifshöfði - nicknamed the Yoda Cave

Can you spot Yoda?

Just recently this cave has been nicknamed the Yoda Cave as from the inside the openings look like a huge Yoda :)

You can read more about Hjörleifshöfði in my 2-part travel-blogs:

 The Historic Hjörleifshöfði Promontory

Maríuhellar cavesMaríuhellar caves SW-Iceland

Maríuhellar caves

The lava caves which are closest to Reykjavík are Maríuhellar caves, which are 3 lava caves; Vífilsstaðahellir, Urriðakotshellir (in my photo above) and Draugahellir (Ghosts-) caves. Such caves were often used to keep sheep.

Maríuhellar - the Caves of Mary, might be named after the Blessed Virgin Mary as the caves belonged to the Viðeyjarklaustur monastery, which was dedicated to Mary.

Maríuhellar caves Draugahellir - the Ghost cave

The famous magician Silly Billy disappeared into the cave of the ghosts!

The entrance to Draugahellir is really narrow, just a hole in the ground, and it is totally dark inside. Enter if you dare... My husband pulled me down into this cave before we got married, without telling me that it is called Draugahellir - the Cave of the Ghosts!

I would never ever have stepped into a hole in the ground to enter a pitch-black cave had I known that it is connected with ghosts!Regína inside Draugahellir - the Ghost Cave

Inside Draugahellir - The Cave of the Ghosts ;)

We always take our visitors to Maríuhellar caves and into Draugahellir and sometimes as far as Búrfellsgjá lava gorge. I now opt out of entering the ghosts' cave, so my photo below is from my only visit inside this cave. Ignorance is bliss ;)

Baðstofuhellir - Hellir Eldklerksins - the Cave of the Pastor of FireBaðstofuhellir - Hellir Eldklerksins - the Cave of the Pastor of Fire

Baðstofuhellir - the Cave of the Pastor of Fire

I am just going to show you the view from one historic cave in South Iceland, which is the much lesser-known neighbour of a large basalt-column cave, which most tourists in my country visit, Hálsanefshellir cave in Reynisfjara beach.

This cave is referred to as Hellir Eldklerksins - the Cave of the Pastor of Fire. It has got two names Baðstofuhellir and Bæjarhellir.

In this hidden-away cave, Jón Steingrímsson (1728–1791) spent the winter of 1755 with his brother, Þorsteinn. He expanded the cave and put in it his bed, a table and a bench. The cave is a little over 6 metres long, almost 3 metres wide and 2 metres high according to the book "Manngerðir hellar á Íslandi", which is an excellent book about manmade caves in Iceland.

Regína inside Baðstofuhellir - the Cave of the Pastor of Fire

Inside Baðstofuhellir - the Cave of the Pastor of Fire

Jón was later referred to as Eldklerkurinn - the Pastor of Fire after he delivered the Mass of Fire during the Skaftáreldar volcanic eruption in Lakagígar back in 1783.

The view from the cave is on the east side of Dyrhólaey island, which I told you about earlier. 

I have written another travel-blog about Reynisfjara and the caves: Reynisfjara - the dramatic black sand basalt column beach in South Iceland.

Stóri-Hellir cave in Hellisskógur forestRegína in Stóri-Hellir cave in Hellisskógur forest

Stóri-Hellir cave in Hellisskógur forest

Another haunted cave is to be found in Hellisskógur forest by Selfoss town in South Iceland. It is called Stóri-Hellir or the Big Cave. A ghost with a blue scarf was often spotted here. It is a sad story, as a young man with a broken heart reportedly hung himself in this blue scarf while grieving for his lost love :(

This cave is ancient and the basalt is around 0.7-3.1 million years old!  It was used to keep sheep and store hay, but as you can see from the photo above then it is now used for picnics and gatherings.

Sönghellir - the Singing Cave at KirkjubæjarklausturSönghellir Kirkjubæjarklaustur

Inside Sönghellir cave at Kirkjubæjarklaustur

At Kirkjubæjarklaustur in South Iceland, you will find another Sönghellir - Singing Cave. A relatively short hike will take you to the cave. This is the same hike as for Lake Systravatn marked in red, but further up the trail, it splits in two.

The path starts by Systrafoss waterfall and is an upwards hike with a very narrow trail leading to Sönghellir. And the view is the treetops above the village.

The trail was slippery and I was holding onto grass and branches of trees, anything I could find, so I would not slide down the hill - onto the treetops below.

Sönghellir cave Kirkjubæjarklaustur

Sönghellir cave at Kirkjubæjarklaustur

Here the story goes (according to the information sign) that the nuns from the Kirkjubæjarklaustur nunnery would sing to the monks from Þykkvabæjarklaustur when they came for a visit. It is a small cave though.

I have written about Kirkjubæjarklaustur if you want to read up on more interesting hikes and what there is to see and do in this area:

The Historic Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Systrafoss & Systrastapi in South-Iceland

Eyvindarhellir Cave at Hveravellir Inside Eyvindarhellir Cave at Hveravellir

Eyvindarhellir cave at Hveravellir

A cave at Hverafvellir in the highland of Iceland was inhabited for a while by one of our best-known outlaws, Fjalla-Eyvindur - Eyvindur of the Mountains (1714-1785) and his wife Halla Jónsdóttir.

The cave is named after him - Eyvindarhellir Cave. The entrance to the cave is just a hole in the ground, but it is relatively roomy on the inside.

The Cave of Eyvindur at Eyvindarstofa at Blönduós village

This is the Cave of Eyvindur at Eyvindarstofa, not the dining room ;) Halla is preparing dinner.

I have visited an interesting exhibition in Blönduós town on Fjalla-Eyvindur and his cave, which is well worth a visit. You can also have dinner at their restaurant at Eyvindarstofa, but the dining hall is decorated in Fjalla-Eyvindur's outlaw style, which is a unique experience.

You can see what the entrance to this cave looks like in my travel-blog:

Hveravellir the beautiful Oasis in the highland of Iceland, where you can also see the beautiful geothermal area and the hot spring where Eyvindur cooked his meals.

Páskahellir Cave in East-Iceland

A Local's Favourite Caves in Iceland

Páskahellir cave

A cave with a folktale connected to it can be found in East Iceland, in Neskaupstaður Country Park.

Páskahellir cave is by the end of an information path and can be reached via a steep ladder. Good hiking shoes are needed as there are rocks beneath the ladder so there is a bit of a clamber.

A Local's Favourite Caves in Iceland

Stairs lead halfway to the cave

You will notice some strange holes in the walls of the cave. They are holes from some 12 million years old trees, which got covered with lava!

It is an interesting place to visit as here you will also see glistening rock crystals, pillow lava and dykes. 

The name Páskahellir means Easter Cave and the name stems from the fact that on Easter morning you can see the sun dance in the cave. I have only visited the cave in the summertime so I cannot verify it though.

The folktale, which is supposed to have happened in Páskahellir cave, is about the farmer of Bakki and a seal woman. You can read the story here Neskaupstaður country park

Skessan í Hellinum - the Giantess in the Cave in KeflavíkSkessan í Hellinum in Keflavík SW-Iceland

Skessan í Hellinum in Keflavík SW-Iceland

In a man-made cave by the Keflavík marina in SW-Iceland, you will find Skessan í Hellinum or the Giantess in the Cave - a giantess with a hearth of gold.

The Giantess is one of the 2 main characters in the popular children story of Sigga og Skessan - Sigga and the Giantess, by the Icelandic author Herdís Egilsdóttir from Húsavík in North Iceland.

Skessan í Hellinum - the Giantess in the Cave Keflavík

Skessan í Hellinum in Keflavík SW-Iceland

Herdís wrote her first book about the Giantess back in 1959, but I think that there are 16 books now. I loved her books when I was a little girl :)

You can visit the cave and the 5 meters tall Giantess. She sits in a chair in the kitchen of the cave where she sleeps and snores and burps and does other stuff which children find very funny ;) 

I have written a special travel-blog about: The gentle Giantess in the Cave in Keflavík Town in SW-Iceland

Þríhnúkagígur - go inside a Magma ChamberÞríhnúkagígur - go inside a Magma Chamber

Photo from the tour: Thrihnukagigur Volcano

Lest I forget the most popular cave of them all; Þríhnúkagígur - go inside a Magma Chamber, which apparently is a really cool experience where you enter the chamber via a lift journey.

I have not visited it yet, but really hope that they are going to invite me for a visit one day so that I can experience it and write about it.

Leiðarendi cave South-Iceland

Leiðarendi cave - photo by my husband Jón Víðis

There are several other (probably a couple of hundred) caves, which I have yet to visit in Iceland, some of which are close to Reykjavík, like Leiðarendi cave and Arnarker.

This travel-blog is my take on the Icelandic caves, and with time I will hopefully add more interesting caves to my travel-blog.

Have a lovely time exploring the caves of Iceland :)

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