The amazing Mývatn & Krafla Area in North-Iceland - a Compilation of the wonderful Sights

Way up in North-Iceland you will find the amazing Mývatn area. Visiting it is like stepping into another world and I love spending time up there. Here you will find mud pools, lunar-like landscape, pseudo craters, lava pillars, the Mývatn Naturebaths, a lake inside a volcanic crater and the amazing Dimmuborgir - Dark Fortress, to name just a few interesting places in Mývatn.

Not to forget an adventurous visit to the lava cave Lofthellir, where you will have to squeeze through a small hole to see the wonders inside, which include the biggest ice sculptures in any known cave in Iceland. 

In this travel-blog, I will touch lightly on the wonders of Mývatn and refer to my detailed Mývatn in North-Iceland - series I-IV  travel-blogs, where you will find much more detailed information in chronological order and a lot more photos.

Skútustaðagígar - the Pseudo Craters of Skútustaðir

Skútustaðir pseudo craters in the Mývatn area in northeast Iceland

Skútustaðagígar pseudo craters are also called rootless craters as they have no end to them. They are created when lava flows over wet ground, causing steam to be trapped underneath. The pressure from the steam causes explosions and these peculiar pseudo craters are formed.

Only in Iceland and on the planet Mars can such pseudocraters be seen above ground, so they are quite a geological wonder.

The Grænavatn Turf House

The amazing Mývatn & Krafla Area in North-Iceland - a Compilation of the wonderful Sights

Grænavatn turf house was built in 1913, but Grænavatn is a settlement farm, meaning that during the Viking times the Vikings had a farm here. It is unique in a way that it is a two storey house with a roof made of turf.

Lake Mývatn & the lava pillars at KálfastrandavogarLava pillars in the Mývatn area in northeast Iceland

Lake Mývatn, which is Iceland's 4th largest lake, was created in a basaltic lava eruption. In and around the lake you will find many free-standing lava pillars and lava formations. The most beautiful lava pillars are to be found at Kálfastrandavogar cove. On the lake, you will also find the biggest selection of duck species found anywhere in the world.

Lake Mývatn gets its name from the midge, which is the base of the ecosystem of Lake Mývatn. When they mate there can be some 750-900 tonnes of midges here and the sky can become black!

Sigurgeir's Bird Museum - Breeding Birds in Iceland

The amazing Mývatn & Krafla Area in North-Iceland - a Compilation of the wonderful Sights

By Lake Mývatn, at Ytri-Neslönd you will find Fuglasafn Sigurgeirs Stefánssonar - the Sigurgeir's Birds Museum, with specimens of almost all the breeding birds in Iceland. This is the largest private bird collection in Iceland, built in the memory of Sigurgeir Stefánsson, who was an avid bird and egg collector.

Sigurgeir tragically drowned in Lake Mývatn at the age of 37.

Höfði peninsula

Höfði peninsula in the Mývatn area in northeast Iceland

Höfði is a vegetated peninsula in the Mývatn area, which used to be barren until the owners planted thousands of trees and plants on the peninsula. You can take a walk on the peninsula and at the west end of it, you will get a beautiful view of Kálfastrandavogar cove and Lake Mývatn.

Lofthellir cave - huge ice sculptures

The amazing Mývatn & Krafla Area in North-Iceland - a Compilation of the wonderful Sights

During your visit to Mývatn don't miss the change of visiting Lofthellir cave, where you will see the largest natural ice sculptures in any known lava cave in Iceland. Here you will get to squeeze through a hole by the entrance to the cave and slide on the ice holding a rope before you reach the main chamber with the extraordinary ice sculptures. The visit is available on a guided tour.

Dimmuborgir - Dark Fortress lava formations

Dimmuborgir in the Mývatn area

At Dimmuborgir - the Dark Fortress you will see unique lava formations which cannot, as far as I know, be seen anywhere else in the world on dry land. Here you will walk between huge lava formations caused by hot lava streaming under a lava pond. When the water became trapped beneath the lave the steam issued through vents in the pools and created these fragile pillars.

Jólasveinahellirinn - the Cave of the Yule Lads

The amazing Mývatn & Krafla Area in North-Iceland - a Compilation of the wonderful Sights

Somewhere hidden inside Dimmuborgir you might stumble upon Jólasveinahellirinn - the Cave of the Yule Lads! The Icelandic Yule lads are 13 very ill-mannered and inquisitive trolls. They are the sons of the two terrible trolls, Grýla and Leppalúði!

Grjótagjá lava caveMývatn in North-Iceland - Part III - Grjótagjá, Stóragjá & the Mývatn Naturebaths

Grjótagjá rift is an old bathing place and a magical place to visit. It is a rift or a cave with 2 entrances leading down to the hot thermal blue water. The temperature of the water rose too much (up to 60 degrees C) during the Krafla eruption in 1975-1984 and is still (2017) too hot to bathe in. But you can have a peek inside and take photos - just be careful as it is rocky and hot. 

Sadly the landowners, who had been so graceful in allowing us to take photos in the cave had to close of one of the entrances due to total lack of respect of Grjótagjá. Some visitors had stayed overnight in the cave, washed their dishes and shoes in the beautiful blue water and even defecated by the cave :(

Stóragjá rift

The amazing Mývatn & Krafla Area in North-Iceland - a Compilation of the wonderful Sights

Stóragjá rift is much lesser known than Grjótagjá. Here you will have to descend into the rift and look for holes in the walls of the rift to find the entrances to the warm blue water, way below. The water is not recommended for bathing due to algae and e-Coli bacteria, but it is well worth having a look inside.

Vogafjós restaurant and cowshed

A Wonderful Day of exploring the Extraordinary Mývatn Area in North-Iceland

Vogafjós - Cove Cowshed is both a restaurant and an open cowshed, which offers local produce, like smoked lamb and trout, tea and jam, rye-bread cooked in a hot spring, home-made cheese and mozzarella and beef from their own cattle. A visit to the cows and calves is complimentary.

Reykjahlíðarkirkja church and the huge lava rocks  

The Church at Reykjahlíð in Mývatn

Marvels took place by Reykjahlíðarkirkja church during the Mývatnseldar eruption in 1724-1729. Here the lava flow from this massive eruption spared the church and miraculously flowed on both sides of it, leaving the church intact.

Next to the church, you will see the huge lava chunks. Inside the church, you can have a look at a wooden pulpit with carvings depicting this miraculous event.

The amazing Mývatn & Krafla Area in North-Iceland - a Compilation of the wonderful Sights

Jarðböðin á Mývatni - the Mývatn Nature Baths

The nature baths in Mývatn, northeast Iceland

The Mývatn Nature Baths are often referred to as the Blue Lagoon of the North. Here you can bathe in wonderfully blue water and relax after a full day of exploring the interesting sights in the Mývatn area

The blue water comes from the depths of some 2,500 meters in the ground and is believed to be beneficial to the skin as it is rich in minerals. It is very popular visiting the Mývatn Nature Baths during all seasons, but in winter time you get the additional chance of the Northern lights showing up!

I found a new tour: Biking and Hot Spring Bathing in Myvatn

Mt. Námafjall and HveraröndThe amazing Mývatn & Krafla Area in North-Iceland - a Compilation of the wonderful Sights

By Námafjall you will find a high-temperature geothermal area with fumaroles and boiling mud pools. This area is sometimes called Hell's Kitchen, as it is boiling so much and the overwhelming stench of sulphur fills the air. The orange/yellow colour of this area stems from sulphur which was exported and used for gunpowder.

Mt. Krafla and Stóra-Víti - Big HellVíti volcano hot spring in northeast Iceland

A little north of Námafjall you will find a lake-filled explosion crater called Stóra-Víti or Big Hell. The lake has got the most amazing azure blue colour. This crater got created in an eruption back in 1724 in the Mývatnseldar Fires.

Mt. Krafla volcano erupted during the years 1975-1984 all in all 9 times! When you visit this calm area now think about what it must have looked like when there were lava fountains as high as 70 meters which lit up the sky!

Leirhnjúkur geothermal area

Boiling mud-pots in the Leirhnjúkur area

Next to Stóra-Víti explosion crater, you will find the Leirhnjúkur area - where one can see some brilliant colours and big contrasts.  As you walk in the Leirhnjúkur area you encounter boiling mud-pots, black lava formations with many a lava rift, bubbling hot-springs inside the lava, extraordinary colourful hills and mountains.

Gjástykki lava fieldThe amazing Mývatn & Krafla Area in North-Iceland - a Compilation of the wonderful Sights

A bit further is Gjástykki, where the earth ripped apart during the movements of the Eurasian and North-American tectonic plates. At Þingvellir national park one can also see the tectonic plates above ground, but the lava in this area is new, so to speak, as it was created in the Krafla Fires during the volcano-tectonic eruptions in 1975-1984.

The lava field here is almost untouched and very brittle and can only be reached with a guide.

The amazing Mývatn & Krafla Area in North-Iceland - a Compilation of the wonderful Sights

Now, this was one of my first travel-blogs which I wrote back in 2013 on Guide to Iceland. Since then I have rewritten it and added several other travel-blogs about Mývatn as I love spending time up there.

Here are the travel-blogs I have written about Mývatn over the past few years:

The amazing Mývatn & Krafla Area in North-Iceland - a Compilation of the wonderful Sights

Mývatn is located up north some 470 km away from Reykjavík. To reach Mývatn you can rent a car in Reykjavík and drive up north in a day or two.

There are several tours to and around Mývatn, f.ex.:

 Mývatn is also included in the 7 Day Self Drive Tour | North Iceland & Mývatn.

And if you choose you could book a Private Tour of North Iceland from Akureyri and tailor your own tour.

Have fun at the beautiful Mývatn :)

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