Information about Mývatn

Bubbling hot springs at Krafla, near Myvatn.

Mývatn is a beautiful lake with many small islands in the north of Iceland, the fourth largest lake in the country. Due to its serenity, birdlife and volcanism, the lake, including its surrounding area, is one of the most amazing natural attractions in the country.

Mývatn is, in fact, so beautiful that is was used as a site in the Game of Thrones franchise. In mid-winter it was used to represent the lands North of the Wall, namely Mance Raider’s Wildling camp.

Geology

Mývatn sits about an incredibly active geothermal area, giving it a unique and beautiful geology. After all, it is close to sites such as Krafla caldera, which contains the notorious Víti volcano, the name of which translates to ‘hell’.

Many of the islands here are thus pseudocraters, formed by steam explosions as magma rose beneath pockets of water, and many are bizarre basalt columns, rising vertically from the surface, formed by rapid cooling after an eruption.

The high amount of geothermal activity beneath Mývatn, of course, presents the opportunity for bathing in naturally heated waters. This is best done at the Mývatn Nature Baths, a beautiful establishment with serene waters, incredible views, and a reasonable entry fee.

Wildlife

Seething geothermal areas surround Myvatn.

Mývatn has some of the best bird-watching available in Iceland, although those seeking puffins will need to be at coastal cliffs such as those at Látrabjarg and Dyrhólaey, between May and September.

In fact, Mývatn has more species of duck than anywhere else in the world, with thirteen nesting species and many more visitors. Most popular (and common) amongst these is the harlequin duck sometimes referred to as the white-eyed diver after their unique white markings.

Mývatn’s surrounding vegetation and plentiful food make it a happy home for voles, mice and rats that have spread all over Iceland, providing tasty treats for Iceland’s only native land mammal, the Arctic Fox. Visitors, however, will have to keep a close eye out for these, as they are experts in camouflage.

In terms of flora, the most interesting plant life at Mývatn actually exists just beneath the surface of the water. Marimo are ‘moss balls’, bizarre spheres of fluffy green algae that are found in very few other places around the world, namely Japan (where they got their name), Scotland, Estonia and Australia.

Surrounding sites

Visitors to Mývatn often wish to spend more than just a single day exploring its many surrounding locations. Primary amongst these is Dimmuborgir, a lava field which truly reflects the dramatic consequences of a volcanism in Iceland. This area is steeped in folklore and is home to the thirteen ‘Santas’ of Iceland, the Yule Lads.

It was also here that many of the Game of Thrones scenes were shot such as Mance Rayder's wildling camp at Dimmuborgir and Grjótagjá cave, where Jon and Ygritte shared an evening together. Though this site can be admired from the shore, the water temperature is not monitored and can heat up very quickly, so visitors are asked not to take a dip.

Those with an interest in Iceland’s strange geothermal and geological sites should also check out the Skútustadagígar pseudo-craters and the aforementioned Víti crater and its surrounding lava field. There are also several geothermal hot spots around Krafla and the Námaskarð Pass which is a fascinating and primordial place.

Lake Mývatn is located on the Ring Road that fully encircles the country, making further sites easily reachable. To the west is the ‘Capital of the North’, Akureyri, a charming town with the highest population outside of the capital area.

To the east, you can find the largest waterfall in Iceland, Dettifoss which also happens to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe, and the incredible horseshoe-shaped canyon, Ásbyrgi. This feature was said to have formed by the stomping of one of the feet of Oðinn’s eight-legged horse as it leapt through the sky.

Services near Mývatn

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Attractions nearby Mývatn

Stóragjá

Stóragjá is a little-known rift in north Iceland which holds cave filled with naturally-heated geothermal water. Found next to the vill...

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Bjarnarflag

Credit: Wikimedia, Creative Commons, Photo by LV Corporate Bjarnarflag is the oldest geothermal power station in Iceland, having been first open...

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Mývatn Nature Baths

Photo from Goðafoss Waterfall and the Mývatn Nature Baths The Mývatn Nature Baths are a set of geothermally heated pools and steam ...

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Námaskarð

Námaskarð Pass is a geothermal area on the mountain Námafjall, in north Iceland, less than half an hour’s drive from Lake M&...

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Grjótagjá

Photo by Andrés Nieto Porras Grjótagjá is a small lava cave located near lake Mývatn in north Iceland, famous for fe...

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Hverfjall

Credit: Wikimedia, Creative Commons. Photo by Tong Hverfjall is a tuff ring volcano with an incredibly impressive crater, approximately one kilo...

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Námafjall Geothermal Area

The Námafjall Geothermal Area is located in Northeast Iceland, on the east side of Lake Mývatn. At this area, also known as Hverir, ...

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Hverfell

Hverfell is an explosion crater on the east side of Lake Mývatn in northern Iceland and is one of the largest explosion craters in the world. ...

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Dimmuborgir

Dimmuborgir, or the Black Fortress, is a dramatic expanse of lava in the Lake Mývatn area. Steeped with folklore, it is one of the most popul...

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Skútustaðagígar

Photo from Lofthellir Cave Excursion from Lake Myvatn Skútustaðagígar is the name of a row of pseudo-craters in north Iceland....

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Leirhnjúkur

  Leirhnjukur ('Mud Peak') is a 525 m high active volcano, located to the northeast of Lake Myvatn in North Iceland. Leirhnjukur is pa...

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Lúdentarborgir

Ludentarborgir is a crater row east of Lake Myvatn, about 15 meters long. These craters take their name from the explosion crater Ludent, to the...

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Krafla

Wikimedia, Creative Commons, Photo Credit: Earthquakes Krafla Krafla is a caldera, part of a greater volcanic system of the same name, located north ...

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Víti in Krafla

Viti (meaning 'Hell') in Krafla is an explosion crater. It is one of the two most famous Viti craters in Iceland, the other being Viti in Askj...

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Lofthellir

Lofthellir Cave is a lava cave renowned for its incredible ice formations in north Iceland. Geology of Lofthellir Lofthellir was formed in a volca...

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Hvannfell

  Hvannfell is a mountain in Sudur-Thingeyjarsysla county in North Iceland. The mountain is located near the famous Lake Myvatn. The Burfellshr...

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Diamond Circle

The Diamond Circle is a famed 260 kilometre (162 mile) sightseeing route in the northeast of Iceland, characterised by its sheer number of natural a...

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Gjástykki

  Gjastykki is a beautiful and rugged rift valley to the north of the caldera Krafla, in the north of Iceland. Gjastykki was literally blown ap...

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Svartá

Svarta is a river in Bardardalur valley in North Iceland, around 45 kilometers from the mighty Skjalfandafljot glacier river. Svarta is one of the gr...

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Ullarfoss

Ullarfoss is a beautiful waterfall in the river Svarta in North Iceland. The waterfall is located in a fresh spring river that flows through Bardarda...

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