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Raudholar Travel Guide

35 Verified reviews
Lava Fields, Cultural attractions, Nature Reserves, Rock formations, Craters
Garðabær, Iceland
36WX+68 Reykjavík, Iceland
Distance from center
3.9 km
High season
Average rating
Number of reviews

The Rauðhólar are all that remains of an ancient group of volcanic craters.

Raudholar are a group of pseudocraters on the southeastern edge of Iceland's capital city, Reykjavik. Their name translates to "the Red Hills," as they're known for their distinct red color.

The Raudholar craters are a beautiful geological formation located on the outskirts of Reykjavik. These are a group of pseudocraters, a rare natural phenomenon that adds a distinctive character to the Icelandic landscape.

The Raudholar craters are part of the Heidmork nature reserve, a popular recreational area for both locals and tourists. The reserve offers a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, bird watching, and horse riding tours, with well-marked trails winding through the craters and the nearby lava fields.

You can easily reach the Raudholar craters with a rental car during a self-drive tour in Iceland. They're just a 25-minute drive from the city center, a convenient distance from most accommodations in Reykjavik. You can easily spend a day exploring the beautiful Heidmork nature reserve.

About the Raudholar Pseudocraters

The Raudholar holls are great for outdoor recreation

Photo from Regína Hrönn

The Raudholar pseudocraters were formed about 4,700 years ago as part of an eruption in the Leiti crater in the Blafjoll mountains, along with the surrounding Ellidavogshraun lava field, also known as Leitahraun.

As hot lava from the eruption went over the wet ground in the area, it created steam explosions, resulting in crater-like structures that never actually contained a volcanic vent.

These kinds of craters are rare outside Iceland, but other examples include Skutustadagigar by Lake Myvatn and Landbrotsholar, close to the town of Kirkjubaejarklaustur in South Iceland.

What makes the Raudholar craters even more unique, however, is their distinct color. It comes from the iron-rich volcanic rocks and scoria, which have oxidized over the centuries. This oxidation process has given the craters a strikingly beautiful rusty red hue.

The Raudholar craters are beautiful in summer

Photo from Regína Hrönn

The craters cover an area of about 1,5 square miles (4 square kilometers) and used to consist of around 80 individual craters, varying in size and shape. However, during World War II, material from the craters was used for constructing roads and such projects as Reykjavik Domestic Airport.

Raudholar were first protected from such activity as late as 1961 and were provided further security from interference in 1974. Today, it's a nature reserve and a popular area for outdoor recreation, with many horse riding and hiking trails in the vicinity. Historical remains from the war can still be found in the area, though they're not well-marked.

How to Visit the Raudholar Pseudocraters

Explore the Heidmork nature reserve and the Raudholar craters with an Icelandic horse

Photo from Regína Hrönn

It's best to visit the Raudholar craters with a small rental car, as there's no public transport directly to the area. They're around a 25-minute drive from central Reykjavik. If you're visiting Iceland in winter, you may need to rent a 4x4 vehicle as roads in the Heidmork nature reserve can easily get blocked by heavy snow.

If you want to explore the Raudholar craters and surrounding area in a unique way, you can also do so with this excellent 2.5-hour horse-riding tour. It includes pick up and drop off from Reykjavik and lets you enjoy the beautiful nature of the area in a hassle-free way!

Other Attractions Near the Raudholar Craters

You can get some nice photographs by Raudholar

Photo from Regína Hrönn

The Raudholar pseudocraters are a part of the Heidmork nature reserve and are a must-see stop when in the area. Take the time to explore the many hiking paths in the vicinity.

The Raudholar craters are just a few minutes' drive away from Lake Ellidavatn, which is thriving with birdlife and lush greenery. It's also the location of one of the more popular Christmas markets in Reykjavik, held annually in December.

A bit further in the Heidmork nature reserve, you can hike along the beautiful Burfellsgja lava channel. It brings you to a stunning volcanic crater and can easily be completed in around three hours!

If you're traveling to the South Coast or the Golden Circle, you can include a stop at Raudholar, as they're just next to the Ring Road on the edge of Reykjavik. The craters are also just a 25-minute drive from the Raufarholshellir lava tunnel, and a stop can be a fun addition to this lava tunnel caving tour!

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