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Raufarholshellir Lava Tunnel Travel Guide

1493 Google reviews
Tourist Attraction
Þrengslavegur, Iceland
Opening hours
09:00 - 17:00
Distance from center
9.3 km
High season
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Within Raufarholshellir, one of Iceland's longest lava tubes.

Raufarholshellir is the fourth-longest lava tube in Iceland. It is also remarkably spacious and accessible, making exploring its many fascinating geological features easy.

Photos from Incredible 1-hour Lava Tunnel Tour at Raufarholshellir Cave with Transfer from Reykjavik

Raufarholshellir is one of Iceland's longest lava tubes, stretching for about an impressive 4,461 feet (1,360 meters). It is also remarkably spacious, ranging from between 33 to 99 feet wide (10 to 30 meters) and up to 33 feet tall (10 meters).

The cave is located just 30 minutes from Reykjavik, by the road of Threngslavegur. This makes Raufarholshellir a great location to explore after renting a car in Reykjavik or when exploring Iceland on a self-drive tour
A walkway surrounded by lights stretches through a large section of Raufarholshellir, making it very accessible. The best way to explore this lava tube is on a classic 1-hour lava tunnel caving tour of Raufarholshellir or on a 3-hour caving tour of Raufarholshellir, which will bring you even deeper into the cave.

Geology of Raufarholshellir Lava Tunnel

Natural skylights have appeared in areas where the cave's roof has collapsed.Raufarholshellir was formed over five thousand years ago years ago in a volcanic eruption that created the surrounding lava field. As the lava from the eruption flowed through the area, its outer layer solidified, while the lava beneath the crust remained molten and continued to flow.

Over time, the solidified crust thickened and formed an insulated channel or conduit for the still-flowing, molten lava beneath, which is called a lava tube. When the eruption stopped, the molten lava inside the tube continued to flow downhill until it was drained out. This left behind the lava tunnel of Raufarholshellir.

Today, there are many fascinating geological features to see inside the cave, including colorful rock formations and interesting textures created by the cooling and solidification of lava over time. Where parts of the cave's roof have collapsed, natural skylights have formed, which illuminate certain areas of the cave.

Visiting Raufarholshellir

All equipment necessary to delve into Raufarholshellir is available on-site.When visiting Raufarholshellir, you will need to buy admission to go inside. There you will be provided with all the necessary equipment you need, such as helmets and lights. It is however recommended that you wear good hiking shoes, especially if you plan on taking the longer tour. A waterproof jacket is also a good idea, as water can drip from the cave's interior.

It is highly recommended that you book your admission or tour ahead of time before visiting Raufarholshellir. While you can buy admission on-site, it is not guaranteed that there will be space on the tours. 

The shorter tour is accessible to everyone, but you should not go on the longer tour unless you are in good physical condition. The tour will bring you over rough terrain where you will need to have a good balance. The age limit for this tour is 12 years old.

Caves Like Raufarholshellir

Leiðarendi is situated about 25 minutes from Reykjavík.Photo from Leidarendi Lava Tube | Cave Adventure from Reykjavik

Several other lava caves in Iceland share similarities with Raufarholshellir.

Leidarendi is another lava tube in southwest Iceland and is, in fact, two caves formed by two separate eruptions. The cave is notable for its diverse and colorful scenery and is a prime example of a lava tunnel.

Vidgelmir is located in West Iceland, spanning almost a mile in length (1.5 kilometers) and boasting impressive internal spaces. Inside, visitors can witness stunning rock and ice formations and colorful mineral deposits on its walls.

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