You would think that Iceland is all about long stretched simple green plains, the highlands, the glaciers, and the lava caves – beautiful things coming together but in their separate forms. That’s not completely true though. This is a place where you will find snow-white glaciers hiding wild volcanoes underneath, secret caves behind the waterfalls, caves, and rocks that whisper and sun that shines in the midnight. A place filled with some of nature’s most beautiful paradoxes, Iceland is one of a kind. Something similar is what you will find at the Grjótagjá lava cave.
A small, and sometimes very difficult to spot, this beautiful lava cave is a hidden gem of North Iceland. It is initially famous for the geothermal hot spring that it hides inside. Located near the Mývatn lake in Iceland, this lava cave is one of the hardest to reach location in Iceland. It will take you a while to even locate it if the weather is not clear and there is fog. Yet has been a very busy spot for the locals and the tourists for over many years and has been used as a communal bath frequently.
Bathing or No Bathing?
Bathing in this hot spring has been a topic for discussion for many years now as the temperature of the water keeps rising to the level which is unsuitable for bathing due to an increase in volcanic eruptions from time to time. The water cools down eventually but remains a matter of concern whether it is safe to bathe in it or not. The volcanic eruption of 1975 first brought in the change in the temperature of the underground hot spring and raised it to 50°C. After that bathing was prohibited in the cave but it opens up again after the water had reached the basic bathing level again. The same has been repeated every time the temperature of the hot spring rises. Currently, the hot spring is still inaccessible due to the same reasons but you can still visit it and take a tour around. The cave site and surrounded area are family owned so you may need to check with the owners for the accessibility.
An Attraction Resistible to None, Not Even HBO
This beauty of beloved Iceland is a place that swayed even the director of the ever-popular TV show Game of Thrones. Grjótagjá is one of the many locations from Iceland which have been used in the show such as the black lava veins glaciers. Grjótagjá lava cave and hot spring appear in the third season, episode four, and features Jon Snow and Ygritte. The cave was used to film their love sequence when Jon proved his loyalty to the wildlings and abandonment of the Night’s Watch. Apart from the waterfall in the background which was a CIG effect, the cave was very much real.
How to Get There?
Located near the Mývatn lake, you can easily find Grjótagjá on the most popularly traveled sightseeing route of northern Iceland – the Diamond Circle and the Ring Road (Route 1). Once you have spotted the mouth of the cave, you will have to climb down a natural path made with rocks that take you from Dimmuborgir to the cave. While hot spring is not accessible at times, you can still visit the cave and admire its beauty to the fullest. While the site of the lava cave is owned by a local family, you can still find local tour guides to help you with the most recent facts about the cave and anything else about the trip that you may need help with.