Cave enthusiasts gather up and join us on this fabulous tour of one of the most interesting and oldest lava caves of Iceland. This gorgeous lava cave is all that you need to see if you are interested in finding and feasting your eyes upon some of the most beautiful underground geological formations in Iceland along with the extraordinary color portraits formed by lava which can not be found in any other lava cave, even in the land of ice and fire itself. Located in Purkhólahraun, an 8000 years old lava field on the west corner of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, Vatnshellir Lava Cave will help you mark the mandatory trip to lava done. Let us explore all the aspects of this destination that you will cover in this tour along with your tour itinerary.
About Vatnshellir Lava Cave
This beautiful lava cave or better known as lava tunnel was created about 8000 years ago when the nearby lava field of Purkhólahraun received the eruption remains from the nearby erupted volcanoes. A river of molten rocks from the eruption started to cool off from the outside and created a solid tube-like structure with the insides still hot and moving. The lava inside this tube kept flowing like usual for a while and got flushed eventually. The remainder of this exercise is what now we know as the Vatnshellir lava cave. This is the reason that this cave is also known as the Vatnshellir lava ‘tube’ instead of a cave.
The flowing lava of the tube left some remarkable souvenirs for the up and coming generations to find. The seemingly best thing about this cave is the remarkable color palate of the rocks that are found inside the cave. From the signature color of the lava, to red colors like golden, green, brown, and a mix of all these colors have a very frequent appearance in the cave. These different colors of the rocks are actually the colors of the minerals left behind by the lava. The red color scheme showcases the deposits of iron, green represents the copper deposits and the golden or yellow tones represent the clusters of Sulphur. There are several formations in the cave including stalagmites and stalactites. The cave itself is very dark so you need to travel with flashlights to keep track of the path.
The Vatnshellir Lava Cave is about 200 meters long and about 35 meters deep. The cave is also known as the Water Cave since it was used to get water for the cattle in the olden times. There are four different caves in the lava cave group – Vatnshellir, Bárðarstofa, Vættargangur, and Iður. Combined together these four caves are known as the Undirheimar or the Nether Region which is another word for “hell”, which sounds sort of legit given the existence of the cave. You would find the stairs that lead to the cave quite interesting as well.
Information on the Tour
The tour of the cave will last for 45 minutes starting from the entry point of the cave above the ground and ending when you are back up on the surface. The cave is quite easy to access but the tourists still need to be in considerably good shape to be a part of it. While there are no said health standards for traveling to the cave, one must be able to walk up 2-3 heights of stairs comfortably and should have no problem in walking on uneven terrains.
The meeting spot for the tour will be the entry spot of the cave itself. There you will find an elevator-like metal tube that leads down to the cave using a spiral staircase. You will be provided with the necessary equipment that is required to travel in the cave which includes a flashlight, torches, and helmets. Headlights are not permitted in the caves and hence flashlights are used instead.
How to prepare for the tour?
Iceland is a cold country, no surprise there but the summers can be pleasant. However, the temperature inside the cave can be quite lower than it is on the surface. Mostly the temperature is lower than the freezing point which means that you will have to wear some extra warm clothes to keep cozy in the cave. Along with that, it is recommended to wear hiking boots which are sturdy enough to walk on uneven ground. It is recommended not to wear shoes with high heels, or even flat-bottomed shoes like sneakers or flip-flops. They are not permitted on the tour so it is wise to avoid wearing them. Gloves are also recommended for the tour as they can protect you from the sharp rocks if you happen to fall or trip.
Helmet & Flashlight/Torch
Experienced lava cave guide
Entrance to the lava cave
English speaking guidance
What to bring
Good to know
- We recommend that you dress according to the weather of the day.
- It is colder inside the cave than up on the surface so wear warm clothes.
- You will go 35 meters below the surface and 200 meters inside the cave.
- If you have any special requirements, please inform the tour operator as quickly as possible.
- Guests are required to show up 10-15 min before tour departs.
- Vatnshellir cave is located in Snæfellsnes Peninsula, 2 hours 37 minutes from Reykjavik.
- This tour is perfect for single travelers, groups and families.
Interesting locations in the area
Most frequent questions and answers
The meeting point for the tour is at Vatnshellir lava cave in Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
The driving time to Víðgelmir from Reykjavik is 2 hours 37 minutes.
You will be walking down stairs that lead into the lava cave.
Vatnshellir is one of the most easily accessible cave in Iceland, however you need to be reasonably fit to participate. Exactly how fit is difficult to say, but if you can walk up 2-3 story building without stopping and if you don’t have trouble walking on uneven surfaces you should be fine.
We recommend that you dress warmly for the cave tour, since the temperature is just above freezing throughout the year. Hiking shoes/boots are recommended but sneakers are acceptable. We will not permit high heels or flat-bottom shoes including flip-flops for this activity. Gloves are recommended for your safety and comfort. If you fall down, gloves can save your hands from the knife-sharp lava rock!
You will receive a full refund if the tour gets cancelled due to weather.
Yes, and you definitely should! The setting on the tour is full of amazing, scenic views.
No, there are no restrooms at the lava cave. The closest restrooms are at Malarrif Visitor Center.