Welcome to Mývatn

a winter wonderland

The Wonders of Myvatn

Waterfalls You Must See

The Mývatn Area is famous for its beautiful and unworldly landscapes. These are the Waterfalls in our area that you have to visit! Tag #VisitMyvatn

 

Aldeyjarfoss - This is the second in a successive row of beautiful falls in Skjalfandafljót river and has a 20 meter cascade. As with Svartifoss, here you‘ll see a fascinating contrast between the white water of the fall and dark basalt columns, perfect scenery for photographers.

Aldeyjarfoss is a beautiful waterfall in a strange environment of basalt columns and potholes. It is on the west side of the valley, about 1 km south of Mýri, at the start of Sprengisandur Route. A little above it is Ingvararfoss Falls and still farther upriver Hrafnabjargafossar Falls.

 

Goðafoss - This waterfall, 12 meters high and 30 meters wide, is at once the most famous of the Skjálfandafljót waterfalls and one of the most famous in North Iceland and the country at large. According to the sagas, lawspeaker Thorgeir Ljosvetningagodi settled a religious crisis in Iceland by throwing the idols of the old Nordic gods into the fall, wherefrom it gets its name “The waterfall of the gods“. Certainly, those who witness the sheer beauty of the fall will agree that the name is fitting. Godafoss Falls is regarded as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland, and it is right next to Highway 1 at Fosshóll. Cliffs at the edge of the falls divide it into two main waterfalls, and several smaller ones. 


Dettifoss
- Perhaps a waterfall so wild and fierce was befitting of an area that just screamed natural and raw as it flowed on the glacial river Jökulsá á Fjöllum meandering through Iceland's version of the Grand Canyon - Jökulsárgljúfur. This waterfall has a flow of about 500 cubic meters per second at high flow, with dimensions of 44m tall and 100m wide and is considered one of the most powerful waterfalls in all Europe.


Selfoss
waterfall is located in Jökulsárgljúfur canyon in the Northern Region in Iceland only one kilometer south of the mighty waterfall Dettifoss. Both waterfalls are part of the natural wonders in Jökulsárgljúfur as well as the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum. The glacial river in the mountains. Although Selfoss has always stood in the shadow of Dettifoss it is a great construction of nature and equally as enjoying to visit. The height is only 10 meters, but the width is more than Dettifoss. And of course the visit is only half an hour hike from Dettifoss, and both waterfalls share the same parking lots, both on the east side and the west side. If you are visiting Dettifoss, be sure not to miss this beautiful waterfall.

Photo Credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/97006177@N00/36232240706/">Anna & Michal</a> Flickr via <a href="http://compfight.com">Compfight</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>

 

 

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Top Stops

The places you must check out during your stay!
There are so many things to see and do in Mývatn. Here are the top locations we recommend you visit while you are in the area. Tag #VisitMyvatn

 

Photo Credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/10259776@N00/3672285389/">Stig Nygaard</a> Flickr via <a href="http://compfight.com">Compfight</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>Dimmuborgir 

The Dark Fortress at Mývatn is a true wonder of nature and nowhere else to be seen in the world, i.e on dry land. Dimmuborgir consist of huge lava rock formations which make you feel like you stepped into another world - a world of fairy-tales. The formation of these extraordinary lava cliffs and pillars is caused by lava ponds, i.e. the hot lava streamed over these ponds trapping the water underneath the lava. Steam issued through vent in the lava pools and formed these pillars, which then remained standing even after the crust around them had gone away.
The rocks are brittle and fragile because of how they came to be made, so there is no climbing in them.

Vaglaskógur

Vaglaskógur forest is the country's largest birch forest and a popular destination for Icelanders. It is one of the most beautiful forests in Iceland. Due to strategic conservation for over a century, the birch trees in Vaglaskógur forest have distinctive characteristics. At the northern perimeter of the forest, you will find a stone arched bridge. Built in 1908, it was the first of its kind in Iceland. Quite ambitiously, it was the longest stone arch bridge in Scandinavia at the time, 55 meters long. It is still used as a footbridge and a must to walk over it if you are in the area!
KraflaKrafla Caldera 

The Krafla Caldera is a 10km long, 2km deep, cauldron-like geological feature perched on the edge of the Eurasian and American tectonic plates. A collapsed, but still active volcanic area, in total there’s been 29 recorded eruptions, the most recent of which was the Krafla Fires in the 1970s.For tourists, there are three main highlights to the Krafla area. Leirbotn (the geothermal power station), Víti Maar (a volcanic crater with an opaque, teal green lake) and Leirhnjúkur (steaming sulphuric terrain and multicoloured lava field landscapes).
Leirhnjúkur Lava Fields - "With steaming sulphuric terrain and craggy, lava field landscapes, this is truly one of the must-see gems of the Mývatn area, according to Visit Húsavík". This is a nice place to walk around to experience this still warm beautiful lava. The area that inhabits the magma is very colorful, full of moss and lichen painted with sulphur and rhyolite. This is an active volcanic area with beautiful formations and an extraordinary view. We recommend to everyone to take the time and visit Leirhnjúkur Lava Fields.

Hverir Mývatn
Hverir
 

Hidden from the view, if you’re driving east from Mývatn, behind Námaskarð is a large geothermal field of Hverir that is a unique wasteland where boiling mud, hot springs and hissing chimneys give life to a desolate Mars-like scenery. It is a high-temperature geothermal area with fumaroles and mud pots that bubble to a temperature of over 200 degrees Celsius. According to many, the Hverir Geothermal Field is one of the most spectacular (and overlooked) places in all of Iceland. 

Goðafoss

Goðafoss waterfall is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland. The water of the river Skjálfandafljót falls from a height of 12 meters over a width of 30 meters. In the year 1000, the Lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði made Christianity the official religion of Iceland. After his conversion, Þorgeir threw his statues of the Norse gods into the waterfall hence the name Goða-foss; the waterfall of the gods. 

Grjótagjá

Grjótagjá is a small cave in the Mývatn area, and was a popular bathing place for the locals some decades ago. However, geological activity in the period 1975-1984, caused the temperature of the water in the cave's pool to rise to such a degree that it has not been possible to bathe there since. But one can always dream ... a peep into the waters and a fertile imagination could conjure up visions of taking a dip in this cosy little cave, as was the custom in the past. 

Skútustaðir Pseudocraters with Vindbelgjarfjall in background

Skútustaðir Pseudocraters

Skútustaðagígar pseudo craters were formed by gas explosions when boiling lava flowed over the wetlands. The craters are a popular site for birdwatchers and are protected as a natural wetlands conservation area.

Hverfjall

Hverfjall has a large, circular explosion crater, about 140 metres deep and with a diameter of 1,000 metres. Hverfjall is one of Iceland's most beautiful and symmetrical explosion craters, besides being one of the largest of its kind in the world. It is considered certain that the crater was created during a volcanic explosion, and its age is estimated to be around 2800 - 2900 years.

Grenjaðarstaður

It is the site of a church and also one of the most famous turf farms in Iceland. It was home to the chieftains of the past, and it is an enlightening experience to visit the farm and become acquainted with the lives of Iceland's rich and famous in days gone by.

Högði við Mývatn

Högði við Mývatn Norðurljós

Höfði 

Höfði is a rocky promontory which reaches into the waters of Lake Mývatn. The view from here is good, giving a vista of the lake's coves and inlets, besides being an excellent site for bird watching. Kálfastrandarvogur bay laps the shores of Höfði and is famous for its unusual lava formations both off and onshore, and these rocky outcrops, named Klasar and Kálfastrandarstrípar, have done much to earn Kálfastrandarvogur and Höfði their reputation for being among the most beautiful areas around Mývatn.

 

Askja Caldera

Askja 

Askja is an enormous caldera and central volcano in the Dyngjufjöll mountains, north of Vatnajökull glacier. The caldera is a bedrock subsidence located above a massive magma chamber, and is still 'in the making'. Askja was not explored until the nineteenth century, but a series of eruptions in 1874-1875, especially a very powerful explosive eruption in March 1875, caught the attention of the local people as well as scientists. In the massive eruption in 1875, the volcano erupted approximately 2 billion cubic meters of ash and pumice, and a new caldera was formed inside the older one. In the following decades the new caldera was filled with water, and now contains the 11km² Lake Öskjuvatn, which is also one of the deepest lakes in Iceland (220m). The Askja volcano erupted a few times in the 1920s, but the latest eruption was in the autumn of 1961.

Aldeyjarfoss

Aldeyjarfoss waterfall is considered the most beautiful one in the river Skjalfandafljot. The waterfall is framed with long, natural basaltic columns. It is located in the uppermost regions of the Bárðardalur valley, on the Sprengisandur highland route. It is possible to drive almost all the way up to it. The photographers dream location!

Stóra Víti in Krafla, Mývatn

Stóra Víti 

This is a maar (explosion crater) about 300 metres in diameter by Krafla mountain, which was formed during a massive volcanic eruption at the start of the famous Mývatn Fires in 1724. The eruption continued more or less non-stop for 5 years and Víti's bubbling cauldron of mud boiled for more than a century after that.

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The Magnificent Valleys

The area between Lake Mývatn, Akureyri and Húsavík is called Þingeyjarsveit and it is highly recommended to visit it. It has some of the most beautiful sights in Iceland and the location is perfect to scout the north from. The people in Þingeyjarsveit are thriving and the economic possibilities are diverse, such as agriculture, fish processing, forestry,  tourism, food production, etc. Have a look at some of the valleys in Þingeyjarsveit, so close to each other yet so different!

Fnjóskadalur valley

is the home to Vaglaskógur forest, the country's largest birch forest and a popular destination for Icelanders. It is one of the most beautiful forests in Iceland. Due to strategic conservation for over a century, the birch trees in Vaglaskógur forest have distinctive characteristics. The trunk is light in color, and the trees grow straighter and taller than most other birch species in Iceland. 

It's a good place for picking berries and mushrooms and the forest has many great walking trails. Birds that can be found at Vaglaskógur include redwings, wrens, common snipes, ptarmigans, common redpolls and goldcrests. There are excellent campsites in the area and there is a swimming pool and sauna at Illugastaðir (11 km away), along with a children‘s playground and a minigolf course.

Fjóskadalur valley is green and fertile with the Fjónská river running through. It is a narrow valley, thus sheltered from most wind directions. The Fnjóská river is reputed to be one of the most beautiful fishing rivers in Iceland. At the northern perimeter of the river (in Vaglaskógur forest), you will find a stone arched bridge. Built in 1908, it was the first of its kind in Iceland. Quite ambitiously, it was the longest stone arch bridge in Scandinavia at the time, 55 meters long. It is still used as a footbridge and a must to walk over it if you are in the area!

The best way to visit Fnjóskadalur is on a relaxed self drive tour. It is about 15 km from Akureyri and 60 km from lake Mývatn.

Flateyjardalur valley

is truly the place to experience the beautiful pristine wilderness of Iceland. It is the hiker's paradise and a great berry land.

Flateyjardalur is a deserted valley on the Flateyjarskagi peninsula. It stretches north from Fnjóskadalur valley, all the way to Skjálfandi bay. Flateyjardalur is named after the island of Flatey, which lies just off the shore. It is so remote and out of the way that it’s hard imagining to live there. Still, it was inhabited until 1953. There are three concrete houses, built in the late 1920s, which today are only inhabited seasonally, during summer. The valley bottom is flat and fertile and extremely colourful and beautiful during summer.

Due to extreme winters and heavy snow, Flateyjardalur valley is only accessible for a short time during summer and only by 4WD. Phone reception in the valley is little and unstable. 

Bárðardalur valley

Want to have the perfect day scouting waterfalls? Then we recommend Bárðardalur valley - the home to some of the most magnificent waterfalls in Iceland. It is narrow and shallow and one of the longest inhabited valleys in the country, about 45 km long. 

The glacier river Skjálf­anda­fljót flows through Bárðardalur. It's the 4th longest river in Iceland, 180 km long and very powerful. Goðafoss waterfall is at the north end of the valley by road nr 1. At the south end of Bárðardalur valley we have Aldeyjarfoss waterfall and Hrafnabjargafoss waterfall. You won't believe the beauty!

There are roads on each side of Skjálfandafljót and in the inner part of the valley a bridge so you can take a round trip! But to get all the way up to Aldeyjarfoss and Hrafnabjargafoss waterfalls you need to stay on the vest side of the river. Bárðardalur is also a gateway to the highlands but be sure to have the right car for the trip and to check the road conditions before driving up to Sprengisandur. (Highland Driving - Safetravel)

The best way to visit Bárðardalur is on a relaxed self drive tour. It starts at road nr 1, by Goðafoss, about 34 km from Akureyri and 45 km from lake Mývatn. 

Aðaldalur valley

is a broad lowland area at the head of Skjálf­anda­flói gulf. It lies largely on the Aðaldalshraun lava field, which comes from the Lake Mývatn area. Widespread birch bushes and strangely beautiful lava formations are characteristic of the valley. Farms are along the edge of the lava and belts of sand along the coast. 

We recommend a visit to Grenjaðarstaður. It is the site of a church and also one of the most famous turf farms in Iceland. It was home to the chieftains of the past, and it is an enlightening experience to visit the farm and become acquainted with the lives of Iceland's rich and famous in days gone by.

Laxá River is one of the best known and most popular fishing rivers in Iceland. 

Considered the fairest of rivers with its many grassy or wooded islands, deep pools and swift currents. It comes from Lake Mývatn and runs through Laxárdalur valley and Aðaldalur valley.

Laxárvirkjun is a hydro–electric station at the foot of Laxárgljúfur gorge. It was first built in 1939 but extended twice since. The gorge is deep and in places wild, with the waterfalls Brúarfossar (sometimes called Laxár­fossar) at the lower end. An interesting place and the surrounding is beautiful.

There are many accommodations in the area and it's a good location to scout north Iceland from, located between Lake Myvatn and Húsavík - the whale watching capital of Iceland. 

Laxárdalur valley

It is difficult to put the beauty of Laxárdalur valley into words, those who go there will understand. The valley is shallow and lies between low heathlands. Lava covers the valley floor and the slopes are so green that rocks and cliffs are a rare phenomenon. Laxá river is mesmerizing as it runs through the lava. Go and sit down in the pristine nature, relax and be present in the moment.

Reykjadalur valley

Laugar in Reykjadalur valley is a community which has sprung up around the geothermal activity which is a characteristic of the area. The village is home to the Laugar in Reykjadalur secondary school, besides being the administrative and service centre for Þingeyjarsveit District with, for example a bank, a shop and a restaurant. During the summer months, visitors can find accommodation at the summer hotel and campsite, or with one of the other service providers in the surrounding area. 

Laugar has an excellent swimming pool surrounded by pristine hillsides, the pool at Laugar is 25 meters long with a temperature around 30°C. There are two spacious hot tubs, one at 40°C and another around 37°C. There is also a kids' wading area and a fitness center. It is a quiet and peaceful area with a beautiful view south the valley. A dip in the pool is the perfect way to start the day like a real icelandair.

 

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Birdlife

Lake Mývatn and Laxá River is a paradise for birdwatchers. Everywhere you stop there are birds around you, particularly on the lake itself. Here is a guide on where and when to see the birds of Mývatn!  Tag #VisitMyvatn



When at lake Mývatn, always be on the lookout for Gyr Falcons as they are often found hunting near the lake. There are five great spots around the lake we recommend for birdwatching. 

1. Neslandavík. There are often large flocks of Tufted Duck and Wigeon in the bay. This area is also particularly good for seeing a Gadwall, Scaup, Red-throated Diver, Slavonian Grebe, Pintail and Red-breasted Merganser. Sigurgeir’s Bird Museum is located at the farm Ytri Neslönd by the bay. The museum is conveniently located in one of the best birdwatching locations by the lake. 

2. Álar. Nearly as rich in birds as Neslandavík, though the birds are sometimes quite far from land. Again, a thorough scan of flocks of the common ducks of the area is likely to reveal scarcer species like the Barrow’s Goldeneye, Long-tailed Duck and the Great Northern Diver. 

3. Laxá. The Common Scoter is very visible on the west side of Mývatn. 50 m from the bridge over the river Laxá, take a left turn to a small parking lot by the river and walk towards the river banks. It won’t take you long to find the Harlequin Duck. Occasionally you can see the Goosander. This uppermost part of Laxá is the prime habitat for Harlequin and Barrow’s Goldeneye in Iceland.  

4. Skútustaðir and Stakhólstjörn. This is yet another perfect place to search the flocks of ducks for scarcer visitors, like the Long-tailed duck. Park by Skútustaðagígar and follow the hiking route around Stakhólstjörn. Another nice viewing area is from the parking area by road nr. 1 just north of the road to the farm Kálfaströnd. This site always holds some Barrow’s Goldeneye and the scenery is very picturesque. 

A stop at the woodland park at Höfði (nr. 5) will provide an opportunity for a walk through beautiful woodland, with views towards some unusual lava formations in the lake. Birding in the park is interesting as there are plenty of Common Redpoll, Redwing and Winter wren nesting in the park and ducks on the lake. Quite often, vagrant passerines are found in the park. 

If you wish to do bird watching on other locations, please ask for permission with the appropriate land owners.

What's up with the flies?

 

The name Mývatn wasn’t chosen out of the blue; the midge is one of the more well-known landmarks of the area. A swarm of midge larvae lie at the bottom of Lake Mývatn. They pupate twice during the summer, especially in early June and August, after which the friendly midges overrun the area. The male flies congregate in dense jets on the banks of the water and over the hills on calm days. These non-biting flies are called dust flies and are harmless.

And then there are the mosquitos. They can bite…

Laxá falls from Mývatn in three forks, Ystukvísl, Miðkvísl and Syðstukvísl. The river bounces in small waterfalls with calm puddles in between, amidst beautiful green islets with wood cranesbill, angelica and willow. Laxá is the most fertile river in Iceland, and is the native home of the mosquito.

However, the mosquito is more than a pest because the swarms are an important food source for both birds and fish. Local wildlife would be very different without the little bugger. In the North of Iceland, the biting flies appear in the beginning of June; if the summer is bountiful and there is a lot of food, the second generation of biting flies can appear again in July to September. 

The swarm varies from year to year. In some years, the countryside is swarming with flies and the swarms can become so thick that it is not possible to see between farms. Other years, hardly any flies can be seen hovering about.

Oh the delicious fish

Mývatn is one of the most well-known fishing lakes in Iceland, as trout fishing was often widespread and the fish healthy. In Mývatn you can find trout, brown char and Three-spined stickleback.

In Laxá, trout is the main fish in the upper part of the river, but below Laxárvirkjun in Aðaldalur, salmon is king. Laxá is among the most famous salmon-fishing rivers in the country.

In past times, settlement by Lake Mývatn was for the most part dependent on trout fishing. The trout are now mostly caught in nets in the summer, but their use has been common for centuries on Lake Mývatn. There is also a considerable amount of jig fishing, i.e. ice fishing in the latter part of winter. Mývatn is a legally protected conservation area and appears on the register of internationally important wetlands, along with the Laxá river.

 

 

 

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What's on at Myvatn

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