A Mid Summer Night's Dream

What to do at Lake Mývatn

The Wonders of Myvatn

Volcanic Lava Fields

Dimmuborgir Lava Field 

Dimmuborgir - the Dark Fortress at Mývatn are 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.

Krafla 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. You can walk 20 minutes to get to the edge of the area, or if you have time, it’s an unforgettable experience to spend an hour or two traversing the rest of the field. A full spectrum of colours inhabit the magma, with the greens of moss and lichen next to the scorched earth colours of sulphur and rhyolite. With weird textural formations, expansive views across the caldera and less tourists than other nearby Mývatn highlights, this is a magical, magnificent chance to walk within an active volcanic area. Just watch out not to step on the pale coloured clay, it might well melt the soles of your shoes. For those looking for a bigger trek, there is also a 3-4 hour walk from the information centre at Reykjahlið to Leirhnjúkur and back.


Hidden from the view, if you’re coming 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. 

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Northern lights

The northern lights are one of the biggest draws to visiting Iceland, however they are also one of the most elusive and unpredictable attractions this country has. Although it would be great to easily pinpoint a how to see them, there are a lot of variables to consider for seeing them: season, weather, length of stay, location and luck.

The northern lights are the result of electrically charged particles from the sun colliding with gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere, causing displays of bright, colourful dancing lights. They are visible in the magnetic polar regions of the northern and southern hemispheres (they are known as Aurora australis in the south) and they can range in colour from white, green, pink and purple.
According to the Northern Lights Centre in Canada, scientific studies have found that the northern and southern Auroras often occur at the same time as mirror images. This of course means that the Auroras are often happening, even if they aren’t visible to us down on the ground. In the northern hemisphere, the lights are best seen from Iceland, Greenland, northern Norway, Siberia, the Canadian territories and Alaska. Thanks to the latitude of the North American continent in relation to the magnetic pole, the lights have been seen as far south as New Orleans! This is a rare and remarkable thing, though. Here in Iceland, seeing the northern lights is most certainly annual and regular, although still rather unpredictable.

The Best Time To See The Northern Lights In Iceland

Guaranteed darkness is the first important factor. The best season to see the northern lights in Iceland is from September to mid-April – these are the months where there are full dark nights. Some sources will recommend November to February, as they are the darkest months with the longest possible window to see the lights, however these sources often fail to take into account that these months can have the worst weather with lots of rain and snow. It is also not unheard of to see the lights as early as mid-August, once the final traces of the midnight sun summer are gone.
Second most important factor is the length of time you choose to stay in Iceland. To get the best odds of seeing the lights, it is recommended you stay a minimum of seven nights in the country. The northern lights usually tend to be very active for two to three nights, then low for four to five nights, in ongoing cycles. Naturally, not everyone can take long trips here and Iceland is a renowned stopover destination, but if the northern lights are on your bucket list we highly recommend you make sure you can take a good long trip here. Given that the factors for viewing them have to all be aligned, the longer time you spend in the country, the higher your chances are of seeing them.
Next important factor is the weather. Since Iceland is a small north Atlantic island, it is subject to fierce and rapidly changing weather. The old cliché “if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes” could not be truer of this country. In order to see the northern lights, the skies need to be very clear. This often coincides with some of our coldest nights, since clear dark weather in Iceland usually means temperatures below freezing. On warmer nights, there is usually precipitation or at least quite a bit of cloud coverage.
Checking the weather forecast regularly in the days leading to your trip to Iceland will give you an idea of your chances for seeing the lights. Services like the Aurora forecast from the Icelandic Meteorological Office and the Aurora Prediction Page are very useful for hedging your bets. Look for the white parts on the forecast map which indicate the clarity of the sky, then compare whether there are low, moderate or high predictions in those regions. It is very important to check the conditions regularly, especially if you’re doing a self-drive.



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Lake Mývatn is a paradise for birdwatchers. Everywhere you stop there are birds around you, particularly on the lake itself. When at lake Mývatn, always be on the lookout for Gyr Falcons as they are often found hunting near the lake. If you drive anti-clockwise around the lake until you reach another superbly rich area at the bay of Neslandavík. There are often large flocks of Tufted Duck, Greater Scaup and Eurasian Wigeon in the bay. This area is also particularly good for Common Scoter. A thorough scan of these flocks is likely to yield scarce vagrants such as American Wigeon, Common Pochard and Ring-necked Duck. 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.

Continuing south from Neslandavík past the farm Vindbelgur you will reach another bay called 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. Just (50 m) before you reach 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 Harlequin Duck, a species which is often quite confiding. This uppermost part of Laxá is the prime habitat for Harlequin and Barrow’s Goldeneye in Iceland. Cross the bridge and drive eastward on road 848 to reach the lake again at the bay of Álftavogur by the farm Álftagerði. Álftavogur is yet another perfect place to search the flocks of ducks for scarcer visitors. A nice little stop is at the church of Skútustaðir. Behind the church there are small lakes in extensive wetlands. This area is good for many species of ducks, including Long-tailed Duck and the occasional Common Pochard. The bay at the farm Garður is sometimes rich in ducks. 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 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. The large bays of Bolir and Vogaflói north of Höfði often hold interesting ducks and the small bays of Kálfstjörn, just north of the farms of Vogar, and Helgavogur north of Kálfstjörn are excellent places to look for dabbling ducks including Gadwall and the scarce Northern Shoveler. This concludes the circle around lake Mývatn. Head back to the uppermost part of Laxá river and follow the river downstream by road nr. 1. Barrow’s Goldeneye and Harlequin Duck should be seen and you might want to search for the odd Goosander by the river. 


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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 photgraphers.


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.


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.



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What's on at Lake Myvatn