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Exploring Gjábakkahellir Cave: Iceland's Hidden Lava Cave Gem

Updated: May 23

Nestled deep in the heart of Iceland lies Gjábakkahellir, a hidden gem that whispers tales of Earth's fiery past. This isn't just another travel blog; it's your gateway to discovering the mysteries and majesties of Iceland's volcanic landscapes, with Gjábakkahellir lava cave taking center stage. 

With our intimate knowledge of Iceland, we're here to guide you through an exploration that promises to unveil the allure and mystery of Gjábakkahellir. From its formation through volcanic fury to the serene beauty it holds today, prepare to be captivated by the unique story of this spectacular lava cave. 

Join us as we unravel the secrets of Gjábakkahellir, illuminating the path for your next great adventure.

Gjábakkahellir lava cave

What is Gjábakkahellir Lava Cave?

Gjábakkahellir, also affectionately known as 'Little Girl Cave,' is far from small in character or significance. Formed around 9,000 years ago during a fiery volcanic eruption, this lava tube stretches an impressive 360 meters (1,181 feet), showcasing a rare openness at both ends. 

This unique feature not only offers a literal light at the end of the tunnel experience but also invites visitors to traverse from one end to the other, basking in its internal beauty. Inside, the cave reveals a palette of incredible rock formations adorned in various colors, with stalactites vying for your attention in all shapes and sizes. 

Discovered in 1907 amidst roadwork aimed at connecting Thingvellir and Geysir for the King of Denmark, Gjábakkahellir has since been a silent witness to Iceland's transition from Danish colonial rule. Since its discovery, over a dozen caves have been found nearby, one notably appearing as a hole in the ground within 20 meters (66 feet) from Gjábakkahellir.

How to Get To Gjábakkahellir Cave From Reykjavík

If you're heading to Gjábakkahellir Cave from Reykjavik, here's a little secret—on Google Maps, it goes by the name 'BlueBerry Cave.' It's nestled within Thingvellir National Park, not just Iceland's oldest national park but also a proud UNESCO World Heritage Site. Just a breezy 45-minute drive separates you from this astonishing natural wonder, making it the perfect day trip. 

Start on Road 1 (Ring Road) from Reykjavik, hit Road 36 near Mosfellsbær, and about 30 kilometers (19 mi) later, you're almost there. Park your vehicle, and a short stroll of 50 meters (164 ft) brings you face-to-face with the cave's welcoming entrance. Now, if you're debating between getting a car or a campervan, let's make it simple. 

Renting a campervan in Iceland isn't just about getting from A to B; it's a savvy choice that bundles your transport, kitchen, and bedroom into one. Imagine the freedom of the open road, coupled with the savings on accommodation and meals. It's practicality meets adventure.

Camper rental Iceland

Best Times to Visit Gjabakkahellir

When planning your trip to Gjábakkahellir Cave, timing is everything. Here's the scoop:

  • Summer: Hands down, summer reigns as the best season to visit Gjábakkahellir. With warmer temperatures, longer days, and the midnight sun painting the sky, it's prime time for cave exploration. 

  • Late Spring and Early Autumn: These shoulder seasons offer a sweet spot of less crowded paths and still pleasant weather. Perfect for those who prefer a bit more solitude with their adventure.

  • Weather Watch: Iceland's weather can be unpredictable. Even in summer, always check the forecast and come prepared for anything. 

Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Visit to Gjabakkahellir Cave

Visiting Gjábakkahellir is an adventure like no other, but it does come with its unique challenges. To ensure you have the best experience, here are some essential safety tips and gear recommendations:

  • Bring the Proper Equipment: A helmet is non-negotiable for protecting your noggin, and a good flashlight will light your way through the dark.

  • Tell Someone About Your Plans: It's smart to inform someone about your cave exploration plans, just in case.

  • Don't Go Alone: Exploring with a buddy isn't just more fun; it's also safer.

  • Dress Warmly: The cave's temperature hovers between 0–4°C (32–38°F), so bundle up.

  • Wear a Waterproof Jacket: Don't get caught off guard by the occasional drips from the ceiling.

  • Don't Rely on Cell Phone Reception: It can be spotty or non-existent in the cave, so prepare accordingly.


What Other Attractions Are Near Gjábakkahellir

The best part about visiting Gjábakkahellir is that it's only the beginning. Here are a few nearby attractions to add to your itinerary:

  • Silfra Fissure: Take a snorkeling or diving tour through this impressive fissure located in the same area as Gjábakkahellir.

  • Geysir Geothermal Area: Witness the power of Mother Nature with an up-close look at hot springs, geysers, and bubbling mud pools.

  • Gullfoss Waterfall: Standing at 32 meters (105 feet) tall, this stunning waterfall is a must-see in Iceland.

  • Oxarafoss Waterfall: Located within Thingvellir National Park, this picturesque waterfall is easily accessible and perfect for a short hike.

  • Golden Circle Route: Not far from Gjábakkahellir, this popular route takes you on a scenic drive to some of the most iconic spots in Iceland.

Why Gjábakkahellir Is A Must Visit

Gjábakkahellir is more than just a striking natural formation; it's a gateway to Iceland's raw beauty and history. From its volcanic origins to its role in connecting far-flung parts of the country, this cave captures the essence of adventure. Whether you're an avid explorer or simply yearning for a peek into the underground realm, Gjábakkahellir offers a unique experience.

Coupled with the surrounding attractions in Thingvellir National Park, it's a highlight that enriches any Icelandic itinerary. Remember, though, to travel responsibly and prepare adequately for the cave's chilly and rugged conditions. Happy exploring!



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