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A Thrilling Lofthellir Ice Cave Day Tour in North Iceland

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Family with ice sculptures in the Lofthellir ice cave

If you’re making your way up north, there’s a natural wonder that you shouldn’t miss during your road trip around Iceland. When staying in the Mývatn area, the Lofthellir ice cave is a must on your Iceland itinerary. You’ll find the Lofthellir cave close to Mt. Hverfjall in the Búrfell lava field. The 3,500-year-old cave is a hidden gem and one that you should discover.

Most tour operators give the option of departing from either Akureyri or Mývatn, as both are convenient for reaching the cave.

After parking your campervan rental, you’ll need to walk across a lava field for about 20-30 minutes to get to the entrance to the cave. But the scenery is spectacular. In addition to extinct volcanoes, you can see the craggy lava flows that have cooled and hardened on the ground’s surface.

Búrfell lava field en route to the Lofthellir ice cave

Once you arrive, it’s less of an entrance and more of an opening. Basically, it’s just a gigantic hole in the ground. There’s a ladder that you have to climb down to get into the cave.

Before heading into the ominous cavern, you’ll receive a helmet that has a headlamp as it is quite dark in there. Spelunking in this particular cave can be quite slippery due to the icy floor, so you will also receive studded boots or spiked wellies.

Little girl on tour at entrance to Lofthellir ice cave

Inside the Lofthellir Lava Cave

You will hear people refer to this unbelievable natural phenomenon as both the Lofthellir lava cave and ice cave. While this seems like a bit of a paradox, let me explain.

By all definitions, yes, it is a lava cave. It was formed from volcanic activity and lava that eventually cooled after an eruption. But it’s got a special surprise waiting inside for visitors. One of the coolest things about this cave is that even though it’s a lava cave, it has a large collection of incredible ice sculptures inside. These semi-opaque, icy pillars rising from the floor of the cave can be taller than the people on the tour!

That’s because Iceland is a cold place, and the interior of the caves is even more so. The temperature inside the cave is around 0 ºC (32 ºF). Brrrr! Additionally, there is a lot of ice and water, so you’ll not only need to dress for warmth but also for moisture. Be sure to have the right waterproof clothing (both pants and shirts) as well as appropriate footwear. Having your toes freeze because they’re cold and wet is a really terrible feeling, and I’m sure you want no part of it.

The Lofthellir ice cave tour is suitable for children 8 years and up

A Lofthellir Ice Cave Tour

A guided tour is the way to go for this particular expedition. Exploring Lofthellir ice cave on your own isn’t really an option. Not only is it dangerous, but there are many interesting points of information that you'll miss if you don't take a tour with a certified guide. They know these caves inside and out and are here to show you the best of what Iceland has to offer. You’ll explore the 370-meter (1,214 foot) long cave while engulfed in moisture, darkness, and glacial temperatures.

Due to weather conditions and accessibility, Lofthellir ice cave tours usually run from May to October.

Ice sculptures on the Lofthellir ice cave tour

Is a Lofthellir Ice Cave Tour Suitable for Young Children?

If you look at a tour description from one of the many tour companies running cave tours, you’ll see that it’s unsuitable for young children. If you’re thinking of making this a family excursion, just keep in mind that the tour is not suitable for children under 8 years of age. The outing lasts around four to five hours, and young children might not have the stamina to make it the whole way without getting tired or cranky. Definitely bring a power snack like apples, bananas, nuts, or trail mix to keep everyone powered up.

In fact, there are some other factors, like physical condition, that you should take into account when deciding whether or not to do the Lofthellir ice cave tour. Young children, people with claustrophobia, or people who cannot handle strenuous activity are advised to refrain from this particular type of excursion. You’ll exert yourself physically, and it might be hard to keep up. It’s classified as a medium-difficulty activity, so keep that in mind when planning.

Looking at a Lofthellir ice cave map, you’ll see that the cave is long and narrow. This is why they advise people not to go if they might start to panic in a small space.

A Thrilling Lofthellir Ice Cave Day Tour in North Iceland

The Lofthellir ice cave Iceland must be on your road trip bucket list. Where else will you find stalagmites made of ice inside a lava cave? I can’t think of many places in the world that have this unique wonder. This is a special cave in Iceland with features you won’t find anywhere else. Book your 4x4 campervan rental for a day tour, and get ready for the ultimate adventure!


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