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Vidgelmir Lava Cave: A Geological Marvel in Iceland

In the Land of Fire and Ice, natural and geological wonders such as volcanoes and glaciers are expected, but many don’t know about all the other incredible marvels the island’s volcanic activity has caused. One of these is the geological marvel of Vidgelmir Lava Cave.

The Vidgelmir Lava Cave is not your typical cave, and visitors leave with a newfound respect for the power of nature. In this article, we tell you everything you need to know about this incredible place and how to plan your own visit to Vidgelmir.

Vidgelmir Lava Cave

The Lowdown on Vidgelmir Cave

Vidgelmir is not just the largest lava cave in Iceland but also one of the largest in the entire world. It clocks in at a staggering 1585 meters long, 15.8 meters high, and 16.5 meters wide. The cave is impressive not just in size but also in its coloration, incredible lava formations, and beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. Because of this and its geological and historical relevance, the cave has been a protected site since 1993.

You also don’t need to “rough” it as an explorer; the cave has well-maintained wooden steps and a pathway throughout, so you won’t be clambering over rocks, crawling through passages, or trudging through mud to experience this incredible natural wonder.

How Was Vidgelmir Lava Cave Formed?

Vidgelmir was created by a massive volcanic eruption in 930 CE. This eruption lasted for years, and the lava spread across more than 200 square kilometers. But as we already mentioned, Vidgelmir Lava Cave is probably not what you’d expect based on most people’s idea of caves. Vidgelmir Lava Cave started out as an underground river of lava due to the eruption.

Slowly, the outer layer of the lava started to cool down, making it harden. So, by that time, it kind of resembled a pipe with lava flowing through it. But, as time passed, the remaining lava also flowed out, leaving nothing but our lava pipe, aka lava tube, behind. At a certain point, the “roof” of the tube collapsed in two places at its northern end, creating two “doors” into the tube, cavern, or, as we now mainly refer to it, cave.

How Was Vidgelmir Lava Cave Formed?

Vidgelmir Cave or Prison?

There have been some exciting discoveries at Vidgelmir. Many artifacts credited to humans from the Viking Age have been found in the cave. Since banishment or exile was pretty standard practice during this time, it is believed that many of these outcasts ended up hiding in Vidgelmir. If you want to see some of these artifacts for yourself during your trip, you must visit the National Museum of Iceland.

Where is Vidgelmir Cave in Iceland?

The Vidgelmir Cave can be found underneath Hallmundarhraun Lava Field, which lies in Borgarfjördur in West Iceland. It is about 136 kilometers from the capital city of Reykjavik, which is about a 2-hour drive. So, it’s possible to make it a day outing from there during our summer months with plenty of daylight hours. But, since it’s conveniently located near our infamous Ring Road route, many opt to add it to their road trip itinerary around the island.

How to Get to Vidgemir Lava Cave in Iceland

Firstly, we must mention that a guided tour is the only way to explore Vidgelmir. This is due to safety concerns. As for getting to your tour, there are two ways of doing so:

Via Tour Operator or Local Guide

You will find many tour operators and local guides who offer existing tour packages to Vidgelmir. These tours range from dedicated day tours to multi-day holiday tours that include many of Iceland’s attractions. These tours can also depart on-site at Vidgelmir or from the bigger cities and towns across the island. Some of these tours even offer pick-up services.

Via a Self-drive

If you need to get to your day tour at Vidgelmir or want a tour as part of your road trip, you’ll need your own transport. Driving to Vidgelmir from Reykjavik is very simple. Get onto the Ring Road (aka Route 1) and start driving north. Once you’ve reached the village of Borgarnes, you’ll begin driving inland, passing Deildartunguhver Hot Spring, Hraunfossar Waterfall, and the town of Husafell, whereafter you will reach Vidgelmir (just follow the signs).  

camper rental Iceland

When is the Best Time to Visit Vidgelmir?

The cave is open all throughout the year, so when the best time to visit will be will ultimately depend on you and your personal preferences. To help you in the right direction, you just need to keep the following in mind:

  • Road and weather conditions can be pretty extreme in Iceland during the winter season, but the shoulder months before and after can also prove challenging to many road users not used to these conditions. If you consider yourself a bit of a nervous driver, we suggest waiting for the warmer months to come around.

  • Many will say that the stalactites, stalagmites, and all sorts of other icy formations inside the cave are extra beautiful during the colder months of the year, especially the wintertime.

  • Summertime in Iceland is considered peak season, and you’ll need to accept that you’ll need to deal with our peak season crowds, especially at our famous attractions and activities.

Vidgelmir Tours

How Much Does a Visit to Vidgelmir Cost?

Costs will differ depending on the tour you choose (tour operators and guides have different pricing for various tour packages). But for a tour at the cave itself, you’re looking at about 8000 ISK per adult (roughly $60), 4000 ISK per child aged 7 to 15 (approximately $30), and children between 0 and 6 can enter for free. The tour price includes any necessary gear, such as a helmet.

How Long Does a Tour of Vidgelmir Take?

The tour is 1.5 hours long and is nothing more than a relaxing walk while admiring the incredible surroundings. We advise that you show up at least 15 minutes before the tour departs, though.

And if you’re planning on visiting during our busy summer season, we highly recommend that you book your spot in advance to avoid disappointment. The tour of the cave should also not be confused with the length of other tour packages, which may be longer depending on their travel times and itineraries.

Vidgelmir Tours to Consider

The following are a few of the tours that come highly recommended:

Vidgelmir lava cave

Vidgelmir Lava Cave: the Perfect Ring Road Stop

Anyone who has ever visited the island will tell you that one of the best ways to properly explore and experience some of the most exciting things Iceland has to offer is by doing a Ring Road road trip.

The most unique and affordable way to do that is by renting a campervan in Reykjavik before heading out on the open road. This makes it easy to stay at campsites with incredible sites and views, and even relax and have a coffee in the parking lot after visiting the cave at Vidgelmir. Convenient and budget-friendly a campervan road trip around the island with Vidgelmir as stop along the way promises to be the experience of a lifetime!  



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