Lake Mývatn, Iceland is an area rich in geological uniqueness and natural wonders. Bubbling mudpots, steaming lava fields, and ferocious waterfalls reveal a land still being formed. Here’s our guide to all the best things to do in the Mývatn area.

Mývatn is an area in the north of Iceland bursting with geological richness.

Centred around a shallow lake of the same name, Mývatn is an active volcanic area with a landscape that continues to be formed with unusual twists. As one of the few wetland areas in Iceland, water and lava combine at Mývatn with astounding effects.

Walk over still-warm lava fields towards surreal landscapes, hike through unique shapes formed from underwater lava and inspect huge fissures in the earth’s crust. Swim in sublime natural pools and explore bubbling mud pots, steaming vents and basalt columns with acoustic powers.

Add whale-watching in Husavík and some of the best waterfalls in Iceland and you will see why so many people come here.

There’s no town as such at Mývatn, just a collection of hotels and a few services. But, it’s a great base on any trip to Iceland to explore a truly unique yet constantly changing area.

Here are some great things to do in Mývatn, Iceland.

Booking your trip via the links on this page (or on our book page) will earn us a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support – Paul & Mark.

MÝVATN MAP

Mývatn covers a broad area of natural attractions surrounding the lake with a few services such as gas stations, some independent restaurants and several hotels dotted around. As this part of north central Iceland is quite remote, Mývatn is a good base for exploring the wider area on day trips.

You can visit Mývatn on our Ring Road itinerary.

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


THINGS TO DO IN MYVATN, ICELAND

1 – SKÚTUSTADAGÍGAR PSEUDO CRATERS

Pseudo craters are strange-looking natural formations resembling giant pimples in the earth’s crust. They are formed when hot lava flows over a wetland and boils the water. The steam created from this process caused explosions which created clusters of pseudo-craters.

The pseudo craters at Lake Mývatn were formed 2,300 years ago and are some of the largest in the world.

The best way to see the pseudo-craters is to take the lovely path around the Skútustadagígar Pond. It’s around one hour of easy walking, visits the most interesting of the Mývatn pseudo craters and has great views of the lake.

2 – KÁLFASTRÖND

Kálfaströnd is a farm with marked walking routes through a birch forest with interesting lava formations. The 2.1-kilometre circuit should only take around 35 minutes. The trail is very easy to follow and includes several secluded spots for a scenic picnic

The intriguing and varied landscape on the hike is prime habitat for Harlequin, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Golden Plover and plenty of ducks. So bird-watchers should bring their binoculars.

kalfastrond farm myvatn

3 – DIMMUBORGIR

Dimmuborgir is a perfect example of the bizarre landscapes that surround the Mývatn area. Formed by the unique geological conditions, high pillars of lava have created strange shapes including arches.

The area was formed when a 2-kilometre pool of molten lava eventually drained into Lake Mývatn. When steam from the boiling water percolated through the lava flow, it cooled into the shapes you see at Dimmuborgir today.

Due to the way these lava structures are formed, this phenomenon is usually found under the ocean. Mývatn is the only place where you can see them on dry land.

4 – HVERFJALL CRATER

Hverfjall is a tephra cone volcano near Mývatn which is shaped like a massive stadium. Seen from miles around, it’s one of the most prominent features of the Lake Mývatn area.

The cone is 1 kilometre in diameter and 396 metres high, forming a massive black cone and a visual spectacle from an eruption that occurred around 4,500 years ago.

There are two paths up to the rim of the crater which provide excellent views of both the centre of the volcano and the surrounding area. One path goes up from the northwest side and one from the south. It takes around 20 minutes to hike up to the top. Once up there, spend as long as you like exploring the rim.

5 – GRJÓTAGJÁ CAVE & FISSURE

Grjótagjá is a small lava cave that shot to prominence after the love scene between Jon Snow and Ygritte from Game of Thrones was filmed in this small, interesting space.

The cave contains a thermal pool which for years was considered one of the prime hot springs in Iceland. However, after the nearby Krafla volcanic system erupted nine times between 1975 and 1984 the water in the cave boiled to dangerous temperatures. The water eventually cooled, but the temperature has since become unstable, and swimming is no longer permitted.

Nonetheless, Grjótagjá is still a very interesting place to visit around Mývatn. Don’t miss the huge fissure, best seen from above the cave which you can see stretching towards Hverfjall.

6 – HVERIR

The burnt-orange landscape of Hverir – completely bare of all vegetation – is one of the highlights of a visit to the Mývatn area.

Vents in the earth’s crust, called fumaroles, expel volcanic gases and vapours dramatically into the air. Large mud pots bubble and gurgle, ejecting grey splatters onto the orange-red earth. Boiling rivers cut across the barren landscape.

It’s a fascinating place to visit that feels like you’re walking on the surface of Mars. Located right by the Ring Road, 6 kilometres east of Lake Mývatn, it’s a thoroughly worthwhile stop on any Iceland itinerary.

7 – KRAFLA

With 29 eruptions under its belt, Krafla is one of the most active volcanoes in Iceland.

The caldera is 10 kilometres wide, but the fissure extends for 90 kilometres. Inside the fissure zone, Viti Crater (not to be confused with the Viti at Askja) with its emerald-green lake is the showpiece of this incredible natural phenomenon.

Krafla is the force that causes the nearby Grjótagjá Hot Springs to swing across a volatile temperature range.  With liquid rock just 2 kilometres beneath the earth’s surface, it’s a unique source of power that Iceland has been harvesting since 1977.

In addition to the Viti Crater, the nearby Leirhnjukur Lava Field is also an interesting thing to do in Mývatn. Located within the extensive caldera, a hiking trail twists and turns through the still steaming lava field as it passes bubbling mud-pots, fumaroles and colorful mosses.

8 – DETTIFOSS

Dettifoss is a powerful waterfall, 77 kilometres (1 hour, 20 minutes) from Mývatn. Dropping 44 metres into a narrow canyon, it’s the largest waterfall by volume in Iceland and one of the most powerful in Europe.

The falls are fed from the Jökulsá á Fjöllum River which flows from the Vatnajökull glacier. The west side of Dettifoss is the easiest access point with a paved road from the Ring Road and a large car park. There’s an upper and lower viewpoint and you can expect to get wet at both of them. 

It’s a spectacular sight and one of the most impressive waterfalls in Iceland. If you’re based around Lake Mývatn, Dettifoss is a great day trip.

dettifoss iceland waterfalls 2

9 – HÚSAVÍK

Húsavík is the whale capital of Iceland. Located just 50 minutes from Mývatn, it’s the perfect day trip to spot one of the 23 species of whales and large colony of puffins that are regularly seen here. In fact in July whale spotting is so common it is almost guaranteed.

Whale spotting tours leave from the harbour which, as the oldest settlement in Iceland, is also an interesting place to stroll. Don’t miss the very photogenic colourful wooden houses along the water.

If you don’t make it on a whale spotting tour, visit the life-size replicas at the Whale Museum, home to a 22-metre-long Blue Whale skeleton.

Húsavík is also famous as the hometown of Lars and Sigrit from the Eurovision Film: The Story of Fire Saga.

10 – GOÐAFOSS

Goðafoss is a wide horseshoe-shaped waterfall 45 kilometres from Mývatn and one of the best waterfalls in Iceland.

The falls are between 9 metres and 17 metres high and set in a captivating location as they curve around low-lying lava fields. The water is decorated with a blue-green pattern putting Goðafoss as a contender for the most beautiful waterfalls anywhere.

There are viewing platforms on both the west and east side of the falls. You can easily walk between them in about 20 to 30 minutes.

godafoss waterfalls iceland 4

11 – MÝVATN NATURE BATHS

The Mývatn Nature Baths is a milky blue lagoon pool, heated by a nearby hot spring. Although it’s a man-made pool, the lagoon is set overlooking a barren landscape with the facilities nicely blending into the surroundings.

The temperature changes slightly as you move around the pool, but averages a delightfully pleasant 96°F – 104°F (36°C – 40°C).

There are 2 steam baths, a hot tub, a separate pool for kids, a café and a swim up bar where you can order alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

It’s a great balance between the Blue Lagoon which is expensive and can get very busy, and the completely natural hot springs, like those in the Westfjords, which have no facilities at all. Advance booking is recommended – myvatnnaturebaths.is/

12 – ÁSBYRGI

Ásbyrgi is a unique horseshoe-shaped canyon that stretches 3.5 kilometres long and 1.1 kilometres wide. It’s a small corner of the dramatic Vatnajökull National Park, and one of the most interesting areas to visit on a Ring Road itinerary.

The 100-metre-high curved canyon walls are a sight to see, but the surreal aspect of Ásbyrgi is the thick woodland that surrounds them. In an otherwise barren country, Ásbyrgi is a haven for various species of trees. The most common is birch, but you’ll also find spruce, larch and pine.

There are a few hiking paths to explore the area including one to Lake Botnstjörn and The Island, a 25-metre rock formation that divides Ásbyrgi in half.

Asbyrgi near Myvatn, Iceland

13 – ASKJA

Askja is a large volcano situated in the Dyngjufjöll mountain range which is part of the Vatnajökull Glacier National Park in the Iceland Highlands. Its main caldera was formed over 10,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age when, during an eruption, the roof of the large magma chamber collapsed in on itself causing a depression.

The result was an enormous 45 square kilometre caldera, 8 kilometres in length.

It’s a challenging drive that requires a 4×4 which we cover in our guide to Askja. But tours also leave from Myvatn so you can enjoy this special place without taking on the drive yourself.

Whichever way you make it to Askja, it’s worth the effort. The colourful rocky walls are nestled beside a younger crater with steep orange and yellow sides and a milky geothermal pool. All set under the Vatnajökull Glacier, Askja is a magical place.

14 – HLJÓÐAKLETTAR

Hljóðaklettar is a collection of basalt columns stretching in multiple directions creating swirls, spirals, roses and arches that are known to produce haunting acoustic effects. It’s around 1 hour’s drive from Mývatn in the Vatnajökull National Park.

There are two hiking trails which start at the parking lot. The blue trail is a 1-kilometre path that will take around 30 minutes. The red trail circles the whole area and includes the best photographic spots; this should take around 2 to 3 hours to complete.

Keep an eye out for the fortress-like Kastali, the giant Tröllið and the Kirkjan or church. From Mývatn, HljóA Complete Guide to Mývatn, Icelandðaklettar is accessed via the 862 which is closed in winter. If you are a fan of basalt columns then you should not miss the remarkable sight of Studlagil Canyon a few hours drive to the east.

Hjodaklettar near Myvatn, Iceland

WHERE TO STAY IN MÝVATN

Most hotels in Myvatn are spread along the lakeshore where you’ll also find a few other essentials such as a small supermarket, fuel stations and some restaurants. For more recommendations, read our guide on where to stay in Iceland.

MÝVATN

FOSSHOTEL MÝVATN

Fosshotel is a modern comfortable chain hotel with a good selection of facilities including free Wi-Fi, private bathrooms and 24-hour reception. The onsite restaurant with expansive views overlooking the lake is open for breakfast and dinner.


MÝVATN

HÓTEL LAXÁ

With views over the lake but away from the town, Hótel Laxá is an excellent hotel in Iceland to view the Northern Lights. It’s quality, modern accommodation with all the amenities you need for a comfortable stay. The restaurant / bar area is and nice place to hang out and breakfast will sort you out for the day.


MÝVATN

SKÚTUSTADIR GUESTHOUSE

With a shared kitchen and lounge area, Skútustadir Guesthouse is a great base for families visiting Myvatn. There are private or shared bathrooms available, free Wi-Fi and laundry facilities. Their homemade bread and jam is a breakfast treat.

PLANNING YOUR ICELAND TRIP

Iceland is an excellent destination for semi-adventurous travellers who like to get off the beaten track and immerse themselves in stunning scenery. Here’s some more reading from us to help plan your journey to the land of fire and ice.

If you found this guide useful, we’d love it if you could follow us on Instagram.

ICELAND TRAVEL TIPS

15 useful tips for visiting Iceland

Our tips for driving in Iceland

Planning your Iceland trip

Where to stay in Iceland

How to drive on the F-Roads of Iceland

TOP ICELAND DESTINATIONS

Top places to visit in the Iceland Highlands

7 Amazing Landmannalaugar hikes

Complete guide to the Westfjords

Best viewpoints at Studlagil Canyon

Epic adventure self-driving to Askja

Our complete guide to Thorsmork


STAY IN TOUCH

Stay up to day with our travels on Instagram and get semi-regular updates directly to your inbox via our newsletter.

INSTAGRAM // SUBSCRIBE

SHARE THIS GUIDE

If you found this guide useful, please share it to your social media or pin it to your Pinterest boards.

A guide to visiting the Myvatn area in Iceland including what to see and do, plus day trips around Lake Myvatn