Jenna Kiljunen

Finnish travel enthusiast exploring the world with an Icelander. Loves real winters and gets inspired by the arctic nature. Also a communications professional and crazy cat lady. Currently on a mission trying to visit every swimming pool in Iceland. 

6 minute read05 Feb 2018

Lava Cave Víðgelmir, visiting the hidden underworld

Iceland is the land of natural extremes and wonders. The country has something even for the most seasoned travellers to experience. The nature here is unique, and the seismic characteristics of the terrain make the landscape beautiful, but rough at the same time.

To give you one more thing to add on your bucket list, we are now going to introduce you the hidden underground of Borgarfjörður area, the cave Víðgelmir.

Icelandic nature is famous for its numerous lava caves, but the cave Viðgelmir is said to be the greatest of them all!

The entrance to Víðgelmir lava cave

Guided lava caving tours

Viðgelmir is officially marketed under the name The Cave. Visiting the lava cave you will be joining guides that take you under the ground to a naturally formed lava tunnel, created in a volcanic eruption. Because of the natural characteristic of lava, the real size of the cave is still unknown. Due to the research and exploration The Cave offers today 1600 meters / 5250 feet of accessible lava formation under the ground.

The guided caving tours are operated by a local family who along with the guides do their best to provide impeccable customer service. This natural sight is a unique experience for anyone interested in Icelandic nature. The cave has harsh and almost otherworldly nature. Unfortunately, pictures don’t do enough honour to this unbelievable experience. That’s why we strongly recommend you go and see it yourself.

How to get to Víðgelmir cave

You can find this lava cave adventure in Borgarfjörður area in the West of Iceland. The drive takes approximately 2 hours from Reykjavik city. You can easily access the spot with your own car. If you don’t have a car you can also book a day trip that takes you lava caving, you can even include a visit to an Ice cave in Langjökull. The Cave is located close to Húsafell, a well known camping ground with a nice restaurant and a swimming pool.

As you might have already learned about Iceland, these nature sights can be quite hidden. The Cave is literally underground, and the location is remote. It's still not very far from the main ring road. The closest town is Borgarnes, a beautiful small town that has a few gas stations, supermarkets, burger joints and restaurants. See more detailed drive instructions here.

Exploring a lava cave is really cool

The underground lava cave is an extreme place to visit and requires a certified guide. The lava cave tours are accessible for groups and individuals and it’s possible to attend tour with children too. It's a great day for family fun.

Unforgettable tour under the lava field with knowledgeable guides

We attended the Cave Explorer tour as a part of a group and the visit took one and a half an hour. The cost of this tour was 6.500 ISK ($65) and it includes a helmet and a headlight. It is good to know that underground caves can get quite chilly even in the summer time, so proper clothing is necessary. Gloves and a hat are warmly recommended! Good sturdy shoes are also necessary due to the rough ground. In the winter time, you might want to have some good grip while taking the slippery stairs to the depths of the earth.

During winter time the entrance to Víðgelmir can be a bit slippery

Don’t think the cave visit as too extreme since it’s designed for all kind of travellers. As long as you have enough warm clothes you are good to go! On the tour you are in good hands because the staff and the guides working here know this place like the back of their hands. Safety comes first, and the guides give you all the necessary instructions when accessing this natural and gloomy miracle under the ground.

Path from Vidgelmir basecamp to the cave entrance

The cave exploration starts from The Cave’s visitor center. Here you will receive a helmet with a headlight and meet your tour guides. When you are all set up, the guides will lead you to the cave. There is a short walk from the visitor center to the lava cave entrance. We happened to book the tour on a day when a snow blizzard hit West Iceland. After walking in the rough weather, it felt almost cozy entering the underground world!

The lava cave itself offers an easy access with well-maintained wooden staircase and a pathway. On the snow blizzard day, the pathway got little slippery, but it was still easy to walk it down with the firm handrails lining the way.

The Víðgelmir lava tube pathway

Even though experiencing the cave feels incredible and even extreme, you don’t need to be afraid of the dark or getting claustrophobic feelings. This family-owned sight is more than well-organized for you to enjoy your visit.

The appropriate light design allows visitors to see all the details, which only nature can create! The walls are covered with beautiful colors created by the minerals the lava contains. Another thing to pay attention when you are there, is the beautiful and rare sound of silence. When you are in the cave and close your eyes, you can feel the whole earth disappearing around you. This is a magical and empowering feeling!

The Víðgelmir lava cave is very mighty

On the tour you will learn a lot of the lava and its natural characteristics. The formation story of the cave is amazing, and you will hear that and much more from the guides who know their topic thoroughly. The lava cave is a powerful sight and we advise you to have your cameras ready even though there’s no daylight down there. The beautifully placed spotlights will make it possible to get some photos.

The entrance to the cave is also a picturesque vision itself, and you should take a moment to admire it. It is especially a visual treat from below, when you have landed the stairs and you can see the huge hole in the lava ground above you.

The ice formation inside the ice cave are really beutiful

Lava caving and ice caving combination

You can combine your visit to Víðgelmir with an awesome trip to the famous Into the glacier ice cave tour. The starting point for that tour is also from Húsafell where you jump on a modified monster truck that takes you high up on Langjökull glacier. There you visit the man made ice cave. You can also add some action and ride up to the ice cave on a snowmobile.

The lava cave and ice cave are offered as a day tour that you can book in a single package. If you are short on time, the shortest option allows you to complete the lava cave experience in approximately 1,5 hours.

Borgarfjörður attracts the visitors with Icelandic history and culture

If you decide to visit cave Viðgelmir only for a shorter tour, you will still have plenty of time to explore the surrounding areas, like Húsafell. Close by you can find sights like Barnafoss and Hraunfossar lava waterfalls. You can also extend your trip to the West with a visit to Geothermal Bath Resort Krauma in Deildartunguhver.

Or maybe go and have a look on an Icelandic family-run goat farm in Háafell. The whole Borgarfjörður area is famous of its history and the Sagas.

Visiting a lava cave is a great family activity

No matter if you are traveling solo or duo, or even with the whole family. The area has plenty of possibilities and different types of activities!

Don’t forget to check out the town of Borgarnes. In Borgarnes you can for example visit the Settlement Center and their Saga exhibitions. The town makes also a great option to surround yourself with the atmosphere of easygoing Icelandic everyday life.

If you are interested in caving you should check out some other great lava caving tours on Getlocal!

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