Top choice in Mývatn Region

The giant jagged lava field at Dimmuborgir (literally ‘Dark Castles’) is one of the most fascinating flows in the country. A series of nontaxing, colour-coded walking trails runs through the easily anthropomorphised landscape. The most popular path is the easy Church Circle (2.3km). Check with the visitor centre in Reykjahlíð or at the cafe at Dimmuborgir about free guided ranger walks in summer.

It’s commonly believed that Dimmuborgir's strange pillars and crags were created about 2000 years ago when a lake of lava from the Þrengslaborgir and Lúdentarborgir crater rows formed here, over marshland or a small lake. The water of the marsh started to boil, and steam jets rose through the molten lava and cooled it, creating the pillars. As the lava continued flowing towards lower ground, the hollow pillars of solidified lava remained.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Mývatn Region attractions

1. Hverfjall

1.32 MILES

Dominating the lava fields on the eastern edge of Mývatn is the classic tephra ring Hverfjall (also called Hverfell). This near-symmetrical crater…

2. Höfði

1.45 MILES

One of the area’s gentlest landscapes is on the forested lava headland at Höfði. Wildflowers, birch and spruce trees cover the bluffs, while the tiny…

3. Grjótagjá

2.57 MILES

Game of Thrones fans may recognise this as the place where Jon Snow is, ahem, deflowered by Ygritte. Grjótagjá is a gaping fissure with a 45°C water…

4. Stóragjá

3.24 MILES

Signposted about 100m beyond Reykjahlíð is Stóragjá, a rather eerie fissure (slightly tricky to access) that was once a popular bathing spot. Cooling…

5. Sigurgeir’s Bird Museum

3.52 MILES

For superb birdwatching background, visit Sigurgeir’s Bird Museum, housed in a beautiful lakeside building that fuses modern design with traditional turf…

6. Reykjahlíð Church

3.79 MILES

During the Krafla eruption of 1727, the Leirhnjúkur crater, 11km northeast of Reykjahlíð, kicked off a two-year period of volcanic activity, sending…

7. Bjarnarflag

3.79 MILES

Bjarnarflag, 3km east of Reykjahlíð, is an active geothermal area where the earth hisses and bubbles, and steaming vents line the valley. Historically the…

8. Skútustaðagígar

3.83 MILES

The Skútustaðagígar pseudocraters were formed when molten lava flowed into Mývatn lake, triggering a series of gas explosions. These dramatic green…