A Day from Akureyri: Lake Mývatn

Lake Mývatn is unique in many aspects. It is internationally important as a wetland with more species of duck than any other place on earth, in addition to many other migratory birds. It is also a focal point of many other fascinating natural phenomena in the area.

On the way to Mývatn from Akureyri, it’s perfect to stop by at Goðafoss, the waterfall of the gods, where the chieftain Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði threw his graven idols after ruling that all Icelanders should convert to Christianity in the year 1000 AD. From here you can go south of Lake Mývatn until you get to the pseudo craters of Skútustaðir – a unique geological phenomenon. Then you can stop by the bizarre lava pillars of Kálfastrandarlogar en route to Dimmuborgir – the ‘Dark Cities’, a set of lava formations that most resemble an Elvish city – complete with cathedral and all. All along the lake Mývatn route you will have great opportunities for bird spotting.

Moving west from Lake Mývatn you could stop by Grjótagjá, a lava cave with a hot spring inside of it, which featured memorably on the hit TV series Game of Thrones. Alternatively you could go to see the fascinating Lofthellir lava cave, which functions as a kind of refrigerator – it’s so deep that it’s always freezing and producing ice stalactites. But for this you require to go on a guided tour.

From there it’s a short drive to the geothermal area of Mt. Námafjall, and then to the explosive crater of Víti (which means “Hell”) in the Krafla volcanic area, and west of this you can go for an hour long hike around Leirhnjúkar, an 18th century lava field which is beautifully grotesque.

If you wanted to make even more of your day, you could go as far north as Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe, which was the backdrop for the epic opening scene of the movie Prometheus. If you were feeling remarkably ambitious you could go to Ásbyrgi Nature Reserve, a stunning horseshoe-shaped valley, far from civilization, which according to legend derived its shape from the footprint of Sleipnir, the horse of Óðinn.

But whether you make your day shorter or longer, you should end your day with a relaxing dip in the Mývatn Nature Baths – a geothermal pool with a unique mineral composition and a mountain view. After this you can return to Akureyri fully satisfied after a day’s adventures.

Day Tours, Activities and Adventures