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Ultimate Guide to Iceland’s Myvatn Lake


Myvatn Lake

Planning a trip to the awe-inspiring Myvatn Lake during your Iceland vacation? Here, you can learn all you need to know for your trip to this amazing volcanic lake. We’ll guide you through the best Myvatn attractions and unmissable things to do at this stunning lake, plus how to get there and the best time to visit.

What is Lake Myvatn in Iceland?

Myvatn is a remarkable shallow lake in Iceland formed by a basaltic lava eruption more than 2000 years ago. It is situated in an area known for active volcanism. The fourth-largest lake in Iceland, Lake Myvatn measures around 9.5 kilometers long and 6.5 kilometers wide. Myvatn contains many small islands and is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including many waterbirds.

The Lake Myvatn area in Iceland is surrounded by wetlands, lava fields, and hot springs. It is considered one of the most beautiful and geologically fascinating regions in the country. Next to Lake Myvatn, you’ll also find the famous Krafla Volcano.

Myvatn Lake guide

Where is Lake Myvatn?

Located in Northeastern Iceland, Lake Myvatn sits conveniently right next to Route 1: the main Ring Road in Iceland. The lake’s location in Northeastern Iceland means Myvtan lies only an hour drive from the Icelandic city of Akureyri. It is the largest city outside the populous Southwestern corner of Iceland.

How Far is Lake Myvatn from Reykjavik?

Lake Myvatn is on the opposite side of the country from the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, which is located in Southwestern Iceland. However, you can certainly drive there in a day; it’ll take you around 5 hours and 45 minutes of driving to reach Lake Myvatn from Reykjavik.

If you’re wondering ‘what is the fastest way to get from Reykjavik to Lake Myvatn?’, it’s definitely taking the Ring Road. The easiest route to reach Myvatn is to follow Route 1 north from Reykjavik until you reach the destination.

myvatn geothermal area

What to Do in Lake Myvatn

When considering what to do in Lake Myvatn, check out our carefully curated list of the most amazing Myvatn attractions to make sure you don’t miss out! The Lake Myvatn area is a hub for outdoor activities during your Iceland vacation. From incredible nature hikes to geothermal bathing, there's something for everyone to enjoy!

1. Soak in Myvatn Nature Baths

The most famous attraction at Lake Myvatn has to be the beautiful Myvatn Nature Baths. After all, who doesn’t want to soak in a spectacular outdoor geothermal pool in Iceland? The milky blue, mineral-rich waters of Myvatn lagoon make the most relaxing bath, set among a stunning natural landscape.

With water temperatures of 36 - 40 ºC (97 - 104 ºF), the unique Myvatn lagoon is perfect for bathing due to its alkaline and mineral-rich nature. It naturally disinfects the water without any need for harsh disinfectants. You can book your Myvatn baths tickets online before you arrive.

lake myvatn nature baths

2. Explore Myvatn Geothermal Area

The Myvatn Geothermal Area provides a picturesque setting with various geothermal features. These include fissures and fumaroles, which are vents in the Earth's surface where volcanic gases escape.

Everywhere you look in the Myvatn Geothermal Area, you’ll find something incredible to see. Including geothermal pools, lava fields, volcanic craters and Lake Myvatn hot springs. We recommend setting aside enough time to marvel at these natural wonders to your heart’s content during your visit to Lake Myvatn.

myvatn geothermal area

3. Hike Around Dimmuborgir Lava Field

Known as the ‘Black Fortress’, the dramatic landscape of Dimmuborgir Lava Field is full of striking lava structures, including caves and pillars. A walk around this otherworldly lava field is a must on your list of Myvatn things to do.

These ever-changing lava fields are spread across an area about 2 kilometers wide with amazing panoramic views wherever you look!


4. Visit Krafla Volcano

Located in the Myvatn area, the stunning volcanic caldera of Krafla is 10 kilometers wide, filled with a milky blue and green lake. The 90-kilometer-long fissure zone sits atop the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It divides the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.

Krafla is one of Iceland’s most explosive volcanoes, having erupted almost 30 times since the country was first settled – wow!

Krafla volcano

5. Watch the Northern Lights or Midnight Sun

The Myvatn geothermal area is known for its minimal cloud coverage, precipitation, and light pollution. That makes it a prime location to experience this captivating phenomenon. You can witness it between September and April.

If you plan to visit Lake Myvatn during summer, you’ll be able to witness the spectacular Midnight Sun, as the extended daylight hours in Iceland mean the sun shines much longer than usual.

Northern Lights at Myvatn

6. Walk Up Hverfell Crater Mountain

Fancy a hike to a kilometer-wide volcanic crater? On the eastern side of Lake Myvatn, you’ll find the tuff ring volcano of Hverfell. You can hike up this epic Myvatn crater mountain to view one of the best preserved volcanic craters in the world and enjoy an unbeatable view of the entire Myvatn area in the process!

Hverfell, Myvatn

7. Discover the Grjotagja Hot Spring Cave

This small lava cave houses a geothermal spring and was a popular bathing site until the 1970s. As the Krafla volcanic system erupted in the late 70s and early 80s, the water in Grjotagja Cave rapidly heated to become far too hot for bathing. Since then, it has gradually cooled, but the water temperature is unstable and has been known to heat up again very quickly. 

Waters in the fairly secluded Grjotagja Cave are heated by volcanic activity taking place deep within the Earth. Keep in mind that the climb down to reach Grjotagja Cave can be tricky, so it requires a good level of physical fitness.

Game of Thrones cave in Iceland

8. Go Birdwatching at Skutustadagigar Pseudocraters

Birdwatching enthusiasts must visit the Skutustadagigar Pseudocraters at Lake Myvatn. Here, you can witness a remarkable variety of duck species nesting in the area. Part of a protected conservation area, the Skutustadagigar Pseudocraters are on the southern side of the lake and can be accessed by walking.

These impressive and unique formations were created by gas explosions, which caused lava to flow over areas of water in the wetlands.

Craters at Myvatn Lake

9. Follow the Serene and Beautiful Hofdi Lakeside Walk

A gorgeous 1.4-kilometer trail around an area of Lake Myvatn abound with lush greenery and serene pastures, the Hofdi Lakeside Walk is perfect to see a different side of the lake. Here, you can enjoy a peaceful stroll along this easy, circular route, soaking in a strikingly different landscape to the dry volcanic fields on the other side of the lake.

myvatn attractions

10. Continue on the Diamond Circle in North Iceland

Lake Myvatn is actually part of the famous Diamond Circle route in North Iceland. Close to Myvatn, you can visit a whole range of amazing geological features, including Europe’s most powerful waterfall: Dettifoss Waterfall.

Along the Diamond Circle, you’ll also find the oldest town in Iceland, Husavik, the beautiful city of Akureyri and the mighty Godafoss Waterfall.

myvatn hikes
Lake Myvatn: Game of Thrones Filming Location

If your question is ‘where near Lake Myvatn was Game of Thrones filmed?’, there are a few Myvatn attractions to add to your must-see list. First up, Grjotagja Cave is a particularly famous Myvatn Game of Thrones filming location for the romantic scene between Jon Snow and Ygritte.

You may also recognise the imposing black lava fields of Dimmuborgir from the backdrop of many Game of Thrones scenes. The same goes for the Hverir geothermal area, complete with bubbling pools of mud.

The entire Myvatn area has been used as an authentic backdrop throughout Game of Thrones filming, with the incredible natural landscape creating the perfect scenery for the show.

When to Visit Lake Myvatn

Wondering when to visit Lake Myvatn? Whenever you visit, you’re sure to have a spectacular experience at the picturesque Lake Myvatn. However, you can expect different things at different times of the year in the Myvatn area. Here are some top tips to keep in mind when deciding when to visit Lake Myvatn.

Myvatn in Summer

During summer in Iceland, you’ll be able to enjoy the longer daylight hours, meaning you can spend more time exploring the impressive scenery of the Myvatn lagoon and geothermal area. You can also spot the thriving wildlife, including many bird species, living among the lush greenery at Myvatn during the summer time.

Most Myvatn attractions will be accessible during summer, and you can enjoy these in the mildest weather that Iceland experiences. However, it’s important to know that Lake Myvatn will be busier with tourists in summer, and you’ll also need bug spray to protect yourself from the midges.

Summer in Myvatn

Myvatn in Spring or Autumn (Shoulder Season)

With milder weather than winter but fewer tourists than summer, shoulder season can be a great option for visiting Lake Myvatn. You’ll generally find lower prices than in summer when visiting the Myvatn area in spring or autumn, as well as greater availability of accommodation and a more peaceful experience when visiting Myvatn attractions, like the geothermal baths.

Days can still be dark for many hours during spring and autumn in Iceland, though. Note also that the weather can also still be pretty cold at this time.

Myvatn in the fall

Myvatn in Winter

For your Myvatn winter trip, you can go dog sledding, view the Northern Lights and witness the steaming hot springs breaking up the snowy landscape. You just need to be prepared for the cold and plan your trip to Lake Myvatn well, as Iceland generally experiences short daylight hours throughout winter.

In winter, crowds will be thinner and prices will be less. Keep in mind, though, that there is a higher possibility of road closures across Iceland in winter, meaning some areas may not be accessible due to harsh weather.

myvatn winter

Lake Myvatn Tours

If you fancy being driven to and around the famous Myvatn Lake, you can pick from a range of Lake Myvatn tours. Here are a few exciting Lake Myvatn tour options to explore:

What to do in lake myvatn

Best Myvatn Hikes and Walks

At Lake Myvatn, you’ll find no shortage of incredible walking and hiking routes that take you right into the heart of the Myvatn area. Here are a few of our favorite Myvatn hikes for some walking inspiration:

Lake Myvatn Loop

Just over 36 kilometers long, this circular trail takes around 9 hours to complete and loops around the entire Lake Myvatn itself. As you walk, run or cycle by the water’s edge, you’ll occasionally be near the road, so be careful of cars.

A moderately challenging route, the Lake Myvatn loop is perfect for a full day of exploration in this area for keen hikers.

mývatn tours

Vindbelgjarfjall Mountain Trail

This 5-kilometer long mountain trail to the western shore of Lake Myvatn starts next to the farm Vagnbrekka and ends on top of Vindbelgjarfjall, or Vindbelgur Mountain. You can enjoy stunning views when you reach the peak, soaking in the beauty of the Myvatn area.

Note that this route requires an uphill ascent, so good physical fitness is required. The Vindbelgjarfjall mountain trail takes around 2 hours to complete.

myvatn area

Kalfastrond and Hofdi Route

If the lava fields and formations particularly pique your interest, exploring the Kalfastrond and Hofdi routes could be the best Myvatn hikes for you. From the parking lot at Hofdi, you can take the trail through the forest along the lake shore.

You can also start at Kalfastrond farm and walk to Klasar, which takes you through the amazing and highly unique lava structures found in the Myvatn area. This route is also perfect for keen birdwatchers.

Lake myvatn shore

The North Bank Circle

Starting at the northern area of Lake Myvatn near the hotels, such as Myvatn Berjaya Iceland Hotel, you can take a lovely walk along the lakefront, past the amazing lava formations. The North Bank Circle route loops back around, so you end where you started after around 2 to 3 hours of walking.

Hiking area in myvatn

Lake Myvatn Marathon

There’s also a Myvatn Marathon that takes place once a year at Lake Myvatn, which starts and ends at the Myvatn Nature Baths. If you’re lucky enough to visit during this time, you can cheer the racers on, or even take part yourself!

Camping Near Myvatn

If you want to get up close to nature by camping near Myvatn, you can stay at Hlid Myvatn campsite. You don’t need to book; you can simply turn up with your tent or campervan and find a spot on the lakeside. This Myvatn campground has electricity, bathroom facilities and a kitchen area.

Here, you’ll also find a hostel, guesthouses and cottages, in case you were looking for an option other than camping at Myvatn.

Your camping Myvatn experience will allow you to spend a night under the stars, next to the idyllic lake and otherworldly lava fields. One thing’s for sure – you’ll be telling your Lake Myvatn camping story for years to come!

Camping by myvatn

Where to Stay Near Lake Myvatn

Want to stop over after your day of exploring Lake Myvatn? As well as camping at Myvatn, here are some hotel and guesthouse options to suit any budget.

  • Myvatn Berjaya Iceland Hotels – Situated right on the northern bank of Lake Myvatn, this 4-star hotel offers double, twin and family rooms, with a restaurant onsite and Wi-Fi available.
  • Elda Guesthouse – This 3-star guesthouse to the north of Lake Myvatn is located in the small Icelandic village of Reykjahlid and has a supermarket next door.
  • Fosshotel Myvatn – At the very northern tip of Lake Myvatn, this 3-star hotel offers many comfortable room types and a restaurant.
  • Laxa Hotel – To the south of Lake Myvatn, you’ll find this 3-star hotel with standard or lake side rooms.
  • Dimmuborgir Guesthouse – This family-run, 3-star accommodation in the lava fields offers a cozy place to stay and an amazing place to photograph the Northern Lights.
  • Hraunbrun Hostel – Stay on the very edge of the lava field in this hostel, which offers shared rooms and bunk beds.

Fumaroles at Myvatn area

Top Tips for Visiting Lake Myvatn

Make the most of your once-in-a-lifetime trip to the stunning Lake Myvatn with our top travel tips to help you get prepared. 

  • Bring some bug repellent – The name ‘Myvatn’ actually means ‘the lake of midges’, so-called due to the large number of midges present here in the summer months. These swarms of tiny black flies are an important food source for the birds that call this area home, but less convenient for human visitors! Beat those Lake Myvatn flies with some bug repellent to make sure your trip to this amazing lake is as comfortable as possible.
  • Pack enough food and water for the day – You’ll need to bring along enough water and snacks for your trip to Lake Myvatn, as this natural area is quite isolated, so you won’t always be able to rely on restaurants for dining. We recommend packing some of your favorite picnic foods to enjoy when you arrive at this stunning lake. If you don’t have enough supplies, fear not! There’s a nearby Myvatn supermarket in the village of Reykjahlid, next to the Myvatn Tourist Information Center.
  • Rent your car in Iceland ahead of time – As Iceland is an incredibly popular tourist destination, it’s best to book your rental vehicle as early as possible. We can help you out with finding an affordable car rental in Reykjavik, perfect for starting your Iceland vacation from the capital.
  • Bring a printed Myvatn map and portable charger – It’s a good idea to bring a printed map as a backup, so you’ll always know where you’re going. Also note that phone batteries are used up at a quicker rate in the cold weather, so we recommend bringing a portable charger and/or a spare mobile phone, especially as GPS apps can use quite a bit of battery.
  • Wear waterproof layers – No matter what time of year you’re visiting Lake Myvatn, it’s important to wear a waterproof coat and shoes. Iceland’s weather can be famously unpredictable, so you never know when you’ll need that hood! If you have waterproof pants, even better.

Guide about Myvatn Lake

Ready to Get on the Way to Lake Myvatn?

Inspired to visit the amazing Lake Myvatn for yourself? Treat yourself to a visit to this incredible natural wonder by arranging your own Iceland vacation today. All you need is to find your accommodation and transport, then get excited by planning your perfect itinerary!

Let us help you out with a key piece of your Iceland vacation planning: hiring a car for your trip. We’ll help you find an affordable and reliable car rental in Iceland, taking all the stress away from researching and planning. Simply pick your favorite and you’re good to go. The beautiful geothermal waters of Lake Myvatn await!