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Katla Volcano

one of Iceland's biggest volcanoes and its ice cave

Katla volcano, the beating heart of the Southern Volcanic system in Iceland is located not far from the town of Vik in Myrdalur. It is known for its unlimited powers, tremendous glacial floods and just recently an incredibly beautiful ice cave that has been found in its surrounding glacier.



Katla volcano has been in the news time and time again in regards to its upcoming eruption. Most Icelanders find this a bit strange as the volcano isn’t at this time showing any unusual activity meaning there isn’t much to worry about, but, this might also just be the way of thinking when you live in a land filled with volcanoes and other powerful natural phenomena.

Katla volcano is located in the southern highlands right under one of Mýrdalsjökull’s glacier tongues, this one being called Kötlujökull, named after the mighty Katla. This type of volcano is called a stratovolcano and is the same kind as the famous Eyjafjallajökull that erupted in 2010. Katla is one of the biggest volcanoes and Iceland and considered to be very active. From 930 to 1918, when the last one occurred, 16-20 eruptions have been documented. The time between the eruptions has varied from 20 to 80 years but now over 100 years since the last violent eruption. Some say that it has shut down, that the eruption in 1918 might have been the last one but other say its overdue. Still, Katla has “blown off steam” a few times with smaller eruptions, so small that they didn’t even break the ice. These smaller eruptions have been documented in the years 1955, 1999 and again in 2011.


  • Katla’s name means a kettle, quite fitting as she is, at times, on the edge of boiling
  • It is one of the largest volcanic sources of Co2 (carbon-dioxide) on this planet, believed to be responsible for up to 4% of total global volcanic carbon-dioxide emissions
  • Kotlujokull glacier has a Natural Ice Cave you can visit all year round!

GPS Coordinates: 63.5467° N 18.885° W

If you look at Katla on a map it is placed right in the center of the South Coast, East of Eyjafjallajökull glacier volcano and West of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. It is about 150 km or 93.2 miles away from Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital.

katla-volcano-island

Reaching Katla is a difficult task, not only is it located underneath an ice cap but it is also tucked away in the highlands. Driving from Reykjavík to Katla should take about 3 hours and will take you along the South Coast driving the Ring Road One. You will follow the same route all the way through the towns of Hveragerði, Selfoss, Hella, Hvolsvöllur and Vík before being able to turn onto a rough dirt road to reach the edge of the glacier. To visit Katla in itself is challenging, to say the least, and shouldn’t be attempted without an experienced guide and a lot of planning but the good news is, there is another way. Every day an exciting Ice Cave Tour experience goes out from Reykjavik and Vík to visit the breathtakingly beautiful Ice Cave that has recently been found nestled away at the glacier’s foothills.

This Ice Cave under Katla volcano is without a doubt the best way to approach the volcano!


The Ice Cave under the Volcano

Up until recently, natural Ice Caves were an attraction only winter travelers in Iceland could enjoy, that is to say, until they found the Ice Cave under the Katla Volcano. The area around the volcano and its glacier is unbelievable, pitch black sand, numerous running rivers, green picture-perfect mountains and nothing but marvelous nature as far as the eye can see. Once you take that turn off Ring Road onto the trail in the sand you are placed in a fairytale. The drive is a rough one but the scenery around you truly makes up for it, and hey, to get there you need to drive in a Super Jeep so that is pretty bad-ass on its own and makes the bumpy ride well worth it!

The Ice Cave Under the Volcano

Once you start to see the glacier up close the truck is parked, the crampons are put on the shoes and a small walk is taken to the entrance of the glacier ice cave. The setting is hard to describe, is it is like something out of a dream or possibly a James Cameron movie. You will get to go inside the glacier, see the layers, the history, learn about the Katla eruptions, the small eruptions just as well as the major ones and the area around it.

The Ice Cave Under the Volcano Surroundings

Iceland is packed with active volcanoes so there is a lot to share and your expert guide is there every step of the way.

Get up close and personal with the glacier that hosts Katla Volcano and explore the natural phenomenon many think to be the ultimate highlight in Iceland’s natural scene!


Katla is located very near the town of Vik i Myrdal. This is why the restaurant scene has quite a few options!

  1. Suður Vík – European Cuisine, they have vegan options available.
  2. The Black Beach Restaurant – a lovely café, Vegan and Gluten-free options are offered.
  3. Halldórskaffi – The classic American menu with a dash of Icelandic, Vegan-friendly plus Gluten-free options.
  4. The Soup Company – The healthier option plus has some delicious vegan options.
  5. Smiðjan Bruggshús – a Local Beer Brewery & Grill.
  6. Berg – Fancy option, European food, Vegetarian and Gluten Free options.
  7. Ice Cave Restaurant – Yummy burgers, soups and stews. Vegetarian options.
  8. Drangar Restaurant at Hotel Kría – European cuisine and amazing architecture.

Hamburger Iceland


Hotels

  • Hotel Skogar
  • Icelandair Hotel Vík
  • Hotel Katla Höfðabrekka
  • Puffin Hotel Vík
  • Hotel Dyrholaey
  • Hotel Kría

Hostels

  • The Barn
  • Puffin Hostel Vik

Guesthouses, B&B and Farmstays

  • Vestri Pétursey
  • Guesthouse Steig
  • Guesthouse Carina
  • Dream Guesthouse Vík
  • Guesthouse Galleri Vik
  • Ársalir
  • Einarstaðir Homestay
  • Giljur Guesthouse
  • Kósý Vík
  • Guesthouse Reynir
  • Farmhouse Lodge
  • Black Beach Suites

There is a delightful and large camping ground in the town Vík with great facilities. They include bathrooms, showers (200 ISK), running hot and cold water, electricity, WIFI, a dining area, washing machines (500 ISK), tumble dryers (500 ISK) and a BBQ.

Price: 1750 ISK per adult for each night.

Open: from the 1st of June until the 15th of September each year.

Address: Klettsvegur 7, 870 Vík í Mýrdal.


The tours around Katla are available all year round and to visit an ice cave in winter is truly like stepping into a winter wonderland. Just remember to dress in extra layers and bring those sturdy boots – you’re gonna need them!

Katla Surroundings


Interesting places near Katla