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Raufarhólshellir is the fourth-largest and the most visually enjoyable lava cave in Iceland. Walking through the 1360 m (4,46 1ft) long lava tunnel is an incredible ethereal experience.

Explore rainbow-colored walls and stunning rock formations as you traverse the twists and turns of the cave. A thrilling adventure below the earth, Raufarhólshellir is just a 30-minute drive from Reykjavík, making it an easy day trip from the capital.

Recommended Raufarhólshellir Tours

Raufarhólshellir is often described as something from a children’s fairytale. The lava tunnel is just 30 minutes away from Reykjavík in southwest Iceland. Surrounded by moss-covered lava, mountains, and craters, it attracts visitors all year round. 

The cave is heavenly in form and color, and walking through it is a truly magical experience.

 

Journey to the Centre of the Earth (The Raufarholshellir lava tunnel), Iceland GoPro 1080p

 

Raufarhólshellir Cave is the fourth largest lava tube in Iceland, measuring 1,360 m (4,461 ft) in length and 10-30 m (33-98 ft) wide depending on where you are standing.

The ceiling is high (up to 10 m or 33 ft), making the cave one of the best caves to visit if you have ever experienced claustrophobia. The average thickness of the lava ceiling is about 12 m (39 ft).

Raufarholshellir Tunnel in Iceland

This geological wonder shouldn’t be visited without a guide or a lava cave expert. Raufarhólshellir Lava Tunnel Small Group Tour is one of the most budget-friendly experiences you can have in Iceland and our expert guides make sure to keep you safe and informed at all times.

Fun Facts about Raufarhólshellir

  • Raufarhólshellir is the fourth-largest lava cave in Iceland.
  • Some parts of the tunnel actually go under the road to Thorlakshofn so when you are driving there, you'll actually be driving over parts of the cave you will walk through later!
  • The cave once housed a framed epitaph document and a cinerary urn with the remains of the last member of an Indian tribe from Fire Island. Sadly, the urn was taken from the cave, and its location remains unknown.

The history of Raufarhólshellir

The history of Raufarhólshellir Cave starts with a volcanic eruption in the Bláfjöll Mountain Range about 5,200 years ago. The eruption, which is often referred to as the Leitarhraun eruption, created the scene you see today and with it an 11 km (7 mi) long crater row.

Lava tunnels are natural canals that form when active flowing magma starts to harden creating a thin lava crust on top. This lava crust then thickens as more lava flows and results in the formation of the lava tunnel roof. The hot running lava continues to flow through, but the roof stays solid.

When visiting the cave you'll be following the path of the lava, which flowed through the site a few thousand years ago.

Ice stalagmites inside Raufarholshellir Lava Tunnel

What is there to see inside Raufarhólshellir?

  • A beautiful variety of moss-covered lava.
  • An incredible natural array of colors was created during the volcanic formation of the tunnel. Each color beam tells you a little bit about the history of the cave.
  • The tunnel was filled with stalactites, but around the 1950s, when the cave started getting more and more popular they began to disappear. Today you can see only a few of them in the cave, but they are well worth the search. 
  • Incredible rock formations and naturally sculpted lava falls.
  • In winter see glistening icicles and ice formations all around the cave.

Where is Raufarhólshellir located?

GPS Coordinates: 63.959753° N 21.312831° W

Raufarhólshellir is located right off Route 39 which runs off the Ring Road. It's only about 41 km (25 mi) away from Reykjavík.

longes Lava Tunnel in Iceland

How to get to Raufarhólshellir

There are two ways of going about visiting Raufarhólshellir. You can purchase a pick-up from us when booking an excursion, or you can rent a car and drive there on your own.

The drive from Reykjavík to Raufarhólshellir is easy as the cave is located just 30 minutes away from the capital. 

Exit the city through Norðlingaholt via Road 49 and turn right onto Road 1. Continue on this road until you see a sign pointing to Þorlákshöfn, Road 39. This is where you make a turn and drive for about 18 km (11 mi). There is a well-marked sign by the parking lot right off the road.

WHERE TO STAY NEAR RAUFARHÓLSHELLIR

Looking for the perfect place to rest up near this majestic lava tunnel and see some nearby attractions? Here are some top accommodation options in the area.

Hotels

  • Hotel Hlid
  • Hotel Örk
  • Frost and Funi
  • Skyrgerðin

Guesthouses, B&Bs and Farmstays

  • Cora’s House and Horses
  • Jonna Guesthouse
  • Black Beach Guesthouse
  • Varmi Guesthouse Apartments
  • Iceland’s Guesthouse Axelhusi
  • Frumskogar Guesthouse

Hostels

  • Hot Springs Hostel

Cottages and Cabins

  • Black Beach Cottage

Where to eat near Raufarhólshellir

Icelandic local draft beer

Where to eat at Þorlákshöfn and Eyrarbakki:

  • Hafið – the highest-rated restaurant on Tripadvisor. A fabulous seafood restaurant with the most stunning ocean view.
  • Rauða Húsið – a famous lobster restaurant in an old well-kept house at Eyrarbakki. A fantastic stop to make.
  • Meitilinn – a family-owned restaurant with great pizzas, burgers, and locally caught fish!

Where to eat in Hveragerði:

  • Ölverk – a fantastic beer brewery and pizzeria. The only geothermally brewed beer in Europe, simply delicious!
  • Almarsbakarí – a lovely café/bakery with all the baked goods one might like.

Interesting places near Raufarhólshellir