A Rough Guide to Lake Myvatn, Iceland
The shores of lake Myvatn and around are absolutely packed with mysterious crevices, bubbling mud pools, craters and volcanoes. This is also an important area for migrating birds which are sadly only to be found in the Spring.
Lake Myvatn is a popular area with good reason. The sites are surprisingly close together and the names of each site are in Icelandic. This makes deciding what to see a bit tricky.
I found that we had to have our noses pressed up against the guidebook each time we passed a sign as the Icelandic names were difficult to remember. Then, we had to read a paragraph in a guidebook to figure out what was at the end of each dirt track. Therefore, I’ve created a very rough guide, with quick informlation, of the 7 sites we most enjoyed on the eastern side of the lake Myvatn.
7 Things to See at Lake Myvatn
Vogafjos – Cowshed Café
Adorable café in a land with so little restaurants. For fast access to Iceland on a plate, order the Iceland special for 2 where you can taste the local smoked lamb, smoked arctic char, Geyser bread, blueberry jam and cottage cheese. All this while cows watch you eat!
Hverfell – The Volcano!
Broad and conical. The opening is a kilometre wide. We read in our guidebook that this “looked just like a volcano should.” Apparently not to us as we kept thinking a much taller mountain was the volcano. Whoops!
You can climb this in about 2 hours. Sadly for us, weather didn’t permit.
Grotagja – Flooded Fissure
5m high ridge of lava. Underneath the ridge, lies a couple of clear blue steaming pools that are just a bit too hot to immerse yourself into. Only locals seem to dare in winter.
Dimmuborgir – Lava Towers
Contorted black lava towers set amongst the, at this time of year, yellow birch scrub. Winding paths with various lengths take you through the formations. The café next to the car park was holding an all you can eat soup meal. Great value for money- don’t miss it like us!
Myvatn Nature Baths – Lake Myvatn’s version of the Blue Lagoon
Here you’ll find 2 pools of Milky blue waters heated to 38-40 degrees. We had a gorgeous evening soaking in the water and watching the sunset over the lake. The pool in the evening is full of young couples from all around the world. You can even get a beer to accompany you in the eggy waters. My hair smelled like eggs for days afterwards…Still worth it.
This is half the price of the famous Blue Lagoon (2800kr)
The Underground Bakery – steam bread baked underground
You pass this nondescript field of underground ovens on your way to the Nature Baths. It’s interesting to know where this is, but we got the feeling that you’re not necessarily welcome to visit. Too many curious wanderers lifting the damn lids and spoiling the bread.
The bread is a sweet rye that is very compact and an acquired taste. It is made by mixing rye dough, yeast and molasses in a cardboard milk carton and left underground for a day.
The underground bread is available in local shops and most likely if you’re staying at a B&B, it will be on the menu for breakfast.
Hverir – AMAZING Solfataras (blue-grey belching mud pools)
access: keep going on the ring road past the nature baths and power plant, it’s on the other side of the mountain
This was one of the highlights of my trip. As a photographer, perhaps you can guess why.
We arrived at Hverir early in the morning; the weather was unbearable. We sat in the parking lot overlooking the field watching people clutching onto their coats while making bets for how long they’d last as they practically ran around the pools in the bitter cold. In the afternoon, we returned. Although the weather had ameliorated only slightly, we braved the howling wind. I found myself absolutely in love with these fantastic bubbling pools. Be aware, your boots will be covered in BLUE mud. Also, do heed the signs; stay on the path. There have been unfortunate scenarios of wandering tourists…