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The Lava Tunnel at Raufarhólshellir is one of Iceland’s top volcanic sights. Imagine a great cavern punched out of the earth by flowing lava, now adorned with stalactites. It’s a magical and mysterious place. Explore the Raufarhólshellir lava cave on one of our tours. Find the right option for you below.
View inside the Raufarhólshellir in Iceland.

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People inside the Lava Tunnel in Iceland.
    3 hours

    The Lava Tunnel

    Delve deep underground on this adventurous lava tunnel tour, just 30 minutes from Reykjavík. Raufarhólshellir is an ideal tour for geology buffs and adventure-seekers. You will see the inner workings of a volcanic eruption while walking in the path of lava that flowed thousands of years ago. This is an easy, guided tour with no caving experience required

    From €90/person
    Two people inside the Lava tunnel in Iceland.
      9.5 hours

      Golden Circle & Lava Tunnel - Combo Deal

      Nature, culture, and history prevail in this combination tour, which takes you to the sites of the Golden Circle and inside the Lava Tunnel Raufarhólshellir cave. Experience a new world of Iceland's natural wonders -- Gullfoss waterfall, the Geysir geothermal region, Þingvellir National Park and the raw beauty of a lava tunnel. This is an easy, guided tour with no caving experience required.

      From €146/person

      Visit the Lava Tunnel at Raufarhólshellir

      What is the Raufarhólshellir lava tube?

      The Raufarhólshellir Lava Tunnel is a lava tube in the southwest of Iceland. It’s Iceland’s fourth-largest lava tube, but thanks to its proximity to Reykjavík, it’s probably one of the most frequently visited.

      Lava tubes are tunnels that are formed by flowing lava. During a volcanic eruption, lava is forced out from deep in the Earth—and it has to go somewhere. As a result of the really high pressure, it punches these holes beneath the surface of the Earth, which turn into caves when the lava flows elsewhere.

      The lava performs a neat trick here. As it is molten rock itself, the lava cools at the edges as it moves through the Earth, hardening into the smooth walls of the tunnel. Then, over time, as water slowly begins to seep through from the surface, stalactites and stalagmites form in the tunnel.

      Raufarhólshellir itself was formed over 5,200 years ago, when the volcano known as Leitahraun erupted. It created this cave that is 1,360 metres (4,500 feet) long, 30 metres (98 feet) wide, and 10 metres (33 feet) high. It’s truly an enormous space.

      What’s interesting about Raufarhólshellir is that it’s also really close to the surface. Along the tunnel there are moments where the roof has fallen in, some time over the last five millennia. Snow piles up in winter and rain drips down whenever it’s wet on the surface. That said, Raufarhólshellir keeps a stable temperature throughout the year—and is often even warmer than the air outside.

      Over the years, the cave had become damaged by the number of visitors to the area, who were once allowed to freely visit. As a result, the tunnel was closed in 2016, when it was cleaned up and a new pathway was added. These days, it’s a much more protected space, and all visitors are asked to treat this special place with respect.

      How to visit Raufarhólshellir, Iceland

      Raufarhólshellir is located in the southwest of Iceland. Halfway between the towns of Hveragerði and Þorlákshöfn, it’s in a really convenient place to visit from the capital, Reykjavík.

      In fact, most visitors will come directly from the city. It’s just over 40 kilometres (25 miles) away from the city centre, and can be reached in just over half an hour by car. Join route 1 when you leave the city and, after about 20 minutes, take the junction to route 39. You’ll reach Raufarhólshellir in another 10 minutes.

      While many people will hire a car on their trip to Iceland, that’s not for everyone. In winter in particular, the conditions can be a little difficult, with volatile weather and low light levels. There’s also the challenge of navigating in a different country.

      If you prefer not to drive, you can still see the wonders of Raufarhólshellir. For example, you can join a guided group tour that leaves from Reykjavík and takes you straight to the Lava Tunnel. This way, you can sit back and relax and visit the tunnel without the hassle. What’s more, you can even combine a trip to Raufarhólshellir with a visit to other sights in the area, such as the famous Golden Circle.

      What to expect from your visit

      However you choose to get there, visits to the Lava Tunnel last for about one hour.

      You’ll be led up the length of the tunnel by a local guide, who will explain to you how it was formed and show you some of the most interesting features along the way. Then, you’ll have the opportunity for photographs, before heading back to the entrance.

      Along the way, you’ll follow the path that was built through the tunnel during its closure in 2016. It makes it an incredibly accessible sight, however there are some steps along the way.

      Generally, visitors are encouraged to wear walking shoes and a waterproof jacket. This way, you’ll be able to handle the sometimes unstable terrain and you’ll be protected by any drips from the water that leaks through the ceiling.

      One of the most common questions about visiting Raufarhólshellir is whether you need any specialist gear. You don’t. A torch and helmet are included in the price of entry.

      Other sights nearby

      Raufarhólshellir lava tube is in the centre of one of the most scenic areas in Iceland. When you visit, you’ll be surrounded by other sights that are just as easy to visit.

      For example, you’re really close to the Golden Circle, one of the most famous travel itineraries in all of Iceland. Combining three of the country’s best sights—Þingvellir National Park, Geysir, and Gullfoss waterfall—it’s an unmissable insight into the history and landscapes of Iceland.

      You can easily combine a trip to Raufarhólshellir with a tour of the Golden Circle, to make for a breathtaking day out.

      Alternatively, there’s the Reykjanes UNESCO Global Geopark to the west of Raufarhólshellir. Here, you’ll continue your exploration of Iceland’s volcanism, with steam vents, hot springs, and even a live, active volcano—the legendary Fagradalsfjall.

      There’s plenty to do. And whatever you want to see, it’s easy with Icelandia. With our guided tours, you can meet on site or benefit from a transfer from downtown Reykjavík—whichever suits you best.

      Frequently asked questions

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