Grjótagjá Cave: Everything You Need to Know

 Steam rising from the thermal water in Grjótagjá cave

Grjótagjá Cave: How to Get There and Everything You Need to Know

Geological wonders are a huge attraction for those that visit Iceland and Grjótagjá is no exception. This small lava cave, located in Northeast Iceland,  is the result of a fissure in the crust and has a history that adds to its charm. Inside the cave is a hot spring consisting of calm, clear, blue water. If you’re keen to visit and want to find out more about what to expect, we’ve got all the information you need. 

The History of Grjótagjá

The early history of the cave dates back to the early 18th century when it was inhabited by Jón Markússon, an outlaw who had been ostracized from the local community. Following his death, locals used the thermal spring inside the cave for bathing, but this was put to a stop in the 1970s by the eruption of the Krafla volcanic system which resulted in the water becoming unsafe due to its high temperatures.

Although the water has cooled slightly over the years, the temperature is unpredictable and is therefore no longer safe for swimming or bathing.

Image of swords from popular tv show Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones - Jon Snow's Cave

In Season 3, Episode 5 of Game of Thrones, Jon Snow and Ygritte visited this hidden gem together and introduced the world to its beauty. Since the episode was first aired in 2013, the cave has become an extremely popular destination for many fans of the tv show. 

Unfortunately, with great publicity came risk. Many tourists flocked to the area and the damage and vandalism that occurred with the rapid increase of visitors has since resulted in the permanent closure of the cave to the public. The owners of the private land where Grjótagja is situated decided that this would be the best course of action to prevent any further deterioration of the cave.



 Steam rising from the thermal water in Grjótagjá cave

How to get to Grjótagjá?

Just short of 300 miles from the island’s capital city, Reykjavik, the drive to this secluded cave on the Eastern shore of Lake Myvatn takes around 6 hours. Conveniently, this area forms part of the Diamond Circle, a popular road trip taken by many visitors. This means it is fairly simple to access from the Ring Road that loops around the country. 

Road 1 Eastbound from Reykjahlíð will take you to gravel road 860, where you will find Grjótagjá. There is a small car park outside that means you can stop and wander in the surrounding area. The GPS coordinates are 65.6262° N, 16.8830° W.

For those that are also seeking out other local attractions to visit before or after, there is a hiking trail that connects Grjótagjá to the nearby crater, Hverfjall. 

If the drive from Reykjavik doesn’t appeal to you, there are alternative options such as flying to Húsavík or Akureyri airport, both of which are a short distance from the cave. Due to limited public transport options in the area, the best way to get around is by car. The unpredictable weather conditions mean it is advisable to hire a 4-wheel drive, particularly in the winter months. 

If you’re keen to experience Grjótagjá and want to make the most of your time in the area, our sustainably built hotel in Lake Myvatn makes the ideal base. The local town of Reykjahlíð provides necessary amenities such as a bank, mini supermarket and health centre meaning you’ll have access to everything you need during your stay.