Want to feel in another world? The lava fields of Berserkjahraun Iceland is one of my favorite places to visit in the Snaefellsnes peninsula. Is is a bit off the beaten track but an easy drive between interestingly-shaped mountains and lava formations. Below is my guide to help you plan your visit with many photos of this amazing place.
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Why Visit the Berserkjahraun Lava Field?
What is it?
Berserkjahraun (which translates to mad-man’s lava field), is a path on the Northern part of the Snaefellsnes peninsula that takes you into lava fields from the main road circling it. It is a place where you can observe green moss over black lava stones that vary greatly in size; all that, surrounded by pyramid-shaped mountains and fjords.
I drove one morning the whole road and enjoyed crossing paths with very few vehicles, feeling alone in the place, discovering the shapes and the contrasting colors along the way. The next day I had better weather and decided to drive part of the road again (as I was limited in time) to see it with different light. So you see how much I enjoyed it
What does Berserkjahraun mean?
Berserkjahraun literally means lava field of the Berserker (Champion viking warrior who fought in a frenzy - nowadays can mean furiously violent or out of control).
The area is the home of a famous saga with berserkers, hence the name (story at the end of the article).
Note: anytime you see Hraun in the name of a place, it means lava.
How do you pronounce Berserkjahraun?
Before you keep reading this article, you may want to check out how to pronounce the word 🙂
Check it out here. Not so easy...
PLANNING TIPS - Berserkjahraun Iceland
Where is Berserkjahraun located?
- On the North side of the Snaefellsnes peninsula, West Iceland
- Reykjavik to Berserkjahraun junction - 2h15 drive
- Grundarfjordur to Berserkjahraun junction = 15min drive
- Stykkisholmur to Berserkjahraun junction = 15min drive
- You can also check out my map of Snaefellsnes with places to visit to locate this road - see below #14:
You can find similar maps (but improved) for all regions as well as GPS coordinates in my eBook:
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How to get to Berserkjahraun Iceland
- It is along Road 558
- Coming from the West on road 54 from Grundarfjordur, cross the first bridge, then turn right on road 558 also called Berserkjahraun. After crossing a small bridge continue to a crossing and turn right.
- Coming from the East just after the crossing of Roads 56 (Vatnaleid) and 54 (Snaefellsnesvegur), turn left into Berserkjahraun
- Learn more about driving in Iceland, on my practical article
- It is very easy to reach but most people just tour Snaefellsnes and do not venture into those roads. You get the place almost to yourself! (at least until everybody reads this article 🙂 )
- Best time - Early morning you will get nice reflections around the bridge
- Difficulty - The road is not paved but not difficult, you just have to drive slowly but with this scenery, who would want to drive fast? Crossing other vehicles is not a problem
- Do no walk on the lava! the moss is very fragile and takes a long time to grow + the lava is sharp
- How long - I think I drove on it for 2 & 1/2 hours stopping all the time - but you could drive it in a lot less
- Car type - I drove it with a Suzuki Jimmy 4WD rented from Route 1 car rental and it was perfect! Check out their rental offers.
Difficulty of the drive
A lot of the drive looks like that. Although some sections are a lot bumpier but not too bad.
Of course, weather can change the road conditions, so always be careful.
Need to rent a car for your road trip in Iceland?
- You can choose from some great local companies - Iceland has a lot of specificities and their offerings are adapted - you can compare cars and prices of quality local brands on this expert Icelandic website
- Otherwise you can compare offers from international companies on RentalCars.com
- Book early to have a large choice of vehicles!
Berserkjahraun geology - the history behind the lava field
How old is Berserkjahraun lava field?
It is around 4000 years old
How was it formed?
Four prominent craters probably erupted at short intervals approximately 3600-4000 years ago, the largest one first and the smallest last.
This lava field flowed between the mountain side and the sea. And when it cooled down, it created this amazing landscape that was later reclaimed by nature with moss and other plants.
Hraunsfjardarvatn - Berserker lava field lake
If driving from the West, you first encounter what looks like a lake at the beginning of the lava filed.
It is actually connected to the sea.
Stop near the bridge to appreciate the views.
Below are some photos of the area around the Lakes.
On one side of the road not much lava...
but on the other side, the water holes and lake are surrounded by big blocks of lava!
Photos from the Berserkjahraun drive
The whole drive through the lava filed is fascinating. No more instructions needed, you just keep driving and stop whenever you feel inspired.
Below are a few pictures from my drive to give you an idea of what to expect.
Starting with my favorite shot of Berserkjahraun with the pyramid- shaped mountains behind (and one of my favorite pictures of Iceland). You really want to check if any elves or trolls live there. Don't you?
Sometimes the green of the moss does not even look real!
And just unbelievable scenery everywhere:
In the photo below you can see a bit more of the mountains surrounding Berserkjaraun:
And sometimes the rock is really red!
Do you see why it reached my Top 7 off the beaten path destinations in Iceland ?
The Saga behind the lava field of Berserkjahraun
Here is a short version of the Eyrbyggja saga behind the name of this lava field:
A 10th century farmer had brought two Swedish berserkers. Since he had problems handling the two, he gave them to his brother Styr the Slayer, who was living on the other side of the lava field.
After a while one of the berserkers fell in love with his daughter and asked for her hand. Víga-Styrr promised to agree only if the berserkers cleared a path through the lava field to connect his farm with the nearest settlement. The two soon finished what Víga-Styrr thought was impossible, but instead of keeping his promise he murdered them both and buried them somewhere along the path.
Want to see more of Iceland's beauty?
Would you go off the beaten track for such a place?