Discover the Icelandic area of Lake Myvatn in Winter: mud pools, giant lava formations, pseudo-craters... This is quite an experience away from the crowds! Below is my introduction to some of the best places to visit in the area (with pictures!).
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Why visit the North and Lake Myvatn in Winter?
In Winter, most tourists in Iceland stay in the Southern half of the country, not far from Reykjavik.
Yet, the North also has some beautiful winter landscapes to offer.
Lake Myvatn, in particular, is worth visiting with all its volcanic features.
Have a look at this picture of the Hverir geothermal field:
In Summer, Myvatn is my favorite region in Iceland.
But I must admit that, in Winter, the area is not as fascinating because you cannot see all the cracks on the Earth crust.
But it is still wonderful because:
- There are a lot less tourists and you can enjoy some locations almost to yourself
- Some areas are just white all around, like being in another dimension
- The contrasts of the dark lava and mud pools with the white of the snow is intense
- It is quite easy to reach all the places to see
Below is a short video to give you an idea of the places to see in Winter around Lake Myvatn:
Planning Tips - Lake Myvatn, North Iceland
How to get to Lake Myvatn
- Located in North Iceland, along Road 1
- Akureyri to Myvatn = 1h10 drive
- Reykjavik to Myvatn = 6h drive
- Egilsstadir to Myvatn = 2h15 drive
- The amazing places around the lake are included in my Winter road trip guide to help you plan your itinerary:
Plan your perfect trip to Iceland in Winter!
- 6 easy-to-plan Maps
- 75+ pre-selected scenic locations
- Winter Accessibility + Planning Tips
- 115+ large photos to decide where to go
- GPS coordinates direct to the carparks
If you don't want to drive, this amazing 8 day tour of Iceland in Winter will take you all the way around Iceland including Lake Myvatn - check out program and availability
Accessibility in Winter
- The lake itself is easy to access since it is along Road 1
- Some of the attractions in the area remain accessible with cleared roads and carparks such as Dimmuborgir and Hverir
- However others are closed such as the waterfall Dettifoss to the East
- Of course road closure can always happen due to snow and wind - check out the status on road.is
- They do clear the paths but North Iceland get a lot of snow. I recommend that you carry spikes (see options) that you can add on your shoes at any time
Winter driving around Lake Myvatn - Road and viewpoints
As I said, Lake Myvatn is on Road 1. The road to access it is maintained.
It snows a lot in North Iceland, but they have trucks clearing the roads. Therefore driving around Myvatn is quite easy most of the time.
Check out my article with my tips about driving in Iceland in Winter.
The scenery is very black and white. All the colors from Summer are hidden by the snow. What remains is the blue of the geothermal pools.
Below is a picture as you approach the lake Myvatn area from the East. You can view the Vindbelgjarfjall mountain covered in snow in the distance. It is 529m high.
Around the lake you can find a couple of parking spots to see some of the features.
Below is one of them by the lake. You can see lava pillars in the water.
Myvatn itself is a large area with a lake and wetlands (with a rich fauna). The lake was created by a large eruption over 2000 years ago.
And here is the view of the Hverfjall crater. It is an iconic volcano.
- Hverfjall is thought to be 2800 – 2900 years old
- It is a tephra cone, circular and almost symmetrical
- It is about 140 meters deep and 1km in diameter which makes it one of the largest of its kind in the world.
- In Summer you can climb it and tour the rim (see my article). In Winter, the closest carpark is closed. You can still hike but you would need expert equipment (big spikes, walking sticks...)
GPS coordinates of those stops are included in my eBook.
Need to rent a car for your road trip in Iceland?
You can choose from some great local companies!
- I selected Route 1 car rental (and paid entirely for it). I really enjoyed their service to drop and pick up the car, as well as all their advice before going on the road - Check out prices and car availabilities
- Otherwise you can compare the vehicles and prices from local companies on this practical website
Geothermal area of Hverir in Winter - top thing to do in Myvatn
One of the most famous stops of the lake is the Geothermal area of Hverir (also called Hverarond). It is at the foot of the Namafjall mountain.
In summer, the soil is quite orange (you can see pictures here).
In Winter, the experience is even more surreal. The contrast of the boiling water with the snow is fascinating.
I was expecting to see a lot less snow around the volcanic features.
The walking paths are clearly marked with poles on each side.
If you walk to the right, you will see the mud pools (picture below). And if you walk to the left you will enjoy the fumaroles.
Hverir Winter accessibility:
- Carpark right next to Road 1 is cleared
- Easy marked paths to the platform and around the features
- No facilities
- Do not stay longer than 1h - the smell of sulfur is not recommended
Lava Field of Dimmuborgir in Winter
Dimmuborgir is another highlight of the area.
It is a large lava field with giant lava formations. The landscape is black and white in Winter.
Beware: You might see elves or trolls hiding in the holes and rocks!
The scientific think that they were created from a lava tube which formed above a lake about 2300 years ago. It trapped the water in an estimated 10m deep reservoir. As it began to cool, the reservoir was released, leaving only those shapes created by steam.
These types of rock formations are almost unique on Earth. The only known similar feature is off the coast of Mexico under water.
You can see more photos of Dimmuborgir in Winter in this article
Dimmuborgir Winter accessibility:
- Carpark is 1.5km from the main road - normally cleared
- Quite a lot of snow on the walking paths. The paths close to the gate are easy to follow but if you want to enjoy the longer trails, they are not obvious
- Restaurant is closed in Winter
Pseudocraters of Skutustadagigar in Winter
I love the pseudo-craters of Skútustadagígar at Lake Myvatn.
In Winter, the experience is quite different: the pond is covered is snow. The whole are is white and you can only see the black top of the craters! (See the difference in Summer)
The Myvatn pseudocraters were formed as lava entered a large lake, trapping its wet sediment.
You would never know they are not real craters. This is a rare phenomenon on Earth. And scientists believe that it happens on Mars too.
Skútustadagígar Winter accessibility:
- Carpark right next to the main road along the lake
- Café across the road
- The whole walking loop cannot be done. But they do clear the paths and staircases to the top of the first craters
- Plan 45min
The Myvatn Baths in Winter
If you are looking to relax after a day of walking in the snow, Myvatn has its own Blue Lagoon. It is called the Myvatn baths or Jardbodin.
It is a man-made lagoon. The water is drawn from depths of up to 2.500 metres. Due to its chemical composition (with lots of minerals), undesired bacteria and vegetation do not thrive in the lagoon. Disinfectant is not added. The water has a temperature of about 130°C when it arrives to the surface but the lagoon is at a temperature of 36 – 40°C.
Myvatn baths Winter accessibility:
- 1km drive from Road 1
- Road and carpark are cleared
- Food and facilities on site
- official website of the Myvatn nature baths
Godafoss - top attraction in North Iceland in Winter
As you drive between Akureyri and Lake Myvatn, there is another stop you can enjoy in Winter. It is actually one of my favorite attractions in Winter.
The waterfall of Godafoss is so much more magical in Winter with the snow and the ice around the flow of water.
Learn more and see more photos in my article about Godafoss in Winter.
Chasing the Northern lights
In Winter, you can also get a chance to see the Northern lights.
I saw them in Egilsstadir before driving to Myvatn.
The North of Iceland is often considered to offer more opportunities as the sky is often clearer.
To learn more about finding and photographing them, check out my article.
Dog Sledding and snowmobile
If you are looking to go off the beaten path and explore the white landscapes, you can opt for some dog sledding and snowmobile tours.
This one is a combination of both - learn more
Dettifoss in Winter
The road to Dettifoss is closed. However some tour companies with special vehicle and special equipment can take you to see the mighty waterfall even in Winter.
Check out the program
Want to see more of ICELAND IN WINTER
Fascinating contrast, isn't it?