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The Magical Mystery Tour

A walk through the colourful lava tunnel of Raufarhólshellir.

May 25, 2020

The Magical Mystery Tour

A walk through the colourful lava tunnel of Raufarhólshellir.

May 25, 2020

One of Reykjavík’s best features is its proximity to Iceland’s otherworldly nature. Just 30 minutes from downtown Reykjavík, on the other side of the lush and beautiful moor of Hellisheiði, is a truly magical natural destination.

Shine a Light on Geology

Raufarhólshellir is a large lava tube formed in an eruption approx. 5,600 years ago. It was a popular “secret destination” among locals for decades but a risky expedition given the size of the tunnel, its pitch-black darkness and the slippery and rocky surface of the cave floor. In 2016, it was closed off for clean-up and a walkway and lighting was installed. As a result, what used to be a rather hazardous journey, fumbling in the dark with a flashlight at most, is now a comfortable stroll along the well-lit and multi-coloured walls of the tunnel. The stroll comes with a guide, full of interesting and entertaining facts, enough to create an inspired geology nerd out of everyone who enter the cave. Today, Raufarhólshellir is a wonderful and truly magical destination.

Magic and Mystery

The cave is largest at the opening, with cathedral-like domes and occasional skylights in the ceiling. Walking under the skylights is particularly wonderful when it snows, creating a setting that seems more animated than real. But the cave soon turns into a long tunnel that would be pitch black if it weren’t for the lights. The tunnel is nearly 1,5 km long, with an average height of 10 metres. The vibrant colours, the strange stalagmites and stalactites, the earthy atmosphere and overwhelming silence all contribute to the otherworldly, spacelike surroundings of the cave. Raufarhólshellir is one of those places that make visitors see themselves in a new perspective, creating the perfect setting for a contemplative, even meditative experience. It’s also a sneak peek into how our planet works and a first-hand encounter with geology at its most mysterious and beautiful.

An Earthly Experience

In the end, Raufarhólshellir is one of those places that is more of an experience than a destination. An experience that is very hard to describe but one that you will likely never forget. If you do one thing in Iceland this year, we highly recommend this magical mystery tour of the lava tunnel of Raufarhólshellir.