Dimmuborgir, which means ‘Dark Castles’, is a huge lava field covered in unusual rock formations and caves. This natural wonder is a must-see stop along the Diamond Circle route and even featured in Game of Thrones.
You’ll find the Dimmuborgir lava field on the east shore of Lake Mývatn in North Iceland, just a 1-hour drive from the town of Akureyri.
When you arrive here, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a fairytale, or another world entirely. The sky-high lava formations, some towering 20 meters (64 feet) above you, are unlike anything else you’ll see in Iceland.
They were formed around 2,300 years ago when two nearby craters erupted. As molten lava flowed over a lake, it created lava pillars that quickly solidified. Today, these stunning natural sculptures are a popular spot to visit on Iceland’s Ring Road (Route 1).
Explore the Dimmuborgir lava formations at your own pace by walking along the color-coded hiking trails marked on the map near the entrance. The paths are fairly easy to walk and can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours to complete.
If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, the area might look familiar! The snow-dusted lava caves were the base camp for Mance Rayder and his wildling army in season 3.
Dimmuborgir’s dramatic lava fields also feature in Icelandic folklore. Legend has it, the caves are home to the 13 Yule Lads, or Icelandic Santa Clauses. It’s also said Satan landed here when he was thrown out of heaven and built the catacombs of hell.