Journey into Grjótagjá: The Stunning Icelandic Cave from Game of Thrones


blog authorBy Johanna Sigurðardóttir shield verificationVerified Expert

    Diving into the mystique of Grjótagjá is like uncovering a secret chapter in a Game of Thrones novel. At Campervan Iceland, with over a decade of trusted expertise, we've crafted this guide, especially for you, ensuring you're armed with the most authentic and captivating insights.

    Why settle for less? Embark on this journey with us, and let's explore the wonders of Grjótagjá together. Your adventure, illuminated by the best, starts here.

    What Makes Grjótagjá So Special?

    Located in North Iceland near Lake Mývatn, Grjótagjá is a petite lava cave set amidst surreal landscapes. Its remote location doesn't deter tourists; instead, they're drawn to immerse themselves in its breathtaking natural surroundings. 

    When Grjótagjá in Game of Thrones was featured, the cave became a must-visit destination for fans. In season three, episode five, Jon Snow and Ygritte share an intimate moment in this cave. As expected, tourists soon flocked to Grjótagjá, eager to experience the show's magic.

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    What Are the Geological Features of Grjótagjá Cave?

    The Grjótagjá lava cave is a geological marvel formed by volcanic activity for centuries. This underground cavern boasts intricate lava formations, indicative of its fiery origin. 

    However, the cave's most striking feature is the radiant blue spring hidden within its depths. The spring gets its heat from the nearby Krafla volcano, making the water warm enough to have been used for bathing in the past. 

    Combining these geological features creates a unique and picturesque setting, making Grjótagjá a must-visit spot.

    What's the Historical Significance of Grjótagjá?

    Grjótagjá's history is as intriguing as its geology, tracing back to the early 18th Century. This hot spring cave was once a sanctuary for Jón Markússon, an outlaw who sought refuge in its secluded depths.

    The cave's dark environment and local superstitions about trolls kept most Icelanders away, allowing outlaws like Jón to dwell undisturbed. After Jón's passing, the cave shed its ominous reputation. It transformed into a beloved local hot spring, becoming a must-see on any Iceland itinerary

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    How Did Grjótagjá Become The Game of Throne Cave?

    The transformation of Grjótagjá into the Game of Thrones cave can be traced to a significant moment where protagonists Jon Snow and Wildling Ygritte consummate their relationship. 

    This intimate episode, which saw Jon Snow 'proving' his abandonment of the Night's Watch, catapulted Grjótagjá into global fame. Soon after the airing of this scene, there was a surge in tourism, with fans eager to visit one of the key Game of Thrones filming locations in Iceland

    The influx of visitors led to challenges preserving the cave's natural beauty, causing its closure in 2018. However, it has since been reopened to the public, allowing fans to experience this piece of Westeros in the real world.

    How Can You Get To Grjótagjá Cave?

    Reaching Grjótagjá in Iceland is an adventure in itself. Located near the renowned Lake Mývatn, the cave is about a 6-minute drive from the town of Reykjahlíð. You could travel via Route 1 (Ring Road) and then take Route 860 for a more scenic drive. 

    This route forms a part of the illustrious Diamond Circle, encompassing attractions like the Dettifoss Waterfall and the Húsavík town. For convenience, consider making Reykjahlíð your base, as it offers easy access to various attractions and the chance to immerse yourself in the Icelandic experience truly.

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    Why is Bathing in Grjótagjá Prohibited?

    Understanding why bathing is prohibited in Grjótagjá requires diving into the cave's history. Historically, locals cherished the cave's warm waters. However, between 1975 and 1984, the Krafla volcanic system superheated the water to boiling temperatures. 

    Since then, due to nearby geothermal activity, the water temperatures in Grjótagjá have been unpredictable, often exceeding 50°C (122°F). This unpredictability, combined with the potential risks of temperatures that can scald, led to the prohibition of bathing in the cave. While immersing oneself in the same waters as Jon Snow might be tempting, the risks are real. 

    What Other Attractions Surround Grjótagjá Cave?

    Are you seeking more stunning spectacles after you visit Grjótagjá Cave? Luckily, we've scoured the surrounding area to bring you some of the best places to visit in Iceland that complement your Icelandic adventure. Here are a few natural and cultural attractions near Grjótagjá, sure to give your day trip an added layer of excitement. 

    • Dimmuborgir: Known as "Dark Castles," this area has unique lava formations that create a stark yet captivating landscape.
    • Hverir: A geothermal field with bubbling mud pools and steaming fumaroles showcasing the raw power of Iceland's volcanoes. 
    • Skútustaðagígar: A captivating array of pseudo-craters emerged through the force of gas explosions as molten lava engulfed the damp terrain. 
    • Lake Mývatn: A serene lake with beautiful surroundings and home to diverse birdlife. 
    • Höfði: An enchanting peninsula on the northern edge of Lake Mývatn, teeming with cultural history and stunning landscapes.

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    Why Should You Rent a Campervan To Visit Grjótagjá?

    Tired of the monotonous hotel-to-attraction itinerary? Craving a dash of spontaneity and a pinch of adventure? Here's a thought: Rent a campervan in Reykjavík to visit Grjótagjá! 

    With the freedom of a campervan, you become the master of your journey, deciding when and where to go on a whim. You can chase the Northern Lights at midnight or wake up to the sound of waves lapping against a black sand beach. Not to mention, it's a budget-friendly alternative to pricey hotels. 

    Plus, you're never far from a comfy bed, with campsites like Myvatn Campsite just around the corner. So, why stick to the beaten path when the wild Icelandic nature beckons you?

    What Other Icelandic Caves Are Worth Exploring?

    When it comes to cave exploration, Iceland is a paradise. Numerous captivating caves dot the country's landscape, each with its unique features and stories. While Grjótagjá stands out as the Game of Thrones Cave, it's just the tip of the iceberg. Other noteworthy caves include:

    • Víðgelmir Lava Cave: One of the largest known lava tubes in Iceland, filled with stunning rock formations and icicles. 
    • Surtshellir Lava Cave: A legendary cave believed to be the dwelling of outlaws and mythological creatures.
    • Lofthellir Ice Cave: Renowned for its magnificent ice sculptures and age-old lava.
    • Leiðarendi Cave: A perfect site for spelunking and witnessing the power of past volcanic eruptions.

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    Why Should Grjótagjá Be on Every Traveler's List?

    Grjótagjá is more than just a cave; it's a testament to the power and beauty of nature, a backdrop to epic love stories, a symbolic part of Icelandic culture and history, and an awe-inspiring addition to every traveler's bucket list. 

    Its stunning geological features, coupled with thermal waters and its star-studded role in 'Game of Thrones,' make it an irresistible destination. So, what are you waiting for? Book your tickets to Iceland and head straight to Grjótagjá Cave for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And don't forget to bring your camera to capture the magic of this unique location! 

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