"The Caves of Laugarvatn - Laugarvatnshellir." Laugarvatn Things to Do Tip by Regina1965

Laugarvatn Things to Do: 5 reviews and 18 photos

  The entrance to the caves.
by Regina1965
  • The entrance to the caves. - Iceland
      The entrance to the caves.
    by Regina1965
  • Inside the caves. - Iceland
      Inside the caves.
    by Regina1965
  • The view from the caves. - Iceland
      The view from the caves.
    by Regina1965
  • People who lived in the caves. - Iceland
      People who lived in the caves.
    by Regina1965
  • The caves looked like this. - Iceland
      The caves looked like this.
    by Regina1965

The Caves of Laugarvatn are remarkable as people lived there in the last century and a child was even born in the cave. A young couple, Indriši and Gušrśn (17) decided to take up residence there in 1910 and lived there for 11 months. Indriši was raised in the vicinity of the caves and considered the caves not being any worse a place to live in than some other homes in Iceland at this time. He was a carpenter and he dug out dirt, manure and rocks and installed a living room and a kitchen in the bigger cave and in the smaller cave they kept sheep. They also made a potato garden east of the caves. Indriši shot ptarmigans and sold them in Reykjavķk and during the summer time they raised a tent on the lawn in front of the caves and sold coffee, bread and cakes, which Gušrśn made in the cave, to tourists.

Another couple moved into the caves in 1918, Jón and Vigdķs. Jón was also a carpenter and closed the cave opening and installed a room with new panelling and installed a stove there. The couple had 3 children, 2 of them were born in the caves and Jón delivered the first child himself. The couple lived in the caves with their 3 children for 4 years and were once visited by the Danish King Christian X, who visited Iceland in 1921, and was he treated to "skyr" in the cave :D

One more thing about the caves - they are haunted - or maybe elves live there. Want to hear why? The farmers used the caves as stalls for their sheep and could fit 3-400 sheep in there. Žorsteinn, who was a new shepherd, went to the caves to put the sheep in there but the sheep refused to enter. He tried to light a candle but the light went out again and again. He got very angry and entered the caves and banged the walls with a cane. The sheep then finally entered and he laid down to sleep in the fartherst end of the caves. He was abruptly woken and got dragged by the feet all around the caves. This happened again and again and he finally gave up and took the sheep back to Laugarvatn saying that the caves were haunted. But as soon as he arrived in Laugarvatn a blizzard broke out which lasted for many days. If Žorsteinn had stayed in the caves he would have starved to death. That is why we think that the caves are inhabited by elves and not ghosts as Žorsteinn's live was saved in this way.

Notice that the caves are made out of sandstone tuff which is soft and all around the caves people have written their names in the tuff. I add more pictues in a travelogue here of all the carving of names and more pictures of the caves.

There is a now a new paved road from Žingvellir to Laugarvatn, which is located much further south than the caves. So only the old road leads up to the caves.

Address: Laugarvatnsvellir, Gjįbakkavegur, Iceland
Directions: Coming from Reykjavķk on road 1 turn left on 35 before you reach Selfoss, take a left turn on 37 and a left turn on 365 as you reach Laugarvatn. The caves are on your right hand side 5-6 km up this road which then takes you to road 36 to Žingvellir.

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Feb 21, 2013
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Comments (4)

  • Trekki's Profile Photo
    Dec 7, 2013 at 12:50 AM

    Yes, fascinating stories :-)

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Feb 21, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    Fascinating stories about the people (and elves) who lived in these caves.

    • Regina1965's Profile Photo
      Feb 21, 2013 at 2:14 PM

      Yes, I agree, there was so much life by the caves and now they are just empty and the main-road doesn“t run by them anymore, so I guess they will soon be forgotten.

  • Odinnthor's Profile Photo
    Feb 21, 2013 at 8:01 AM

    Wow, I learn something every day. I know the caves, but not this story. Thanks for that.......d:o)

    • Regina1965's Profile Photo
      Feb 21, 2013 at 1:31 PM

      My pleasure. I was updating the tip because of the new paved road from Žingvellir to Laugarvatn.

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo
    Nov 17, 2012 at 1:07 AM

    It sounds to be very dark and cold to live in a cave, but I can see smoke coming up a chimney in one of the pictures, so I guess they could keep the cave warm.


“Bon Voyage :)”

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