Beauty is like a mosaic with many shades, patterns, and shapes. And every country on earth has its own cast. For some, it’s their sandy beaches, clear like crystals—and soothing on the feet as on the human soul. For some, it’s the silent, majestic forests–the towering, unperturbed trees, that seem to rebuke us for our noise, and meaningless chatter. For some, it’s the impelled motion of waterfalls, as the waters cascade furiously from tall, elevated heights to battered spots hundreds of feet below. For others, it's the roses and the daffodils. Then there are magisterial animals that roam the land; wild as the wind, yet never so graceful. Then there are breathtaking landscapes, yawning chasms, hair-raising cliffs, lofty mountain peaks, and blue-turquoise waters.
Every country on earth, or most to be modest, has one, perhaps two, of these shades of beauty. Yet Iceland, unlike many others, seems to have all of these and more–within her borders. Let’s take a look at one impressive strand in this glorious thread of beauty: the Vidgelmir cave.
Why Iceland’s Massive Vidgelmir Cave Is A Must-visit
A journey to the Vidgelmir cave, Iceland's largest cavern, is a trip to one of the deepest, darkest, and longest caverns in all of the countries that constitute Scandinavia. The actual size of this cavern is still a mystery. Visitors have access to 1.6 kilometers which could only be a tiny fraction of this natural wonder. The location of this cave is dry, drear, and desolate. It seems like it was nature’s design to intentionally hide it in an inhospitable, unwelcome environment. Yet as with most things lacking in superficial awe or attractiveness, the real beauty of this place was buried deep under.
While the rugged mouth of this cavern is fairly large and commodious–and has a firm wooden staircase so visitors can gingerly ease themselves in, there are some narrow passageways you’ll have to squeeze yourself through. Then as you lower yourself, you almost start to grope in darkness as the bright outside light quickly gives way to uneven shadows and shades. The temperature seems to take a cue. Where it was summer above the ground, it’s suddenly all winter inside. The inside also becomes chillingly cold; the air becomes stale and feels fluffy.
When inside proper, after crouching through some narrow section, the sight and impression of a large, dark cavern, imposingly meets the enchanted visitor. But the traveler is not left to grope in complete darkness. The cavern is carefully fitted with some artificial light so visitors can glean the cavern’s imposing outlook. Perhaps to aid in this, mother nature draped the walls at this stop in different contrasting colors. Some are red and bright, while others are green and restful. This beautiful, almost rainbow-like appearance, comes from the different minerals in the lava. It is time to close your eyes in the “cafeteria”—as this space is called—and enjoy the cavern’s spectral silence.
Beautiful stalagmites glimmeringly rise from the floor, as if not content to be lost in the darkness—unseen, unacknowledged. About 300 meters deeper are rocks that look like tasty bars of reddish-brown chocolate, hanging layer by layer overhead. Going even deeper, huge boulders lie disorderly on the dark floor, a not-so-comforting realization of a collapse some many years before. This picture of a scrambling edifice, may make you a bit apprehensive, and prompt you to quickly seek safety—out and away.
- Vidgelmir Cave Directions and Location: Vidgelmir is located on the western side of Iceland in Borgarfjörður, 84.5 miles from the capital, Reykjavik.
- GPS Coordinates: 64.7503° N, 20.8019° W
How To Visit Iceland’s Massive Vidgelmir Cave
Vidgelmir cave is in Borgarfjörður and is easily accessible from any direction. Once you reach Borgarfjörður, there are conspicuous signposts directing road users to the actual location of the cave. A safe option, if a little pricey, is to use tour guides to arrange everything. Large, established tour guides generally tend to be more reliable, flexible, and cost-effective. You could try Arctic Adventures, Reykjavík Excursions, Into the Glacier, or Grayline for a 2-hour road trip that will bring you from Reykjavik to Húsafell and onwards to the cave. Tour operator fees start from about $1,000 per day.
Once at the cave, budget with about one and half hours as the estimated duration of the cave tour. While travelers can appreciate this massive beauty any time of the year, a visit in winter is perfect for sighting gorgeously colorful ice formations that form inside the cave when temperatures plummet. But whether it’s freezing or blazing, travelers are advised to carry warm clothing—and a warm pair of gloves to boot. Vidgelmir cave is freezingly cold. While there’s not much crawling, crouching, and squeezing through ruggedly narrow surfaces, it’s still good advice to be in hiking shoes.
Once you’re done with “The Cave,” as Vidgelmir cavern is locally known, you will want to come back to Iceland to explore other strands of beauty in the gorgeously wrought thread that is Iceland.