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Askja Caldera is a group of calderas, or large volcanic craters, nested in the central region of Iceland. The outer caldera of Askja is around 50 km², dating back to prehistoric times. It includes other unique calderas that have formed later, adding to the breathtaking scenery of Askja.

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Where Is Askja Caldera Located?


Askja Caldera is located in the central highlands of Iceland, surrounded by Dyngufjöll mountains. It is about 25 kilometers (16 miles) north of Vatnajökull Glacier and 266 kilometers (165 miles) from Reykjavík. Askja's exact coordinates are 65.033°N and 16.783°W.

Askja view from the sky

How To Get To Askja Caldera?

Getting to Askja Volcano requires planning and preparation as it's located in Iceland's remote and rugged Central Highlands. So, if you are not taking a helicopter, the way to reach Askja is by car. You will need a 4x4 (AWD) vehicle since the roads in the area are rough and unpaved.

If you go from Reykjavik, be prepared for a scenic drive through the Icelandic Highlands, a vast and challenging region with rough terrain and unpredictable weather. There are two main routes to Askja Caldera from Reykjavik, starting from The Ring Road. Both include unpaved F-roads, only accessible during the summer months (June to September).

The East Route (901, F905, F910, F894) is the most direct but also the most challenging of the two, with multiple river crossings. The North Route (F88, F910, F894) has only one river crossing at the Drekagil Canyon, but there is also a greater risk of snow and ice in winter. Both routes will take you to F910, the gravel road leading to the Askja area campgrounds. Finishing the journey is F894, which is a 10-kilometer gravel road to the Askja Caldera parking lot. The parking lot is free of charge.

General Information About Askja Caldera

  • Location Central Highlands, Iceland
  • Area Size 50 km²
  • Consists of Volcanic calderas
  • Accessibility Car and helicopter
  • Time to Visit Summer
  • Activities Hiking, camping, swimming, stargazing, photography
Couple sitting and admiring Askja lake

What Is Askja Caldera Known For?

Askja Caldera is a vast caldera, or sinkhole, formed by natural volcanic processes. The caldera is surrounded by jagged peaks and lava fields, creating dramatic landscapes that attract visitors. The vast caldera of Askja is one of Iceland's most prominent volcanic landmarks, encompassing an area of 50 square kilometers.

It includes a few volcanoes and craters, including the blue crater lake Öskjuvatn, or Lake Askja, and the iconic Viti crater, known for its vibrant turquoise waters. "Víti," meaning "Hell," is an explosive volcanic crater filled with water reaching 30°C (86ºF). The area's natural features, history, and adventure potential have made Askja a popular bucket-list destination in Iceland. 

History Of Askja Caldera

Askja Caldera boasts a rich and dynamic history of eruptions and geological transformations. Its formation dates back to the Holocene era of approximately 11,000 years ago. The powerful eruption triggered the collapse of a massive magma chamber, which formed the caldera's large basin.

The most significant event in Askja's history occurred in 1875 when an explosive eruption shook the region. The explosion brought large amounts of ash and steam. The ashfall poisoned land and killed livestock, causing economic hardship and forcing many Icelanders to emigrate. The following ash plume even reached Norway, Sweden, Germany, and Poland. The last eruption in Askja occurred in 1961, which gave scientists some insights into the inner workings of the caldera. Askja's latest activity was volcanic tremors detected in 2010.

High aerial view of Viti and Askja

Askja Caldera is a sacred site for the Icelandic people and has been featured in Norse mythology. The caldera is also associated with the story of Egil Skallagrimsson, a Viking warrior and poet. It is mentioned in Egil's Saga - a famous Icelandic epic.

In recent history, a couple of German scientists disappeared at Askja during their expedition in 1907. They decided to explore Lake Öskjuvatn on a boat and were never seen again. Despite extensive searches, no explanation for their disappearance has been found, adding mystery to local folklore.

Interesting Facts About Askja Caldera

  • In the 1960s, Apollo astronauts had simulation training at Askja Caldera. The extreme environment and lunar-like terrain appeared perfect for practicing moon landing there.
  • The caldera is home to Iceland's deepest lake, Öskjuvatn, measuring 217 meters (712 feet).
  • The movie Oblivion (2013) was shot at the nearby Hrossaborg crater.
  • The Askja Caldera is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Colorful volcanic crater landscape

What To Do At Askja Caldera?

There are plenty of fulfilling activities to partake in at Askja. Depending on your interest, you can:

See Viti Crater And Oskjuvatn Lake

You can hike to Viti Crater, which is famous for its turquoise waters and the surrounding reddish rocks. With permission from park rangers, go farther into the crater and treat yourself to its geothermal waters. The water temperature reaches 30°C (86ºF) and provides a refreshing experience in a volcanic setting.

Discover the beautiful blue lake of Öskjuvatn that’s placed deep between the caldera's peaks, reflecting the hues of volcanic matter. Hike along the lakeshore to take in the tranquil atmosphere and the interplay of colors.

Explore Lava Fields

Walk around the rugged fields that surround Askja, discovering the unique patterns formed by ancient lava flows. Notice the contrasts between the smooth, black lava surfaces, the vibrant green growth, and the clear blue sky.

The more recent Holuhraun Lava Fields are vast black lava rock formations created during a massive eruption in 2014, a captivating sight to see. It is still actively steaming, which makes it a photographer's dream and a fascinating glimpse into the powers of nature.

Enjoy Camping And Northern Lights

Embrace the remote wilderness. Askja is an excellent destination to disconnect from everyday life and camp under the stars. With breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and volcanic landscapes, camping in Askja is an unforgettable experience.

The area is also perfect for viewing the ethereal Northern Lights. The remoteness and the minimal light pollution make it an ideal spot to catch the aurora borealis and be fully immersed in the beautiful show.

Best Time To Visit Askja Caldera

Blue geothermal Askja lake

The best time to visit Askja Caldera is summer, typically from June to September. This is when the roads to the caldera are open, and the weather conditions are generally favorable for a visit. Summer brings milder temperatures, making it more comfortable to hike and camp in the area. The snow also melts away during this time. This reveals the full beauty of the caldera's landscape with its vibrant colors and other geothermal features.

Where To Stay Near Askja Caldera?

There are options for accommodation near Askja Caldera, depending on your budget and preferences. Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Modrudalur á Fjollum Guesthouse: This cozy guesthouse is just a short drive from the F910 road leading to Askja Caldera. It offers single, double, and family rooms and a shared lounge with a dining area. It is also a good option for budget-minded travelers seeking a comfortable stay.

  • Dreki Hut: Located right in the heart of Askja, this basic hut offers dormitory-style accommodation for up to 55 people. It has a toilet and shower block and kerosene-operated stoves in the kitchen.

  • Guesthouse Askja: This family-run guesthouse is located near the entrance to Askja and offers comfortable rooms with shared bathrooms. It also has a communal kitchen and lounge area.

  • Sel-Hótel Mývatn: This modern hotel is located on the shores of Lake Myvatn, a 50-minute drive from Askja. It has a restaurant, bar, swimming pool, and sauna, which will suit those wanting a more luxurious stay.

  • Snæfell Campground: Camping is a popular option for those who want to experience the wilderness of Askja Caldera. The area has several campsites, and Snæfell is just a short drive from the F910 road.

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