Hvolsvollur service town in the middle of South Iceland

Hekla landscape view from Hvolsvöllur town

Hvolsvollur is conveniantly located in the middle of the major tourist attractions in Iceland and a great base for exploration of many of the geological wonders Iceland has to offer. Here below you can find practical information about attractions, accommodation, restaurants and activities in the vicinity of Hvolsvollur.

  • Must visit places in Hvolsvollur
  • Tours from Hvolsvollur
  • Places to stay in Hvolsvollur
  • Places to eat in Hvolsvollur

Located 106 km from the capital city of Reykjavik, Hvolsvollur can be reached in about 90 minutes from Reykjavik, or just over two hours from Keflavik airport. From Hvolsvollur you can then start your excursions to many of the magnificent volcanoes and waterfalls that surround the town. From the panoramic roof top of LAVA center you can see at least 7 active volcanoes, including the infamous gateway to Hell Hekla volcano and the legendary Eyjafjallajökull volcano which grounded all flight traffic in Europe back in May 2010.

Ring road 1, the 1300 km long Iceland’s main road that goes a full circle around the island, goes straight through the village. It is a service hub for the neighbouring country side and a center for tourism in the region with museums, hotels, restaurants, fuel stations and tour operators, making it a perfect base for your exploration of South Iceland. Within 15-60 min drive you can reach the ferry to Vestmannaeyjar islands, the waterfalls Skógarfoss, Seljalandsfoss, and Gullfoss, the hot springs at Geysir, Thorsmork nature reserve, Sólheimajökull glacier and the black beach of Reynisfjara, all among the best known landmarks of the country.

Hvolsvollur is a quiant little town with 900 inhabitants that was built as a service center for the agriculture in the region. The town has a well-planned green area where you can picnic with your family members. Every summer, an outdoor interactive exhibition is organized by local photographers in the park.

Since Hvolsvollur is a tourism hotspot you will be able to find a bank, a tourist information centre, a post office, a healthcare centre, gas stations, and a fully equipped sports centre in this small idyllic, Icelandic village.

Þórsmörk 4x4 adventure

Gateway to adventure in Iceland

Hvolsvollur Valley is often referred to as the gateway to adventure in Iceland. The town is located close to some of Iceland’s most popular hiking trails and scenic 4×4 highland routes.

Thorsmork

Named after the Norse God (of thunder) Thor, Thorsmork is an oasis surrounded by mighty glaciers and volcanoes. The picterousqe valley is located between the glaciers Eyjafjallajökull glacier and Myrdalsjökull glacier. The area is the most popular hiking destination in the country with both short local hikes as well as being the final destination of the famous Laugavegur and Fimmvorduhals hiking trails.

Thorsmork is known for its greenery. The valley is dotted with birchwood, fern, moss, and several other shrubs covering the banks of the glacial rivers that have shaped the valley. One of the primary reasons behind the popularity of Thorsmork is the vast number of scenic hiking trails that are available.

Landmannalaugar

Located in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, Landmannalaugar is known for its natural hot springs and surrounding landscape. Landmannalaugar is one of the ends of the Laugavegur hiking trail. During the tourist season, a small shop that sells basic groceries operates in the area.

Landmannalaugar is famed for its hiking trails that pass through scenic landscapes. Some popular hiking trails in Landmannalaugar include:

  • The hike through the Laugahraun lava field to the colourful, sulfuric Mount Brennisteinsalda (duration: 2 hours).
  • The Hike to a crater lake known as Ljótipollur, which means Ugly Puddle (duration: 4 hours).
  • The hike up Bláhnjúkur, which means Blue Peak (duration: 1 hour).

The Landmannalaugar Base Camp is the originating point of hiking trails such as Hellismannaleið route (duration: 3-4 days) and Laugavegur hiking trail (duration: 4 days, ending in Þórsmörk). Many trekkers continue over to Skógar following the Fimmvorduhals trail, which takes two more days.

The Base Camp has a hut that can accommodate up to 78 people, a campsite, a registration booth, and Mountain Mall. The cost of a one-day pass for the restroom and showers is 500ISK (around $4).

Popular activities to try in Landmannalaugar include Icelandic horse riding and Arctic char fishing.

Hekla

Hekla is a composite volcano or stratovolcano. Its height is 1,491 m or 4,892 feet. Nicknamed the gateway to Hell, Hekla is one of the most active volcanoes in Iceland. Over 20 eruptions have been recorded in and around the area since 874 with the last one in 2001.

While visiting Hekla, you should check out Hekluskógar. This is a beautiful 90,000-hectare reforestation project that focuses on the restoration of the region’s original greenery. Hekla is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Iceland. In spring, randonee skiing is popular from the top of the volcano.

Hekla is a very unpredictable volcano so all hiking and skiing has to made with utmost planning and precaution.

Take a look to the Hekla live webcam operating from the LAVA Centre observation Deck.

Fimmvorduhals mountain ridge

Fimmvorduhals is a mountain ridge that lies between Eyjafjallajokull glacier and Myrdalsjokull glacier. Hikers start or end by Skogarfoss waterfall and head up onto the ridge where two new volcanic craters can be found, Goði and Magni, created in the prelude eruption to the memorable Eyjafjallajokull eruption in 2010. The other end of the trail is in the scenic Thorsmork valley.

On top of the ridge is a hut which you can book accommodation in. Beware that due to altitude change and surrounding glaciers temperatures can be much lower than at the starting points and weather can change without warning. Good shoes and warm clothing are essential at any time of the year.

Fjallabaksleid 4×4 mountain route

Fjallabaksleid is what you might call the Icelandic Outback. From Hvolsvollur are two main highland routes that take you through surreal landscapes of black lavasands, red sulphur hills, poison green moss and shiny white glaciers. The contrasts are unlike anything else.

The routes are 4×4 only, crossing unbridged rivers on fords which can become dangerous at times. Guided tours are recommended.

LAVA Centre volcano and earthquake exhibition

Must-visit places in Hvolsvöllur

Hvolsvöllur Lava Centre

The Hvolsvollur Lava Centre is an interactive education center that displays Iceland’s birth story through the combination of high tech audio-visual exhibitions and higly informative displays about volcanoes, seismic activities and constant renewal of Earth’s exterior crust. The museum is divided into multiple chambers which focus on different aspects of Iceland’s geological forces. It includes an earthquake simulator and an area covered in a fog of smoke that resembles volcanic ash.

The centre was built to educate visitors on the link between volcanic activity and earthquakes and to help them understand the forces that have shaped, and are still shaping, the magnificent landscapes surrounding Hvolsvollur. The centre plays a 12-minute documentary featuring breath taking drone shots of volcanic eruptions and geological wonders in 4K. The site includes a cafe and a gift shop.

The Saga Centre

The Saga Centre in the town of Hvolsvollur introduces visitors to Iceland’s Viking heritage, but the region is the home of the epic tail of Njals-Saga, one of Iceland’s most famous Viking sagas. It showcases the events that shaped the country’s history. The museum provides an audio device that guides visitors through the museum. Visitors have the option to choose between seven different languages, including Icelandic, Spanish, German, English, Russian, Swedish, and French.

The Museum includes a restaurant in a replica of a traditional Viking longhouse. It offers hamburgers and ribs. Other attractions include a model of Thingvellir AD 1000 and a small gift and souvenir shop. Replicas of Viking weapons and costumes are also available.

Hvolsvöllur Swimming Pool

Hvolsvöllur Swimming Pool is a thermal pool. The pool area includes a couple of hot tubs, a waterslide for kids, a steam room, and a shallow wading pool. The 25 meter pool connects to Hvolsvöllur’s sporting centre. A fantastic place to relax after a long day exploring.

Gluggafoss

Gluggafoss or Merkjarfoss is the most prominent member of a series of waterfalls that originate from the river Merkjá. The total height of Gluggafoss is around 44 meters. The waterfall’s beautiful structure includes multiple holes and tunnels formed by the river Merkjá. These holes are called “gluggar” meaning windows, thus the name Glugga-foss (e. window-waterfall)

In 1947, volcanic ash from an eruption blocked the many tunnels the river ran through and changed the way the waterfall looked. It took the river 50 years to clear those tunnels and return to former glory. Gluggafoss has two main drops, which can be observed from small trails on the surrounding hills.

Katla UNESCO Global Geopark

Katla Geopark, the first geopark in Iceland, is a member of both the UNESCO-assisted Global Network of National Geoparks and the European Geoparks Network. The geopark stretches from Hvolsvollur to the Skeiðarárjökull glacier in Vatnajokull National Park.

The geopark is named after one of the largest volcanoes in Iceland, Katla, which is located under the Myrdalsjokull ice cap. Some prominent features in the geopark include central volcanoes, ice-capped volcanoes, lava flows, tuff mountains, and pseudocraters.

The geopark is home to several glacial formations, including moraines, ice-dammed lakes, and outlets. Some portion of the Vatnajökull National Park lies in the geopark.

Things to Do in Hvolsvöllur Iceland

Shopping in Hvolsvöllur

UNA Local Product

UNA Local Product is a small store in Hvolsvollur Iceland, owned and operated by a family. The store sells unique gift items, Icelandic design items, and woollen sweaters made by local artisans. The store also stocks yummy Icelandic treats. A trip to the store is highly recommended if you love collecting souvenirs.

Rammagerðin

Rammagerðin has a flagship store at LAVA Centre. Huge selection of gifts and souvenirs and a big 66°North store-in-store, Iceland’s most prominent outdoors fashion brand.

Tours experiences in Hvolsvöllur

Þórsmörk Super Jeep - Midgard Adventure

Midgard Adventure

Our friends at Midgard Adventure are one of the best tour providers for adventures in South of Iceland. Local and very professional family business offering a unique combo: with Midgard Adventure as a tour operator and Midgard Base Camp for accommodation, restaurant and bar.

Southcoast Adventure

Southcoast Adventure is a family-owned Super Jeep tour operator based in Hvolsvöllur and specializing in the Southern region of Iceland.

Lava Centre Exhibition tour

A trip to the Lava Centre will enhance your understanding of the art and science of Iceland’s geology and volcanic systems. The earthquake simulator here can create earthquakes measuring up to 4 on the Richter scale.

Interactive computers introduce visitors to the mysterious world of volcanoes. The centre also has an auditorium that plays a documentary on the magnificence of volcanic eruptions.

Horseback riding with Hekluhestar

What better way to experience Hekla and it’s surrounding than on a horseback.
The Hekluhestar family farm has been offering riding tours for 40 years. They offer one hour, one day or multiple day tours. During winter, Nicole the owner at LAVA Centre.

Paragliding at Ingolfshofdi

Why settle with watching the birds, using the upstream to float mid air and enjoy the breath taking views? Join them on a paragliding adventure. True Adventure offers paragliding tours which are very safe and suitable for anyone aged 10 and upwards.

Glacier walks at Solheimajokull glacier

Have you ever really stepped on a glacier? Had that thousand year old packed ice under your feet? You can visit Solheimajokull glacier which is just about 45 minutes away from Hvolsvollur and see with your own eyes how the glaciers are rapidly disappearing in Iceland, leaving barren sands, scraped mountains and large lagoons.

You can walk towards the glacier on your own but do not attempt a glacier walk on your own. For that you need a guide who knows the glacier as well as the right gear. A couple of tour operators offer glacier walks and ice climbing adventures on the glacier.

More information about booking of these adventures is available at the LAVA Center help desk.

Smaratun Farm

If an ideal holiday for you means spending some quality time amidst nature, then you should certainly pay a visit to Smaratun Farm, which is located in the Fljótshlíð agricultural area.

The farm is a perfect getaway for people who support the idea of sustainable tourism. In 2014, the Nordic Swan eco-labeled the farm. The farm includes a hotel, chalets, and large cottages.

Campsite and cooking facilities are also available. The hotel restaurant serves food from farm to table. The farm’s livestock includes 100 sheep, ducks, chickens, 30 horses and cows, and around ten goats of the ancient Icelandic settlement breed.

Where to stay in Hvolsvollur

Midgard Basecamp

Midgard Basecamp has a true basecamp felling for the adeventure tours in the vicinity of Hvolsvöllur. The hotel/hostel offers hostel like rooms with super comfortable bunk beds and mattresses, blackout blinds, privacy curtains, and lockable drawers. It also has more spacious private rooms with scenic views to the Eyjafjallajökull icecap.

A vivid restaurant and a bar with frequent live music events.

Ranga Hotel

Surrounded by the countryside, Ranga Hotel is a high end country hotel overlooking the Ytri-Rangá river. It provides easy access to the Lava Center and the Saga Center History Museum. Every room is equipped with a Wi-Fi connection and features tea and coffee-making facilities and a flat-screen TV.

The hotel has a free self-parking area, dining area and a bar lounge, steam bath tubs and a game room. The hotel’s critically aclaimed restaurant attracts clients from far away.

Hotel Hvolsvöllur

Hotel Hvolsvollur provides easy access to some of the best places to visit in South Iceland. No wonder it constantly features in the list of best places to stay in the town of Hvolsvollur. Rooms in the hotel have Wi-Fi, tea and coffee-making facilities, and flat-screen TVs.

Suites include living areas, Nespresso machines, and minifridges. The hotel has a free self-parking area, casual bar lounge and outdoor steam bath tubs.

Umi Hotel

Umi Hotel faces the Atlantic Ocean. Rooms in the hotel offer mountain or ocean views. Rooms feature Wi-Fi, tea and coffee-making facilities, flat-screen TVs, and minifridges. The hotel has a trendy bar lounge with a fireplace and a restaurant providing a free buffet breakfast.

Stracta Hotel

Rooms in the hotel feature wooden floors. Basic rooms include washbasins and shared bathroom facilities. Two-bedroom apartments feature kitchenettes. Suites include living rooms and private hot tubs.

The hotel has a casual bar lounge, a garden, a free self-parking area and a buffet restaurant.

Skálakot Manor Hotel

Skálakot Manor, only 30 minutes drive from LAVA Centre, a beautiful family run hotel with a restaurant and horse riding tours. The family breeds and trains horses and run the exclusive manor next to it.

Volcano Huts

Our friends at Volcano huts offer small huts and glamping at Þórsmörk. You can either have them pick you up or use some of the shuttle services that leave daily from LAVA Centre in the summer time.

Aurora Lodge Hotel

This no-frills hotel is located in a remote area. Rooms offer basic amenities such as bathrooms and tea and coffee-making facilities. The hotel has a laid-back restaurant which provides free buffet breakfast along with other meals.

Where to eat? Top restaurants

Aska Cafe

Located in the LAVA Centre’s complex, Aska Cafe offers soups and salads and local pastries.

Midgard Basecamp Restaurant

Our neighbours at Midgard Basecamp Restaurant have a loose adventure inspired atmosphere that is as refreshing as the food. They also offer special diets, including vegan and vegetarian, as well as gluten-free options.

Valhalla restaurant

Valhalla restaurant is known for serving mostly burgers and ribs straight from the barbecue. The Viking themed restaurant is a favorite among teens and Game of Thrones enthusiasts.

Ranga restaurant

Ranga restaurant overlooks the East-Ranga River. The critically acclaimed restaurant uses high-quality local ingredients. The restaurant serves a Christmas buffet with European and Scandinavian delicacies. The menu is inspired by the Nordic cuisine.

Eldsto Art Cafe

The cafe serves a traditional European and American menu. Fish, steaks and hamburgers being the most popular. Gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options are special diets offered here.

Gamla Fjosid

Gamla Fjosid uses 100% free-range and unprocessed meat in its meat-based dishes. Vegetables used in the dishes are sourced from local farms. The restaurant offers a range of special diet options.

Gallery Pizza

The only pizza place in the area, located in the centre of Hvolsvöllur. Popular by the locals. The restaurant also offers salads, sandwiches and hamburgers.