Driving to Askja and Víti in Iceland
The Askja Caldera, and the small geothermal crater lake – Lake Víti – right next to it were one of the absolute best stops on my Iceland road trip. The hike there is easy but the views are really unbelievable!
But, getting there is an adventure too – it’s located deep in the Highlands of Iceland, on the other side of some kind of terrifying river crossings, so you’ll definitely need to make sure you’re prepared! This guide will tell you about driving to Askja and Lake Víti, where you can stop along the way, and more.
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About Askja and Lake Víti in Iceland
Askja (which translates to “caldera”) is a volcano in Iceland’s Dyngjufjöll Mountains, located in Vatnajökull National Park. When it erupted in 1875, it formed the Askja Caldera – a huge crater. It filled with water to create Lake Askja, which is actually Iceland’s deepest lake, reaching up to 656 feet (200 m)!
There are several volcanoes in the caldera, including Víti, which formed a crater right next to Lake Askja, creating a unique turquoise blue pool that’s heated by geothermal activity. You can even go for a swim!
Driving to Askja – how to Get There
There are tour options available if you don’t want to drive yourself, but driving to Askja is a really unique experience that I think is totally worth it! It’s definitely a challenge – Askja is located deep in the Highlands, and you’ll need to take several F-roads. There are a few different options for which roads you can take, but each route has it’s own challenges! Be sure to read this guide about Iceland’s mountain roads to prepare.
You’ll need to drive to the parking area, then there is a 4.1 mile (6.6 km) out and back hike to the crater.
Trailhead Coordinates for Askja and Lake Víti: 65.0676972, -16.7263011
You absolutely need a 4×4 to drive to Askja. No matter which way you go, there are several river crossings, along with soft sand and a bumpy ride over lava rocks! I did this in a Dacia Duster – the river crossings aren’t recommended for anything smaller. Here are your options for driving to Askja.
Driving to Askja on F905 and F910
This is the way that I went to get to Askja – and it’s the route that is recommended for medium sized SUVs like the Dacia Duster I was driving.
From the Ring Road, you’ll turn on the road called Möðrudalsleið, towards the town of Möðrudalur. Be sure to get gas in Möðrudalur! This is the last place you’ll be able to fill up, and driving to Askja is a very long adventure. If you need a place to sleep, stay at Fjalladyrd-Möðrudalur á Fjollum – a cute lodge with a grass roof, and the last place to stay for a long while.
Just past the town, you’ll make a right onto F905. The views are nuts, but they’ll only get better! The road gets a little bumpy, but until the river crossings, F905 was pretty easy to drive on.
There are two big rivers to go across on the way to Askja. After some streams and puddles (don’t make the same mistake I did and get your hopes up thinking that was it for rivers… you’ll get to the real ones!), you’ll reach the first, and the hardest, river crossing. Car insurance in Iceland doesn’t cover river crossings, so make sure you know how to do this! Always get out to inspect the river – depending on weather, things can change. It had been sunny for a while when I was here, and I walked across the river a few times to see the best path to take. It got kind of deep in one spot at the end, but we decided it was safe to cross.
Shortly after, there is another river. This one is a lot less scary and more shallow, so if you made it through the first one, this will be no problem!
Keep going – you’ll turn right onto F910, cross a gated bridge (don’t worry – the gate will be closed, but this is just to keep sheep out, so you can just hop out and open it), and drive over some really bumpy lava rocks. When you get to the junction of F88 and F910, you’ll turn left to continue on F910.
You’ll see Dreki – a campsite with bathrooms and some huts. I spent the night car camping here and continued to Askja the next morning.
From Dreki it’s about 15 minutes to the parking lot, and you’ll take F894 to the Vikraborgir Car Park, which is where the hiking trail begins!
In total, this drive took about 3 hours. It’s definitely long, and without really high clearance, you need to go slow over the rocks! I definitely recommend spending at least one night in this area so that you don’t have to do all that driving in one day.
Here’s a map showing this driving route to Askja!
Driving to Askja on F88
The other option for driving to Askja is to take F88. I didn’t try this road, so I don’t have any personal insight for you, but in general, it’s not recommended for medium sized SUVs, because the last river is sometimes too deep (but sometimes it’s doable – it depends on current conditions!). Some people said they found this road to be easier and less bumpy, but it does have more river crossings, and the last one can be challenging for smaller cars.
If you don’t want to drive to Askja, there are plenty of tours to choose from that will take you there! This is great for people who don’t want to rent a 4×4, or who don’t want to risk the river crossings.
You can take a Super Jeep tour, and tours from either Akureyri or Lake Myvatn. For a really unique view, you can even do a helicopter tour!
Check out these options for Askja tours:
What to Bring to Askja
From the parking lot, there’s a hike to get to Askja and Víti, so you’ll need some hiking gear, and I also recommend staying at Dreki so that you don’t have to drive there and back in one day! Here’s what you’ll need for exploring Askja.
You can swim in the Víti crater! You can swim in Askja too, but it’ll be very cold – Víti is a geothermal pool, so it’s warm.
I love bathing suits from Aerie – every one I’ve owned has been amazing and super comfortable! Backcountry has cute bathing suits too, and I like to wear some swim shorts for extra coverage.
Iceland is known for being wet, so shoes with good traction are a must for hiking to Askja, especially if you want to go down to the water at Víti.
My favorite hiking boots are my Danner boots – they’re cute, comfortable, and waterproof! I also love hiking in my Luna Barefoot sandals, and I wore them to hike to Askja. I know most people wouldn’t advise sandals in Iceland, but I prefer them! Just be prepared for sudden changes in weather.
Rain boots are another great option for muddy or wet conditions, and are definitely the easiest to clean.
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Iceland is known for being unpredictable, and it’s always best to wear layers . It’s important to bring rain gear, since there’s a good chance you’ll get caught in a drizzle while you hike.
The Marmot Minimalist Jacket is a great lightweight, waterproof option. For the cold, I love my Columbia puffy jacket – it’s lightweight, but keeps me warm. It’s also water resistant! For added warmth and layering, a Patagonia fleece is always a good addition.
When I’m bringing my camera gear, my favorite backpack is the Alex Strohl Mountain Light. It’s definitely the best camera bag out there for hiking with photo gear. If you don’t need storage for camera stuff, I recommend an Osprey Hikelite. If you aren’t bringing very much and just want a day bag, I love my Topo Designs Y-Pack for carrying essentials!
Especially when you’re hiking or exploring outdoors, it’s important to stay hydrated! Single use water bottles are, of course, terrible for the environment, so avoid that and bring a reusable one!
For hiking, the CamelBak water reservoirs are convenient and easy – they can fit in your hiking backpack for water on the go. Nalgene water bottles are great for day to day, and if you want an insulated water bottle to keep your water cold and refreshing, Hydro Flasks are the best!
If you want to camp at Dreki, you can car camp, or bring a tent! I have the Big Agnes Tiger Wall tent, which is amazing and weighs less than 2 pounds. The Stoic Madrone Tent is a more budget friendly, but heavier option.
Bonus Tip: A lot of these links are for my favorite place to buy outdoor gear – Backcountry. If you install the free Lolli extension on your browser, you can earn free Bitcoin when you shop online at certain retailers, including Backcountry. Download Lolli here!
For camping, you’ll need to make sure the sleeping bag is warm enough for your trip, along with being lightweight and packable if you’re bringing it with you to Iceland.
I use an ALPS down sleeping bag, which is really affordable compared to most down sleeping bags, but it’s light enough for me, and has kept me warm! The Marmot Ultra Elite 20 is a great synthetic bag that’s lightweight.
If you really want to keep your pack weight low, the Big Agnes Torchlight weighs less than 2 pounds!
A sleeping pad is a necessity for comfy nights, whether you’re in a tent or if you’re car camping in Iceland.
I have the Sea to Summit UltraLight Sleeping Pad, which packs up small and weighs less than a pound.
The NEMO equipment Switchback Sleeping Pad folds up small and is also great for backpacking, and if you’re going to be camping in colder weather, the NEMO Insulated Sleeping Pad helps with staying warm.
Having a camping stove allows you to have hot meals, and hot coffee!
The Jetboil MiniMo Stove is probably the lightest option there is, and it’s really popular with backpackers. I use the MSR Pocket Rocket stove, which packs up nice and small! Propane and butane for camping stoves were really easy to find in Iceland – almost every gas station and grocery store sells them.
You’ll also need some cooking utensils, and I recommend the GSI Outdoors Cook Set.
Hiking to Askja and Víti
Once you park, there’s a little further to go! The trail to Askja and Víti is pretty flat most of the way. A sign marks the trailhead!
Start walking on the trail, and you’ll walk along a really cool landscape formed by volcanic rock.
The trail is really easy to follow, and soon you’ll see Víti, and behind it, Askja. You can walk around and get closer, and you can climb down the steep slopes of the crater to swim in Lake Víti – it’s a hot spring. Sadly, when I was here, there was a sign that said swimming isn’t recommended due to current geothermal activity, but usually it’s safe!
You can walk around Víti and on the rocky cliffs that overlook Askja, and when you’re ready, head back the way you came!
Places to Stay Near Askja
When you’re done exploring Askja, you’ll need a place to stay! There aren’t very many options close by, but here are a few places you can spend the night.
Camping at Dreki
Drek is a short drive away from the Askja trailhead, so it’s a great place to spend the night! This was one of my favorite campsites in Iceland, because it’s really remote, and has amazing views. You can car or tent camp, or stay in one of the mountain huts.
Hotels Near Askja
There aren’t any hotels super close to Askja, but the closest one is Fjalladyrd-Möðrudalur á Fjollum in Möðrudalur. The second closest is the Grímstunga Guesthouse along the Ring Road.
To find more accommodations on your route, check out the map below! Make sure to change the dates and zoom out to see all of the options.
More Adventures Near Askja
After you explore Askja, if you want another adventure into the Highlands, be sure to visit Landmannalaugar! And check out these Iceland road trip itineraries for more places to see.
- Everything You Need to Know About Driving in Iceland
- Guide to Camping in Iceland
- Iceland Road Trip Itineraries
If you’ve been to Askja and have any tips, or if you’re planning a trip and have any questions, leave them in a comment below!
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