Mývatn and Laxá

Mývatn and Laxá is part of the Tentative list of Iceland in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.

Click here for a short description of the site, as delivered by the state party.

Map of Mývatn and Laxá

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The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.

Community Reviews

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Zoë Sheng

Chinese-Canadian - 09-Aug-19 -

Mývatn and Laxá (T) by Zoë Sheng

Mývatn lake is right on the 1 loop road around Iceland and thus impossible to miss. Lots and lots of people come to the area for the hot spring baths (mainly via Akureyri from the looks of it) and I have to say: don't do the Blue Lagoon - come here instead! Just open TripAdvisor for the Blue Lagoon and sort by negative reviews first to read how disgusting and overpriced it is plus the scenery down there is nothing spectacular for Iceland standard, thus it's basically for those with little time or lack of venturing further than Reykjavik and the Golden Circle. But this isn't a review for the hot springs anyway.

The lake is large but I don't find anything special about it. There were some ducks but overall, boring. The interested sections were the natural baths were they filmed Game of Thrones (look it up yourself as I won't post any story info no matter how old/minor). Unfortunately just a handful of people crowd out the small entrance and tourists often hang around here longer than one would think is worth checking it out for. There are quite a few of these and you can do mini hikes. The ever changing weather in Iceland made it a no-go for anything but 10min outside the car.

Unfortunately I didn't find it too amazing (the hot spring spa was nice) and it just seems like a regular place in Iceland. Still nice, don't get me wrong, but I wouldn't rate it WH material.

Ralf Regele

Germany - 09-Sep-18 -

Mývatn and Laxá (T) by Ralf Regele

The Myvatn lake in northern iceland is aptly named "midge lake", as it is home to clouds of annoying flies, at least in summer. The flies can be a real damper on your travel experience here, to the point where putting a flynet around your head turns from a ridiculous tourist folly into a totally reasonable and diserable act. The area is a major tourist destination, with multiple sightseeing stations around the lake. A typical trip around the lake could include:

  • Skutustadagigar: An area of the lake shore with a lot of the typical pseudocraters. Nice views and a pleasent walk, if you don't mind the swarms of flies chasing you (Views 3/5, Flies 5/5).
  • Dimmuborgir: A lava field next to the lake, with enormous lava rock towers to walk amongst. Crowded with tourists, but most do not advance far from the shortest walking circle (Views 5/5 Flies 4/5 at parking, 1/5 at church rock (most distant point)).
  • Hverfjall: A hill-sized ash crater, which can be climbed for views and bragging rights. Too strenuous for me.
  • Grjotagja: A nice little natural hot water grotto, about 10min. from the lake. Bathing is no longer allowed, and it can get overcrowded, still worth it in my opinion (Views 4/5, Flies 2/5).
  • Nature baths: Hot water springs, about 10min. from the lake. Fully developed with spa building and entrance fees, so not too much nature. Not visited.
  • Namaskard: A geothermic area with fumerols and mud pools, devoid of all plant life. Not too spectacular, but athmospheric and really nice for pictures (Views 4/5, Flies 1/5).

In the WHS application, only the pseudocraters are mentioned, the rest of the geological side attractions are not considered. Instead, the description concentrates on the biological richness of the lake, which is hard to evaluate as a normal traveller. Visiting in early autumn after the breeding season, I could not detect major differences between Myvatn lake and other lakes in iceland. It's also hard to appreciate the duck variety when you are covered with flies.
All in all, the visit to Myvatn lake was surely worthwhile and a nice experience, although maybe not among the top experiences in iceland. As with many natural WHS, I lack the knowledge to be able to judge the core worth of the site.
Visited in September 2018.
Importance 3/5 Beauty 3/5 Uniqueness 4/5 Environment 4/5 Experience 3/5

Full Name
Mývatn and Laxá
2011 Revision

Successor to former TWHS Myvatn - Lax

2011 Added to Tentative List

Unesco Website: Mývatn and Laxá

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Mývatn and Laxá (T)
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