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Saturday, June 25 update: Geothermal, lava caves, and Hveragerði

We left Hafnarfjörður and headed toward the Golden Circle area. Our first stop was the Onpower Geothermal Energy Exhibition.

on power geothermal whole building

You will see the steam as you drive past on Route 1. The buildings are massive, but the Visitor’s Center is in the small “arrow” in the middle.

on power geothermal pointy

There are exhibits to see, including a demonstration about how the extremely hot liquid is harnessed and used to generate electricity and hot water, as well as information about the geothermal area.

on power geothermal 3rd floor

The floors are fairly small, and what is empty one minute (above) can fill up when a tour bus arrives:

on power geothermal crowded

You can also see the turbine room, since this is a working power plant:

on power geothermal turbine room

At 950 krona per adult (and free for kids under 16), the price is comparable to many other museums in Iceland. The museum is fairly small, and you may get more out of this one with a guided tour. The good news is, with so many Golden Circle tours coming through, you should be able to hear part of one, or several! But we were bigger fans of the free Ljósafoss Power Station, if it’s convenient for you.

We drove east to the Raufarhólshellir Lava Tube Cave. You’ll just see a small sign and a parking lot. But don’t judge a cave by its parking lot; this lava tube is 1360 meters long.

Raufarhólshellir lava cave entrance

Let’s talk safety. Like in most natural places in Iceland, you’re on your own. In the picture above, you can see some steps carved into the stone. That’s the only place with a man-made path. Otherwise, you need to decide the best way to get from point a to point b. That may be a careful walk from one large boulder to another. Or there may be a loose rock in between. Or snow. Yes, snow, at the end of June:

lava cave snow

In the winter, there can be a layer of ice on everything. You can explore the first 50-100 meters without your own source of light, but after that you will need a flashlight or a headlamp, and maybe an extra one too, or some extra batteries. (And don’t forget to leave your travel plan with!) There is at least one company that offers a guided tour. We haven’t done the tour, but it was a very cool cave, and one we would like to explore further.

Raufarhólshellir lava cave pretty

Then it was on to Hveragerði, a town which calls itself the hot springs capital of the world. They use geothermal energy to keep many many greenhouses warm:

hveragerði greenhouses

We happened to be there for the annual flower festival. This web site appears to be wrong, as the flower festival in Hveragerði is the last weekend in June.

There were some nice little displays of flowers throughout town:

hveragerði bike flower show

hveragerði flowers

As well as a concert and some indoor displays (a competition or an auction? I am not sure).

hveragerði succulents

We were excited to head to Kjöt og Kúnst (as mentioned in our Golden Circle Add-ons post) for a snack. It is a bakery that uses geothermal heat in their cooking:

hveragerði Kjöt og kúnst building

The kids opted for cake. And I hate to say it, but we were very disappointed. Most times when we have a mediocre or overpriced meal, we just don’t mention it and move on; you’ll only see us discussing the memorable meals. But check out the piece of cake my son got, and remember that this cost over $10 a slice:

hveragerði Kjöt og kúnst tiny cake again

The other pieces of cake did vary in size, and so maybe the employee cutting the cake was new?

hveragerði Kjöt og kúnst tiny cake

The other kids didn’t really like their cakes, which is also extremely rare. We all left disappointed, which is almost unprecedented for a bakery. Sadly, I can’t recommend Kjöt og Kúnst, though maybe we just had an isolated bad experience.

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Saturday, June 25 update: Geothermal, lava caves, and Hveragerði was last modified: November 29th, 2016 by Eric