Víti (Askja)

Víti is a crater lake and one of the most extraordinary places in Iceland. If you’ve ever wondered what it feels like to bathe in hell, here’s your chance, as Víti means “hell” in Icelandic. At the bottom of the crater lake, there’s geothermal water that remains above 20°C (68°F) year-round. This temperature is enough for you to try the water firsthand, even in the chilly environment of Iceland’s harsh interior.

The crater and surrounding area are geologically young, formed during the eruption of the Askja caldera on March 18, 1875. The impact of this eruption was so severe that it forced many Icelanders to leave this beautiful but rugged island, resulting in a wave of emigration to Canada and the USA.

Víti is adjacent to Lake Öskjuvatn, which, however, has a typical cold temperature, hovering just above freezing for most of the year.

From the parking lot at Askja, it’s about a 30-minute walk, and as you approach, you’ll see both Víti and Öskjuvatn. You’ll likely be struck by the size difference and the color contrast, with Öskjuvatn’s water being a cooling blue and Víti’s crater water a grey-green.

Don’t confuse this lake with another crater lake of the same name in the Krafla area.