See a map of the area in 3-D.

Búðahraun was protected in 1977. The area is characterised by a rough lava field and diverse vegetation. 11 of 16 known fern species in Iceland are found there. An ancient road lies through the lava field. Yellow sand beaches, like the ones found near Búðarhraun, are rare in Icelandic nature.

The nature reserve covers an area of 1002.9 ha.

Points of Interest

Búðarhraun has one of the most beautiful, vegetated areas in Iceland. Its eastern part was protected in 1977. Búðir is a great spot for sea baths, but care must always be taken to exercise the utmost caution when bathing in the sea. In ancient sources, Búðahraun is called Klettshraun and the volcano in the middle of the lava field is called Búðaklettur (Búða cliff). In reality, Búðaklettur isn't actually a cliff but an 88 m high crater from which the lava flowed around 5000–8000 years ago. The eastern part of Búðahraun consists of pahoehoe lava, where several caves have been discovered, the best known of which is Búðahellir. Búðahellir is rich in folklore, including the belief that it was bottomless and that a tunnel extended from it under Búdaklettur and out to sea. The tunnel was supposed to lead to Djúpasker, east of Búðahraun. The lava stands on the ocean floor, and the sea flows around its foundations. The sea even comes up through the deepest fissures during extreme tides. Among geologists, the lava is known for its tri-porphyritic rock: yellowy-green phenocrysts are olivine, white are plagioclase and black are pyroxene. Nearly pure olivine sand can be found on the beach at Búðir.


Strange potholes have formed in many places in Búðahraun, and they, as well as other depressions, contain some of the most peculiar vegetation found in Iceland. Over 130 varieties of plants have been found in the lava field, including Paris quadrifolia, which is protected. At first glance, the ferns often attract the most attention. In total, 16 species of fern have been found in Iceland, whereof 11 grow in Búðahraun. Lady-fern, alpine bucklefern and male fern are the most prominent, since they are the largest, but bladder fern is common and western oak fern and beechfern grow widely. Búðahraun also has flower patches and fields, heather, moss spreads and rock vegetation, birch bushes and the occasional ash tree. Species that grow to great hights in the lava field are species such as meadow sweet, wood crane’s bill and buttercup. In the sand, you can find Richardson’s fescue and sea lyme grass, silverweed, field horsetail, meadow buttercup, sea campion, mountain thyme, Icelandic bedstraw, moss campion and dandelion.


Within the nature reserve in Búðir are foxes, minks and field mice, as well as many bird and insect species. Common seals lounge on the beach, and whales can occasionally be spotted off the coast.

Cultural Heritage

Búðir is the site of an important chapter in Iceland’s economic history. Eyrbyggja Saga mentions Hraunhafnarós (Búðaós) as a trading post in the early ages of the Icelandic Settlement. Out along the lava field, around three kilometres from the hotel, is Frambúðir. Frambúðir was a fishing settlement ever since the Settlement Age, and many farms had boat landings there for centuries. It’s the site of the original Búðir, and the name comes from the fishermen’s huts (verbúðir) that used to be there. The remains of the fishermen’s huts can still be seen, as well as the fish drying area and stone-built walls, fish oil and liver pits and the shops of the Brim merchants. The shop buildings were later moved east of the estuary, where trade was in operation for 130 years. One of the worst storms in the history of Iceland occurred on the night of January 9th 1799. Along with high winds, there was heavy rain, thunder and lightning, tumultuous seas and crashing surf. In Staðarsveit, the sea came up 1500 fathoms above the low-water line and almost swept away parts of the town of Búðir. As a result, trading was moved back to west of the estuary in 1800.

According to the 1703 census, approximately 100 people lived in Búðir, and for a long time, Búðir had a close and direct relationship to the economy of large farms. People came to trade in Búðir from Hvítá in Borgarfjörður and from Öndverðarnes in the west.

At the foot of Axlarhyrna is the farm Öxl. That farm, which once stood by the ancient public road Jaðargata, was the home of the serial killer Axlar-Björn. He confessed to the murders of nine tourists, but some believe he killed 18 people in all.  According to legend, the bodies were dumped in Iglutjörn lake at the edge of the lava field. Axlar-Björn was executed in 1596 and buried in three separate parts in Laugarholt by Hellnar. This was done to prevent him from haunting the area.

In 1703, Bent Lárusson built a church in Búðir. The church was rebuilt by Steinunn Sveinsdóttir in 1848. According to legend, she did that at the request of Bent, who visited her in a dream. In 1984, the church was moved in one piece from the old churchyard to its current location. The church was rebuilt in the exact form it was thought to have been in 1848. It was reconsecrated in 1987 and is a protected museum church owned by the National Museum of Iceland but is in the custody of the local parish council.


The main hiking trails are marked. The old public road through Búðahraun is called Klettsgata. It leads to Búðaklettur, past Búðahellir and on through the lava. Where the road lies through smooth lava, you can see where the hooves of horses long gone have worn a groove in the bedrock. Klettsgata is a distinct and entertaining hiking trail that’s suitable for everyone. Estimated hiking time is three hours.

Jadargata is an old road that follows the edge of the lava field to the large cliff south of Midhúsatún, where it merges with Klettsgata. The road is frequently indistinct. Estimated hiking time from Búðir is two hours. The hike from Axlarhólar to Miðhús only takes one hour.

A delightful path leads to Frambúðir, where the spirit of the past lives on in the moss-grown ancient relics. The hike from the church to Frambúðir takes 30 minutes.

You can hike from the Búðir nature reserve over to the beach by Arnarstapi and Hellnar. The hike takes an estimated 68 hours.