Steinahellir is at the foot of the slope above Holtsós. In front of the cave is Hellisvatn (Cave Lake), which is said to be inhabited by a kelpie, a malevolent supernatural creature resembling a horse. The cave mouth faces south. It is surrounded by grassy slopes that stretch up to the rocky palisades of Mt. Steinafjall. Rock slides occasionally occur from the mountain above.
Steinahellir is fairly large, about 6 metres wide and four metres high. The cave is about 15 metres deep, and grows higher and wider towards the back.
In the period 1818-1905 the cave was the regional assembly site for the Eyjafjöll district; at that time it was enclosed by a wooden wall. In 1888 a catastrophic flood damaged the farm buildings at Steinar, and the inhabitants took refuge in the cave.
The cave has also served as a sheep shed, a hay barn, and finally a machine shed. In the late 20th century it was cleared and made accessible to visitors.
Diverse plants flourish in the cave, such as ferns and the cave walls abound in mosses. You can find fern species like polypody and brittle bladderwort. Local folklore says that anyone wantonly pulling up the plants will pay a heavy price.
Steinahellir cave is at Holtsós, about 1 hour and 45 minutes drive (136 km) from Reykjavík and few metres from the main road, between Varmahlíð and Steinar.
The cave is easy to reach, a turn-off from the road leads straight to the cave. There is a good car park by the cave.
Note: Do not park or stop the car on the main road! Be careful when turning of the main road, slow down in time and give indicators.
Read more about Driving in Iceland.