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Wild Life

Ásbyrgi canyon

Ásbyrgi is one of the wonders of nature, a well forested horse-shoe shaped canyon in Oxarfjordur. Asbyrgi is a part of Jökulsárgljúfur canyon, within the Vatnajökull National Park. The Jökulsárgljúfur site of the National park reaches from highway 85, by Ásbyrgi south to Dettifoss, covering an area of 120 km2. Informative visitor's centre, shop, golf course and camping site are located by Ásbyrgi.
Many hiking tracks are in the vicinity of Ásbyrgi. Ásbyrgi canyon is part of the Diamond Circle explore the Diamond Circle https://www.northiceland.is/diamondcircle.

Birdwatching

The rich bird life of the North, distributed over widely varying habitats, displays a diversity seldom surpassed in Iceland. Wetlands are important as a habitat for many Icelandic breeding species, and of the Icelandic wetlands which are famed for rich bird life, several of the most renowned are in North Iceland.

Mývatn lake and the nearby Laxá river are home to more duck species than any other place in the world, while examples of other wetlands include Svarfaðardalur and the islets at the mouth of Eyjafjarðará. Some well-known bird cliffs are located in the North, such as at Grímsey, Rauðinúpur and Langanes, besides the islands of Lundey in Skjálfandi and Mánáreyjar just eastwards, with their large puffin colonies. The seaward end of the peninsula off which these islands lie, Tjörnes, has abundant puffins at points where it is easy to approach and observe them.

Botnsvatn Lake

Lake Botnsvatn has an area of 1,05 km². It is an oligotrophic lake situated approximately 130 meters above sea level, just southeast of Húsavík town.

Dalvík Beach

In the harbour of Dalvík, at its southern end, is a little wooden bridge over the rock dam and offers access to a beautiful black sandy beach that invites to take a walk until you reach the delta of the river Svarfaðardalsá. Take a rest in the dunes and observe the rich birdlife.

Drangey

The rocky island Drangey in the middle of Skagafjordur is a flat topped mass of tuff, rising almost 200 meters out of the ocean. The cliffs serve as nesting sites for around million sea birds and have been used throughout Iceland´s history for egg collection and bird netting.

Grettis Saga recounts that both Grettir and his brother Illugi lived on Drangey, for three years and were slain there. The island can only be ascended at one spot.

Over the summer months, 20.May - 20.August, we offer daily trips to Drangey from Sauðárkrókur at 10:00 am.

There are no scheduled tours during the winter months, but tours can be arranged on request.

Flatey Island

Flatey is a beautiful island and an unforgettable experience to visit. You have the feeling time stops here or even goes back in history. Many residents in Húsavík have houses on Flatey, which though uninhabited since 1968, was once a lively village with a church, a schoolhouse, and a lighthouse. Residents slowly left once electricity began to arrive on the mainland. Spread flat, the island is rich in bird fauna, with over 30 different types of bird to watch, including among others Arctic Tern and the Puffins.

Hljóðaklettar

Hljóðaklettar in the canyon Jökulsárgljúfur is a distinctive cluster of columnar rock formations standing at the entrance to Vesturdalur, down by the Jökulsá á Fjöllum River. The columns lie at all angles and it's an entertaining exercise for one's imagination to interpret their patterns.

The road to Hljóðaklettar (862) is closed over the winter months.

Höfði

Höfði is a rocky promontory which reaches into the waters of Lake Mývatn. The view from here is good, giving a vista of the lake's coves and inlets, besides being an excellent site for bird watching. Kálfastrandarvogur bay laps the shores of Höfði and is famous for its unusual lava formations both off and onshore and these rocky outcrops, named Klasar and Kálfastrandarstrípar, have done much to earn Kálfastrandarvogur and Höfði their reputation for being among the most beautiful areas around Mývatn.

Horses in North Iceland

It is not surprising that these horses were called man's most necessary servant, considering the total lack of roads in former times. Leading through the untouched, charming nature of North Iceland, riding trails follow the coast, wind into the scenic mountains, or revive the use of age-old trails with varied history.

Experiencing an autumn roundup by the owners of free-ranging horses is no less of an adventure. Sitting on the corral fence and watching the action, you will see excitement, hear singing, and find happiness in every face. Many places in North Iceland have special exhibitions that introduce travellers to the Icelandic horse, and events related to riding and raising horses are always on the increase.

Hraunahafnartangi

Hraunhafnartangi and Rifstangi are the northernmost points of Iceland, at the edge of the arctic circle. Hraunhafnartangi derives its name from the natural harbor which is mentioned in 13th century literature. Þorgeirsdys, a stone mound found on Hraunhafnartangi, is believed the burial mound of Þorgeir Hávarsson who was slain there in an epic 11th century battle chronicled in Fóstbræðrasaga.

Visitors who bring pictures of themselves by Hraunhafnartangi lighthouse can receive a certificate from local service providers of having been to the northernmost point of the Icelandic mainland.

Hringsbjarg cliff

From Hringsbjarg cliff you have a breath-taking view over the mountain range in Öxarfjörður fjord and the black sand beach close by.

This place is the perfect place to stop and stretch your legs, breathe in the fresh sea air and enjoy the view and tranquillity.

At Hringsbjarg cliff is an observation deck as well as tables and information signs.

Great birdlife.

Hrútey

Hrútey Island is the real feather in the cap of Blönduós town, which is almost encircled by the river Blanda. Hrútey is blessed with a wide variety of vegetation and birdlife is abundant, being the habitat of geese and many other species. It is easily accessible and lies just off Highway 1.

There is a good parking area by the river bank and a trusty pedestrian bridge over to the island. Hrútey is an excellent place for outdoor exercise, or just to stop and take a break. There are good footpaths and a clearing with benches and picnic tables.

Jokulsargljufur

This dramatic canyon, Jökulsárgljúfur, was formed by the actions of water, fire and ice. Enormous, catastrophic glacial bursts are believed to have carved out the deep ravines and rocky basins, the most famous of which is Ásbyrgi.
The Hljóðaklettar outcrops are the cores of ancient volcanoes, revealed when the river swept away all the loose volcanic material.
The waterfalls on the River Jökulsá á Fjöllum, Selfoss, Dettifoss, Hafragilsfoss and Réttarfoss are powerful and impressive.
The Hólmatungur district is an area of contrasts: crystal clear streams and bubbling brooks cross the land before emptying into the raging, chocolate-coloured torrent. A delicate balance of flora and fauna thrives under the protection of cliffs and scree slopes.

Krossanesborgir

Krossanesborgir is a nature reserve north of Akureyri, that allows you for a soft walk by the sea, and chances for bird watching in summer. Popular among locals for berry picking in autumn.

Lake Mývatn

Mývatn is the 4th largest lake in Iceland, 37 km2 in area. Its shores are indented with many coves and inlets and its surface is dotted with around 50 small islets and skerries. Midges (Chironomidae) are abundant and the ubiquitous swarms of these tiny flies give the Lake its name.
The lake itself is very shallow, and the rays of the sun reach the lake bed over its entire surface. The ecology of the lake area is extremely diverse and interesting; one important characteristic of Mývatn, being the prolific growth and abundance of freshwater seaweed. On the bed of the lake are great quantities of diatoms, while, nearer the surface, Mývatn's famous arctic char weave their way between aquatic plants and little islets topped with fertile vegetation.

On and around the lake there is a teeming and varied birdlife, and Mývatn is the habitat of many kinds of lake and marsh birds. However, much of Mývatn's fame is due to the fact that, during summer, there are more different species of duck gathered on and around the lake than anywhere else in the world. Mývatn is a legally protected conservation area and appears on the register of internationally important wetlands, along with the Laxá river which flows out of the lake.

Langanes

Langanes is a narrow peninsula between Þistilfjordur and Bakkafloi shaped like a goose with a very large head. This area is about as wild as coastal Iceland gets, perfect for exploring off the beaten track. A rough road goes to the tip named Fontur. On the north and south of the tip there are steep sea cliffs, Skoruvikurbjarg and Skalavikurbjarg. The Langanes peninsula is know for its rich birdlife, and a very good birdwatching spots where it is possible to watch the Gannet and Brünnichs Guillermot from land.

Melrakkasletta peninsula

The "Sléttan", as the Melrakkaslétta is often called, is the
peninsula reaching from Kópasker in the west to Raufarhöfn in
the east. The coastline is indented with creeks and lagoons
and has grassy heathlands and dozens of lakes teeming with
fish. This area offers shelter and is a temporary stopping
place for thousands and thousands of birds that come here for
the summer or rest here for their further flights to the north
or to the south. Seals can also be seen resting on skerries
and whales are spotted off the coast as well as foxes and mink
on the heaths close to rivers and lakes.

The richly varied vegetation has few parallels. No one place attracts the traveller more than some other place. Nature in its entirety
does. A veritable mecca for lowers of nature. This is infact
one of the best places in Iceland to see the midnight sun and
from late August to April the famous northern lights.

Myvatn Nature reserve

Lake Mývatn is a veritable paradise for birdwatchers and there is a highly diverse birdlife to be found both on the waters of the lake itself and on its shores. Many waders and marsh dwellers make their home there, but Mývatn is probably best known for its unique duck species composition. During the summer months there are more species of duck gathered in and around its waters than anywhere else on the planet. Mývatn and its wetlands are protected as a nature reserve (The Mývatn-Laxá Nature Conservation Area). It is registered as one of the internationally important wetlands, along with the Laxá river which flows out of the lake.

Seals

Seal watching is a fascinating experience and there is no better place to see these beautiful animals than where they are most at home i.e. in their natural habitat. Seals are naturally curious creatures and therefore, with a good camera, it should be relatively easy to get some excellent pictures of them in their proper environment.
Seal watching is an experience that is long remembered, and certainly gives one a new perspective on life and nature.
The Icelandic Seal Center at Hvammstangi offers educational exhibition on seals,and gives information to people seal watching in Vatnsnes peninsula.
Seals

Sellátur is the Icelandic name given to an area by the sea which is the breeding ground for seals and these are to be found wherever seal colonies have settled. The breeding grounds are usually close to the tidemark and seals can be seen lying on the beach or splashing around in the sea at high tide. In each colony there can be as few as one or two animals or as many as several hundreds. Vatnsnes is the best place in the north to study these creatures.

Spakanufellshofdi headland

Spákonufellshöfði headland is popular among those interested in walking and other outdoor recreations, and is a short way from the harbour in Skagaströnd.

Marked footpaths have been laid out and signboards erected telling the visitor about the area's flora and fauna. On a bright, clear summer evening, one can witness the setting of the midnight sun as it dips to touch the horizon in the north. Indeed, the inhabitants of the area make use of the headland all year round and enjoy all that it has to offer.

Stórikarl

Langanes is a veritable outdoor paradise teeming with birdlife, great for nature study and hiking.

Skoruvíkurbjarg, located mid-way out on its northern shore, is a great place to view and photograph sea birds such as auks. A viewing platform extending some 10m out from the cliff offers a close range view of a colony of the magnificent Northern Gannets on the sea stack Stórikarl. It´s Iceland's second largest Gannet colony, while nearby are colonies of auks, including guillemots and puffins in the bird-filled cliffs at Skoruvíkurbjarg.

The Gannet is the largest seabird in the North Atlantic and has earned the nickname Queen of the Atlantic.

Langanes peninsula is a treat for birdwatchers.

Vatnsnes

Vatnsnes is an area of varied animal life, and it is here that we find the largest and most accessible seal sanctuary in Iceland, where the common seal (Phoca vitulina) can be seen at quite close range. Facilities for seal watching can also be found at Illugastaðir, Svalbarð and Ósar, but please note that the Hindisvík station has now closed.

The area offers a beautiful environment endowed with many pearls of nature such as Hvítserkur and Borgarvirki, as well as some famous historical trails and sites.

The ring road round Vatnsnes is about 90 km and is mostly dirt road, passable all year round.

Whales in North Iceland

Watching whales has become one of the most common activities among foreign visitors to North Iceland. In fact, Húsavík and Eyjafjörður were among the first places in the country as a whole that offered whale-watching excursions.

The number of species, along with favourable weather and sea conditions, make North Iceland one of the best Icelandic areas for spotting whales. Skjálfandi and Eyjafjörður are sheltered bays, perfect for a boat ride on a summer's day, surrounded by birds and beautiful scenery. The experience becomes complete by seeing dolphins and minke, humpback or even blue whales play beside one of the particularly appealing oakwood boats used exclusively in North Iceland.
Watching a whale off North Iceland will fascinate anyone.

North Iceland

Towns & Villages

Society and the economy have many faces. Whereas agriculture is the mainstay of rural areas, the towns depend upon fishing, industry, trade and a range of services, with each village having its own characteristics though they all prove hospitable hosts. 
The availability of food and accommodation and the possibilities at every location for recreation and entertainment make hopping between the villages informative as well as fun.   
In every case, the residents are lively and ready to celebrate.

Explore map with pictures

Map Akureyri Eyjafjarðarsveit Grímsey Raufarhöfn Kópasker Þórshöfn Bakkafjörður Húsavík Mývatn Laugar Svalbarðseyri Grenivík Hjalteyri Hauganes Árskógssandur Dalvík Hrísey Ólafsfjörður Siglufjörður Hofsós Hólar Varmahlíð Sauðárkrókur Skagaströnd Blöndós Hvammstangi Laugarbakki Borðeyri