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Breathtaking Nature

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Breathtaking Nature

Day 1: The Mývatn area and Húsavík town

• The tumbling waterfall, Goðafoss (Waterfall of the Gods) and the Mývatn area with its rich bird life and evidences of volcanic activity, such as the crater Krafla, the Hverarönd geothermal area and boiling mudpits, Dimmuborgir lava formations and Skútustaðagígar pseudo craters. 
• Geothermal Spa and Nature Baths.
• Húsavík town offering whale watching, puffin sighting and horse-back riding.

Day 2: The towns of Kópasker and Þórshöfn and the surrounding district

• Melrakkaslétta plain which boasts abundant sea bird life and an arctic rugged coast. Hraunhafnartangi, the most northerly point of the Icelandic mainland, only 3 km south of the Arctic Circle. 
• Langanes and Skoruvíkurbjarg, home to the largest gannet colony in the north of Iceland. 
• The midnight sun in summer with a view towards the Arctic Circle, or, during dark winter days, the splendour of the northern lights.

Day 3: Vatnajökull National Park and the Highland

• The impressive Ásbyrgi canyon and Europe’s most powerful waterfall, Dettifoss. 
• Mt. Herðubreið, often referred to as “The Queen of Icelandic Mountains”, Askja caldera and Öskjuvatn, the deepest lake in Iceland. Also a chance to bathe in Víti (Hell), a geothermal tephra crater.

Day 4: Akureyri town and Eyjafjörður fjord

• A Botanical garden containing a diverse collection of Arctic flora, an 18 hole golf course, excellent restaurants, geothermal outdoor swimming pools, museums, hiking tracks to suit most ages and abilities and much, much more. 

Húsavík

Húsavík is the oldest settlement in Iceland, besides being the largest town in Þingeyjarsýsla district and the service centre for the surrounding area. The town is known for whale watching tours in Skjálfandi Bay and called the Whale Capital. Up to 23 species of whale, including the Blue Whale, as well as large colonies of puffins can be found in the bay. One can experience the gigantic life-size of whales in the local Whale Museum where, amongst others, a 22m long skeleton of a Blue Whale is on display. There are several whale watching companies to choose from in Húsavík, and a sail through the ocean waves in pursuit of these wonderful creatures is an experience no one should miss and will certainly never be forgotten.

The Museum House at Húsavík, as the inhabitants of the district call their cultural centre, houses part of the South Þingeyjarsýsla District Museum, a maritime museum, natural history museum, folk museum, district archives, photograph archives, and an art gallery.

Cultural life in and around the town is flourishing, the active and enthusiastic drama society being among the best amateur theatre groups in Iceland. There are a number of choirs and instrumental groups playing an active role in the field of music.

Services in Húsavík are different types of accommodation, restaurants and cafés, a brewery, a geothermal swimming pool and campsites as well as a golf course and skiing area on the outskirts of town. A newly opened sea bath invites for a dip in geothermal hot sea water while enjoying a magnificent view over the bay. Húsavík is serviced by Húsavík airport. 

Kópasker

Kópasker is a friendly village on the eastern shore of Öxarfjörður bay. A legal trading post was established here in 1880, and a village started slowly forming early in the 20th century. Its name derives from the skerry on which the breakwater was built and means seal pup skerry.

The local economy is mostly services to the surrounding agricultural region and tourism, but Kópasker´s largest employer is Fjallalamb meat processing plant. The village´s fishing industry consists of a few small boats.

Services in Kópasker include a grocery store with a restaurant, a state liquor store, car repair, a health clinic, a pharmacy, a bank, a gym, self-service gas station, guest houses, and a camping ground.

Among things to see and do around Kópasker are visits to the Snartarstaðir heritage museum with its unique collection of handicrafts and the Kópasker Earthquake Center which features information on an earthquake which struck the village in 1976 causing considerable damage. There are also some interesting walking trails around the village and very rich birdlife.

Each year, Kópasker celebrates the summer solstice in June with an extended weekend of various activities and happenings and visitors are welcomed.

Dimmuborgir

Dimmuborgir is an area of randomly strewn lava rocks and cliffs, surrounded by vegetation, such as low bushes and plants. Dimmuborgir is a place of surprises with its myriad forms and images, small caves and towering volcanic rock, pierced by natural apertures.

The most famous of these formations is "The Church", aptly named, as this is a cave, open at both ends and with a dome-like ceiling.

It is not only in summer that Dimmuborgir exerts its charm; a winter visit is also an invigorating experience which must, of course, include popping in to see the Yule Lads (Santas) who have made it their home.

Stóri- Karl

Langanes is a veritable outdoor paradise teeming with birdlife, great for nature study and hiking as well as some tangible history. A trip to the outlying peninsula is an unforgettable adventure, passing remnants of ancient farms and more recently deserted buildings like Skoruvík. Below Skoruvík cliffs is Stóri Karl rock column, one of Iceland's largest gannet colonies.

Akureyri

Whatever the time of year, Akureyri is a lively and energetic town, and home to around 20.000 inhabitants. It is by far the most densely populated community outside the Reykjavík area, and is the centre of trade, culture and services for the north of Iceland.

It is a town closely associated with educational institutions and cultural events, all of those having strong traditional roots. Two of the largest fisheries in Iceland are based in Akureyri, and the growth of the tourist industry means that this is playing an ever more important role in the life of the town.

Akureyri is close to many of Iceland's most renowned natural beauty spots and the town itself is a popular stopping place for both long and short stays.

Below is a list of places we would recommend as being well worth a visit while in Akureyri:

  • The Akureyri Botanical Garden (with 400 plants indigenous to Iceland and more than 7,500 foreign species)
  • the Akureyri Art Museum Listagil Art Centre
  • Akureyri swimming pool
  • Húni II - a boat built from oak in 1963, which is to be found at Torfunefsbryggja pier
  • restaurants which offer dishes prepared from produce originating in the surrounding countryside
  • Kjarnaskógur wood the
  • old town -museums, a church and historical buildings
  • Jaðar golf course - the most northerly 18-hole golf course in the world
  • Hrísey island - the pearl of Eyjafjörður
  • the Akureyrarvaka festival which is held in August each year and is the culmination of the Summer Festival (Listasumar) which runs from mid -June until the end of August
  • beer from the local breweries, Víking and Kaldi
  • Brynja ice cream - a favourite with the local people
  • Akureyri Church
  • Hlíðarfjall ski slopes.
Mývatn

Mývatn offers a unique natural environment. With large contrasts and short distances, you can experience the most and the best that Iceland has to offer. Large open spaces with roads and walkways lead travelers to unworldly locations, where volcanic eruptions have played a crucial role in the formation of the landscape. Whether the plan is to enjoy the landscape, examine unique natural phenomena or take a closer look at the pant and birdlife, Mývatn has it all. Furthermore, the area offers a variety of services in accommodation, food, and entertainment, based on years of experience and knowledge. A large number of travelers visit Mývatn in the summer, but many believe the lake and its surroundings to be no less impressive in the wintertime.

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.

Þórshöfn

The heart of Þórshöfn beats in time to the waves, and fishing and fish processing have been the town's main form of occupation throughout the years. Therefore, it is interesting to go for a walk, take a look at harbour life and activity, then perhaps look into the restaurant Báran, and sample their excellent soup made from ocean quahog (Arctica islandica). Fishing for ocean quahog is one of the many things which set Þórshöfn apart from other villages.

Þórshöfn offers excellent services; a health centre, shop, restaurant, a sports stadium, swimming pool, savings bank, petrol station etc. There is also a camping site with facilities for camper vans.

Vatnajökull National Park - north part

Vatnajökull National Park is vast in size and covers more than 13% of Iceland. Despite a large part of the national park being underneath the icecap of the glacier Vatnajökull its landscape is diverse, predominantly due to the interplay of volcanic activity and glaciers.

Jökulsárgljúfur is an area that takes its name from a canyon carved out by river Jökulsá á Fjöllum. Within this area is Ásbyrgi; surrounded by horseshoe-shaped cliffs and also the location of Ásbyrgi visitor centre and a large camp site. Also within Jökulsárgljúfur are waterfall Dettifoss and crater plugs Hljóðaklettar, both a must see for every visitor in the north.

Central volcano Askja and highland oasis Herðubreiðarlindir are further up in the highlands. To get there requires a 4x4 transport. They are best accessed by road 901 and then F905. Two small fords need to be crossed on this way. Alternative route is through road F88 but then two fords that need extreme caution need to be crossed.
More information about the National park is at the webpage: www.vatnajokullnationalpark.is

Dettifoss waterfall

The Dettifoss waterfall is with the greatest volume of any waterfall in Europe, 500 cubic metres of water per second plunges over the edge. Dettifoss is 45 m high and 100m wide. A nice hiking trail, 34km, goes along the canyon from Dettifoss to Asbyrgi. Camping possible in Vesturdalur.

Road 864 goes from road 85 past Dettifoss on the east side towards road 1. This is a gravel road and driving speed depends on road conditions each time. Road 864 is closed durning winter time due to snow or wet condtitions (muddy road) and does not open until early summer (end of May).

Gravel road 862 is on the west side of river Jökulsá. The road is passable for normal vehicles from Asbyrgi to Dettifoss, with Vesturdalur (Hljodaklettar) and Holmatungur between. Up until 2011 this road was categorised as a mountain road (F-road) but is now served as a gravel road. The conditions of gravel roads in Iceland can vary, so travellers are asked to be aware of road conditions at any time and adjust driving speed to the conditions.

Road 862 is closed durning winter time, due to snow or wet conditions (muddy road) and does not open until late May or early June. From Dettifoss onwards south to road 1, on the west river bank, there is a new, paved road which is passable for all vehicles. This road is not in service from January until the beginning of April.

Herdubreid

Mt. Herdubreid on the Oskjuleið Route is a 1682m high table mountain. It is the national mountain of Iceland and often called the "Queen of Icelandic mountains". There is a hiking trail to the top of the mountain, but due to loose rock it´s difficult and steep.

Ásbyrgi

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

Askja

Askja is a 50 km2 caldera in the Dyngjufjoll mountains. The mountains emerged in eruptions under an Ice Age glacier cap. Askja itself was formed, for the most part, at the end of the Ice Age in a major ash eruption which caused the roof of the magma chamber at the heart of the central volcano to subside.

Askja is a part of Vatnajökull National Park.

The caldera contains several volcanoes, including Víti (explosive volcanic crater). Water has accumulated in the crater, its temperature is variable - it is around 30°C on average. Víti is a popular bathing site, but if you intend taking a dip, please be aware that the sloping path is very slippery in wet weather.

The road to Askja goes from road 1 to road 901 and onto mountain road F905. Onward to F910 to Drekagil. On this route there are two fords to cross, usually small. From Drekagil goes mountain road F894 (8 km) to the car park at Vikraborgir.
Another option is to go from road 1 to mountain road F88 via Herðubreiðarlindir to Drekagil. On this road ther are fords on the rivers Grafarlandsá and Lindá that need to be crossed. The fords can be difficult or even impassable for small jeeps.

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.

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 Hrafnagil 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