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nature

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nature

North Iceland is a veritable string of jewels, whose nature attracts people of all ages. The famous Dettifoss nearby Lake Mývatn is in North Iceland and renouwned places like Ásbyrgi, Hvitserkur and Dimmuborgir. Hvítserkur cliff, Drangey island and Kolugljúfur are must see jweles of Nature. The waterfalls are something not to miss, for example Dettifoss, Goðafoss , Aldeyjarfoss and many more.

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.

Arctic Henge

Set in Raufarhöfn, one of the most remote and northernmost villages in Iceland where the Arctic Circle lies just off the coast, the Arctic Henge (Heimskautsgerðið) is under construction. Similar to its ancient predecessor, Stonehenge, the Arctic Henge is like a huge sundial, aiming to capture the sunrays, cast shadows in precise locations and capture the light between aligned gateways.

History

Heimskautsgerðið (The Arctic-Henge) has it s roots in the innovators Erlingur Thoroddsen's speculations about the possibility to use endless vistas, where nothing obstructs the horizon, and the midnight sun. The idea to use the dwarf names from the eddic poem Völuspá (Prophecy of the Seeress) and modernize some aspects of the old world of the Sagas, soon became a part of these speculations. The first version of the idea is from 1998 but in 2004 it was finalized, with allusions to mythology and folklore, designed to interact with the unique natural light.

No one has been able to explain the dwarfs in the Völuspá, apart from Austri (East), Vestri (West), Norðri (North) and Suðri (South), who carry the sky. By connecting the names of the dwarfs to the season, as for example Bjartur (Bright) Blíður (Sweet) and Svásuður (Gengle) to the summer, it is possible to fit the names of the dwarfs to a yearly circle of 72 weeks. The year-circle of the dwarfs becomes a kind of almanac, where each dwarf controls a five day period. All the dwarfs have been given a role and they have all have their own personalities. This means that the dwarfs can be connected to birthdays and people can connect to their personal dwarf.

Around this made up world rises the Heimskautsgerði (Arctic-Henge) on the Melrakkaás (Foxhill) in Raufarhöfn. The Heimskautsgerði is around 50 meters in diameter, with 6 meter high gates that face the main directions. Between the gates is a high wall with a small opening at the top. Inside the circle stands 10 meter high column on four pillars. The column will be topped with cut prism-glass that splits up the sunlight unto the primary colors. The opening between the pillar look towards the main directions, so example the midnight sun can be seen from the south gate through the middle column and the north gate. The play of light and shadow will follow the time of the day. The openings on the wall will let in the sunrays so when the building is completed a sundial can be set up.

Inside the circle are 68 dwarfs who stand around a circular dwarf trail. Inside the trail is the polar star pointer, and does exactly what its name says. There you can also find the throne of the sun that is meant to be a place where the traveler can sit down to have his picture taken. Also a hall of rays, which is a sort of sanctuary between high columns, with one seat, where the guest can empty his mind an renew his energy. An altar of fire and water, that reminds us of the power of the elements, where events can be performed, for examples weddings, oath taking and so forth

Getting There

It´s about 130 km from Húsavík, but good roads all the way, so allow 1.5 hrs.
Follow the road 85 northeast out of Húsavík, past Ásbyrgi, taking the 874 road junction east just before Kópasker. Once in Raufarhöfn, you can´t miss the stones, looming impressively on the hill above the town. There is a short track to drive up, or you can walk if you prefer. Here is the route.

Kolugjúfur

As you drive along Víðidalur, you will come to Kolugil Farm which stands beside the Víðidalsá river. Just below the farm, the waters flow peacefully downwards to plunge into the deep, rugged gorge called Kolugljúfur. Their journey then sends them cascading over many waterfalls which bear the name Kolufossar Falls in honour of the giantess, Kola.
It is a breathtaking sight to drive across the bridge and watch the calm waters of the river suddenly leap and tumble onwards over so many impressive falls - a sight which will leave no one unmoved.
Aldeyjarfoss

Aldeyjarfoss waterfall is considered the most beautiful one in the river Skjalfandafljot. The waterfall is framed with long, natural basaltic columns. It is located in the uppermost regions of the Bardardalur valley, on the Sprengisandur highland route. It is possible to drive almost all the way up to it..

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.

Borgarvirki

Borgarvirki is a 10-15 metre high ridge of columnar rock. This phenomenon is a volcanic plug, and there is speculation as to whether it was, in ancient times, a district fortress and even, perhaps, a battleground.
From Borgarvirki there is a wide panoramic view over a large part of the region and a viewfinder is in place to help locate some of the important landmarks.
This is truly a unique natural phenomenon, but one which has also seen some improvements by the hand of man in bygone days.

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.

Vatnsdalshólar

Vatnsdalshólar are a cluster of hills of all sizes across the mouth of Vatnsdalur valley. Thought to have been formed by a catastrophic landslide. These hills are considered to be one of the three "innumerables" things in Iceland along with the lakes in Arnarvatnsheidi and the islands on Breidarfjord in the west.

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.

Kjarnaskógur woods

South of Akureyri is Iceland´s most visited "forest" Kjarnaskogur woods. The area has 2km long athletic course, walking tracks, picnic tables and children´s playground. Campsite at nearby Hamrar.

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

Asbyrgi

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.

Many hiking tracks are in the vicinity of Asbyrgi.

Hveravellir

The "hub" of the Kjolur Route, is a geothermal area of fumaroles, and multicoloured hot pools. There are two mountain huts with kitchen facilities and a nice hot pool just outside the hut.

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.

Bjarg í Miðfirði

Bjarg in Midfjordur, is the farm that belonged to Asdis, the mother of outlaw Grettir Asmundarson - Grettir the Strong, of Grettis Saga fame. Beneath a rock in the hayfield, Asdis buried Gretti´s head, which was presented to her by his killer. There´s now a monument in her honour on site.

Spakonufell

Spákonufell is an impressive and dignified mountain towering above Skagaströnd and is looked upon as a kind of emblem of the village. It is frequented in all seasons by those who want to indulge in a variety of outdoor activities.

In summer, there is a choice of good walking and hiking trails, and many highly valued places of interest. And when winter lays an icy hold on the slopes, the townspeople change over to cross-country skiing - making their way round and, in some cases, up the mountain. Booklets about walks on and around Spákonufell and Spákonufellshöfði have been published in Icelandic, English and German, and these can be obtained in many places within the town itself, as well as in tourist information bureaux all over the north of Iceland. They also contain excellent photographs, detailed maps and other items of interest and information.

Námafjall

At the foothills of this spectacular volcanic mountain is an expanse of hot springs called Hveraröndor Hverir that are known for their changing variety. You may also find a number of fumaroles, mud pools and mud pots that all seem to be boiling with relentless energy. The pass Námaskarð is strategically located at a short distance from the Krafla volcano system as well as other interesting geological spots like Búrfellshraun and the desert Mývatsöræfi.

Námaskarð earns its notoriety chiefly because of its sulphurous mud springs called solfataras and steam springs called fumaroles. Though you will scarcely find any pure water spring in this wonderful geothermal site of Iceland, the beauty of the colorful minerals defies all comparisons. The gigantic size of the mud craters is what makes you go 'wow' at the sight of them.

The other thing that is sure to strike you about Námaskarð is the sheer lack of vegetation. However, if you give a thought to the high temperature range, it does not appear an impossibility altogether. The constant emission of the fumes has made the ground utterly sterile and acidic, unfit to sustain any floras and faunas. You must bear in mind that the fumes can be harmful for humans as well.

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.

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