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Arctic Coast Way

The Arctic Coast Way

The Arctic Coast Way is an exciting tourism project which develops a new attraction to promote the North of Iceland as a unique destination. Tourist routes are an established tool in global tourism to guide visitors along defined roads to specific areas. The Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland is a successful example for a tourist route and therefore we took inspiration on this project.

Why to have a tourist route?

The overall objective of the Arctic Coast Way is to provide better opportunities for local providers to sell their products under an umbrella trademark and thus reach better visibility in the national and international markets. The route is also a tool to distribute visitors to more peripheral areas besides the well-known touristic magnets in the North. By developing experiences along the route, the project wants to contribute to achieve longer dwelling times in the North and to expand the season. The Arctic Coast Way aims to offer responsible travel options to visitors who give themselves time to connect with the unspoiled nature along the Northern coastline and to discover the coastal villages and its people, whose stories and culture are formed by the life at the ocean close to the Arctic Circle.

Where is the Arctic Coast Way?

The Arctic Coast Way stands for the entire coastline of North Iceland and not for a single area or attraction. It´s the umbrella for 18 communities, 21 villages and all local providers along the defined roads who will confirm the membership criteria. The whole project has a strong and strict focus on the coastline of the North. This focus is the core element of the promise we plan to send out to the visitors. To guarantee this promise and ensure a clear and credible brand of high quality we have started to prepare membership criteria which define how the trade is to be organised under the trademark of the Arctic Coast Way.

When does it start?

Getting the project right will take time and this is not something that the project management and Markaðsstofa Norðurlands can achieve on their own. The whole project is a vibrant development process which will be conduct in close participation with the areas, communities, providers and locals. We will launch the Arctic Coast Way as soon as possible but as slowly as necessary to guarantee the visitor an unforgettable experience and to guarantee a reputation of high quality. The whole project is planned to be a long-term process. Once the Arctic Coast Way is launched there is still a continuously improvement of the infrastructure and experiences along the route to permanently enhance the visitors experience and so the reputation and publicity of the route.

Infrastructure and signage planning

In June, we started with the infrastructure and signage planning which is one of the main working fields. Core elements of a tourist routes infrastructure are:

  1. Defined roads
  2. Guaranteed services, e.g. petrol stations, road cleaning, toilets
  1. Parking options in different categories (lay-bys; rest area)
  2. Signage for orientation
  3. Information panels (interesting information (e.g. nature, history) which connects the visitors to the place they are)
  4. Visitor Centres

Tourist routes in countries like Norway have their focus on the infrastructure and create viewing platforms, toilets and rest areas as attractions itself with impressive architecture. Regarding the financial situation, the Arctic Coast Way will start with the most important infrastructure like signage for orientation and basic services. The whole infrastructure development and implementation can be optimized just in a long-term perspective with the support of funding, Vegagerðin and municipalities. The planning process will occur in three main steps:
- mapping of existing infrastructure
- collecting information on planning in the municipalities/ other projects
- mapping of the needs for the Arctic Coast Way and adjustment with existing planning

Experience Development

Even the project is a tourist route, we plan to have the Arctic Coast Way as an Experience Brand. The defined roads, the route itself, is meant to be the magnet to guide the visitors to the areas along the coast. But the aim is to provoke visitors to spend more time out then in the car. This way we reach the project target of longer dwell times and distribution to peripherical areas.
Experience development is an approach in tourism and Australia, Canada and Ireland are among others the leading countries in this process. We are in contact to all these countries to get knowledge transfer for our project. Why to do Experience Development?

The brand of the Arctic Coast Way sends out a promise, has a personality and evokes a set of emotions which set the Arctic Coast Way apart all other destinations. With the experience development, we ensure this all comes together for our visitors. “A product is what you buy – an experience is what you remember” says Tourism Nova Scotia, which explains best what an experience means. Experiences engage visitors sense, fill their souls and connect them to the people and places.

But the concept of experience development extends beyond just simply providing an enjoyable experience for visitors.  To achieve international cut-through, experience development needs to create opportunities for visitors’ active immersion in activities and engagement in the local community and learning about the destination; and to utilise thematic interpretation and storytelling techniques that evoke a positive emotional response in visitors, making them want to share their stories with family and friends. By embedding these experiences with the unique selling features, or ‘signatures’, of a destination, visitors will associate them specifically with that destination and become advocates for these destinations. True competitive advantage will only be gained by differentiating experiences from those offered elsewhere in the competitive international marketplace.

The experience development is the process to deliver a consistent message that inspires visitors through their travel experience and gives them tools to tell about. It is the challenge to define the unique selling points and the stories for the Arctic Coast Way with close participation of the locals, providers and all involved and interested persons along the coast.
At the end of the process we also will provide a tool kit which helps providers to develop their individual experiences on the brand promise and the defined signature experiences of the Arctic Coast Way so it is easier to sell it on the national and international market.

Who is behind the project?

The project is hosted by Markaðsstofa Norðurlands and the project manager and the steering committee run the project. The steering committee currently comprises 17 members, covering the entire project area between Hvammstangi and Bakkafjörður. After successful applications for further funding in Uppygingarsjóður NV and NE and Grasrótarstyrkur NV and NE, the Arctic Coast Way started in June 2017 into the second phase of the project.



Á Norðurlandi eru fjölmargir áhugaverðir bæir, stórir og smáir, þar sem mannlíf og atvinnulíf er fjölbreytt. Hver bær hefur sín sérkenni en öllum er sameiginlegt að taka vel á móti gestum. Fjölbreytt gisting, góðir veitingastaðir, blómstrandi menning og möguleikar til útivistar og afþreyingar eru alls staðar fyrir hendi. 

Skoðunarferðir um bæina eru því bæði skemmtilegar og fræðandi.

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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