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Iceland Mag

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10 reasons you need to visit Southeast Iceland right now

By Sara McMahon

  • Vatnajökull National Park The landscape found within the park’s limits is extremely diverse: highland plateaus, glacial rivers, volcanoes, glaciers and green oasis between black sands. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

From its its massive glaciers, high mountain peaks, geothermal activity and inky black sands, Southeast Iceland is a world of its own.



1.    Pakkhúsið restaurant

Pakkhúsið, Restaurant, Höfn

The restaurant opened for business in the beginning of June 2012 and is located in an old building set overlooking the Höfn’s harbour. Originally the building was used as a ware-house, later it housed a maritime museum before eventually being turned into a restaurant. The owner and head chef enjoys cooking different types of fish and experimenting with how they respond to different cooking methods.

Where: Harbour, Höfn in Hornafjörður

2.    Jeep tour to Jöklasel

Jöklasel, Vatnajökull

Photo/Glacier Jeeps

Jöklasel restaurant is located on Skálafellsjökull, 840 meters (2756 feet) above sea level. Guests can rent snowmobiles on the premises and go for a drive on the glacier. According to locals, it’s a unique experience in itself to navigate the mountain road to Jöklasel, and many experience vertigo on the way.

Where: North of Höfn in Hornafjörður

3.    Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon

Jökulsárlón, Vatnajökull, suðausturland

Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

The Jökulsárlón lagoon is one of Iceland’s most spectacular natural wonders. With its luminous blue-white icebergs, it is sure to take your breath away every time you visit.
It is located on the edge of Vatnajökull National Park, a short distance from Breiðamerkurjökull outlet glacier. It came into existence around 60 years ago, when Vatnajökull began to retreat due to climate warming. As it did so, it left deep gorges which then filled with meltwater and icebergs. 

Where: Southeast Iceland

4.    The eggs in Gleðivík

The Eggs in Gleðivík is a magnificent piece of art made by Sigurður Guðmundsson, one of Iceland’s most respected artists. The piece consists of thirty-four bird-eggs, – one from each species of bird that nests in the area.

Where: Djúpivogur harbour area

5.    Teigarhorn farm and nature reserve

Teigarhorn, berufjörður, Austurland


Teigarhorn farm is an area rich of natural zeolites. Zeolites form where volcanic rocks and ash layers react with alkaline groundwater. But bear in mind: Stalactites are the only type of protected rock formation in Iceland. However, all rocks found within nature reserves are also considered protected, so leave them be where they are.

Where: 5 km north of Djúpivogur


6.    Vatnajökull National Park

Jökulsá á Fjöllum, hálendið, Vatnajökull

Jökulsá á Fjöllum Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

Vatnajökull National Park is a nature reserve which encompasses Iceland’s largest ice cap, the magnificent Vatnajökull glacier, and Svartifoss and Dettifoss waterfalls.
The park was established in 2008 and covers an area about 13.952 km2 in size, stretching from Skaftfell in the south to Jökulsárgljúfur canyon in the north.
The landscape found within the park’s limits is extremely diverse: highland plateaus, glacial rivers, volcanoes, glaciers and green oasis between black sands.


7.    Lakagígar craters


Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

Lakagígar is a 25 km row of 135 craters that formed in 1783, during the biggest volcanic eruption to occur in Iceland. The eruption caused poisonous ash to spread over to Europe and North America, ruined crops which lead to famine, making it one of the deadliest eruptions in history. The lava field surrounding the craters covers an area approximately 600 km2 in size.

Where: North of Kirkjubæjarklaustur


8.    Skeiðarársandur

Skeiðarársandur, suðurland

Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

Skeiðarársandur is the world’s largest outwash plain covering an area 1,300 km2 (500 sq mi) in size. Such plains formed of glacial sediments deposited by meltwater from Vatnajökull glacier.
Ring Road 1 passes through Skeiðarársandur. Iceland’s longest bridge, Skeiðarárbrú (taken into use in 1974 and the final part of Route 1 to be completed), passes over Skeiðará river and Skeiðarársandur. Enjoy the uncanny black sands as they expand towards the rushing ocean. It’s quite the sight.


9.    Kirkjubæjarklaustur village


Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

The beautiful village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur is believed to have been settled by Irish monks long before the Vikings arrived.  A Benedictine convent was founded at 
Kirkjubær in 1186 but it was disbanded during the Reformation in 1550. 
One of the town’s many attractions is Kirkjugólf (Church floor), natural interlocking basalt formations similar to the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.

Where: Southeast Iceland


10. Hólmur petting zoo

Kýr, cow

Photo/Stefán Karlsson

The small petting zoo at Hólmur farm a must for any family travelling with children. At the zoo you‘ll find sheep, horses, calves, goats, pigs, rabbits, Icelandic hens, doves, geese, ducks, and pheasants, among other farm animals.
The best time to visit is in the spring when baby animals are being born. Hólmur farm also offers accommodation and guided reindeer tours during autumn, winter, and spring. The aim of these tours is to observe the wild animals in their natural habitat.

Where: 30 minute drive east of Jökulsárlón

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