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13 excellent reasons why you need to visit North Iceland

By Sara McMahon

  • Skútustaðagígar craters in Mývatn The fantastic Skútustaðagígar are pseudo craters formed by gas explosions when boiling lava flowed over the wetlands. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

North Iceland is dotted with natural wonders such as Dimmuborgir, Lake Mývatn and Askja region – here are 13 great reasons for you to venture to the North of Iceland to experience all the region has to offer.


1.    Lake Mývatn



Lake Mývatn is a shallow eutrophic lake situated not far from Krafla volcano and was created by a large basaltic lava eruption some 2300 years ago. Its name, which derives from large swarms of midge found near the lake during summer, literally translates to Midge Lake.
The surrounding landscape is absolutely amazing, with moss-grown lava fields, lush hollows, volcanic craters, and turquoise lagoons. When visiting the Mývatn region, make sure to take a dip in the Mývatn geothermal baths for some R&R.

Where: 91 km from Akureyri


2.    Askja region

Víti, Askja

Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

Askja is an enormous caldera and volcano in Dyngjufjöll mountains, located north of Vatnajökull glacier. The caldera, a bedrock subsidence located above a massive magma chamber, went unexplored up until the nineteenth century.
One of the more popular guided tours into the region is the “Askja Lunar Tour”. Expect to spend a full day (up to 12 hours) to get into the region and back to Lake Mývatn.

Where: North of Vatnajökull glacier


3.     Hrísey island


A photo posted by Iceland Mag (@icelandmag) on

Hrísey island is the second largest island off the coast of Iceland and has a population of around 120 people. There are no natural predators in Hrísey, making it a paradise for those who enjoy bird-watching. The ferry to Hrísey leaves the the village of Árskógssandur every two hours. The trip takes about 15 minutes.

Where: 35 km north of Akureyri


4.    Kaldi Brewery

Kaldi, bruggsmiðjan

Photo/Rúnar Þór Björnsson

In the tiny village of Árskógssandur one will find Kaldi microbrewery. The owners offer guided tours around the plant and soon plan to extend its business by opening a spa modelled after the popular Czech beer baths. On the way to Árskógssandur, one can make a brief stop to purchase locally fermented shark and calf skin.

Where: 33 km north of Akureyri


5.    Húsavík village

Húsavík, Norðurland

Photo/Pjetur Sigurðsson

The picturesque little fishing village of Húsavík is often been dubbed the “Whale Watching Capital” of Iceland so, obviously, when visiting Húsavík you’re required to go whale watching. If not, you must at least visit the Húsavík Whale Museum. The exhibition showcases 11 whale skeletons, including a massive blue whale skeleton.
A small pond full of goldfish is found in the village Húsavík where children can swim on warm summer days. One can also try and catch the fish in a net—but you have to be careful and be sure to release the fish back into the pond.

Where: 93 km east of Akureyri


6.    Hljóðaklettar cliffs

Hljóðaklettar, norðurland


Hljóðaklettar, or Echo Cliffs, is a cluster of columnar basalt rock formations, shaped by the forces of nature. The cliffs are located mid-way between the magnificent Dettifoss waterfall and Ásbyrgi. Take a stroll along Hljóðaklettar and explore the cave “Kirkjan” (the Church). Nearby you’ll find “Karl” and “Kerling” (Old Man and Old Woman), which are free-standing pillars.

Where: Vesturdalur valley


7.    Siglufjörður village


Photo/Pjetur Sigurðsson

Siglufjörður is a small fishing town located in the eponymous fjord. The wildly popular drama series, Trapped was filmed in the village.
It’s also the location of the Herring museum which celebrates the “glory days” of Iceland‘s herring industry which began during the 1930‘s and lasted well into the 50‘s.
A tip for families travelling with children:  A small forest, the product of a reforestation programme, is found near Siglufjörður. Tucked away in between the trees you’ll find the majestic Leyningsfoss waterfall which is a wonderful spot for a picnic with the little ones.

Where: 76 km north of Akureyri


8.    Tröllaskagi peninsula

Tröllaskagi peninsula is rich of natural beauty. Sky-high mountain peaks make the area a paradise for skiers and mountaineers. The skiing season stretches from February to June. Tour operator Bergmenn Mountain Guides offer heli-ski tours where customers are transported by helicopter to the top of a mountain, 1,524 m (5,000ft) above sea level, where skiers can proceed to glide down  pristine, untouched slopes.
The area is also fantastic for hiking, fishing, and other outdoor activities.



9.    River rafting

Thrill seekers should be able to find some enjoyment river rafting in North Iceland. The two glacial rivers Jökulsá Austari and Jökulsá Vestari are excellent spots for river rafting. And the scenery on the way is not cheap either, we promise.



10.  Dettifoss Waterfall

Dettifoss, waterfall

Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

Dettifoss waterfall is one of Europe’s largest waterfalls with over 500 cubic metres of water plunging over the edge of Jökulsárgljúfur canyon every second. The waterfall is 45 metre (148 ft) high and 100 metre (328 ft) wide and was the opening scene of Ridley Scott’s 2012 film Prometheus.

Where: 89 km south of Húsavík


11.  Dimmuborgir

Dimmuborgir, norðurland

Photo/Wikipedia/Gestur Pálsson

Dimmuborgir, or Dark Castes, is a series of volcanic caves and rock formaitons similar to city ruins – the area draws its name from these similarities.The area came into existence some 2,300 years ago during a massive volcanic eruption in the Þrengslaborgir and Lúdentsborgir crater row. At Dimmuborgir, the lava pooled over a small lake. The vapour rising through the lava due to the boiling water formed the eerie looking pillars of lava. The most extraordinary of these formations is Kirkjan, or The Church, a large lava tube with a vault ceiling.  
In winter, the Icelandic Yule Lads gather in Dimmuborgir to celebrate Christmas.

Where: 8 km south of Reykjahlíð village


12.  Strikið restaurant, Akureyri

Strikið, veitingastaður, Akureyri


Strikið restaurant, situated on the top floor of a 5-floor building, boasts a fantastic view over Akureyri and the surrounding Eyjafjörður fjord. The large outdoor area is a wonderful option for lunch on a warm summer‘s day.
The establishment offers a warm atmosphere and a wonderful menu which includes freshly caught fish, sushi and Icelandic lamb.

Where: Skipagata 14, Akureyri


13.    Hofsós swimming pool


Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

The public swimming pool in the village of Hofsós, North Iceland, was formally opened in 2010. This is the ultimate infinity pool—it seems to spill right out into the North Atlantic ocean. What’s more, from the banks of the pool guests have an amazing view over some of Skagafjörður fjord’s most famous natural wonders, including the three islands in the bay.

Where: Hofsósbraut

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