North Iceland is very popular area in Iceland and contains some of the best attractions on the island. Akureyri is the capital of North Iceland and is the second largest "city" in Iceland. Around 20.000 people live in North Iceland.
The North coast has four major fjords (or bays) with mountain ridges between them and each of the fjords has corresponding agricultural districts.
More attractions in the amazing Thingeyjasysla are mentioned below. Note that the first three areas are geologically speaking ancient formations, while Thingeyjasysla is recent and full of volcanic activity, young lava fields and tuff mountains.
In Eyjafjörður is the capital of the North, Akureyri with 17.000 inhabitants. It is a very charming town and highly popular with travelers, so we advise you not to miss it. Many cruisers land in the port of the town.
The older part of Akureyri is particularly worth a stroll. If you like skiing or snowboarding, one of the best skiing sites in the country is located nearby.
We also recommend the botanical gardens there, fine restaurants and many interesting museums, such as Davidshus and Nonnahus, dedicated to the memory of poet David Stefansson and Jon Sveinson, author of the Nonnabaekur ('Nonni’s books').
Not far from Akureyri is the unique turf framhouse of Laufas, a museum and a prime example of the old architecture and farmlife. Also not far from Akureyri are the submarine geothermal silica cones of Strytur, a natural wonder and an excellent place for a dive.
One of Iceland's most beloved poets, Jonas Hallgrimsson was born in Eyjafjordur, at the farm Hraun in Oxnadalur valley and the knife-edged lava peaks there are particularly stunning. Also essential when traveling in the area is the beautiful and peaceful island Hrisey, often called 'The Pearl of Eyjafjordur'.
Siglufjordur has the distinction of not falling under the regular four part division, as it straddles the border of Eyjafjordur and Skagafjordur. Here we highly recommend the herring era museum and the folk music museum. Indeed, Siglufjordur hosts an annual folk music festival that is truly worth experiencing.
Among major attractions in Hunathing are the Regional Museum at Reykir in Hrutafjordur, the Seal Watching Center at Vatnsnes and the Arnarvatnsheidi heath, with a large numbers of ponds and lakes full of trout.
In Skagafjordur, the largest town of which is Saudarkrokur, we particularly recommend the historical bishop’s seat of Holar and the agricultural university there, the Glaumbaer museum, and Drangey island.
Near Myvatn is the chaotic lava field Dimmuborgir, a truly amazing sight (and paid homeage to by the Norwegian Black Metal band of the same name).
Husavik is the whale watching capital of the North so don’t miss that one either.
The Jokulsargljufur National Park is home to some of Iceland's most beloved natural attractions, Holmatungur, Hljodaklettar and the Asbyrgi canyon. In the river Jokulsa a Fjollum is Europe's most powerful waterfall, Dettifoss.
At the Melrakkasletta peninsula you can see fascinating birdlife and there is good trout fishing to be made there. Seals may be sighted as well as whales off the coast. The vegetation is rich and this is an ideal place to enjoy the midnight sun. Northern lights may also be spotted from late August to early April.
Far north, straddling the Arctic Circle is Grimsey island, the northernmost inhabited territory of Iceland, with a population of about 100 people. It is renowned for its fishermen, its rich vegetation and birdlife.
The Icelandic highlands cover the major part of the country and many of Iceland’s main natural attractions can be found there.
The central highlands cover a vast area, all at an altitude above 500 meters high, with numerous mountains reaching a height between 1000 and 2000 meters. Most of these higher mountains are covered by glaciers. Two of the highest mountains in the country (over 2000 m high) are located in Vatnajokull, namely Hvannadalshnjukur (2109 m, located in the southskirts of Vatnajokull) and Bardarbunga, a subglacial volcano northwest of Vatnajokull (2000 m).
Three of the largest glaciers in Iceland are located in the central highlands. These are Vatnajokull in the southeast (Europe’s largest glacier), Hofsjokull in the center of Iceland and Langjokull, west of Hofsjokull.
Various highlands paths lie between the glaciers, open for cars around June/July. One of the major ones are Kjolur, connecting South and North Iceland (the road is located between Hofsjokull and Langjokull). Sprengisandur, is another important path, connecting South and North, and located between Hofsjokull and Vatnajokull (Tungnafellsjokull, to be exact).
Kaldidalur is a highland path stretching west of Langjokull, from Thingvellir towards the Borgarfjordur district. It then continues further north as Storisandur.
Geologically, almost all the mountains south of the glaciers are tuff mountains. They were formed during the Ice Age, as well as the area north of Vatnajokull. Volcanic activity is confined to tuff areas of the country and in the south highlands are some of its most active and famous volcanoes, Hekla, Eyjafjallajokull and Katla in Myrdalsjokull (Iceland’s fourth largest glacier).
The northwest and central-north highlands consist of ancient basalt formations and it is the same for the mountains of the Eastfjords.
There are a few oases in the highlands that have unique vegetation and wildlife. The most important of these are Thjorsarver, Nyidalur/Jokuldalur, Herdubreidarlindir and Eyjabakkar. The pink-footed goose has its main nesting places at Thjorsarver and Eyjabakkar. Thjorsarver was designated as a Ramsar site in 1990. Reindeers reside in the east highlands.
Having described the landscape and wildlife, we have yet to mention one last important thing: Away from crowds, noise and bustle, the highlands offer unique silence, serenity, peace and extreme natural beauty.
Askja volcano is a vast caldera in a remote part of the easterly central highlands of Iceland, located in the Dyngjufjoll mountains.
These mountains rise to 1510 m (4954 ft) There is a lake in the middle of the caldera, called Oskjuvatn, It is Iceland's second-deepest lake. Askja had a massive euption in 1875 that destroyed many farms in Northeast Iceland. Its latest eruption was in 1961.
Viti (meaning ‘Hell’!) is an explosion crater on the northeast shore of Oskjuvatn.
The Viti crater is around 150 meters in diameter and contains a geothermal lake of mineral-rich, sulphurous, opaque blue water.
Herdubreid is a table mountain (Icelandic: 'stapi'), situated north of Vatnajokull in the deserted lava field of Odadahraun, the most extensive lava field in Iceland.
This impressive mountain, 1682 m high, is often called 'the queen of Icelandic mountains' and was voted the Icelandic 'national mountain' in a 2002 poll.
Herdubreidarlindir is an oasis situated near Herdubreid mountain north of Vatnajokull glacier.
The area features a campground and hiking trails and is popular with travellers. More than 72 vascular plant species may be found there. Herdubreid also has rich birdlife which includes pink footed geese, harlequin ducks, Arctic terns, swans and red-necked phalaropes.
Outlaws would seek refuge in this area in former times, the best known being Fjalla-Eyvindur.
Drekagil is a beautiful canyon in the south part of volcanic mountain range Dyngjufjoll, in the south of Odadahraun lava field.
By the gully is Dreki, the mountain hut of the Akureyri Travel Association. There are two cabins, accommodating 60 people in all.
Modrudalur a Fjollum is the highest positioned farm n Iceland (469 m above sea level) and is located in the east highlands, north of Vatnajokull. It's a short drive from the Ring Road, about 20 km.
The farmland of Modrudalur is one of the most extensive in the country and there is a interesting church by the farm, built in 1949 by farmer Jon Adalsteinn Stefansson in memory of his wife. Its inner decorations and altarpiece were made by him as well.
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