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.
Akureyri, ‘The Capital of the North’ is a town in the fjord Eyjafjordur in North Iceland. It lies just 100 km away from the Arctic Circle. It is Iceland’s second-largest urban area with a population of about 17,800.
Akureyri is an important fishing centre and port, but in the last few years tourism, industry, higher education and services have become the fastest growing sectors of the economy.
An international airport is located about 3 km from the center. A large number of cruisers also stop at Akureyri. One of Iceland's best skiing sites is found by Akureyri, at Hlidarfjall.
Traditionally Akureyri has survived on fisheries and some of Iceland’s largest fishing companies, like for example Samherji, have their headquarters there. Other large companies include Brim, Nordurmjolk, and Vifilfell hf, the largest brewery in Iceland.
FSA/Akureyri Hospital is a major employer in the area and is one of two major hospitals in Iceland.
Akureyri has excellent facilities for travelers and is located a short drive from many of Iceland’s top natural, cultural and historical attractions.
Akureyri is surrounded by mountains, the highest one being Kerling (1538 m). The area around it has rich agriculture and a beautiful mountain ring.
The innermost part of the fjord, Pollurinn ('The Pool') further lends the town a special character. The climate in Akureyri is generally very pleasant.
The islands Hrisey in the middle of Eyfjordur and Grimsey, straddling the Artic Circle, both belong to the municipality of Akureyri. Hrisey is often called 'The Pearl of Eyjafjordur' and Grimsey 'The Pearl of the Artic' and these beautiful and peaceful islands are highly popular with travelers.
During World War II the town was an important site for the Allies and the town grew considerably after the war, as people increasingly moved to urban areas.
Akureyri has a strong cultural scene, with several bars and renowned restaurants. Folk culture in general is more prevalent there than in Reykjavik. During the summer there are several notable festivals in Akureyri and its surroundings.
Sites of interest in Akureyri include the brand-new Hof concert hall and Akureyri’s many museums, The Nature Museum, Nonnahus, a.k.a. Jon Sveinsson Memorial Museum, for the writer, David's house or David Stefansson Memorial Museum, for the poet, Akureyri Art Museum.
Akureyri also has several churches, Akureyrarkirkja being the most notable, as well as beautiful botanical gardens. The old town is particularly charming, ideal for a nice walk.
Almost everywhere where there is old lava by the Icelandic shores, there are also spectacular waves, particularly in the southwest parts of the country.
In the northwest, north and east, high seacliffs (up to 500 meters high) can widely be found, popular nesting places for seabirds, that gather there around april.
Among the sea cliffs in Iceland most known for birdlife are Latrabjarg in the Westfjords, Drangey and Grimsey in the north, and the Westman Islands, Krysuvikurberg (see Krysuvik) and Eldey to the south and southwest.
Seals and whales can be seen widely in the sea around Iceland, mainly in fjords and bays. Whalewatching and sea angling are popular.
Siglufjordur is a town of about 1300 people, located it North Iceland. It is the northernmost town of the mainland. Along with its natural beauty, its Herring Era museum, Folk Music Museum and the annual Folk Music Festival attract ever more travelers.
Siglufjordur has one of Iceland's best harbours and the fishing industry has been the mainstay of the economy for a long time, but in recent years services have become and increased part of the economy. Many people in Siglufjordur have hopes that the planned tunnel through the fjord Hedinsfjordur will result in more visits to the town, as the town indeed has much to offer for travelers.
Siglufjordur has an eventful history and saw a steady rise in the 20th century, from being a tiny village in the early 1900s to becoming a town no later than as 1918. In the middle of the 20th century it was one of the largest towns in Iceland. For a long period it was the capital of herring fishing in the North Atlantic, and the town's cod fishing museum bears proud witness to this history. The old houses there are charming and its nice to take a stroll through the town and enjoy the architecture and the surrounding nature.
The Herring Era Museum is one of Iceland's largest seafaring- and industry museums in the country. The museum is split into three houses were one can learn about the fishing and its processing. One can see many ships and boats in the Boathouse, recreating the feel of the 50's. The salting station retains the old look of the place and on good summer days traveleres may observe the salting process in action and there is a dance. The old Grana factory shows how herring was transformed into meals and oil.
The Folk Music Center is located where the reverend Bjarni Thorsteinsson, 'The father of Siglufjordur', lived and brings the old folk songs to life. Here you can here recordings of people singing quint songs or tvisongur, chanting the epic rhymes (rimur), playing langspil (similar to dulcimer, featuring one melody string and one to five (usually two) drone strings), and the old Icelandic (two strings), nursery rhymes, doing folk dances etc. The center also depicts the life of reverend Bjarni.
In early July, Siglufjordur hosts it annual Folk Music Festival, introducing the folk music of various nations and ethnic groups, with a special focus on Icelandic folk music. Various events take place, including lectures and courses on music and handicraft aklong with dances, concerts and overall partying.
Siglufjordur is a particularly beautiful fjord, and high and dramatic mountains tower of the town. The birdlife is varied and some 2000 birds of 16-18 species may usually be found in the fjord. Popular hiking trails include the passes Holsskard and Hestsskard, which lead to the beautiful fjord Hedinsjordur, which may also be accessed by boat.
The deserted Hedinsfjordur is set by steep and impressive mountains and has a beautiful valley with good trout fishing in the Hedinssfjardarvatn lake. The last farm of Hedinsfjordur was abandoned in 1951. In the 20th century there would on average be five inhabited farms in the fjord. The vegtation is rich and food could be obtained from land and sea, but the winters were hard and saw many avalanches. The fjord was also hard to reach.
Northeast of Hedinsfjordur you'll find the remnants of one of the remote farms in Iceland, Hvanndalir. Hvanndalir can be reached from Hedinsfjordur through the Hvanndalaskridur ('Hvanndalir landslides'), though we would only suggest this to seasoned hikers, accompanied by professional guides.
Hjalteyri is a community of around 40 people, located on the western shores of Eyjafjordur in North Iceland. Until the early 20th century it was one of the centers for the herring industry in Iceland.
Norwegians started salting herring in the area around 1880 and the village became was confirmed by law as a trading post in 1897. Swedes, Scots and Germans would fish there in the following years but all foreigners had left by 1914.
The Icelandic fishing company Kveldulfur was active there from 1914 and in 1937 built the largest herring factory in Europe at Hjalteyri, which ran until 1966. The company also built many of the beautiful residential buildings that still stand in the village, such as the house of Thor Jensen, the founder of the company, and Asgardur, where the head of the factory lived.
The herring disappeared from the fishing grounds in the 1960s and Kveldulfur thus left as well. Fishing from small boats increased.Today, Hjalteyri boasts a strong harbour and fishing, the drying of fishheads and aquaculture are the mainstay of the economy.
Along with the beautiful buildings at Hjalteyri, we recommend visiting the old herring factory, which now functions as a culture center for the community, with an active art and culture program and regular art exhibitions during the early summer months. Also make sure to visit the cozy Café Lisa, which also offers accommodation and opportunites for sea angling.
Last, but not least, it only takes about 5-10 minutes to sail from Hjalteyri to the Strytur underwater geothermal cones, and the Strytan Divecenter indeed operates a base at Hjalteyri, at the old herring factory. At the Strytur you may experience nothing less than one of the greatest dives in the world!
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