The north of Iceland is just as stunning as the South, with less cars, less people, but just as much drama in its landscape… with its waterfalls and landscapes been if not equal than even more ….
I drove into the North of Iceland from the East Fjords, by car which we hired at the start of the trip, I highly recommend this to anyone staying for a while car rental starts from around 50 pounds a day plus extras and depending on the car you choose.
Day 1 in the North
The drive to the North was relaxing and we were also welcomed by some furry friends who are normally found near towns off the main road all around Iceland. Icelandic ponies famous for there unique and extremely friendly nature, I got the treat of meeting these two below… Nicknaming them Daenarys and Jon Snow may have taken my Game of thrones fan girl a little to far but still too cute.
The best thing about Iceland is that you can literally stop anywhere along the roads for a quick photo or a rest on car bonnet just to admire the view which is what has happened on every mile of this breathtaking countries roads… The last few fjords become greenery, more colourful, flowers growing and more farming. We stopped at some traditional Icelandic houses, dug into the mounds of the hills with the iconic coloured doors and windows, this overlooked some of the valleys with create a much more mountainous area of North Iceland
Within 3 hours we arrived in Akureyi known for being northern capital of Iceland, with its culture, trade and business ventures expanding this city every year, was our stop for 3 nights. Its just as exciting and unusual as Reykjavik, but not as touristy, and has its own personality and querks. One of them being the Icecream shop called Brynja…which mixes up your choice of icecream with whatever you want, oreos, toffee crisp, sweets, chocolate sauce, whisked together to create your ultimate dream Icecream which is just what you want in Iceland! Apart from that the main street is filled with shops, restaurants and bars for a lively evening with the locals.
The accomodation we stayed in was a flat through Airbnb, just on the edge of the city centre, which was idealic for evening entertainment and food. Being the capital means its quite expensive to stay in the hotels, so we went for a more homely feel with the street art view from our window. Its graffiti is a definite reminder of the creative and colourful personality of Iceland…. It is a great location for anyone exploring the north.
We ventured out to the first waterfall only 20 minutes from the accommodation going further north along the main road to Godafoss. One of the big 5 in Icelands waterfalls , spread out spanning 30 metres with a height of 12 metres , and with ….gallons of water per hour flowing down the noise can been heard before you actually see it. You can walk all the way around it, due to a bridge further towards the car park, views from above and below the sprays. Isnt it weird how obsessed we are with waterfalls and just looking at them 🙂
One of the more unique towns we went to was Husavik famous for the migrating Whales who come here every year to feed in the spring… When we arrived it wasn’t the best of experiences mainly due to the cloudy weather… But as always we decided to go on the 3 hour tour off the harbour, in our thick waterproof fishermans overalls provided by the tour. The experience was mixed, the weather got worse, mum got sea sick, after 2 hours I was pretty much done with the whole thing, but then after only a few small sighting of the whales who were feeding and diving deep each time. We got the opportunity to see the Whales, 2 of them together which is rare and their magnificent tales fully out of the ocean waves . It was worth the windy and cold boat trip. The town is super quiet, the Whale museum is worth a visit as you wait for the boat to arrive, and a sport of food at the Gamli Baukur, so much fish food!
To travel to Husavik is a fair drive 3 hours round trip from Akureyri but as ever picturesque with stops along the way, if we had longer we may have stayed nearer to have longer there. On the way back we visited THE waterfall!
We saved the best till last, Dettifoss – the mother of all waterfalls or could we even say the King of the North (sorry been watching to much Game of thrones recently) in regards to size, power and reputation is not one too miss, with a drop of 45 metres and a span of 100metres you can see how it gets its name! . A short picturesque walk from the carpark through lava rock to get to this giant of falls… Just to top it off the sun started to come out as we walk towards it, and with the amount of spray a beautiful rainbow started to appear. Magical!! simply magical!! Because of its power its amazing whatever the weather but be careful of slippery rocks in areas. and make sure to take a waterproof you will get wet 😛
Dettifoss’s little sister which is a 5 minute walk from it is just as beautiful, and is a nice break from the tourists nearby. Selfoss is less powerful but just as mesmerising to look at, but the sun came out and gave a perfect location for a lunch break and a bit of Icelandic sunbathing to relax after a busy day.
Aldeyjarfoss, is another waterfall not to miss on the North eastern tours, however sometimes you are waterfalled out and I think that’s what we were after a busy day! Situated in the north of Iceland at the northern part of the Sprengisandur Highland Road which means it is to be found within the Highlands of Iceland. One of the most interesting features of the waterfall is the contrast between the black basalt columns and the white waters of the fall. In this, it is similar to the much smaller Icelandic waterfall Svartifoss in Skaftafell. Don’t forget about it!
In the evening we ended up at a restaurant which was on the corner of the Akureyri crossroads, and like a lot of the non traditional places served a lot of burgers, Italians food and carbs which to be honest is just what you need after a busy day!
Top food places in Akureyri
Today was a lot about Myvatn Lake, in size……. With different activities and terrains as you drive around it, first stop were the Geysers which a reputation of being one of the smelliest attractions in Iceland it gets it reputation from the live Hverarond Geysers and heated ground which smells so badly of Egg, and I mean really really bad egg due to the Sulphur in the water and ground.. Me and the parents lasted about 20 minutes which is enough due to the size of the area, but still not for anyone who has a strong sense of smell. After this we headed to the Dimmuborgir Lava Formations National Park, alive with wildlife, plants and beautiful lava rock formation. You can see where lava exploded up into the air and covered this ground more than 2300 years ago, fascinating.
The landscape of this highly active volcanic region is dominated by Pseudo craters from 20 – 50 metres diameters, which was a hard but worthwhile walk to the top, with most of them having bright turquoise water in the bottom of each one. The best part was the Myvatn blue lagoon (https://myvatnnaturebaths.is/), and in my opinion the better one of its twin in the south close to the airport. Less crowded, a little more cost effective, and the views at sunset take your breath away. With growing tourism in the North of Iceland this is again becoming much more popular but has more room to make it the preferred option from visiting both now.
We said goodbye to the colourful Akureyri with its creative graffiti and colourful streets to head back down to Keflavik airport (3.5 hours drive), for others who wouldn’t like to drive you can get a plane from Akureyri airport but sometimes the flights are not as regular so make sure . We headed through the centre of the Skaftafell glacier, this road is closed in the winter months so sometimes you have to go around the ROUTE 1 road which is just as pretty but will take quite abit longer so make sure your know before you go. The higher we got the more raw and beautiful it became, it takes you through Abroads and much bumpier roads, but the views from the top of breath-taking.
This takes you the route of the golden circle so perfect for anyone wanting to remines or even do this roite as the final activities, Due to the last time we came we only stopped off at the plates National Park due to the weather letting us down last time, one thing I regret not getting round to is scuba diving between the plates which would be such an amazing experience and a bucket list moment for any avid divers.
This is to date the last part of Iceland I did, the next trip will have to be the East Fjords which are famous for its beauty just like the rest of this beautiful country.