Here you can connect with glaciers, the northern lights and the highlands; you can even take a bath in warm spring water and look at the ice close by. The area is full of culture and creativity with many museums, cultural events and lots of friendly people. East Iceland is a pleasure to visit, believe it!
1. Hiking in Borgarfjorður
If you’re looking for a hiking paradise then Borgarfjorður is the answer. There are many interesting tracks, up mountains and by the see. The natural pearl Big “Urd” is like walking into a different world, where the water is crystal clear and the rocks seem to sink into the earth. The locals are willing to tell tales of elves and “hidden people” that live in rocks around town.
2. Swimming in Vopnafjorður
If you’re going to Vopnafjorður there is nothing more fun than to take a midnight swim in Selárlaug, which is an excellent swimming pool set in magnificent landscape where you can enjoy nature and the area in peace from everything.
3. Papey – the island of puffins
Take a trip to Papey, just outside the small village Djúpivogur. There you can see puffins close-up and visit the smallest wooden church in Iceland. The view from the ferry on the way to Papey is extremely beautiful.
4. Look for the Worm of Lagarfljót
It is always fun to drive around the Lagarfljót lake, which is long and narrow, and stop at all the great places along the way. The Icelandic forest, is like an adventure on it own, where it is easy to forget oneself in looking for what lies hidden behind the trees. A drive up to the dam, the biggest one in Europe, takes about an hour and a half, with a stop on the way back at the natural hot spring at Laugafell to relax in the healing water.
Hengifoss is the star waterfall attraction of the Eastfjords area around Lagarfljót and the town of Egilsstaðir. This waterfall is the second tallest waterfall at 120m and the red strata patterns on the cliff giving rise to the falls it is also very interesting as it is something you don't typically see in other waterfalls.
Directions: From Egilsstaðir ("EH-yils-sta-thir"), drive south on the Ring Road (Route 1) for 11km. Then, turn right onto Route 931 and follow it for about 21km as it follows the southeastern shores of Lagarfljót before eventually crossing a bridge and reaching a three-way junction. Turn left at the junction onto Route 933 and drive for 1.6km. The turnoff for the signed car park is on the right.
Getting to Hengifoss requires a return walk of about one hour. From the car park, a long stairwell leads up the hillside - Hengifoss is soon visible in the distance. It's a steep climb in places but flattens out as you enter the canyon. The walk is 2.5 km each way; halfway up is a smaller waterfall, Lítlanesfoss, surrounded by spectacular vertical basalt columns in a honeycomb formation.
5. Be an artist in Seydisfjorður
During summer, Seydisfjordur is thriving with art, with visiting artists from all over the world and growing community of artists’ residents. The Skaftafell Cultural Centre contains works by some of famous modern artists such as the Swiss-German artist Dieter Roth (1930-1998).
If you’re passing by in July the art-festival Lunga is worth the visit. The colorful Norwegian-style wooden houses make this village unique in Iceland. Walking trails around town, out along the coast, and by the Fjardará River are really pleasurable and relaxing.
Interesting places close to Seydisfjordur:
There is a weekly ferry run by Smyril line (www.smyrilline.com) from the Faroe Islands (duration: 1-2 days) and to Hirtshals, Denmark (3-4 days). The ferry departs once per week on Tuesday 8pm during the low season (April-June and August-October), and on Thursday 10am during high season (June-August).
A return journey to Denmark for instance will set you back €280-590 with a car or €120-250 per passenger, depending on the season, excluding a supplement fare for a cabin or bed. Remember to book in advance, as prices vary a lot.
6. Visit a really small village
Mjóifjorður (litterally its name is Narrow Fjord) is 18 km long, situated between Nordfjordur and Seydisfjordur, is known for its pleasant weather and tranquillity. The road leading to the fjord is relatively good, but usually closed during winter. Another road experience is the exhilarating road on the north side which runs along the fjord side to Dalatangi, where you’ll find a lighthouse with a most magnificent view out towards the open ocean.
There are many attractions in Mjóifjoorddur, considered by many to be the most impressive fjord in Iceland. Today, some 40 people live in Mjóifjoorddur, mostly in the tiny village, Brekkuþorp. A stay at the guesthouse is a haven of tranquility and the local shellfish with a good glass of white wine at Brekkan restaurant is truly the icing on the Mjóifjoorddur cake.
7. The musical town
The road to Neskaupstaddur has great views before leading through an old single lane tunnel and winding its way downwards. Until 50 years ago the town was only accessible be sea, a fact which had a stimulating effect on the lively local culture.
Nordfjordur is known for a florid music scene, of which the main attraction is the local blues, rock and jazz club Brján. During the summer the music town boasts of “a concert a day”- ask the locals for the program of the day. Or rent an Icelandic horse for a spectacular ride or a kayak for some impressive natural scenes.
8. Be like the French in Faskrúdsfjorður
From the latter part of the 19th century until 1935, the town was the main hub for French fishermen in the east of Iceland. The town is famous for its French heritage and has a strong connection to its French counterpart, Gravelines. It is worthwhile to visit the French Museum and learn more about these historical connections. The village road signs are also in French.
9. The rolling stones in Stodvarfjorður
The area is renowned for its natural beauty. Nature lovers will enjoy contemplating the beautiful waterfalls of the river, Stodvará, which joins the ocean at the bottom of the fjord. Many rare and peculiar types of stones and minerals can be found in the surrounding mountains, some of which have contributed to the lifelong collection of Petra Sveinsdottir. Petra’s stone collection in Stodvarfjorður is a feast for the eye.
10. The black beach of Breiddalsvík
The charming village lies on the coast with great seascapes and black sand beaches. The spectacular valley of Breiddalur is the longest and widest of the valleys in eastern Iceland, surrounded by majestic, alpine mountains rising on both sides to over 1100 meters.
There are good views of Breiddalur from Breiddalsheidi, an ancient eroded volcano on the main highway, with the impressive Breiddalsá river, famous for salmon-fishing, winding its way across the valley basin to the sea. Stop and search for colourful stones.
Source: Sara Dis
Iceland24, October 2014