Iceland road trip (Part 2) – the East and the North

8 canyon horseshoe Iceland

The road trip must continue! After the first four days spent visiting the Golden Circle and the South of Iceland, it’s time to hit the road in the East and North of the Island.

Are you ready?!

Fjords, Lava fields, Canyons, Whales and of course waterfalls are about to enter your backpack of memories! Here is the map, let’s go!

(zoom out a bit if you wish to see Iceland on the world map)

These are days 5 to 9 of my 14 days suggested road trip Iceland itinerary:

Day 5 – The way to the East Fjords

5 Hengifoss Iceland

You’ve had 4 full days and It’s time pace down a little and give yourself some rest.

For this day I’d recommend you could visit the Hengifoss waterfall.

Driving directions: This one is located nearby Eglisstadir (see the map above). From the parking lot you have an easy hike of around 30 minutes or so. On the way you will see more basalt columns, only, this time, they are on top of one of the small waterfalls downstream from Hengifoss.

It creates a really spectacular image:

5 Hengifoss

The Hengifoss waterfall is quite tall and powerful. You can’t normally get to its base, although, some people do it sometime, but it’s not recommended. You can enjoy this view from a relatively close distance to the base of the waterfall.

5.2 East Fjords

5 Eastern Fjords Iceland (1)

After Hengifoss, if you want, you could drive to one of the East Fjords. The roads are gravel, but the views are really amazing. Unfortunately for us, it rained the whole time, but I wish you better luck!

5 Eastern Fjords

For accommodation, I suggest Eglisstadir, or, if you feel like it, try to find something on the 1 road further away, just to cut the next day’s drive. Be advised, not so many options are available on that piece of road!

Day 6 – Don’t (or DO?) go chasing waterfalls


Don’t go chasing waterfalls… but you will, oh day 6 is the day when you will be in for so many treats!

From Eglisstadir try to get an early start towards Akureyri (basically, one of the 2 Iceland cities)  taking as usual the road number 1.

On the way there will be a few wonders to see:

6.1 Dettifoss waterfall

6 Dettifoss

First one will be the Dettifoss waterfall. This one is the most powerful waterfall of Europe!

DRIVING DIRECTIONS: To get to it you have a choice of two roads – the western one – 864 is not a very good gravel road and even if you can make it with a normal vehicle, a 4×4 is recommended. The other road, the eastern one, number 862, is the one we took. It is asphalted and in great condition, a pleasure to drive on it.

When you’ll get to Dettifoss you will see its strength is absolutely impressive: it feels like the quantity of water falling can break all the rocks around the fall.

They shot the opening scene of the movie Prometeus right here!

6.2 Selfoss waterfall

6 Selfoss

After you will be done getting wet from the spray of Dettifoss, walk ten more minutes to the Selfoss waterfall. This one is also beautiful! (I know I am repeating myself, but Iceland seems to have countless waterfalls and they are all unique and amazing, what can I do?!), and it reminds me of fairy tales.

6.3 Hverir (Hverarond)

6 Hverir iceland

Hverir is a place that reminds me of images from Mars.

Right after Dettifoss, continue on the number 1 road (what a surprise!). On the GPS, you can set your destination to the Myvatn Nature Baths.

On the way there, pay attention to a sign to Krafla (another crater). If you are good with time, you can go see it (we did not). A few kilometers away there will be something you cannot ignore anymore: the ground will change to an orange hue color and you will see pillars of steam coming out of several holes!

I found there a place that reminded me of what I think when I think about Mars – Hevrir. Here you can find a mix of hot water springs, boiling mud and steam coming out of cracks in the earth which make terrifying sounds.

Also, the strong sulfur smell is really hard to ignore. Nevertheless, the place is fantastic, just look at it!

6 Hverir in iceland

6.4 Myvatn Nature Baths

6 Mývatn

Less than 10 minutes away from this place you can stop again at the Myvatn Nature Baths, also called by many The Blue Lagoon of the North.

For me, it turned out to be a great relaxing experience! There are three connected pools which have a comfortable 38 degrees water in most parts. However by the sides hotter water is coming in. I don’t think there is real danger but I suggest you test the boundaries carefully, I sometimes felt a stream coming in which was uncomfortable hot.

All this water is coming from a nearby reservoir which holds 100 degrees Celsius boiling water straight from the ground!

The water has a beautiful blue hue and a sulfur smell that bothered me a bit at the beginning, but then hey, it made my hair feel softer :).

Price: 25-28 euros per adult, depending on the season

6.5 Myvatn lake 

After relaxing in the baths, take the road again to Akureyri, around the lake Myvatn. It is a beautiful lake where many people come to do hikes around it, picnic or bird watching

6.6 Godafoss waterfall

godafoss

On our way to Akureyri, yep, you guessed it, – another waterfall Godafoss.

I completely advise you not to miss this one. It is equally impressive and its waters are so hypnotizing blue. You can go all the way to its edge, but be very careful, there is no fence or anything like that to keep you from falling over. Take it calm and easy and it will be just fine.

6.7 Akureyri

After such a long day, you will arrive to Akureyri.  Akureyri is the second town of Iceland, with a population of only around 22 000. Population of Iceland is 323 000 people with almost 120 000 in Reykjavik. As you can imagine, it is quite small for the second biggest city in Iceland.

Even so, there are quite some options to sleep here and this time we chose Airbnb.

Day 7 – Rest day – in Akureyri

If you want, you can take this day to rest in Akureyri – the biggest town you will meet before your return to Reykjavik. You can walk around the city center and try a bit the local cuisine, buy some souvenirs or visit the botanical garden.

It is a great chance to stock up on supplies from the many available supermarkets in the city.

If you want to keep going right away, I suggest you read the itinerary for day 8.

Day 8 – Trails and amazing views in the canyon of Ásbyrgi

8 Ásbyrgi canyon_

Start in the morning and drive to Asbyrgi, around a 2 hour drive north of Akureyri, passing Husavik.

Ásbyrgi is the name of a canyon that lies at the end of the roads 862 and 864 (the ones leading to Dettifoss, but only accessible to 4×4 cars, which we didn’t have).

The canyon is horseshoe shaped and it offers the possibility to do a few trails (or if you are lazy you can also drive on the bottom of the canyon until the end).

8 Ásbyrgi Iceland

I chose a trail of 4 km to the top of the canyon and did not regret a bit!

The nature here is always surprising, if you go a bit away from the trail you will step on a moss cover that is very soft and quite thick. On it there are plenty of other plants growing as well as berries and mushrooms. It was a fantastic decision to do the hike as the weather was good and the trail presented me with views such as these!

I love taking hikes and I advise you to the same: it will free your mind from unnecessary worries and make your thoughts clear!

8 Ásbyrgi hike ICelandACCOMODATION: After the canyon, I suggest you to take a room in Husavik.

Husavik is well known for its whale watching tours. These guys know what they are doing, and find the whales almost all the times.

Us, we again got an Airbnb. We booked a tour for the next day to do whale watching with Gentle Giants, as they offered a speedboat whale watch, which sounded very interesting.

One more time, a rather short day, we went early to sleep to prepare to probably the coolest activity we did in Iceland.

Day 9 – Whale watching!!

9 Husavik whale watching Iceland

I did whale watching before in Sri Lanka and it wasn’t that spectacular. I hoped for more here and the weather that day seemed to wink at me. It was sunny and most of the sky was cloudless and blue, so I took it as a good sign for this activity.

I have to start by telling you that if you want to do whale watching in Iceland, Husavik is the place to do it! I chose the company called Gentle Giants and had no regrets!

No one, of course, guarantees that you will see the whales, but in 2015 for example, whales were spotted 98% of the times.

Also, if you have the possibility, take the high speed boat tour. It is more expensive but it is totally worth it as you are able to react faster on whales’ appearance.

The ride itself is very fun, but be careful in case you have sea sickness, it might be a bit rough for you.

I liked it that much that I can’t help but describe my experience in little more details:

 

My little story of how I have seen the whales in Iceland:

Half an hour before the tour I found myself (quite excited) in front of the Gentle Giants cabin down by the port of Husavik. As I took the speedboat tour I was given some thick windproof, waterproof, floating-just-in-case huge overall jacket that made me feel warm just after a few seconds. I decided that they know better what they were doing and I shouldn’t complain.

9 Gentle giants whale watching

The boat was indeed super-fast! Up to 50 knots, or 90 km/h, which is around 55 miles per hour.

And as soon as we were jumping on the big waves I understood that the overalls are very welcome, as I couldn’t feel at all the cold of the sea.

The ride itself was a great experience as the boat is very new and very very fast. It felt a bit like rodeo, only much safer :D. It seems the speedboat, apart from being very fast, also has the advantage that is small enough not to bother the whales while they feed.

9 Husavik whale watching speed boat

Our first stop was the puffin Island where the guide explained to us all that is to know about how puffins (which are really cute by the way) feed, breed, nest and migrate.

The boat then took us away to whale territory. Soon, Daniel, our guide, shouted 11 o’clock!

We knew we had to look in that direction but by the time we turned, our captain already was accelerating and getting us closer to that area. We arrived first, and could see right away two beautiful humpback whales who were minding their own business, feeding. We were explained that the whales are more playful as they come closer to the tropics, but now, as it is feeding season and winter is coming they are very serious about eating as much as they can before the arrival of the cold season!

In any case, it seems it is not a very common thing to see two of them hunting together, so I guess we were lucky! We watched them for about half an hour, spraying water, swimming and splashing their tails as they dived. Such magnificent creatures, I was so excited and grateful I could see them!

9 Husavik whale watching Gentle giants

I asked Daniel if they are bothered by us watching them. He said there is no proof that they are disturbed, but, for now, the effects of such tourism are still researched.

We left the two humpbacks to go to a different place. We were looking for some dolphins when we suddenly saw a whale bursting out of the water, with its mouth first. It was also a humpback whale but this one was stronger and more active, as it repeated the jump quite a few times. This was really spectacular!

Soon we realized there was another whale in the same area, hunting together with the first one so that brought the number of whales we saw to 4!

Thank you so much Gentle Giants, I wasn’t even hoping to see so many of these gracious beautiful humpbacks.

After a few more times the whales surfaced, we waved them goodbye and sped back to the port.

This is a great way to conclude day 9 and be back on the (long) road. No matter if you saw whales before, it is an experience you should definitely have in Iceland.

ACCOMMODATION ON THE NORTH OF ICELAND:

Afterwards you can set course for the Western Fjords which we were going to see the next day. After a few hours drive, before nightfall, a good place to spend the night is the in the town of Varmahlid at the Varmahlid Hotel. The hotel is has a perfect location for tired travelers. It offers a pool and a restaurant for its guests. If you wish to spend more time around that area, you can do some horse riding.

varmalid

We have spent a night there and went all the way to Western Fjords on the day 10, not before getting the all so usual super energizing breakfast!

varmalid breakfast 

Conclusion

To recap, you now have covered the Golden Circle and the South, East and North Iceland.

The East has given you the chance to take it easy while visiting the Hengifoss waterfall and one (or more, if you choose so) of the East Fjords.

The north has spoiled you with waterfalls, nature baths, strange smelly landscapes, canyons and whales.

There is still a lot more to discover, and enough for a second trip if you really want.

You well passed half way and it is time to continue to the Western Fjords!


Thanks so much for taking the time and reading this article!

Don’t forget to “Like” and share it if you found it useful!

I hope you like this astonishing European country the same much as I do! Which part do you think is the best? What is your favorite place there?

And remember, I am always here to answer your questions! 

Yulia


Pin it for later:

Iceland roadtrip the east and the north www.misstourist.com

By | 2017-08-27T00:50:15+00:00 March 10th, 2016|Europe, export, Iceland|10 Comments

About the Author:

Yulia is originally Russian but truly is a world citizen in heart. She was traveling around the world for over 4 years now. Her blog MissTourist.com is created with the purpose to inspire people to travel more and to share her advice of how to travel "smart".

10 Comments

  1. Sarah & Brigette 12.07.2016 at 17:39 - Reply

    Great post! The whale watching looks amazing. We were in Iceland recently, but only had 4 days. We drove the ring road, but we knew we were missing lots of sites along the way. We’ll get back there to see more & the Westfjords someday. Happy travels!

    • Yulia 13.07.2016 at 19:16 - Reply

      yes, even if the ring road is a must, there are so many other places that are not less beautiful but are definitely less discovered, make sure to come back when you have a chance! 🙂

  2. nesya 25.01.2017 at 05:37 - Reply

    such a great and informative posting! im planning a trip to iceland next month and this has been a great help in planning definite stops!

    im looking to do a little road trip as well (from reykjavik to Akureyri, with a quick day trip to myvatn and the water falls you mentioned as well), and was wondering if you had any recommendations on where to stay in akureyri for a night or two, and if you’re aware of any cant-miss stops along the way from reykjavik?

    side note: im hoping to catch some of the aurora borealis and was looking to drive to borgarnes,parking by the old harbor for a few hours, and then continuing the drive to akureyri. any recommendations/warnings on driving in the dark/early in the morning? (or how to catch some of the northern lights?)

    thanks!

    • Yulia 25.01.2017 at 12:18 - Reply

      Hi Nesya!
      I don’t understand if you want to do a full circuit of the island or not. Akureyri is exactly in the middle, so, on the way there I would recommend going through the South, it has many great sights (they are in my post for the South of Iceland). Borgarnes is very close to Reykjavik and you can see it on the way back. Definitely take a day trip to see the waterfalls and relax at Myvathn! In Akureyri I used Airbnb, if you want to book some other type of accommodation you can use any of the options in my resource page.
      I didn’t see the Northern Lights, as I was there in August, so I can’t give any advice on that. I want to come back in another time of the year to see them! Good luck catching them!

      • nesya 26.01.2017 at 04:01 - Reply

        thanks for the reply! i’m unable to do a full circuit of the island so ill be driving a route on the opposite side, from Reykjavik to akureyi (and then back on the same route after one night stay in akureyi). any advice on driving conditions along that side, and driving at night/early morning?

        • Yulia 29.01.2017 at 13:49 - Reply

          I dont think I can suggest you anything you havent heard before – driving carefully and in the light hours.
          However, what I would suggest is leaving the car (if possible) in Akureyi and flying back to Reykjavik. It is not like you are going to see something that you havent seen on the road and you will save a lot of time this way.

  3. Andre 24.05.2017 at 08:12 - Reply

    Hi Yulia,

    Great blog. How did you get to the top of the asbyrgi canyon (looking down at the pond)? You mentioned a 4km hike. Where does this trail start? Any details are appreciated.

    Thanks,
    -Andre

    • Yulia 02.06.2017 at 04:00 - Reply

      The trail starts right from the parking lot and there is pretty much just one road to it, but if in doubt, just ask in the souvenirs shop, Icelanders are very nice people and will surely help you out!

  4. Amir Kassiff 07.07.2017 at 20:37 - Reply

    Hi Yulia,
    Your blog turned out to be a great resource for planning our Iceland trip. Just the right amount of info, and the maps are great. a quick correction for the benefit of your next reader: you did not put Dettifoss and Selfoss waterfalls on your trip map, and on the directions there, you confused west and east for the two roads that lead to them (862 and 864).
    Regards, Amir

    • Yulia 08.07.2017 at 05:31 - Reply

      Thanks, Amir!
      I am happy it was helpfu and I will take a look at the names you mentioned!

Leave A Comment

511 Shares
Pin447
Share52
Tweet12
WhatsApp
Email

By continuing to use the site by scrolling or navigating further, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close