North Iceland Holidays
A region of diverse and incredible natural beauty, the north of Iceland boasts thundering waterfalls, dramatic canyons, scenic fjords, rivers, lakes and striking volcanic features complemented by interesting towns and villages and plenty of opportunities to explore.
Our collection of holidays combine exploring well-known sites in the north such as Lake Myvatn with time in the largely untouched East Fjords. From fly drives following the newly waymarked Arctic Coast Way to small group tours experience the best of this stunning side of Iceland.
Popular North Iceland Holidays
Iceland in Style
National Parks and Natural Wonders
Arctic Coast Way – North Coast Highlights
Fly, Drive and Hike
Highlands and Lowlands
The Road Less Travelled
Arctic Coast Way
Launched in summer 2019, Iceland’s first official touring route, the Arctic Coast Way winds 900 km through some of the country’s most dramatic scenery in North Iceland. From wild peninsulas where cliffs throng with seabirds to fjord-side fishing villages glinting under the midnight sun, the north coast of Iceland is crying out for an adventurous self drive. Taking you on an incredible journey, the Arctic Coast Way combines sublime scenery with experiences ranging from hiking and kayaking to whale and puffin watching.
The Diamond Circle
More compact, but packing no less of a punch, north east Iceland’s Diamond Circle route incorporates some of the country’s biggest natural attractions in 250km of touring. It principally links Godafoss, Lake Myvatn, Dettifoss, Asbyrgi and Husavik with numerous additional sights along the way. It can be tackled in a day, but we’d recommend taking two or three days to explore.
During summer, this spring-fed lake attracts numerous species of ducks and waders. Trout and Arctic char are also abundant, but it’s Myvatn’s volcanic features that lure most visitors. From Hverastrond’s flatulent sulphur springs and Krafla’s steaming lava fields to the squat Hverfjall crater and Dimmuborgir’s eerie basalt towers, Myvatn will take your breath away!
These distinctive natural features provide the backdrop for a range of activities from Superjeeps to horse riding before gently poaching yourself in the soothing waters of the Nature Baths.
Between Myvatn and Husavik take a small detour to visit Grenjadarstadur, a wonderful old turf parsonage and folk museum (open June to August) – nearby is the Laxa Power Station.
It’s not surprising that Húsavik has become Europe’s whale watching capital: Minke whales are seen on most boat trips in Skjalfandi Bay, while harbour porpoises and leaping schools of white-beaked dolphins are also common. Humpback whales are also regular visitors and there have even been close encounters with blue whales. The harbour side Whale Museum has an interesting collection of artefacts and skeletons and is well worth a visit.
Dettifoss & Asbyrgi
Roaring and raging through the Jokulsa Canyon, the 100m-wide, 45m-high cataract of Dettifoss – Europe’s most powerful waterfall – is fed by silt-laden meltwater from the Vatnajokull icecap. Walking trails take you to the brink of the colossal falls – a complete contrast to hiking in nearby Asbyrgi, a peaceful horseshoe-shaped canyon that shelters a birch wood carpeted with cranesbill. Walk through a forest (a rarity in Iceland!) to the sheer 100m high bird cliffs and a silent pond at the head of the gorge.
The ‘waterfall of the gods’ can be found near to Lake Myvatn and is said to be one of the most beautiful in Iceland. At 30m wide and with a 12m drop, it is certainly very photogenic and conveniently accessible.
A stone’s throw from the Arctic Circle, wild and forgotten Melrakkasletta (Arctic Fox Plain) is rimmed with seabird-nesting cliffs and beaches strewn with driftwood and is the most northerly point on Iceland’s mainland. On its eastern flank the small fishing village of Raufarhofn is tucked in the lee of Arctic winds, while to the north, the Red Cape of Raudinupur smoulders under the glow of the midnight sun.
Shaped like a goose head, Langanes is a hauntingly beautiful peninsula littered with the crumbling remains of abandoned settlements. From the fishing village of Thorshofn near its base, a rough track strikes north to Fontur where sea cliffs host noisy citadels of gannets and guillemots. It’s the setting for one of Iceland’s most spectacular coastal hikes.
With a population of around 18,000, Akureyri is often referred to as the capital of North Iceland. Located at the head of the country’s longest fjord – 60km Eyjafjordur – it has a thriving port and an excellent range of restaurants, cafés and places to stay. Highlights include the imposing Lutherian church and the world’s most northerly botanic gardens. Like Reykjavik, a church dominates the skyline and, if you can manage the many steps, the views from here over the town and fjord are lovely.
Tucked into a small fjord hemmed in by mountains, Siglufjordur was established as a herring fishing port – the Herring Era Museum is well worth a visit. You can also take boat trips across the Arctic Circle or try your luck fishing on the Holsa River. Siglufjordur is a rewarding spot for hiking with trails leading into the mountains and along the coast.
A long, deep bay framed by the mountainous Trollaskagi peninsula to the east and the Skagi peninsula to the west, Skagafjordur is a rich agricultural region. Renowned for horse breeding it’s a wonderful spot for a gentle farm ride or mountain trek. Visit the turf buildings of the Glaumbaer Museum for a little history or if you prefer something more energetic, try river rafting or horse riding in Varmahlid.
Dalvik and Grimsey Island
North of Akureyri, the vibrant fishing port of Dalvik is the departure point for ferries to Grimsey Island. Straddling the Arctic Circle 40km off Iceland’s north coast, Grimsey is a lonely fishing outpost barely five square kilometres in area. Guided walks reveal the island’s history and birdlife, and you can also hire bikes and bask in the midnight sun.
A remote geothermal area with steaming fumaroles and bubbling hot springs, Hveravellir Nature Reserve is located near the glaciers of Langjokull and Hofsjokull and can be reached by driving the Kjolur highland route south from the Blondudalur valley. Soak up the breathtaking views from Hveravellir’s Geothermal Nature Pool.