East Coast of Iceland
See the Untouched nature
East Coast - the most remote part of the island
As far away from the bright lights of Reykavik as you can get, the East Coast offers tranquil fjords, pretty fishing villages, iceberg-filled lagoons, vast glaciers, shy reindeers, sweet seals and birds of all feathers.
It’s an understated wonderland of spectacular scenery, rich in contrasts as you travel further east towards the Vatnajokull National Park, which covers a tenth of the country and is home to Europe’s largest glacier.
The treasures of the East include the world-famous Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and the Diamond Beach, countless waterfalls, the longest lake and the largest forests in Iceland, Viking villages and multi-colored mountains made of basalt and rhyolite.
Visited by the Romans, the Vikings, Celts, Barbary pirates and fishermen from all over Europe, the East Coast is nowadays very sparsely populated, with only a few farmers, fishermen and artists making up the tiny communities that cling to the coastal fringes here.
Here’s what you’ll see if you come with us to explore the exhilarating expanses of the East Coast.
Vatnojokull National Park - Glittering Glaciers and wildlife
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon - one of Icelands most spectacular sights
The most sublime sight to see on the East Coast is the dazzling glacier lagoon Jokulsarlon.
Gigantic icebergs calve from the Breidamerkujokull glacier here and then float serenely around the lagoon for years, before slowly heading towards the Atlantic Ocean.
Always the scene of a ghostly procession of luminous bergs, Jokulsarlon is a natural film set, featuring in stunning sequences from “Batman Begins”, the James Bond films “Die Another Day” and “A View To A Kill”, and “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider”.
This ever-changing environment is also home to countless seabirds and seals, who bask the day away here amongst the bergs when they’re not too busy chasing fish for their dinner.
Diamond Beach - ice and black sand blended into unforgettable scenery
Nearby is the awesome Diamond Beach, where smaller pieces from the icebergs lie scattered on a dramatic black sand beach, slowly being carved into fantastic shapes by fierce winds and the Atlantic waves.
Forever dominating the skyline inland is the frosty bulk of Vatnajokull National Park, one of three national parks in Iceland, and by far the largest. The cinematic panoramas of Vatnajokull have to be seen to be believed, a staggeringly diverse collection of Iceland’s greatest treasures – glittering glaciers, brooding volcanoes, mighty rivers and heavenly waterfalls.
Majestic Mountains and Canyon
Vestrahorn Mountain - loved by photographers
Another East Coast highlight can be found on the Stokksnes headland, home to the moody mountain of Vestrahorn – one of Iceland’s most photographed peaks. It’s a fantastically wild place, with jagged pinnacles towering over sweeping black sand beaches.
Not only that, but there’s an extra treat to be found here, with a “Viking Village” tucked away around the headland. Built as a movie set for an Icelandic film that hasn’t yet been completed, friendly horses wander peacefully among abandoned Viking wooden huts and barns, making it feel even more authentic. You can even look inside to see the empty rooms and imagine yourself living there as a Viking settler in olden times.
Studlagil Canyon - newly discovered wonder
Not far from the Ring Road near Egilsstadir lies the stunning Studlagil Canyon, a magnificent natural phenomenon that has only recently been discovered. After a hydroelectric dam altered the flow of the Jokla river, beautiful basalt columns lining the canyon were slowly revealed as the river levels fell. This incredible place is a true geological marvel, especially considering that it has been hidden from sight underwater for so long.
The East Fjords - a nature-lover’s paradise and charming villages
The East Fjords cover a long stretch of eastern Iceland’s twisting coastline from Djupivogur onwards, with Route 1 hugging the shore as it snakes in and out of steep-sided fjords, passing tiny hamlets and forgotten farmsteads along the way.
The scenery here is fabulous, with alpine meadows contrasting with the bright blue sea, often accompanied by tubular white clouds that hover and linger in the fjords in the mornings.
It takes longer to get from one place to the next here, but the East Coast is the ideal place for “slow travel”. There is nothing to rush for, so it’s best to slow down, relax and enjoy the peaceful tranquility of these majestically empty landscapes.
Djupivogur - one of the oldest ports in the country
Djupivogur has been welcoming foreign traders for more than five hundred years, although the locals were less pleased to see pirates from North Africa when they raided all along Iceland’s coasts in 1627.
Nowadays, Djupivogur is a peaceful haven of calm, part of the international Cittaslow “Slow Cities” movement, which aims to promote the benefits of slowing the pace of life. It’s a pretty village filled with historic buildings that tell the tale of centuries of commerce, including the Langabud, a timber trading post that dates back to the 18th century, now a heritage museum and coffee shop. Down by the harbour wall, there is a unique sculptural display of more than thirty eggs, representing all of the bird species found in the region. As well as that, Djupivogur is home to the Bones, Sticks and Stones Gallery, a sculpture garden filled with whalebones and other fascinating flotsam and jetsam.
Egillstadir - the Capital of the East Iceland
Egilsstadir is the largest town in the East and a travel hub for exploring the area. Nearby is Urridavatn, which the lake with geothermal water streaming from the bottom, and Lagarfljot, the longest lake in Iceland.
Local legend tells of a Loch Ness-type monster lurking in the waters of Lagarfljot, called the Lagarfljotsormurinn. There have been many sightings of something unusual living here for hundreds of years, even reports of a monstrous “worm” that spits poison on anyone who disturbs his peace in the murky depths. The story goes that a local young girl put a worm in a box with a gold brooch, thinking that the worm would increase her gold. Instead, the worm grew very quickly, and the frightened girl threw everything into the lake, where the “worm” continued to grow to an enormous size. Locals and other witnesses are convinced that it lives there to this day.
Just couple kilometres North from Egillstadir lays Urridavatn lake. There you will find Vok Geothermal Baths – floating pools filled with warm waters streaming up from deeps under the lake.
Beyond Egilsstadir, Route 1 then leads towards North Iceland, winding through the unspoiled wilderness that lies on the edge of the Icelandic Highlands, the dark and foreboding center of the country.
Wildlife of The East
Enjoying the peace and solitude of the East, wild herds of reindeer roam here, with as many as three thousand of these hardy mammals to be found across the region. Originally brought here from Norway in the 18th century, they soon chose the East as their preferred patch, with their numbers affected by harsh winters and the effects of volcanic eruptions. They mostly live up in the Highlands during the summer months, migrating closer to the coastal pastures in the winter.
The other most-sighted mammals in the East are the cheeky seals who take advantage of the fertile fishing grounds all along the coast. They’re easily spotted as they sunbathe on the scattered icebergs at Jokulsarlon, and off the beaches too. The only indigenous mammal in Iceland is the Arctic fox, which is usually found high up in the Westfjords, but has also been spotted here in the East too.
Puffins make their home here in several teeming colonies for the breeding season, from May until late August. These cute creatures endear themselves with their sweet faces, comic flying style and occasional crash landings. Watch out for the more angry and aggressive Arctic terns and skuas – these birds are less pleased to share their space with human visitors, particularly if you stray too close to their nests.
Find the peace on the East!
Legend tells the story of a Danish king once sending a spy to Iceland to see if it could be invaded.
The spy was surprised to find fierce guardians protecting each quarter of the country. In the East, a mighty dragon denied the spy entry, and after being repelled by the Eagle of the North, the Bull of the West and the Giant of the South, the spy reported to his king that Iceland was too well defended for an invasion.
Nowadays, the East Coast is far more welcoming – come and explore the fabulous fjords, glittering glaciers and friendly little hamlets of the East Coast with us.
Selection of East Coast Tours
Take this tour along Iceland´s South Coast to discover its stunning glaciers, lava fields, volcanoes, waterfalls and much more!
from ISK 42.900
Discover the true magic of Iceland by visiting the three main national parks of the country, go on ice and lava caving and search for Northern Lights
from ISK 119.900
Discover the glorious Golden Circle, see the waterfalls of the South Coast, be amazed by the Glacier Lagoon and the Blue Ice Cave
from ISK 74.900
See the most majestic sights in South Iceland, including the Glacier Lagoon and the Golden Circle, waterfalls, blue-ice glaciers, volcanoes and more
from ISK 59.900
Travel around the country on the 4-day guided Ring Road tour. See all the must-see places spread across the island
from ISK 119.900
Travel around Iceland to discover many natural wonders spread across the country. This tour offers an option to customize the itinerary
from ISK 139.900
Go on a journey around Iceland to discover the true variety of Icelandic nature. Customize the last day of your travel
from ISK 179.000
Join this 7-day guided tour that takes you around Iceland via Route 1, called the Ring Road, to all the best-known wonders and some hidden pearls
from ISK 219.900
Visit the three main national parks of Iceland, go on a glacier hike, lava caving and take a boat ride on the ice strewn Glacier Lagoon
from ISK 129.900
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