North Iceland is a region rich in fabulous places to visit, a geological Garden of Eden, steeped in Saga history, and home to the best whale and bird watching spots in the country.
Discover the roaring waterfalls of Godafoss, Dettifoss and Selfoss, the magical vistas of Myvatn and its geothermal hotpots, and the astonishing volcanic features of Dimmuborgir, Hverir and Grjotagja.
The multi-hued landscapes of the north of Iceland are exhilarating to experience, with broad alpine meadows and bright-blue lakes and fjords mixing with the dark and moon-like terrain of the cones and craters in the Myvatn basin.
Set off on a road trip like no other with this thrilling 8-day tour of Iceland’s most magnificent sights along Route 1, and explore the wild Westfjords too!
Travel around the country on the 4-day guided Ring Road tour. See all the must-see places spread across the island
Discover all of Iceland’s most magnificent sights on this breathtaking 5-day guided Ring Road tour, taking you to all the must-see places!
Travel around Iceland to discover many natural wonders spread across the country. This tour offers an option to customize the itinerary
Go on a journey around Iceland to discover the true variety of Icelandic nature. Customize the last day of your travel
Join this classic tour around Iceland and see towering waterfalls, eye-catching volcanoes, glaciers, black sand beaches, and much more!
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
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The must-see gem of the North is Myvatn, home to an enormous volcanic lake, the fourth largest in Iceland. All around are fascinating formations of lava fields and dark craters, multitudes of birds of countless species, crowned with a gorgeous geothermal outdoor spa.
Easily reached from Akureyri or Egilsstadir on the Ring Road Tour, Myvatn is located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where untold numbers of volcanic explosions over millions of years have created an otherworldly landscape, quite different to other parts of the country.
Steaming hotpots splutter and spurt, while older eruptions have left behind vast expanses of rocky terrain that have been twisted into extraordinary shapes by the elements.
Once covered by a mammoth ice cap, just like Vatnajokull in the south, gigantic volcanic eruptions tore through the ice sheet ten thousand years ago, creating the flat-topped mountains that line the lake now.
These frequent eruptions have carved Lake Myvatn into an irregular shape and leaving it exceptionally shallow too – the waters are never more than five meters deep, even at the center of the lake.
Few other places in the world offer such a broad spectrum of intriguing geological formations in one region.
Later volcanic explosions have left behind enormous craters, but the area has been mostly dormant since the Krafla fires of the 1970s.
The glorious curved waterfall at Godafoss is a short distance from Lake Myvatn, lying just off the Ring Road at Fossholl. The “Waterfall of the Gods” has great significance in Iceland’s religious history. Just over a thousand years ago, legend told of Thorgeir the “Law Speaker” casting his pagan statues of Norse gods into the waters here and declaring that Christianity would be the country’s official religion. Now, it’s one of the most visited waterfalls in the country, and one of the easiest to reach too.
Of all the waterfalls to be found in Iceland, Dettifoss is the most powerful. The milky glacial waters of the Jokulsa a Fjollum river roar down from Vatnajokull over its edges and plunge 45 meters down, deep into the Jokulsargljufur canyon. Dettifoss is 100 meters wide too, with viewing platforms on either side of the falls, and is such an impressive sight that the opening scenes of Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” were filmed here. Five hundred cubic meters of water thunder over the falls every second, with plumes of spray that can be seen from far away as they reach high into the sky here, and endless rainbows arch over the falls on sunny days.
Just a few hundred meters upstream from mighty Dettifoss lies Selfoss, another graceful waterfall that is fed by the Vatnajokull glacier. More humble than its near neighbor, Selfoss tumbles ten meters into the Jokulsa a Fjollum river as it makes its way to the Arctic Ocean, but Selfoss is a little wider than Dettifoss.
The North Coast of Iceland is rich with abundant wildlife. The deep narrow fjords around Akureyri are a magnet for several species of whales, orcas, dolphins and porpoises every year as they feed and breed – whale-watching tours from the North Coast have near-perfect records.
The exceptional beauty and the natural phenomena of Myvatn’s nature reserve attract visitors of all types – as well as tourists, the plentiful food and nesting spaces makes it a haven for birds from all over the world to breed here, a birdwatcher’s paradise.
The lake itself is studded with more than fifty little islands, and creeks and craters, where birds make their nests. More species of duck breed at Myvatn than anywhere else in the world, including the Barrow’s Goldeneye, Harlequin ducks, gyrfalcons, gannets, guillemots, ptarmigans and more.
Myvatn translates as the “Lake of Midges”, which means plenty of food for the birds, but perhaps a mild irritation for the humans too.
First mentioned in 1602 as an Arctic Ocean trading station, Akureyri is the largest Icelandic town outside of Reykjavik and its suburbs.
It’s sometimes called “The Capital of the Shining North”, thanks to the Midnight Sun and the Northern Lights that are seen from here.
It’s the unofficial “second city” of Iceland, although its population numbers less than twenty thousand. It’s a buzzing little town, sitting at the end of the longest fjord in Iceland, with the main street packed with cool cafes, restaurants, art galleries and funky design stores.
Cruise ships call in here as they circuit the country, while ferries make their way to Grimsey and whale watching tours depart from the centrally located harbor.
Towering above the town is the imposing cathedral, designed by the same architect who built Hallgrimskirkja in Reykjavik, offering outstanding views across the fjord. There’s also a highly recommended botanical garden and a geothermal swimming pool. A sweet little Akureyri touch is that all the red traffic lights are heart-shaped.
The North Coast offers a dazzling parade of photogenic volcanic landscapes, mighty waterfalls, geothermal wonders, bird-filled lakes, snowy peaks and azure-blue fjords – this is Iceland at its most majestic.
Cinematic landscapes, populated more by birds and whales and dolphins than by people, stretch as far as the eye can see.
With so many natural marvels to enjoy, all easily reached from the capital city, the North Coast must make it on to your must-see list.