The Northern part of Iceland has some amazing places to explore. We spent around 3 days in the North and of course it wasn’t enough! In North Iceland you’ll find lunar like landscapes, mudpots, steam that smells like rotten eggs, volcanic craters and the most powerful waterfall of Europe. In this blogpost we have listed some places you might want to consider when traveling to the Northern part of Iceland!
During our time in the North we had 3 days of heavy fog and rain. Therefore we could not capture all the beautiful spots the way we wanted. We still want to share a list of the places to go! The central area of beautiful spots in Northern Iceland is at lake Myvatn. The tourist office, restaurants and a small supermarket are located in Reykjahlíð. It’s a good place to stay if you want to explore the area for multiple days. We have summarized 10 places to go in North Iceland:
1. Jökulsárgljúfur National Park
The Northern section of Jökulsárgljúfur National Park can be divided into three parts: Ásbyrgi, Vesturdalar and Dettifoss. The most Northern part is Ásbyrgi, a forested plain area surrounded by vertical canyon walls. Here you can find the visitor centre. Versturdalar is the middle part of the national park. This is a great place for a day-hike. You’ll find enormous bizarre rock formations and basalt columns at Hljóðaklettar. This is a 3km walking loop from the park area. Moreover you can continue to hike to Rauðhólar, a red colored mountain. This is a 5km loop walk from the Vesturdalur Parking area. During our hike we were the only one walking through this National Park, so imagine the silence and peace in this place!
We drove from the northern entry to Dettifoss via route 862. The road is unpaved with lots of holes and it’s probably the most adventurous road we drove in all of Iceland. A good thing is that they are working to improve the road. The last part of the road from Dettifoss to the ring road is fortunately already paved.
2. Dettifoss & Selfoss
Dettifoss and Selfoss are two waterfalls next to each other. Dettifoss is the most powerful waterfall in Europe! The waterfall is 100 meters wide and 44 meters high. The power of the waterfall is overwhelming. Bring your raincoat and waterproof case for your telephone. We were completely soaked when visiting this waterfall! You can reach Sellfoss in a 10 minute walk on a marked road from Dettifoss. It is a smaller waterfall and much more soothing compared to the adrenaline you feel when standing in front of Dettifoss. You can reach Dettifoss and Selfoss by a new road (Route 862) or an older gravel road (Route 864).
Hverir is an ocher colored geothermal area. It is a lunar like landscape with lots of bubbling mud and steam. It is one of the most beautiful and most smelly geothermal areas in Iceland. You should prepare yourself, somehow this geothermal area smelled more of rotten eggs then the other areas in Iceland. However, the ocher, blue and red colors are beautiful and it is totally worth it to go there.
Krafla ia an active volcanic region 7km north of the Ring road. Krafla is a mountain but the name is used for the entire area. In Krafla you’ll find the Krafla Power Station, a geothermal power station. If you continue to drive you’ll find Leirhnjúkur, a fun and beautiful geothermal area. The earth crust is extremely thin and terribly hot. You’ll find beautiful colors and it’s a must see when you are in North Iceland. Next to Leirhnjúkur you should see the Víti Crater. It is a brown crater with a green/blue pool inside. There is a path around the crater passing two smaller craters and another geothermal area.
5. Myvatn Nature Baths
Next to lake Myvatn you can find the Myvatn Nature baths. It is Northern Iceland’s answer to the Blue Lagoon. It is definitely less crowded than in the Blue Lagoon. The water is comfortably warm, it is even hot depending on where you stand in this nature bath. Compared to the Blue Lagoon the color is a bit less blue, however it is a great place to relax after an exhausting day of hiking in the area.
Grjótagjá is a water-filled cave. When the sun shines through the rocks on the blue water it is a beautiful view. People who watch Game of Thrones may know this cave as the place where John Snow made love with Ygritte.
Another beauty is the waterfall Goðafoss. Goðafoss means wall of the Gods. You can not miss it because it is just along Route 1. There are many different views from where you can watch this lovely waterfall.
Akureyri is Northern Iceland’s biggest city, even though is has just 18.000 residents. You can find lovely cafés and restaurants. It is a good night out when you spend the rest of your days in the rural countryside. Close to Akureyri you can find Laufás, old turf houses. The furnishing inside is from around 1900 and shows how the people in Iceland were living at that time. The Laufás are only open in the summer.
9. Vatnsnes & Hvítserkur
Vatnsnes Peninsula is a beautiful place where you can spot seals! Next to that you can find the 15m high rock Hvítserkur. It looks like a huge beast drinking water. We drove around this peninsula and found seals, sheep and lighthouses!
The last place of our list concludes with another beautiful waterfall. Just below the Kolugil Farm besides the Víðidalsá river you will find this beautiful and peaceful waterfall. You can walk alongside the waterfall and relax for a moment before you continue your journey.
We hope to have given you some inspiration for places to go when you are in Northern Iceland! There are enough other places to explore such as the crater Askja and spotting whales in Husavík. If you need more inspiration for traveling in Iceland you can read about our trip to Landmannalaugar in the highlands and our trips to the South of Iceland: From Waterfalls to black-sand beaches and From Skaftafell to Jökulsarlon! Next to that we wrote about places to go in Reykjanes Peninsula near the Keflavik Airport!