The East is the one of the least densely populated part of Iceland, with less than 5% of of the country's total inhabitants. It has some of the largest stretches of the most untouched wilderness you will ever see. From the mountainous and fjord-riddled coastline to the barren black-sand central highlands, it is home to some of the most spectacular views and natural landmarks of Iceland. The main community of the area is Egilsstaðir, which is a great jumping-off point from which to explore the rest of the East. Of particular note is Vatnajökull National Park, in the south-east.
Things to do
The natural phenomena and outdoor activities are literally too many to list, since the whole area is mountains and wilderness! East Iceland is the perfect place for outdoor adventuring such as hiking, river rafting and off-road touring. You can see puffins up close, watch herds of wild reindeer, practice bird watching or go fishing. As in all other places in Iceland, you can soak in a natural pool, visit interesting museums and experience unique cultural events. You can take in some of the natural waterfalls, lakes, mountains, glaciers and volcanoes. Or you can explore countless tiny fishing villages and quaint mountain towns and experience some of their local customs.
Egilsstadir is a small town on the banks of Lagarfljot river, and the main service centre of East Iceland. The population is around 2.300, and the community is fairly young. The first residence in Egilsstadir was built in 1944 and the town has expanded steadily since then. There are plenty of interesting things to be seen in Egilsstadir, for example Hengifoss falls, Skriduklaustur – the mansion of writer Gunnar Gunnarsson.
One of the countless exciting attractions in East Iceland is Lake Lagarfljot, a lake situated near Egilsstadir. Its surface measures 53 km² and it is over 25 km long. It is the third largest lake in Iceland and the Lagarfljot river flows through the lake. Lagarfljot is believed to be inhabited by Lagarfljotsormurinn, or the Lagarfljot worm. Lagarfljotsormurinn is an Icelandic lake cryptid first reported in 1345. According to old Icelandic folktales it's been seen raising its back above the water in Lagarfljot many times throughout the years, and sometimes the worm is said to be as long as the lake itself. We can't guarantee that the Lagarfljot worm will make an appearance, but at least Lagarfljot is a beautiful lake and definitely worth the trip.
Hallormsstadarskogur is Iceland's largest forest, only a half hour drive away from Egilsstadir. It's the center of Iceland's forestry and has been a national conservation area since 1905. The first trees were planted in Hallormsstadarskogur in 1903 but most of them have been planted over the past 60 years. There are several walking paths and hiking routes situated throughout the forest, and there is a popular campsite by the riverside of Atlavik cove, which is not far away.
Seydisfjordur is a small town situated at the innermost point of a fjord of the same name. It is one of the most beautiful places in East Iceland, surrounded by mountains on all sides. The town has only 668 inhabitants, and it's well known for it's old wooden buildings and remnants of urban street configurations. There are camping facilities, hotels, a swimming pool, library, hospital, post office, liqour store and other retail activities in Seydisfjordur. There are also several waterfalls and hiking trails in Seydisfjordur, not to mention the vibrant cultural scene it has to offer.
The LungA art festival which takes place in Seydisfjordur in July is one of our favorite cultural events of the year. At LungA, young aspiring artists come together to display their work, poke about in workshops and party all through the night. This is a big attraction for young people, who flock to Seydisfjordur together to enjoy culture and wild camp parties, as well as concerts, fashion shows and amazing ambience that can't be found anywhere else.