North Iceland is a magnificent and majestic place, filled with wonder and adventure. Its geography remarkable for its mountainous vistas and the coastline is riddled with fjords and inlets of all sizes. The North is easy to travel to, and accommodation is plentiful. Being the north, average temperatures in wintertimeare colder than in the rest of the country.
The main city is Akureyri, "the capital of the North", and the whole area is speckled with small towns, culture and history. It is perfect for outdoor activities such as hiking, river rafting, horseback riding, boating, hunting, fishing and golfing.Take a jeep tour or a whale watching boat tour. Take in sights such as the incredible mountain views, volcanic sites, glaciers, hot springs and waterfalls. Rent a car and drive between the small towns in the mountains and by the coastline and sample some of their local customs.
Akureyri is the largest town outside the Reykjavik capital area by far, and is considered to be the centre of culture, education and leisure activities in North Iceland. The town is packed with museums, shops, restaurants, cafés and everything you would expect to find in a big city. You can play golf, go swimming, bird watching, rent a bike, bowling, whale watching and finally, you can experience the Akureyri nightlife.
Geothermally heated swimming pools are a big thing in Iceland, and North Iceland is certainly not disappointing in that area.There are numerous swimming pools in this region, mostly outdoor pools. The majority of them have fresh clear geothermal water and are open all year. Like most Icelandic pools, most pools will have some combination of hot tubs, saunas, steam baths, waterslides, splash pools, tanning booths, and showers. One of the best swimming pools in North Iceland is the Akureyri swimming pool. It has an indoor pool, a swimming pool, paddling pool, two waterslides and toys for children. There is no better way to spend a warm sunny day in Akureyri. For an all natural experience, dive into the Myvatn Nature Baths to unwind in a natural pool while taking in a panoramic mountain view.
For those who love to ski, the ski area at Mt. Hlidarfjall is one of the absolute best in Iceland. It lies at the bottom of one of the biggest fjords in the country, and it‘s surrounded by high mountains. The Hlidarfjall area is 5km above the town of Akureyri. Facilities are excellent, there are 6 ski lifts, 23 alpine slopes, ski cafés, ski rental and skiing school. Ski season usually starts at the end of November and lasts until May.
There are many natural wonders in North Iceland, for example:
Lake Myvatn is the main attraction of the nature of the North. The fourth largest lake in Iceland, its shores are indented with many coves and inlets. It‘s a shallow lake, and the rays of the sun reach the lake bed over it‘s surface. The lake‘s ecology is very diverse and interesting. The prolific growth and freshwater seaweed give the lake a lot of uniqueness. On the bed of the lake are a lot of diatoms and near the surface the famous artic char weave their way between aquatic plants and little islets topped with vegetation. Lake Myvatn is a true paradise for birdwatchers. In the summer, there are more duck species gathered in and around the waters than anywhere else on the planet. Myvatn and the area around it are protected as a nature reserve.
Dyngja is a stratovolcano situated in the central highlands of Iceland. The name refers to a complex of nested calderas within the surrounding Dyngjufjoll mountains. At Askja you will find Viti, a small explosion crater on the north east shore of Oskjuvatn which was formed in the 1875 eruption. Viti contains a geothermal lake of opaque blue water. Viti is not advised to be used for swimming in because the carbon dioxide that can accumulate on top of the water could easily make you pass out and drown. However, it‘s very pretty to look at.
Hveravellir Geothermal Area has many hot springs. The hub of the Kjolur route, it is a unique nature reserve in the middle of the west highlands. Situated between glaciers Langjokull and Hofsjokull, it is a gorgeous geothermal area with smoking fumarolees, blue boiling water, a geothermal pool and beautiful hiking routes. There are two huts for accommodation at Hveravellir, and a small restaurant is operated there in the summer.
Dimmuborgir or "Dark Cities" is an area of amazing rock formations that look like some kind of mystical city for Elves. It even has its own "elf church" - in a huge natural cave.
Asbyrgi. Asbyrgi is a forested canyon perfect for hiking trips. Situated in Oxarfjordur, and a part of Jokulsargljufur within the Vatnajokull National Park. Asbyrgi‘s steep sides are formed by cliffs up to 100m in height. Visitors walk through a woodland of birch and willow, and you can see other foreign tree species such as fir, larch and pine. You can see the small lake Botnstjorn there as well, home to a variety of waterfowl species. You‘ll find many hiking tracks close to Asbyrgi.
Dettifoss is the most powerful waterfall in Europe, and the largest in terms of volume discharge. Located in Vatnajokull National Park, it is a part of the course of the Jokulsa river, which flows from Vatnajokull glacier, the largest icecap in Europe. Hiking in the surrounding area of Dettifoss is ideal if you're the hiking type. A good 34km hiking trail goes along the canyon from Dettifoss to Asbyrgi. Camping facilities are available in Vesturdalur.
Another major waterfall is Goðafoss waterfall is one of the most majestic waterfalls in Iceland. It falls from the river of from a height of 12 meters and over a width of 30 meters. When christianity was established in Iceland in the year 1000, lawspeaker Thorgeir Ljosvetningagodi threw his statues of the Norse gods into the waterfall.
There are plenty of things to do and see in North Iceland, for nature lovers especially, so keep this region in mind when planning your trip to Iceland!