What to see in Northeast Iceland
1. Akureyri (91 km / 90 minutes drive from Húsavík, 60 km/60minutes drive from Fosshótel Laugar)
Akureyri is located at the head of Eyjafjörður, the longest fjord in the country. It has around 16.300 inhabitants, which makes it the largest town in Northern Iceland and in fact the largest community in the country outside the capital area. It is therefore frequently referred to as “The Capital of Northern Iceland”. It is without a doubt the cultural center of Northern Iceland, with it’s flourishing cultural life. Akureyri is University town and the visitor can choose between museums and theaters, cafés, restaurant, a symphony orchestra, a botanical garden, nightclubs a variety of shops and more. The church is among the oldest and most attractive in the country. For those who are more sport orientated the town offers gyms, golf courses, sport grounds and it’s swimming pools are heated with natural geothermal hot water. Akureyri is a paradise for those who are interested in winter sports, with a first-rate skating rink and the skiing resort is considered the best in the country. The municipality offers a lot of services to travelers, such as banks, a post office and an airport with every day flights to/from Reykjavík. Among activities available are jeep and snowmobile trips, angling in the lakes and rivers and deep sea fishing. In June every year international golfers gather in mild midnight sunlight to compete in the Arctic Open tournament in Akureyri. It is worth mentioning that the world’s most northerly golf course is situated in Akureyri!
2. Goðafoss waterfall (15 km / 15 minutes drive from Laugar, 46 km / 45 minutes drive from Húsavík)
The Goðafoss waterfall is one of the most impressive waterfalls in Iceland. Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði (Lord of Ljósavatn, a small lake close to Goðafoss) was the lawkeeper of the Althing in Þingvellir in year 1000. He was given the authority to make a decision about which religion should be adopted by the Icelandic people. Although he was a pagan himself he came to the conclusion that Christianity was the religion all should follow. When he returned home to Ljósavatn he took all his statues of the pagan gods and threw them into the waterfall. The name of the waterfall, Goðafoss (the waterfall of the gods) is said to be derived from that event.
3. Húsavík (40 km / 40 minutes drive from Laugar)
Húsavík is located on the eastern shores of the Skjálfandi bay. It has about 2.500 inhabitants and is a mercantile centre for a large acricultural area. Processing of farm and fishing products are important for the town’s economy. Several of the food products from Húsavík are known and appreciated by all Icelanders. However, tourism is the fastest growing trade. Services for tourists are at their very best and accommodation and cuisine is among the best in the area. Many tourists visit the town only to go whale watching as the conditions at the Skjálfandi bay are exceptionally good for whale-watching. The town was the first to offer whale wathcing cruises and it has been dubbed “The Whale Watching Capital Of The World” . The Whale Center is located by the scenic harbour. It offers a exceptional opportunity to learn about the history of whales around Iceland as well as demonstrating the enormous variety of whales that subsist by the shores of the island. The whale watching boats go on regular cruises throughout the day and the chances of seeing a whale on are very good. The beautiful timber church that has been as symbol for Húsavík for almost a century is well worth a visit. The District Culture Centre consists of a few different museums and collections. It has a variety of historical heritage and natural wonders, housing seasonal exhibits from Icelandic artists as well as a polar bear and miscellaneous types of local birds. The landscape around Húsavík is famous for its beauty and natural wonders. Húsavík is located centrally and offers the traveler an ideal base for day tours to Dettifoss, Jökulsárgljúfur National Park, Ásbyrgi National Park, Lake Mývatn in addition to all the other wonders of the local countryside. Horse back riding, skiing and other sporting activities are an essential part of the local culture and the facilities for fishing are excellent. One of the best and most popular salmon rivers of Iceland, Láxá in Aðaldalur, is in the region, within a short driving distance from Húsavík town.
4. Ásbyrgi National Park (65 km / 90 minutes drive from Húsavík, 105km / 120 minutes drive from Laugar)
Ásbyrgi, a 3,5 km long canyon with up to 100 m high walls, is undoubtedly one of nature’s wonders. It is the northernmost part of the National Park of Jökulsárgljúfur and its walls are occupied by fulmars during the breeding season. The area between the canyon walls is unusually well vegetated for Icelandic standards. It is partly wooded, mostly with birch, willow, larch and fur. This surely helps to make it very a popular recreational area, both for family activities and local festivals. A path lies almost all the way to its bottom, and is well worth a stroll. The canyon was created by two catastrophic flood waves from the icecap of Vatnajökull glacier far in the south. The first wave happened about 8.000 – 10.000 years ago, and the second about 3.000 years ago. In the middle of the canyon there is a freestanding rock called “The island”. It is shaped like a horseshoe and according to folklore Sleipnir, the eight legged horse of the pagan god Óðinn, formed the canyon when it briefly touched the ground with one of its hoofs.
5. Hljóðaklettar (80 km / 110 minutes drive from Húsavík, 120 km / 140 minutes drive from Laugar)
Hljóðaklettar (The Echo Cliffs) are peculiar looking crater plugs, forming a complete city of polygonal basalt columns. Their different positions create all kinds of patterns, such as rosettes, a lion’s head, trolls and in fact whatever the visitors imagination may produce. The loose material of the hollow space between them was washed away by gigantic flood waves from the big Vatnajökull icecap. The hiking routes are some of the most beautiful and interesting in the whole country. Hljóðaklettar are a part of the Jökulsárgljúfur National Park and make a richly rewarding experience.
6. Dettifoss waterfall (92 km / 120 minutes drive from Husavik, 109 km / 135 minutes drive from Laugar)
The mightiest waterfall in Europe is Dettifoss waterfall. It is 44 m high and 100 m wide. 500 cubic meters of water from Vatnajökull glacier thunders over the waterfall per second. Dettifoss can be viewed from either the western or the eastern bank, but one has to be careful when traversing the rugged terrain on foot. Further up the Jökulsá river is another waterfall called Selfoss, 10 m high and further down north is Hafragilsfoss, 27 m high.
7. Lake Mývatn (55 km / 55 minutes drive from Húsavík, 35 km / 40 minutes drive from Laugar)
Lake Mývatn is Iceland’s fourth largest natural lake covering an area of 36,5 square km. It is situated in an extremely volcanic area, about 277 m above sea level. In the period between 1975 and 1984 nine eruptions took place there and the continental drift was measured 4,8 m. The lake is shallow and has many small islets. It is rich in lake char and is home to a greater variety of ducks than any other lake in the world. It is known world wide for its abundance of birdlife. The visitor may want to spend a few days at Lake Mývatn to fully enjoy the lake’s surroundings with their great variety in landscapes and astounding geological formations. There are two settlements by the lake, Skútustaðir and Reykjahlíð. At each the traveller can access a varitey of services, such as bike and car rentals, grocery shops, swimming pools, petrol stations and car washes. There is also a considerable number of sightseeing possibilities. The astonishing natural beauty of the area is world famous and attracts a stream of tourists in the summer, though it is no less beautiful in the winter. The lake Mývatn area is one of Iceland’s most popular tourist resorts.