Northern Iceland is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the country. Located about 6 hours by car (or a 45-minute flight) from Reykjavik, the region is home to striking fjords, snow-capped mountains, volcanic craters, some of Iceland’s most beautiful waterfalls, and miles of rolling farmland. Within an hour or so drive, it’s possible to go from walking the cosmopolitan streets of Akureryi to whale-watching in Husavik, to standing in the spray of Godafoss to relaxing in the neon blue waters of the Myvatn Nature Baths.
Most of what you’ll want to see and do in Northern Iceland can be accessed from the Ring Road. It’s not difficult to get around by car, most of the roads are pavement or well-maintained gravel, and unless you visit in the middle of winter or plan to get really far off the beaten path (or head into the Highlands), a 4WD vehicle is not required.
Accommodation in North Iceland
There is quite a range of accommodation available in North Iceland. City slickers can stay at a full-service hotel in Akureyri while those seeking a more pastoral experience can book a farmstay in a rural area. You can camp in north Iceland in the summer, or stay at my personal favorite accommodation, the self-catering Kaldbak-Kot cottages, which offer a gorgeous view of the bay and are within walking distance of the town of Husavik.
Things to see and do in North Iceland
In addition to exploring the towns of Husavik and Akureyri, there is a lot to do in Northern Iceland. Go whale-watching, horseback riding, skiing, or golfing. Visit the Myvatn Nature Baths, Godafoss waterfall, Lake Myvatn, Krafla volcano, Dettifoss waterfall, and the Askja caldera in the interior. I recommend a minimum of three days for exploring Northern Iceland – one getting there and exploring Akureyri, one for engaging in some outdoor activities and checking out Husavik, and one for visiting the natural wonders of the area. Of course, with more time you can see and do even more – if you’re itinerary allows, you could spend 5-7 days just in North Iceland.
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Tips for visiting North Iceland
Don’t try to squeeze too much activity into your stay in North Iceland. While it’s easy to see a lot in a short amount of time, thanks to the close proximity of many attractions, you’ll still want to leave some time to just relax and to take a detour when it strikes your fancy. So much of the appeal of Iceland is it’s natural beauty, and you don’t want to miss it because you’re constantly racing from one place to the next.
Also, outside of Akureyri, be aware that accommodation and dining options will be limited. Self-catering is a great option here, as in the rest of the country.