Lake Myvatn, the Nature Baths, and Whale Watching | Departures from Akureyri and Reykjavík
Immerse yourself in North Iceland, with a combo trip to see the wonders of Lake Mývatn and the incredible whales of Eyjafjörður. This tour is perfect for those who love to make the most of every moment on their holidays, and balance sightseeing, relaxation and excursions.
The day will begin when you are picked up from Akureyri, although you can add flights to and from Reykjavík when you are booking if you are not otherwise travelling to the North. En route to Lake Mývatn, you will stop at the mighty Goðafoss, an awe-inspiring waterfall with a fascinating history, and learn about it from your guide.
You will then reach lake Mývatn, where there are a wealth of places to see; you will start by walking along the Skútustaðagígar pseudo-craters, before heading over to the geothermal area at Hverir. You will then go to where the earth is tearing apart due to plate tectonics, at a place called Grjótagjá Rift, before reaching the Dimmuborgir lava fortress.
Depending on the time and weather conditions, you may see other spots such as Mount Krafla and the explosion crater of Víti. The final place in the Mývatn area you will definitely have access to, however, is the Mývatn Nature Baths where you will bask in the beautiful healing waters.
Once you have recharged, you’ll be driven back to Akureyri and get dropped off at the harbour. Here, you will find your whale-watching vessel, which has several outdoor viewing platforms, an indoor area, and a cafe.
You will set out for Eyjafjörður, and start your hunt for the majestic creatures of the deep. Whale-watches in North Iceland have success rates of 99%. The most common species is the humpback whale, but you may also see white-beaked dolphins, harbour porpoises, orcas, beaked whales, fin whales, and even blue whales. You are also very likely to spot some puffins.
After your whale watching excursion, the boat will whisk you back to Akureyri; whether staying or flying back to Reykjavík, your evening will no doubt be spent reminiscing over an incredible day.
Do not hesitate to book this tour combining sightseeing, whale-watching, and hot-spring bathing. Check availability by choosing a date.
- Duration: 12 hours
- Activities: Hiking, Whale Watching, Sightseeing, Hot Spring Bathing
- Difficulty: Easy
- Languages: English
Akureyri, ‘The Capital of the North’ is a town in the fjord Eyjafjordur in North Iceland. It lies just 100 km away from the Arctic Circle. It is Iceland’s second-largest urban area with a population of about 17,800.
Akureyri is an important fishing centre and port, but in the last few years tourism, industry, higher education and services have become the fastest growing sectors of the economy.
An international airport is located about 3 km from the center. A large number of cruisers also stop at Akureyri. One of Iceland's best skiing sites is found by Akureyri, at Hlidarfjall.
Traditionally Akureyri has survived on fisheries and some of Iceland’s largest fishing companies, like for example Samherji, have their headquarters there. Other large companies include Brim, Nordurmjolk, and Vifilfell hf, the largest brewery in Iceland.
FSA/Akureyri Hospital is a major employer in the area and is one of two major hospitals in Iceland.
Akureyri has excellent facilities for travelers and is located a short drive from many of Iceland’s top natural, cultural and historical attractions.
Nature & Landscape
Akureyri is surrounded by mountains, the highest one being Kerling (1538 m). The area around it has rich agriculture and a beautiful mountain ring.
The innermost part of the fjord, Pollurinn ('The Pool') further lends the town a special character. The climate in Akureyri is generally very pleasant.
The islands Hrisey in the middle of Eyfjordur and Grimsey, straddling the Artic Circle, both belong to the municipality of Akureyri. Hrisey is often called 'The Pearl of Eyjafjordur' and Grimsey 'The Pearl of the Artic' and these beautiful and peaceful islands are highly popular with travelers.
History & Culture
During World War II the town was an important site for the Allies and the town grew considerably after the war, as people increasingly moved to urban areas.
Akureyri has a strong cultural scene, with several bars and renowned restaurants. Folk culture in general is more prevalent there than in Reykjavik. During the summer there are several notable festivals in Akureyri and its surroundings.
Sites of interest in Akureyri include the brand-new Hof concert hall and Akureyri’s many museums, The Nature Museum, Nonnahus, a.k.a. Jon Sveinsson Memorial Museum, for the writer, David's house or David Stefansson Memorial Museum, for the poet, Akureyri Art Museum.
Akureyri also has several churches, Akureyrarkirkja being the most notable, as well as beautiful botanical gardens. The old town is particularly charming, ideal for a nice walk.
Myvatn is a beautiful lake with many small islands in the north of Iceland, the fourth largest lake in the country. Along with its surrounding area, the lake is one of Iceland's most amazing natural attractions.
Some of the islands in Myvatn are pseudocraters, formed by steam explosions. The lake has rich birdlife and more species of ducks than anywhere else in the world. As for vegetation, it is one of the few places in the world that grows Marimo, also known as Cladophora ball, Lake ball, or Moss Balls in English, a species of filamentous green algae (Chlorophyta).
The Myvatn nature baths are also renowned throughout the world, a perfect place to relax, surrounded by breathtaking landscape.
Close to the lake is Dimmuborgir, a fascinating area of dramatic and chaotic lava. Norwegian symphonic metal band Dimmu Borgir takes its name from the the lava field, and it continues to inspire travellers from all over the world.
The Myvatn area is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Iceland. Don´t miss it!
Dimmuborgir (e. ‘Black Forts') is a large area of chaotic lava, situated right east of Lake Myvatn, in North Iceland. With its dramatic view, Dimmuborgir is one of Iceland's most popular attractions.
The area is composed of various volcanic caves and rock formations, reminiscent of an ancient collapsed citadel. In folklore the Dimmuborgir lava field has been connected with hell, Satan was to have landed there after being cast from heaven and the Norwegian symphonic black metal band derives its name from the region.
Goðafoss waterfall is located the river Skjálfandafljót in north Iceland, the fourth largest river in Iceland. It is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland, falling from a height of 12 metres over a width of 30 metres.
The fall's name means either waterfall of the gods or of the 'goði' (i.e. priest/ chieftain). It is said that when the lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði declared Christianity the official religion in Iceland, after his own conversion, he threw the statues of the old Norse gods into the waterfall.
Eyjafjordur is a fjord in North Iceland, over 70 km in length from the mouth to the bottom of the fjord. There are high mountains on both sides, the highest being Kerling (1538 m). The capital of the North, Akureyri (ca. 18,000 inhabitants) lies at the bottom of the fjord.
Five smaller fishing villages are scattered on the shore and the agriculture in the countryside is lively. Big fishing companies are located in Akureyri and there is a university there. Higher education, tourism and services have become among the fastest growing sectors of the Akureyri's economy in recent years. Akureyri has a strong cultural scene and we particularly recommend strolling through the old part of the town and visiting its many interesting museums, such as Nonni Museum and Davidshus. If you like skiing or snowboarding one of the country's best skiing sites is located at Hlidarfjall by Akureyri.
The islands Hrisey and Grimsey, known as the 'Pearl of Eyjafjordur' and 'The Pearl on the Artic Circle' both belong to the municipality of Akureyri. These beautiful and peaceful islands should not be missed by those traveling to the North.
One of Iceland's most beloved poets, Jonas Hallgrimsson, was born in Eyjafjordur, at Hraun in Oxnadalur. The knife-edged peaks over Hraun, formed by glaciers and frosty weather, are highly impressive sight. The best known of these is Hraundrangi ('Steeple Rock'), as one of Jonas's most famous poems, the love poem Ferdalok ('Journey's End') refers to the clouded love star over the peak.
The star of love
over Steeple Rock
is cloaked in clouds of night.
It laughed, once, from heaven
on the lad grieving
deep in the dark valley.
The poem ends on a more hopeful note, however:
The heavens part
the high planets,
blade parts back and edge;
not even eternity can part
souls that are sealed in love
Translation by Dick Ringler. Shared with kind permission.
The Skutustadagigar are pseudocraters at the southern shore of Lake Myvatn.
The craters were formed by steam explosions, when boiling lava flowed over the wetlands. The wetlands are preserved and are popular for birdwatching.
Grjótagjá is a small lava cave located near lake Mývatn. It features a geothermal hot spring inside.
Grjótagjá was popular for bathing until the 1970s but fell out of use during eruptions from 1975 to 1984. However, the temperature is slowly falling down.
Outlaw Jon Markusson lived in this cave in the early 18th century.
The fictional characters Jon Snow and the wildling Ygritte were also filmed inside this cave in the TV series Game of Thrones in season 3, episode 5. For that episode an additional CGI waterfall was added to the scenery.
Krafla is a caldera ca. 10-15 km north of Lake Myvatn in North Iceland.
The diameter of the volcano is 10 km and it has a fissure zone of 90 km. Its highest peak is 818 m. It has had 29 reported eruptions in recorded history. Since 1977 the area has been a source for geothermal energy used by a 60 MWe power station.
By Krafla is the explosion crater Viti ('Hell'!) formed in the massive Krafla eruption of 1724-9, i.e. the Myvatnseldar ('The Myvatn Fires'). This crater has a diameter of around 300 meters and features an aqua blue lake.
The Namafjall geothermal field is located in Northeast Iceland, on the east side of Lake Myvatn.
At this area, also known as Hverir, you may see many solfataras and boiling mud pots, surrounded by sulfur crystals of many different colours. The area is quite smelly but something one gets used to after a while. The soil in the area has little growth and is sour due to erosion and the sulfur from the atmosphere. Indeed, the old rock-covered boreholes in the area give off a lot of hot steam, so we advise caution.
Around the area is a small hiking trail up to Namaskard pass and Namafjall mountain, returning to the highway and the parking lot.
Historically sulfur would be much sought after in the area. The same is true of the geothermal power. In 1969 a power plant was built west of the mountain, at Bjarnarflag, by the Laxa Power Company. This company later merged with Landsvirkjun. The plant currently produces 3MW of geothermal energy.
Concerns have raised over current plans to expand the plant to 90 MW. In particular there have been worries as regards the effect of the plant on the ecosystem of Lake Myvatn. The head of the environmental NGO Landvernd has recently called for a new environmental impact assesment. The matter continues to be debated.
Pick up and drop-off in Akureyri
Entrance to the Mývatn Nature Baths
Whale watching trip
Flights from and to Reykjavík (can be added during booking)
What to bring:
Swimsuit and towel
Good to know:
Sighting success is 99%, however the cetacean abundance is unpredictable and varies with the food availability of our shores. Most common species are Humpback whales. If no whales or dolphins are seen on your tour we will offer you a complimentary ticket for our classic whale watching tour, valid for two years in Reykjavik and Akureyri.