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Sorgenti calde, Cascate, Fiordi, Attrazioni culturali, Laghi, Aree geotermiche, Città
Rif, Iceland
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Lake Myvatn is Northeast Iceland's most famous attraction.The Northeast of Iceland is one of the country’s eight traditional regions, encompassing diverse landscapes like waterfalls, lakes, fjords, and coastal towns. It is also home to Akureyri, the most populous town in Iceland outside the Capital Region.

Nature lovers will find plenty to explore in the Northeast. Dettifoss, Europe's most powerful waterfall, and Lake Myvatn are among the notable natural attractions. Husavik, a coastal town, serves as a hub for whale watching tours in Iceland.

The region also holds historical significance, with Viking settlements and traditional farmhouses offering insights into Iceland's past. Whether you're interested in nature, culture, or history, the Northeast of Iceland provides visitors with diverse experiences.

It's best to experience North Iceland by renting a car as you'll have the freedom to explore different attractions on your journey, especially as you travel through Northwest Iceland toward your destination. You can also go on exciting tours from Akureyri, the largest town in the region. You can also find some fantastic accommodation options in Akureyri to make the most of your trip in the region.

Where is Northeast Iceland?

Whale watching is one of the most popular activities in Northeast Iceland.Northeast Iceland is situated in the northeastern part of the country, bordered by the Eastfjords to its east, the Northwest Region to the west, the Highlands region to its south, and the North Atlantic Ocean to the north.

The region is quite a distance from Reykjavik and the Keflavik International Airport, which are situated in the southwestern part of Iceland. The driving distance between Reykjavik and the Northeast region is approximately 250 to 280 miles (400 to 450 kilometers), depending on the specific destination within the area. 

The journey typically takes around five to six hours by car, traveling along the Ring Road (Route 1). For the journey, you can find cheap rental cars in Iceland or even four-wheel drives and SUVs. 4WDs are perfect travel companions, especially in winter when snow makes the roads more challenging.

Alternatively, travelers can opt for domestic flights from Reykjavik to Akureyri, the largest town in Northeast Iceland, significantly reducing travel time to the region to less than an hour. You can then pick up a rental car in Akureyri.

Popular Towns and Villages in Northeast Iceland

Northeast Iceland is home to several beautiful towns and villages, each offering its own unique charm and attractions. Below are two towns that every traveler traversing Northeast Iceland shouldn’t miss.


The Akureyri church and iconic buildings of the town nestle by the coast.Akureyri, often dubbed the "Capital of the North," is the largest town in Northeast Iceland, with approximately 20,000 people. It is renowned for its vibrant cultural scene and breathtaking nature by the coast of the Eyjafjordur fjord.

Visitors can explore the charming streets of Akureyri lined with shops, cafes, and galleries. You can also visit iconic landmarks such as the Akureyri Church, known for its striking architecture and panoramic views of the town and surrounding mountains. 

Another must-visit cultural attraction here is Akureyri Botanical Gardens, one of the northernmost botanical gardens in the world. It is home to over 7,000 species of native and non-native plants and one of the most beautiful parks in Iceland.

Other places of interest in town include the Akureyri Museum, the Hof Cultural and Conference Center, the Kjarnaskogur forest, and the Eyjafjordur fjord.


GeoSea in Husavik overlooks a beautiful bay in Northeast Iceland.Husavik is a charming coastal town nestled on the shores of Skjalfandi bay, renowned as the whale watching capital of Iceland. It is home to over 2,000 residents.

Visitors can embark on boat tours from the town's harbor to observe majestic whales, dolphins, and other marine life in their natural habitat. For example, this three-hour whale watching and boat tour in Iceland departs from Husavik.

Another popular activity in town is geothermal bathing at the GeoSea Geothermal Sea Baths

The complex features a series of infinity pools filled with mineral-rich seawater and underground water. Here, guests can relax in the warm waters while soaking in the natural beauty of the North Icelandic coastline.

The town also features charming cafes, restaurants, and shops where visitors can sample local cuisine and purchase souvenirs. 

Best Attractions in Northeast Iceland

Venturing beyond Akureyri and other settlements in the region, travelers will discover a wealth of natural wonders. Besides their exciting features, fewer tourists venture here because of the distance from Reykjavik. This will make your visit more peaceful with better photo opportunities.

Lake Myvatn

A wide lake, wetlands, and geothermal areas comprise the Myvatn area in North Iceland.Lake Myvatn is perhaps the most visited natural attraction in the northeast because it’s along Iceland's Ring Road. A vast wetland area, stunning volcanic landscapes, and unique geological features will welcome travelers here.

Formed by a series of volcanic eruptions over thousands of years, the lake and its surroundings boast diverse geological formations, including pseudocraters, lava fields, and geothermal areas. The lake itself is remarkably shallow, averaging 8 feet (2.5 meters).

The area around Lake Myvatn is characterized by its rich biodiversity, with numerous species of birds, insects, and vegetation thriving in the unique volcanic environment. Birdwatchers flock to the lake during summer to observe various migratory bird species, including ducks, geese, and waders.

Highlights of the Myvatn area include the Dimmuborgir lava formations, known for their eerie rock formations and folklore-inspired legends. The Hverir geothermal area is also a must-visit, where bubbling mud pots and steaming vents create an otherworldly atmosphere.

For those seeking relaxation, the Myvatn Nature Baths, on the eastern side of the lake, provide a soothing oasis surrounded by volcanic landscapes. The baths feature geothermally heated pools filled with milky-blue waters like the Blue Lagoon in Reykjanes. You can book this admission ticket to the Myvatn Nature Baths to visit the geothermal spa.

Dettifoss Waterfall

Dettifoss waterfall boasts a powerful cascade.Situated near the eastern edge of Northeast Iceland is Dettifoss, a powerful waterfall in the Vatnajokull National Park. It is often regarded as Europe's most powerful waterfall in terms of volume discharge, flowing at 6,816 cubic feet (193 cubic meters) per second.

The waterfall is approximately 330 feet (100 meters) wide and drops about 150 feet (45 meters) into the Jokulsargljufur canyon below. Movie buffs may recognize its wide cascade being featured in the opening scene of the 2012 movie Prometheus.

Visitors can view Dettifoss from designated viewing platforms on both the river's east and west banks, offering impressive perspectives of the waterfall and surrounding geological formations. 

Godafoss Waterfall

Snow and ice partially cover the Godafoss waterfall in winter.Godafoss is another stunning waterfall in Northeast Iceland, 21 miles (34 kilometers) from the town of Akureyri. The waterfall spans approximately 100 feet (30 meters) in width and drops around 39 feet (12 meters) into the Skjalfandafljot river below. 

Its name translates to the "Waterfall of the Gods" in Icelandic, derived from an ancient legend involving the conversion to Christianity of the country's lawspeaker in 1000 AD. According to folklore, the chieftain threw his statues of Norse gods into the falls to symbolize Iceland's adoption of Christianity. 

Today, Godafoss is renowned for its picturesque beauty and is one of Iceland's most popular tourist attractions. Visitors can access several viewing platforms along the riverbanks to admire the waterfall from various angles. 

In summer, the surrounding landscape is lush and green, contrasting the cascading white waters of the falls. Godafoss is easily accessible by car via Route 1, making it a convenient stop for travelers exploring the scenic wonders of Northeast Iceland.

Asbyrgi Canyon

Trees and vegetation swarm the Asbyrgi canyon in summer.Another highlight of Iceland’s northeastern region is the Asbyrgi canyon, which is 38.5 miles (62 kilometers) from Husavik. Asbyrgi is most characterized by its horseshoe shape that extends 2.2 miles (3.5 kilometers) long and 0.7 miles (1.1 kilometers) wide.

The canyon features cliffs as high as 328 feet (100 meters). It is a popular destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts, offering several scenic trails that wind through the surrounding woodlands. Visitors can explore the diverse landscapes, spot wildlife and birds, and marvel at unique geological formations.

According to Icelandic folklore, Asbyrgi is believed to have been created by the hoofprint of Sleipnir, the eight-legged horse of the Norse god Odin. Legend has it that Odin rode Sleipnir through the skies, and as the horse's hoof touched the ground, it left behind the horseshoe-shaped depression that became Asbyrgi.

The Diamond Circle

The Diamond Circle is a popular sightseeing route in Northeast Iceland. It is the northern region’s counterpart to the Golden Circle, the most famous route in Iceland. The Diamond Circle encompasses several key destinations, including the Dettifoss waterfall, Asbyrgi canyon, Lake Myvatn, and the town of Husavik.

Besides its four highlights, the Diamond Circle includes detours to destinations such as the Godafoss waterfall, Aedarfossar waterfall, and the Hljodaklettar cliffs.

If you plan on exploring the Diamond Circle, the best option is to rent a car. The route goes into a loop of 160 miles (260 kilometers). Alternatively, if you prefer to sit back and relax while on a trip, you can join guided tours, such as this small-group tour of the Diamond Circle from Akureyri or this 10-hour sightseeing tour of the Diamond Circle from Akureyri.

Why Visit Northeast Iceland?

The aurora borealis seen above a geothermal area in Northeast Iceland.Northeast Iceland offers travelers many experiences amidst stunning natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. From powerful waterfalls like Dettifoss and Godafoss to the geothermal wonders and unique landscapes of Lake Myvatn, the region boasts some of Iceland's most iconic natural attractions. 

Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy various activities, from hiking and horseback riding to whale watching and skiing. Moreover, by venturing off the beaten path and exploring lesser-known spots, travelers can often avoid crowds and enjoy a more intimate experience with nature.

Additionally, travelers can immerse themselves in Icelandic culture by exploring charming towns like Akureyri and Husavik. Here, you can visit museums and historical sites, taste local dishes in excellent restaurants, and interact with locals in charming streets.

With scenic driving routes like the Diamond Circle showcasing the region's beauty, Northeast Iceland promises unforgettable adventures for every kind of traveler, often away from the hustle and bustle of larger tourist crowds.

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