5 Places to Go in Northern Iceland

The North of Iceland is an area full of natural treasures and beauty. Last week, some of the Arctic interns took a road trip to the North of Iceland. Based on their experiences, they gave us some recommendations and insight into what to do and where to go in the North! Check it out:

1. Lake Myvatn

Lake Mývatn is Icelandic for “Lake Gnats”. The name is, unfortunately, incredibly fitting; when we arrived at the lake, we opened the car windows for just a few minutes and before we knew it, flies were everywhere. There was nothing to say really, except “Nei takk fyrir” (No thank you). But us interns at Arctic Adventures aren’t wimps, so despite the bugs, we stuck to our original plan and went for a hike. The area is incredibly beautiful and we were lucky enough to have perfect, sunny weather (against all odds, we all ended up getting a little sunburnt in Iceland). The hiking path led us to some hidden hot-spring caves (sadly too hot to go swimming in). An incredibly passive-aggressive sign just outside the caves warned, “Rocks recently fell from the ceiling…not for the last time.” We risked it anyways and frolicked for a little bit inside the cave, enjoying the rewards of the hike. Our advice to other travellers: definitely go, but bring bug spray!

2. Namafjall

Next, we piled back in the car for some more adventures at a nearby geothermal area known as Namafjall. As soon as we exited the car, we could smell the sulfur in the air and see the smoke rising up from various bubbling springs and rocky formations. The landscape looked like a whimsical, multi-coloured version of the moon; everything was dry and dusty, but there were also round pockets of red and orange and greenish-yellow soil dispersed along the ground. It was truly stunning. Yet the most striking part of this scenery was not the scenery itself, but what lay across the road, just beyond the parking lot. There was a green field with short, bushy trees brushing up against the clouds. Two completely opposite settings were right beside each other, divided only by a small road. ”We’re on the moon,” someone joked, “and Canada is just across the street.” The verdict–go here, and bring a good camera.

3. Dettifoss Waterfall

One of the main highlights of our road trip to the North was our stop at the Dettifoss waterfall the next morning. It is rumored to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe, a superlative I agreed with as I stood before it. This is not your typical peaceful, soothing waterfall; here, the water is grey and angry. It rushes down and though you can’t see the bottom, you can hear the water pounding down below like a series of small explosions. Perhaps the most unusual and beautiful part of Dettifoss was the steam that rose up next to it; if you stood at the right angle, it created the illusion that the waterfall was actually moving upwards. This alone was unbelievable, but the addition of a rainbow right next to the falls made the scene seem to good to be true. Don’t miss this.

4. Húsavík

When we visited this little town, it looked like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. Each section of the town was decorated thematically with a different color. One set of streets was covered in pink flags and large Pink Panther figurines, while the next area had turquoise streamers and turquoise whales. We later found out that it was actually ‘Husavik day’ and we had arrived just in time for the festival. However, Húsavík’s year-round attraction is whale-watching! This is absolutely the place to go if you are hoping to befriend an Icelandic whale.

5. Akureyri

We spend our last night in Akureyri. We were all exhausted, but that certainly didn’t stop us from screaming with delight when we saw the world’s greatest traffic light; the red light was not a circle, but a heart, and the green one was a smiley face. Welcome to Akureyri, a city literally brimming with charm and quirkiness. We celebrated our successful road trip with a nice dinner and a few beers at Akureyri Backpackers.

Overall, it’s basically impossible not to love Northern Iceland. Check it out yourself!

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