Akranes is a port town in the west of Iceland, approximately 42 km from Reykjavik, lying at the tip of the peninsula separating Hvalfjörður and Borgarfjörður. History Settled in the 9th Century by Irish brothers, Þormóður and Ketill, the town only began to take full shape in the mid 1700s. In 1942, the town was officially chartered and saw a great surge in its population growth. Today, Akranes has a population of 6700. An important service centre for su
Akurey is a small island in Kollafjordur bay, off the shore of Reykjavik. There is plenty of birdlife in the island as many puffins nest there, as well as eiders and the arctic tern. Entering the island is dependent on a favorable tide, as the strait between the island and Orfirisey (a former island that was later connected by landfill to the mainland) is only 0,8 m deep during high tide.
Akureyrarkirkja is a Lutheran church in the town Akureyri in North Iceland. It is one of the town’s most distinctive landmarks. The church towers over the town and was designed by the state architect Gudjon Samuelsson and consecrated in 1940. Its opaque central window stems from the Coventry Cathedral in England. The church has bas-reliefs by Asmundur Sveinsson (who‘s work can be further seen at the Asmundarsafn museum in Laugardalur, Reykjavik) and the font i
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. Economy 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 la
Aldeyjarfoss is a beautiful waterfall in the mighty Skjalfandafljot river, dropping from a height of 20 meters. Of particular note is the contrast between the giant black bent basalt columns and the white water of the fall.
Alftavatn is a deep and decorative lake on the Laugavegur hiking trail in South-West Iceland. Alftavatn is a place of great serenity and beautiful landscape and is one of the stops on the trail. There are huts there built by the Icelandic Touring Association, that accommodate 72 people. They are equipped with gas stoves, utensils and cold running water.
Almannagja gorge is situated in Thingvellir National Park. It is one of the park's most impressive and well known features and marks the eastern boundary of the North American Plate. Iceland's national parliament was established there in the year 930.The beautiful Oxara river runs through the gorge, falling down it as the waterfall Oxararfoss.
Almannaskarðsgöng is a 1312m (roughly 1.3km) tunnel along Route 1, located near Höfn (Hornafjörður) in the eastern region of Iceland. The tunnel pushes through 1150m of rock and 162m of concrete. The tunnel is two lanes wide with three passing spots for emergency traffic. History Icelandic winter has always made travelling the roads of Iceland’s countryside a daunting and, very often, time-consuming experience. Regular heavy snowfall in the Almannaskarð region
The Alþingi is Iceland’s longest running and highest institution of government, having been formed amidst the stunning beauty of Þingvellir (“Parliamentary Fields”) in the year 930AD. The formation of the Alþingi was the country’s first step to solidifying a national identity, creating not only the Icelandic Commonwealth (until its end in 1262), but also, what was arguably the longest running parliament in history. History Upon the Alþingi&
Arnarfjordur is the second-largest fjord of the Wesfjords and is known as one of the most beautiful of the fjords, due to its diverse landscape, majestic mountains and the breathtaking Dynjandi ('Thunderous') waterfall. The fjord is 30 km long and 10 km at its widest and features sveral smaller fjords and inlets. It borders on Slettanes to the north and Kopur to the south. Between Arnarfjordur and Dyrafjordur lies the Westfjord's highest mountain, Kaldbakur (not to be c
Arnarstapi is a village in the southern part of the Snaefellsnes peninsula. The area has several old and charming houses with interesting stories to them and is furthermore renowned for its beautiful nature. The beach holds a particular attraction. It has an eroded circular stone arch, called Gatklettur, and three rifts, Hundagja,Midgja and Musagja. The interplay of spectacular waves and the light of the sun creates a fascinating spectacle. Large colonies of the arctic tern also nest in t
The Asbyrgi canyon by Jokulsargljufur in Vatnajokull national park is undoubtedly one of Iceland’s most beloved nature gems. The enclosure of the canyon is about 3.5 km long and 1.1 km wide, surrounded by cliffs which reach as high as 100 m. Extending from its opening and rising into the centre is 250 m wide cliff, called the Island, which ends in a tall narrow edge resembling a ship’s stern. Asbyrgi is richly vegetated with brush and trees. Arctic
Askja volcano is a vast caldera in a remote part of the easterly central highlands of Iceland, located in the Dyngjufjoll mountains. These mountains rise to 1510 m (4954 ft). There is a lake in the middle of the caldera, called Oskjuvatn. It is Iceland's second-deepest lake. Askja had a massive eruption in 1875 that destroyed many farms in Northeast Iceland. Its latest eruption was in 1961.
Asmundarsafn in Laugardalur valley in Reykjavik is a museum dedicated to the works of Icelandic sculptor Asmundur Sveinsson. Along with the sculptures, the Asmundarsafn building itself is interestingly shaped and was mostly designed by the sculptor, drawing inspiration from Arabic domes and Egyptian pyramids.
Located in the east of Iceland, Atlavík is a small cove in Hallormsstaðarskógur forest, on the shores of the lake Lagarfljót. A once popular meeting place for locals and visitors, today Atlavík is a popular camping area due to the surrounding trees and the great view of the lake. History Atlavík is named after Graut-Atli Þiðrandason who came from Norway to Iceland’s east coast with his brother during the country’s settlement between
Austari-Jokulsa (East Jokulsa River), 'The Beast of the East', is a glacier river in Skagafjordur district. With its strong stream, wild canyon scenery and heart-pumping whitewater, it is considered one of the best rivers in Europe for rafting. The river has its source near the glacier Hofsjokull through several rivulets north to Asturdalur valley, with several tributaries joining it along the way. Inner off the valley it flows through river islands, later falling int
Austurdalur is a valley in Skagafjordur district in Northwest Iceland. The mighty glacier river Austari Jokulsa runs through the valley and puts its mark on the whole area. The river is popular for rafting and the flora in the area is varid. Innermost of the valley is a deep gully through which the river runs down and joins Vestari Jokulsa to form Heradsvotn. This gully in particular is highly popular for rafters. In Fagrahlid there's a natural forest of birch and willow. River Bea
Austurvollur is a public square in the centre of Reykjavik and a popular gathering place. Around the square are cafés, clubs, shops and hotels, the parliament house and the small and charming Domkirkja church, the central Lutheran church in Iceland. The tall statue at Austurvollur's centre is of national hero Jon Sigurdsson. Austurvollur has also been a central point for demonstrations and protests, particularly following the economic collapse in 2008.
Barnafoss ('Children's Waterfall') is a waterfall in Hvita river in Borgarfjordur. The waterfall runs through a narrow rocky gorge and legend has it that there once was a natural stone arc over the river, that was demolished after two children fell from it to their death. Not far away is the stunning series of waterfalls Hraunfossar, flowing out of a lava field into Hvita.
The stratovolcano Bardarbunga is Iceland’s second-highest mountain and lies under the icecap of Vatnajokull, Europe’s largest glacier. Bardarbunga lies on the glacier’s northwest side and rises to a height of 2009 meters. It is Iceland’s largest volcanic system, around 200 km long and up to 25 km wide. Bardarbunga’s caldera measures 70 km2, up to 700 m deep and 10 km wide. The base is on average about 1100 meters but the surrounding edges may rise as high as 1850 m
Berserkjahraun is a 4000-year-old lava field situated on the Snæfellsnes peninsula. It covers the western part of Helgafell, between Stykkishólmur and Grundarfjörður. History The name Berserkjahraun comes from one of the Icelandic Sagas, Eyrbyggja-Saga. According to the saga a farmer brought two berserkers from Sweden. He later gave the berserkers to his brother, Víga-Styr, who lived on the other side of the lava field. One of the Swede fell in love with Víg
Bessastadir is the official residence of the president of Iceland and is situated in Alftanes, near Reykjavik. In the 19th century Iceland's only educational institution from 1805-1846 was the school at Bessastadir, Bessastadaskoli. The Reykjavik Gymnasium ('MR') traces its roots to Bessastadaskoli.
Surrounded by layered, flat top mountains, Bíldudalur is an attractive fishing village settled on the fjord, Arnarfjörður. This fjord-side location is responsible for the village’s envious reputation as “the good weather capital” of the Westfjords, and is a well tread spot for hikers, skiers and deep sea anglers. History Despite it’s diminutive population size today (around 200 inhabitants), the development of Bíldudalur was once prosp
Bjarnarfjörður is fjord in the Westfjords, south of Veiðileysufjörður and north of Steingrímsfjörður. Bjarnarfjörður is known for its untouched isolation, its stunning hiking trails and the playful seals who colonise the fjord’s waters. Visitors to the region can also take the opportunity to visit the Sorcerer’s Cottage and the fabled Lambatindur mountain. The Sorcerer's Cottage The Sorcerer’s Cottage, locally know
Bjarnarhofn is a farmstead on the Snaefellsnes peninsula. Many notable Icelanders lived here. Bjarnarhofn's church and shark museum are listed as the nr. 1 Snaefellsnes attractions by Lonely Planet travellers. Also don't miss the colourful Berserkjahraun lava field. At the shark museum you can learn about the habits and biology of the Greenland shark and the seafarers who risked their lives hunting it. Try a bit of shark, best washed down with a nice portion of Brennivin. Above Bjarnar
The world-famous Reynisfjara shore, near the village Vik in Myrdalur on Iceland's South Coast, is widely regarded as the most impressive black-sand beach in Iceland. To reach Reynisfjara you can either drive there yourself. Here you will find the largest and cheapest car rentals in Iceland. Or you can join this summer tour to the South coast, or this winter tour to Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Reynisfjara is a black pebble beach and features an amazing cliff of regular
The Blue Mountains are a beautiful mountain range of the tuff type, located around 20 km from Reykjavik, by the lava plateau of Hellisheidi. The mountains are the most popular skiing venue for the people of Reykjavik and its surroundings. The mountains offer excellent slopes for downhill skiing, cross-country skiing and snowboards. The area is strong with volcanic activity, with frequent earthquakes and the lava that became Kristnitokuhraun lava field flowed from there in the year 1000.
Blahnjukur (a.k.a. Blahnukur) is a volcano in the area of Landmannalaugar, in the south highlands of Iceland. Blahnjukur's name ('Blue Peak') comes from its blue-black colour, due to lava flows and volcanic ash. Next to Blahnjukur is the volcano Brennisteinsalda. Blahnukur is popular for hiking and offers a magnificent view from the top, wherefrom five glaciers may be sighted.
Blonduos is the largest urban area of Hunafloi bay in Northwest Iceland, with a population of around 850 people. It is a service center for the local area and a common stop for travelers of the ring road. Economy, accommodation and services Blonduos’s main economy is acting as a serving center, particularly for dairy products, as well as fishing and light industy and tourism. A creamery and a butchery are both operated at Blonduos, as well as a hospital and a health service. The town has
The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa and is the single most popular attraction in Iceland. The water is rich in silica and sulphur that helps make your skin shine like a baby. The Blue Lagoon also operates a Research and Development facility that helps find cures for skin ailments using the mineral-rich water. The temperature in the bathing and swimming area is very comfortable, and averages 37–39 °C (98–102 °F). There´s a restaurant there and it´s
Bolungarvik is the second-largest town in the Westfjords, as well as being its second-largest municipality, with around 962 people. The town hosts one of the oldest fishing stations in the country and is close to good fishing grounds. Bolungarvik is surrounded by large coastal mountains and has been populated since the age of settlement. The town features a national history museum and an open air fishing museum. Bolungarvik has apartments for rent and all basic facilities. The sur
Borgarfjordur is a fjord and a district in south western Iceland, by Faxafloi bay. It takes its name from the farm of viking and poet Egill Skallagrimsson, of Egil’s Saga fame. Economy, History & Culture Several farms and townships are in the fjord, the largest rural area being the town Borgarnes (population around 1763 people), a commerce and service center for a large part of the southwest. Of particular note for travelers are the Settlement Center and the
Borgarfjordur eystri is a fjord of about 130 people, located in East Iceland. It's main settlement is Bakkagerdi. The area is renowned for its natural beauty. Sheep farming, fishing and fish work is the Bakkagerdi's main economy, as well as tourism, though this is only during the summer months. Hiking is highly popular in the area and many great routes are available. The mountain ring is particularly attractive. South of the fjord rhyolite mountains dominate, but at the bottom of
Borgarnes is a town of around 1763 people, located on a peninsula at the shore of Borgarfjordur. It's a commerce centre for a large part of western Iceland. Borgarnes' main industry is service and commerce. It is near to many natural attractions and the view over the fjord and its mountains is highly scenic. The river Hvita runs through this valley but should not be confused with its namesake, which is the home of Gullfoss and one of Iceland's major rafting r
Breidafjordur is a fjord and a nature reserve situated between the Westfjords and the Snaefellsnes peninsula. The fjord features countless islands, though it's estimated they might be around 3000 and has strong ebb and flow. The rock formations there, mainly basalt, belongs to Iceland’s oldest, from the tertier era. It is the only place in the country where one can find Antortorsit or moon rock (the most common type of rock on the moon). The wildlife
Breiðamerkurjökull is the glacial tongue that extends from southern Vatnajökull and into the glacier lagoon Jökulsárlón. Breiðamerkurjökull is constantly retreating, breaking and melting, causing the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon to increase in size. This glacier tongue provides the lagoon with all of its enormous icebergs, which perpetually break from off its tip and tumble into the abyssal waters where they float for abo
Breidbakur, in the Icelandic highlands, is a mountain west of Langisjor lake and near Vatnajokull glacier. The scenery in this area is magnificent. Along with Breidbakur, the Fogrufjoll mountains (lit. 'Beautiful Mountains') are popular for hiking and, as you may have guessed by the name, very beautiful. The mighty Vatnajokull is Europe's largest glacier and Langisjor is renowned as one of Iceland's clearest mountain lakes.
Brennisteinsalda (ca. 855 m) is a volcano in the area of Landmannalaugar National Park, in the south highlands of Iceland. Brennisteinsalda is a highly colourful mountain, coloured by suplhur (wherefrom it gets is name, 'Sulphur Wave'), blue and black lava and ashes, green mosses and red iron. In front of the mountain is an obsidian lava field. The popular Laugavegur hiking trail passes Brennisteinsalda and nearby is the Blahnukur volcano.
Buri, in the Leitahraun lava field on the Reykjanes peninsula, is widely considered to be the most spectacular lava tube in Iceland. This lava tube was discovered in 2005 by volcano speleologist Bjorn Hroarsson. The discovery was heralded as one of the most amazing in speleology for the last 1000 years. The size of the cave is unique in Iceland. The cave is ten meters high, 10 meters wide in its largest chambers and 1 kilometer long. Its innermost section has a 17 meter deep vertical pit,
Budardalur is a village of around 650 inhabitants in the fjord Hvammsfjordur, innermost off Breidafjordur. It is the service center for the area. The area around Budardalur, i.e. Dalir, features prominently in Laxdaela Saga. Also, Eric the Red, the first European settler in Greenland, resided not far from the village, at Eiriksstadir. The village was further immortalised in more recent times by the Icelandic pop classic 'Heim i Budardal' ('Home to Budardalur).
Deildartunguhver, by Reykholt, in Borgarfjordur district, has the highest flow rate for a hot spring in Europe. The flow rate of Deildartunguhver is 180 liters/second and water emerges at 97 °C. The place is also unique for being the only place in the country where the hard fern grows.
Dettifoss, in the glacier river Jokulsa á Fjollum, flowing from the glacier Vatnajokull, is reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe. This thunderous fall has an average waterflow of 193 m3 per second. It is 100 meters (330 ft.) wide and plummets 45 meters (150 ft.) down to Jokulsargljufur canyon.
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 meta
Djúpivogur is a small coastal village located on the Búlandsnes peninsula, nestled between the picturesque fjord, Hamarsfjörður, and Berufirth in east Iceland. The town has an approximate population of 400 people. Fishing has been the primary engine for Djúpivogur’s economy for centuries. In recent times, the tourism industry has blossomed and a hotel, restaurants, cafés, a campground and shops can all be found in and around the town. History Dj&uac
Domadalur is a valley east of Kringla (Landmannahellir cave) in the south of the Icelandic highlands. The valley has a little shallow lake and east of it is a sandy obsidian lava field called Domadalshraun. The cabins of travel service Landmannaleidir e.hf. are nearby with good acommodations for travelers and horses, along with a camping ground.
The small and charming Domkirkja church is the central Lutheran church in Iceland. The Domkirkja is situated at Reykjavik's main public square, Austurvollur. This has been a church site since around the 13th century but the current church was built at the end of the 18th century.
Drangajokull is Iceland's northernmost glacier. It lies above the Hornstrandir peninsula in the Western Fjords. The glacier covers 160-200 km2 at an altitude of 925 m. Alone among Iceland's glaciers Drangajokull has not shrunk in recent years and is also the only one of the glaciers entirely below an altitude of 1000 m.
Drangey, with its steep sea cliff and rich birdlife, is situated in the middle of Skagafjordur. It towers majestically over the fjord, resembling a rock fortress. Drangey is the remnant of a 700,000 year old volcano, and is mostly made of volcanic tuff. Due to its rich birdlife, the island was for centuries a source of livelihood for the people of Skagafjordur. Among the most common birds are the guillemot, auk and puffin. Drangey is also famous as the refuge of Icel
The fishing village of Drangsnes can be found at the mouth of the Steingrímsfjörður fjord, in the Westfjords of Iceland. Drangsnes is part of the Kaldrananeshreppur municipality, with the village of Hólmavík as its closest neighbour. The region itself takes its name from a rock called Kerling, whom locals say was once a troll woman, turned to stone for attempting to break the Westfjords from the rest of Iceland. The town has three, public-use hot tubs located
Drekagil is a beautiful canyon in the south part of volcanic mountain range Dyngjufjoll, in the south of Odadahraun lava field. By the gully is Dreki, the mountain hut of the Akureyri Travel Association. There are two cabins, accommodating 60 people in all.
Dyngjufjoll is a volcanic mountain range in the lava field Odadahraun in the Icelandic highlands. The Askja caldera is situated in this mountain range. The Dyngjufjoll mountain range is roughly located between the glacier rivers Skjalfandafljot to the West and Jokulsa a Fjollum to the east and 15 km north of Vatnajokull.
Dynjandi (meaning ‘thunderous’), at the end of Arnarfjordur, is the most powerful waterfall in the Westfjords and breathtaking in its beauty. Dynjandi is actually a series of waterfalls (seven in all), with a cumulative height of 100 meters. The main uppermost tier is particularly notable with its trapezoidal shape (30 m wide at the top, 60 m wide at the bottom).
Dyrafjordur is one of the fjords comprising the Westfjords and is situated between the fjords Arnarfjordur and Onundarfjordur. Dyrafjordur belongs to the municipality of Isafjardarbaer. Two fells together form a sort of a 'door' or entrance into the fjord, wherefrom the fjord may derive its name (dyr=door rather than dýr=animal). The fjord has a lot of interesting history and natural attractions. Haukadalur valley is the main site for the saga of the outlaw Gisli
The 120 meter high promontory Dyrholaey is the southernmost part of the mainland, only a short drive south of the Ring Road. It offers a breathtaking view and features spectacular outcrops and rock formations. A notable attraction is the massive arch that the sea has eroded from the heartland, giving the island its name (‘dyr’=door’). One daredevil pilot even flew through it! Dyrholaey has an abundance of birdlife, the most common being puffins an
Stretching from the wide Eastfjords mountain range, set with many small fjords, through the fertile Fljotsdalsherad district and towards the highlands, East Iceland is a vast area of incredible nature, striking contrasts and fascinating history and culture. East Iceland is characterised by a large number of fjords, surrounded by high villages. Fishing villages can be found by most of them. From Seydisfjordur a ferryboat goes to Scandinavia, and the town also hosts the popular annual festival L
Egilsstadir is the largest town in East Iceland, with a population of 2257 people as of 2011. It is located on the banks of the river Lagarfljot in the wide valley of the fertile Fljotsdalsherad district. Egilsstadir is the main center for service, transportation and administration in East Iceland. The town provides all basic services and features an airport, a college and a health center. Egilsstadir also has an annual jazz festival that we can recommend. The town is furthermore close t
The 1675 meter high Eiriksjokull is located in the Borgarfjordur district, just east of Langjokull glacier. Eiriksjokull lies on the fringes of the Icelandic highlands and West Iceland. If seen as a part of West Iceland, Eiriksjokull is its highest mountain. It is a glacier-covered tuff mountain (table mountain covered with basalt at the top), with a glacier shield that covers around 22 km2. Eiriksjokull is situated in the middle of Hallmundarhraun lava field, which also in
Eiriksstadir are ancient ruins in Haukadalur in Dalir county in West Iceland. The sagas mention Eiriksstadir as the abode of Eric the Red and it is estimated that this is the very same place as described there. Eric's son Leif was brought up in Eiriksstadir. Leif landed in North America (Vinland) nearly 500 years before Columbus. Eiriksstadir also features a replica of the old farm and there you can see reconstructions of the swords, helmets and tools used by the vikings.
Eldey is a small island southwest of the tip of Reykjanes, and situated on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (see continental drift). Another island was formed further out in the year 1783 by an eruption from the sea floor but was later washed away. Eldey island covers around 3 hectares and rising to a height of 77 meters. Its sheer cliffs host a rich birdlife, including one of the largest Northern Gannet colonies in the world. The last pair of the Great Auk was killed on this island in the year 1846. The
Eldfell ('Mountain of Fire') is a composite volcano cone in Heimaey in the Westman Islands. It is just over 200 meters high. The volcano brought the islands to international attention when it erupted at the outskirts of the village there in 1973. Many homes were destroyed and the entire population had to temporarily flee to the Icelandic mainland.