Information about Ásbyrgi

Ásbyrgi Canyon is a horseshoe-shaped depression in the northeast of Iceland, found only fifty miles east of Húsavík along the popular Diamond Circle route.

This beloved natural feature measures approximately 3.5km in length and 1.1km in width, making up only a small part of the extensive and dramatic Vatnajökull National Park. Visitors to Ásbyrgi will quickly take note of the canyon’s 100m high cliff faces, as well as the thick woodland of birch and willow below, creating an area quite unlike that found anywhere else across Iceland. Other tree species include spruce, larch and pine, and there is a small lake called Botnstjörn which visitors can hike to. One of the canyon's most distinctive features is Eyjan ("The Island"), a 25m rock formation that divides Ásbyrgi for almost half its length. 

Formation and Folklore 

Geologists estimate that Ásbyrgi Canyon began to form roughly 8 - 10,000 years ago, just after the last Ice Age, following a catastrophic glacial flooding of the Jökulsá á Fjöllum river. This flooding likely occurred due to a volcanic eruption beneath the ice-cap, Vatnajökull glacier. Later, only 3000 years ago, this process repeated itself, further sculpting the soul-stirring, spectacular gorge that we know and love today.

With that being said, Icelandic folklore dictates an alternative theory. Given the canyon’s horseshoe shape, legend has it that Odin’s eight-legged steed, Sleipnir, placed one of his feet on the ground here, leaving a deep imprint on the earth. Ever since, a wealth of art and literature has depicted Sleipnir as Ásbyrgi’s true creator. Other myths claim that Ásbyrgi is the capital city and true home to Iceland’s ‘hidden people’, the Huldufólk and elves; self-professed psychics have claimed that they can see and hear these mystical beings living in cracks and ravines of the canyon.

Nearby Attractions 

Thankfully, a number of other fascinating attractions are easily accessible from Ásbyrgi Canyon. One could visit Hljóðaklettar, a strange and enchanting cluster of columnar rock formations located in the neighbouring Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. Nearby, there is also Europe’s most powerful waterfall, Dettifoss, a striking and mighty spectacle for any observer; glacial water from the Jökulsá á Fjöllum cascades 44m over the lip of the falls, culminating in a misty, roaring spray. 

The video below shows one of Iceland’s most famous post-rock bands, Sigur Ros, who chose to play an outdoor concert at Ásbyrgi in 2006, only adding to the area’s rich and ethereal atmosphere. This and the rest of their performances can be seen in the film Heima (2007). 

 

 

Services near Ásbyrgi

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Attractions nearby Ásbyrgi

Rauðhólar

Wikimedia. Creative Commons. Credit: TommyZ The Rauðhólar ("The Red Hills") is what is left of a group of pseudocraters on the s...

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Hljóðaklettar

Hljodaklettar (‘Echo Rocks’) is a distinctive cluster of columnar rock formations, located by Jokulsargljufur in Vatnajokull National Pa...

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Nesgjá

Nesgja is a fresh water fissure in North Iceland, close to Husavik and Asbyrgi. It is one of Iceland‘s top dives.    As with the Silf...

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Hafragilsfoss

  Downstream of Dettifoss, Europe's most powerful waterfall, is another major waterfall, the thunderous Hafragilsfoss. Like Dettifoss, Hafr...

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Gjástykki

  Gjastykki is a beautiful and rugged rift valley to the north of the caldera Krafla, in the north of Iceland. Gjastykki was literally blown ap...

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Litlaá

The beautiful Littlaa is a fresh water river in the Kelduhverfi district by Oxafjordur in North Iceland and is one of Iceland‘s greatest trout r...

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Dettifoss

Dettifoss, in the glacier river Jökulsá á Fjöllum, flowing from the glacier Vatnajökull, is reputed to be the...

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Jökulsárgljúfur

  Jokulsargljufur is a preservation area and former National Park which became part of Vatnajokull National Park in 2008. It derives its name fr...

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Selfoss (waterfall)

Selfoss is a beautiful waterfall in the river Jokulsa a Fjollum in North Iceland. Selfoss belongs to the Jokulsargljufur preservation area, with its ...

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Víti in Krafla

Viti (meaning 'Hell') in Krafla is an explosion crater. It is one of the two most famous Viti craters in Iceland, the other being Viti in Askj...

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Öxarfjörður

Oxarfjordur (a.k.a. Axarfordur) is a fjord in North-East Iceland between the headlands Tjornes and Melrakkasletta. As the fjord is rather wide, it mi...

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Tjörnes

The stubby peninsula of Tjornes in North Iceland is one of the best-known geological locations of the country. Layers of fossil shells and lignite ca...

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Krafla

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 ...

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Leirhnjúkur

  Leirhnjukur ('Mud Peak') is a 525 m high active volcano, located to the northeast of Lake Myvatn in North Iceland. Leirhnjukur is pa...

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Húsavík

Husavik in Skjalfandi Bay in North Iceland is called the whale watching capital of the world. Whale watching is highly recommended from Hú...

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Höfði

Hofdi is a building in north Reykjavik, most famous for being the meeting point of then-presidents Ronald Reagan of the United States and Mikhail Gorb...

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Dimmugljúfur

Wikimedia. Creative Commons. Christian Bickel Fingalo.  Dimmugljúfur is a deep and dramatic canyon in northeast Iceland, a favourite amon...

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Námaskarð

Námaskarð Pass is a geothermal area on the mountain Námafjall, in north Iceland, less than half an hour’s drive from Lake M&...

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Mývatn Nature Baths

Photo from Goðafoss Waterfall and the Mývatn Nature Baths The Mývatn Nature Baths are a set of geothermally heated pools and steam ...

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Knútstaðaborg

Knútsstaðaborg hollow is an open cave, or lava chamber, about 10 square metres (107 square ft.) in size. It is a site surrounded by bea...

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Tours near Ásbyrgi

Dettifoss Waterfall & Asbyrgi Canyon Tour from Akureyri

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10 Day Self Drive Tour on a Budget | The Ring Road with Snaefellsnes Peninsula

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Diamond Circle Excursion from Akureyri | Myvatn, Dettifoss, Asbyrgi

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