Information about Ásbyrgi

Asbyrgi Canyon in north Iceland is a centre of folklore and beauty.

Ásbyrgi Canyon is a spectacular horseshoe-shaped depression in the northeast of Iceland, steeped in folklore.

It is found only fifty miles east of Húsavík along the popular Diamond Circle route.

Geography of Ásbyrgi Canyon

This beloved natural feature measures approximately 3.5 kilometres (2.2 miles) in length and 1.1 kilometres (0.7 miles) in width. It is only a small corner of the extensive and dramatic Vatnajökull National Park, but undoubtedly one of its most breathtaking.

Visitors to Ásbyrgi will quickly take note of the canyon’s 100 metre (328) feet 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 here 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 of Ásbyrgi Canyon

Geologists estimate that Ásbyrgi Canyon began to form roughly eight to ten million 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, as it does with many of the landmarks around the country. 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, as it sprinted across the sky.

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. Many of Iceland’s folk stories revolve around these strange, magical people and the bizarre punishments and plots.

Self-professed psychics have claimed that they can see and hear these mystical beings living in cracks and ravines of the canyon. Much more likely to be hidden in the woodland, however, are Arctic Foxes.

Attractions near Ásbyrgi Canyon

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 44 metres (144 ft) 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

All services in 50km radius

Attractions nearby Ásbyrgi

Hljóðaklettar

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

View

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...

View

Hafragilsfoss

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

View

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...

View

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...

View

Dettifoss

Dettifoss is a waterfall found in North Iceland, said to be the most powerful in Europe. It is regularly visited on Diamond Circle tours and should ...

View

Jökulsárgljúfur

Jökulsárgljúfur is a canyon in Iceland that was once its own national park; now, it is part of the greater Vatnajökull Natio...

View

Selfoss (waterfall)

Selfoss is a beautiful waterfall in north Iceland, often visited on Diamond Circle tours. It is not to be confused with the town of the same name i...

View

Diamond Circle

The Diamond Circle is a famed 260 kilometre (162 mile) sightseeing route in the northeast of Iceland, characterised by its sheer number of natural a...

View

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...

View

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...

View

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...

View

Krafla

Wikimedia, Creative Commons, Photo Credit: Earthquakes Krafla Krafla is a caldera, part of a greater volcanic system of the same name, located north ...

View

Leirhnjúkur

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

View

Húsavík

Húsavík, by Skjálfandi Bay in North Iceland, is a town of just over two thousand people. It is considered to be one o...

View

Dimmugljúfur

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

View

Námaskarð

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

View

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...

View

Námafjall Geothermal Area

The Námafjall Geothermal Area is located in Northeast Iceland, on the east side of Lake Mývatn. At this area, also known as Hverir, ...

View

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 ...

View

Tours near Ásbyrgi

10 Day Self Drive Tour | Top Ring Road Attractions & Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Make the most of your time in Iceland with this extensive 10-day, self-drive tour. Over the......

View

7 Day Self Drive Tour | The Ring Road of Iceland

Make the most of just one week in Iceland on this 7-day, self-drive tour. You'll drive the......

View

Diamond Circle Tour in North Iceland from Reykjavik with Flight

Join this amazing day tour to fly from Reykjavík to the town of Akureyri: there, you'll witness......

View

Dettifoss Waterfall & Asbyrgi Canyon Tour from Akureyri

Join this tour to explore the beautiful Diamond Circle and see some of the most secluded......

View

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

Explore the best Iceland has to offer on this extensive ten-day self-drive tour. Travel the......

View

10 Day Summer Package | Reykjavik, Akureyri & Icelandic Nature

Join this exciting 10-day summer vacation package and discover for yourself the sheer wealth of......

View

Summer 7 Day Self Drive Tour | North Iceland & Myvatn

Explore the incredible north of Iceland on this 7 day, self-drive tour. Incredible sites such as......

View

15 Day Summer Hot Spring Hunt Self Drive | Iceland in-Depth

Immerse yourself in the Icelandic nature as you travel the Ring Road, circling the entire......

View

12 Day Budget Self Drive Tour | The Ring Road & National Parks

Embark on a journey around Iceland and explore the country’s most popular attractions on this......

View

11 Day Self Drive Tour on a Budget | East Fjords & Myvatn

Trail all around the island of ice and fire on this eleven-day budget self-drive tour. This......

View

Diamond Circle Flying Tour in North Iceland

Fly above north Iceland’s most incredible sites, with this flightseeing tour of the Diamond......

View

10 Day Summer Self-Drive in Iceland | Explore the Best Ring Road Attractions in Depth

Enjoy exploring the most beautiful Ring Road attractions in depth, with this ten-day summer......

View

13 Day Self Drive Tour on Budget | Circle of Iceland & Westfjords

Be the master of your time and your wallet on this 13-Day Budget Self-Drive Tour around the Ring......

View

5 Day Self Drive Tour | Northern Lights Holiday by Lake Myvatn

Take the wheel on this 5-day, 4-night Northern Lights journey of North Iceland in the beautiful......

View