Off the beaten path in East Iceland

east-icelandEast Iceland somewhat happened to be on our trip because we we’re driving the ring road. It was such a hidden beauty. You’ll be charmed by the impressive fjords (it looked just like Norway!) and the cute and colourful villages in this part of Iceland. Add a couple of puffins and you’re in for a treat. We took 2 days out of our 12-day trip for this area and it was the perfect amount. Although, you can always use an additional day to go on an extra hike.

The houses in Western Iceland are straight from a fairytale.
The houses in East Iceland appear to be straight from a fairytale.

TO DO

Hike to the Queen of Elves at Borgarfjörður Eystri// The Borgarfjörður region is known for its great natural beauty. The area has become famous for its good hiking trails named “Víknaslóðir” leading to the deserted fjords and coves. The marked trails range from 1 hour to a full day so you will sure find a hike that fits your needs. More importantly however, Borgarfjörður is also the home of the Queen of Elves. Walk to the hill “Álfaborg” – “The Elves’ Castle” where the queen of the Icelandic elves allegedly resides with her court.

View from the top of the Elves' Castle.
View from the top of the Elves’ Castle.

Puffin spotting at Hafnarhólmi// There are excellent facilities for bird watching in Borgarfjörður. Our favourite was the special hide at Hafnarhólmi near the fishing harbour, just a 5 minute drive from the town center. We spotted a lot of puffins while we were there although it wasn’t even high season anymore! Bird spotting might seem like a boring activity but the puffins are just too cute to miss.

Puffin watch has begun!
Puffin watch has begun!

Colourful charm at Seyðisfjörður// Fjord-lovers, prepare to worship this pocket of East Iceland. Surrounded by mountains and waterfalls and nestled by the bottom of a steep valley, stunning Seyðisfjörður rewards all those who make the trip into its secluded haven. The small town is filled with artistic vibes from the streets to the shops to the restaurants. A true hidden gem! The ferries from Europe arrive in this harbour. Certainly not a bad place to start your Iceland trip.

Our favorite spot in Western Iceland.
Our favourite spot in Eastern Iceland was definitely Seyðisfjörður. Just look at that view!

The largest forest of Iceland near Egilsstaðir// Trees aren’t something you see on a regular basis in Iceland. It’s no surprise that the volcanic activity on the island didn’t enable a century old forest to grow. However, the Hallormsstaður National Forest is the exception to the rule. It’s Iceland´s largest forest. Although not that impressive compared to other forests in the world, it offers a nice change of scenery. The forest covers an area of 740 hectares featuring marked hiking trails and 2 campgrounds.

Forest hike with a view.
Forest hike with a view.

Small city life in Höfn// Höfn can hardly be praised for architectural beauty, but a walk around the harbour is pretty nice and there is a bird reserve south of the harbour with good walkways. Furthermore, you can relax at the local swimming pool after some intense days in nature. If you want to arrange a trip to the nearby Vatnajökull Glacier, Höfn is the perfect spot to do so.

Icelandic sheep watching the cars drive by.
Icelandic sheep watching the cars drive by.

TO EAT

Fresh lobster// Höfn is one of the most important harbours for lobster fishing in Iceland and many of the town’s eating options include lobster dishes as the local specialty. If you want to treat yourself, go to the slightly upscale Humarhöfnin.

We came, we saw, we conquered.... Western Iceland.
We came, we saw, we conquered…. East Iceland.

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