North Iceland is one of the nation’s eight geographical regions. Known for its breathtaking views of the northern lights and endless adventure sites, North Iceland holds a certain mystique for all travelers who trek up north. The second largest town in Iceland and the heart of the northern region, Akureyri was named Lonely Planet’s “Best Place in Europe” in 2015 and has all the history, culture, and restaurants to prove it. If you’re looking to explore a few of nature’s most beautiful sites, Vatnajökull National Park and Lake Myvatn Geothermal Area are within a short distance of Akureyri. Keep reading for the top five things to do in North Iceland:
Lake Myvatn Geothermal Area
Located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Lake Myvatn holds some of the North’s most alluring sights, such as volcanic and geothermal features. The lake contains over 50 islands and islets created from molten lava flows. If you’re looking for stunning views while sitting back and relaxing, the Myvatn Nature Baths are your destination of choice. The natural pools are nestled in between lava fields and offer incomparable views over the lake. During the summer months, you will have a front row seat to the largest gathering of duck species in the world.
Spending time in Akureyri is made simple with direct flights from Keflavík International Airport and up to six flights and two buses daily from Reykjavík. Nicknamed “The Capital of the Shining North,” Akureyri is home to the famous northern lights, which are anything but dull. The epicenter of North Iceland’s flourishing activities, Akureyri is home to authentic Icelandic cuisine and culturally enriching museums. Located on the outskirts of town, visitors can play golf on the world’s northernmost 18-hole golf course. Destinations located within an hour’s drive include Goðafoss waterfall, Lake Mývatn, the Nature Baths and the islands of Hrísey and Grímsey.
Vatnajökull National Park
Vatnajökull National Park spans across 13% of Iceland, crowning it the largest national park in Europe. Its diverse landscape is an adventure seeker’s paradise. The northern section of the park showcases some of nature’s most beautiful phenomenons, such as Dettifoss, Europe‘s most powerful waterfall; the Ásbyrgi canyon; and the Víti crater.
Seal Watching and Birding
Get in touch with nature, up close and personal, while seal watching at Hvammstangi and the beautiful Vatnsnes peninsula. Bird enthusiasts can view an incredible variety of bird species in North Iceland. Most apparent species are the Barrow’s Goldeneye, Harlequin Duck, Gyr Falcon, Rock Ptarmigan, the Great Northern Gannet and the Guillemot.
Winter Sports and Northern Lights
With five flood-lit ski resorts open from November-May, North Iceland is a popular destination for avid skiers. Akureyri ski resort is a mere five minutes from the town center, making it the most visited ski area for Icelanders. For any off piste skiing, alpine ski touring, cat skiing or heli skiing enthusiasts, the Troll Peninsula is your haven.
Looking to stay off the slopes but still itching for that crisp mountain air? Super jeep and snowmobile tours are your go-to thrill ride.
North Iceland’s high mountains, clear skies, and close proximity to the Arctic Circle makes it the prime Northern Lights viewing location. Keep an eye out for more Icelandic travel destinations by following us on Twitter @IcelandNaturally!