The secluded beauty of east Iceland with its breathtaking fjords and charming fishing villages is only just beginning. The landscape exhibits an extraordinary palette of colors in a contrast of extremes with narrow fjords, jagged peaks, toppling waterfalls, geothermal hotspots, lush forests and endless green valleys where you can truly experience tranquility with nature.
The Eastfjords are home to the reindeer in Iceland. The biggest, and perhaps the only real forest in Iceland. And, moreover, where the Lagarfljotsormurinn the mystical loch ness monster of Iceland lives!
Vestrahorn mountain range, located at the shores of Stokksnes, has quickly become one of the more popular spots for photographers in Iceland. Its black sand, sparsely distributed vegetation, and stark color contrasts are simply divine when combined into a frame. Furthermore, the location is not far from the popular Ring Road Route. Making it an even easier add-on to the East Iceland bucket list.
During a road trip around the east, there will most commonly be steep mountains with roaming herds of wild reindeer but occasionally you’ll see the enormous Vatnajokull glacier pop up. Glistenings bright in between the dark mountains. This sight is always as welcomed and does not get dull!
The ‘capital’ of the Eastfjords is its biggest town Egilsstadir. The town serves as the central hub with the regional airport, the most diverse shopping options and the main service points. Egilsstaðir stands on the banks of the Lagarfljot river, one of Iceland’s most legendary rivers. Lagarfljót is said to be the home of the notorious Lagarfljótsormur (The Lagarfljót Worm), our very own Loch Ness monster. Sightings have been reported regularly ever since 1345, with the latest being a 2012 video showing the worm swimming in the lake. Stories about the Hidden Folk and trolls are also common to the area, like the story of the ogress of Prestagil whose favorite food was the local priests, and East Iceland is thought to be especially haunted by ghosts.
Alongside the town rests, probably the most charming village in Iceland, Seydisfjordur. Known for its adorable blue church and rainbow ‘high-street’. Seydisfjordur was once one of the largest population centers in the country. It has become a bit of an artists’ colony, with an arts festival, LungA, for young people held there every summer. Along with the arts center there’s a technical museum in town and the Dieter Roth Academy is located close by. The world-famous artist lived in Seyðisfjörður towards the end of his life.
Djúpivogur is Iceland’s first and only Cittaslow town. Cittaslow is part of the slow movement and its goals include improving the quality of life in towns by slowing down its overall pace. Djúpivogur is certainly the perfect place to enjoy this slower pace of life. Located on a peninsula between two deep fjords, Djúpivogur has stunning nature and beautiful wildlife that will help inspire calm and contentment to even the most hectic of big-city dwellers. Just outside of Djúpivogur you’ll find the art installation Eggin í Gleðivík (The Eggs of Merry Bay) by local artist Sigurður Guðmundsson. The installation is a giant replica of the eggs of the 34 kinds of birds that nest in the area.
Nearby, Hallormsstadaskogur is an impressive forest in a country otherwise almost barren of trees. Beyond that lies the wild and wooly natural habitat of Iceland’s reindeer population which can only be found in east Iceland.
The East Fjords are one of the oldest regions in Iceland, which was shaped by glaciers during the Ice Age. Although many are uninhabited, each fjord has its own grandeur. The natural harbors in the fjords led to the development of fishing villages that have still hung on to a degree of old-world charm.
Local folklore is filled with legends of hidden elves and there are several interesting museums in the region worth visiting including the Wartime Museum and Petra’s Mineral Collection. Steinasafn Petru (Petra’s Minerals)is located in Stodvarfjordur. Its charming collection of rocks and minerals was collected by one woman, Petra, who started collecting rocks as a little girl and as it grew she found new ways to keep her rocks eventually leading to her and her husband buying this house in 1946. Then, she finally had a place to store all her stones. Enjoy a stroll through the garden lovingly looked after by her family after Petra passed away in 2012.
Visiting the Vallanes organic farm is always a treat. Trying all the wonderful produce and seeing step-by-step how it is made and even something, grown. They also have a wonderful restaurant! Find out more about Farms to visit in Iceland.
The Wilderness Center is yet another reason to make your way to the east coast. It is the perfect place to break away from the urban hassle and reconnect with nature and the olden days. The center offers a memorable experience. One the one hand tours, exhibitions, as well as a homey restaurant. And, on the other an amazing accommodation option in the rebuilt charming old rooms. A visit truly feels like a trip with a time-machine.
Starting from the Wilderness Center you can walk to some of the best hiking trails in the east and there is no shortage of them! Amazingly scenic ones, doable for all fitness levels. Hiking to Hengifoss waterfall is a favorite of ours for some light trekking and Dyrfjoll for the more advanced.
The East enjoys some of the sunniest weather in the country and visitors enjoy spending time hiking, horseback riding, sea angling and taking boat rides among the many grassy islands offshore.
For more detailed information about attractions, villages and activities in eastern Iceland be sure to go through our destination guide.