North Iceland is a bucket-list of must-experience majesty. As the capital of the north, Akureyri is Iceland’s second-largest city and provides a fantastic base from which to explore fjords, the Arctic Ocean, and the volcanic desert. Travelling to the northern tip of Eyjafjörður delivers you to the once-rich herring village of Siglufjörður. Head east on the Diamond Circle to visit cetaceanophilic Húsavík, the volcanic fantasia of Lake Mývatn, and the glacial waterfall Dettifoss. In summer months, you have great access to the Icelandic highlands with highlights of Hveravellir’s geothermal area and Askja caldera. The remote northeast is a coastal paradise for birdlife, well worth a visit for those craving rural beauty. To help you out, here’s the best tour in North Iceland and the runner-ups.
Our panellists were unanimous: whale watching in Eyjafjördur or Skjálfandi Bay is the best tour North Iceland has to offer. While nothing is guaranteed, it’s possible to spot humpback whales, blue whales, minke whales, dolphins, harbour porpoises and more cetacean life during a cruise on the Arctic Ocean. Seabirds, including puffins, Arctic terns and eider ducks, may also be seen. Boat tours are available from Akureyri, Dalvík, Grenivík, Hauganes, Hjalteyri and the “whale capital” of Húsavík.
A trip to the Askja caldera and the Holuhraun lava field in the volcanic desert is a life-changing experience. Askja is a 50 km² volcanic crater filled with freshwater, forming the deepest lake in the country at 217 metres. Holuhraun is Iceland’s youngest lava field, still cooling from the eruption of 2014-15.
Book a day trip north of the wall to Lake Mývatn, where ‘Game of Thrones’ was filmed. On the eastern shore, you can hike through the lava field of Dimmuborgir to an elf church. Krafla volcano is a few kilometres east, as is the stunning Hverir geothermal field, where hot springs, fumaroles and mud pools abound. It’s, no doubt, one of the best tours in North Iceland.
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