Driving through East Iceland offers landscapes filled with mystery, history, and a pristine serenity unlike any other. There are many gems found in East Iceland, a region that remains something of a best-kept secret among travelers seeking an authentic Icelandic experience.
Let´s go over everything you need to know for traveling in East Iceland.
Starting Off: Egilsstaðir
Before heading to the dramatic fjords, it’s worth stopping at Egilsstaðir, often considered the ‘capital’ of East Iceland. A charming town located on the banks of the Lagarfljót river, it is surrounded by lush forests, a rarity in Iceland. According to legends, a worm-like monster, much like the Loch Ness Monster, resides in the depths of the lake. Whether you believe in its existence or not, the shimmering waters and the dense woodland are a perfect backdrop for tales of yore.
Onward to the Coastal Route: The Fjords
The magic of East Iceland truly comes alive when you hit the coastal route. With every twist and turn, the fjords present an ever-changing landscape. From the imposing basalt columns at Studlagil Canyon to the secluded haven of Mjóifjörður, every fjord tells a unique story.
For thousands of years, Stuðlagil Canyon was hidden under the glacier river Jökla. After the river was used to create hydroelectric power this secret treasure was revealed. Becoming one of Iceland´s most beautiful and iconic natural wonder with pristine blue water and awe dropping sculpture of basalt columns.
Petra’s Stone Collection in Stöðvarfjörður is another must-visit. This beautiful garden is filled with colorful stones and minerals, representing Petra’s lifelong passion for collecting.
If your trip allows a detour, consider taking a boat from Djúpivogur to Papey Island, especially during the summer months. The island is home to an abundance of puffins and a quaint wooden church, giving you a taste of Iceland’s historical and natural treasures.
The France Legacy: Fáskrúðsfjörður
Fáskrúðsfjörður, or as the locals sometimes call it, ‘French Town’, holds a deep connection to the French fishermen who braved the treacherous North Atlantic. The town’s French Museum gives insight into the lives and legacies of these brave souls.
Untamed Wilderness: The East Highlands
For those craving solitude and raw landscapes, a detour into the East Highlands is a must. The Kárahnjúkar Dam, surrounded by desolate plateaus and snowy peaks, showcases the rugged beauty of the region. Be prepared though, the highland roads are often gravel and require a 4×4 vehicle.
The East Highlands has the most incredible and unique wildlife in Iceland, both flora and fauna. It is home to plants and birds which only live in the region as well as being the only area in Iceland where you can find reindeers.
Ending the Journey: Seyðisfjörður
End your East Iceland drive in Seyðisfjörður, a town characterized by its rainbow street leading to a blue church, set against the backdrop of snowy peaks and thundering waterfalls. As the morning mist lifted off the quaint harbor of Seyðisfjörður, the gentle caress of the sun revealed a town cradled by cascading waterfalls and towering mountains. With its thriving arts scene and rich history, it’s the perfect place to reflect on your journey.
East Iceland might not have the geysers, hot springs, or the Golden Circle’s traffic, but it has a raw, untouched beauty that captures the heart and soul. In the vastness of its landscapes and the warmth of its towns, you’ll find a slice of Iceland that remains undisturbed, waiting for those willing to take the road less traveled.
East Iceland is not the only fascinating part of Iceland. The entire country is full of amazing sites and hidden gems. Feel free to visit our Blog for more interesting articles about Iceland. There you can read all about West Iceland, North Iceland and South Iceland as well as visiting the Westfjords. We even have great travel tips about driving on the F-roads in Iceland´s Highland.