By Michelle Yastremsky
Where else can you and visit Europe’s most powerful waterfall, Iceland’s best place to see the Northern Lights, AND some of the most iconic Game of Thrones film sites? Only in the north!
Getting There: How to Get to North Iceland
Capital of the North: Akureyri
Natural Wonders in North Iceland
What to Eat & Drink in North Iceland
What to Do in North Iceland
When to Visit: Summer vs Winter in North Iceland
Christmastime in North Iceland
Game of Thrones Filming Locations in North Iceland
If you’d rather drive from Reykjavik (stopping by the Golden Circle on the way), follow the main road all the way to Akuyeri! Be sure to rent a 4X4 as some destinations in the north require driving on rugged terrain.
Get a local flight to Akuyeri from the local Reykjavik Airport (RKV), or book a newly-introduced connecting flight directly from the international Keflavik Airport (KEF).
North Iceland’s only city and capital, Akureyri is home to art galleries, restaurants, and even a university. It is also the perfect base point for exploring the gems of Northern Iceland - natural wonders in the morning, vibrant nightlife in the evening!
Lava fields and snowcapped mountains, barren terrain and lakes overflowing with wildlife, North Iceland is a land of contrasts and natural wonders.
Godafoss (Waterfall of the Gods)
One of Iceland’s most magnificent waterfalls is located just off Iceland’s main road, just 30 miles east of Akureyri.
Visiting North Iceland? A stop at Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall should be on your must-see list.
The volcanic area of Krafla is so hot it’s cool. Craters, geothermal pools too hot to swim in, and lava fields make up this amazing area. You may even pass the Krafla geothermal power station, which takes advantage of the energy from all this heat!
This vast volcanic lake is home to chilling lava formations, a diverse birdlife, and is just a short drive away from some of the region’s most majestic highlights, from boiling mud pools to pseudo-craters.
Just a short drive from Lake Myvatn and Krafla you’ll encounter Hverir, a geothermal area reminiscent of Mars. Don’t get too close to the boiling mud pools!
What to Eat: Skyr & Seafood
There is no local specialty in North Iceland, however one of the most popular skyr (Icelandic yogurt) products is produced in Akureyri, under the brand KEA.
As for Seafood, the fishing villages of North Iceland come alive during summertime. Stop in the port towns of Husavik or Siglufjordur for a freshly-caught meal or pick up some dried fish (also known as viking snacks) to go.
What to Drink: Beer & Brennivin
The village of of Árskógssandur is home to a small brewery, which makes beer under the brand of Kaldi. (If you’re in Reykjavik, be sure to check out the Kaldi Bar, which also serves samplings of this local brew).
If it’s something a little strong you are after, add some spirit to your stay with a shot of Icelandic-style Schnapps, known as Brennivin.
Bonus: Where to Eat
In the Myvatn area? Pull over at Vogafjos Cowshed Café! Treat yourself to a meal featuring meats and cheese sourced locally – literally right from the on-site farm. You can even meet the cows and taste the warm milk; inquire at the front desk for the cow milking times, which happen once in the early morning and once in the early evening.
The birds reign above, but in the waters off the port of Husavik, it’s the whales who are royalty. Please note: whale tours only operate during certain seasons (around April to October), so if you are trying to catch a glimpse of these gentle giants be sure to check the calendars of your tour operators.
North Iceland is so stunning, even the birds can’t resist. The Myvatn area is known to birders for its diverse birdlife, including its abundance of breeding wildfowl. Be sure to stop by the Sigurgei’s Bird Museum to take your experience above and beyond.
Northern Lights Hunting
Do you dream of chill nights with the Aurora Borealis doing its rhythmic dance in the skies above? The Myvatn area is commonly referred to as Iceland’s best place to see the Northern Lights.
The Blue Lagoon isn’t the country’s only great pool to swim in! In North Iceland you can bathe with locals at the Myvatn Nature Baths or enjoy sweeping views at the infinity pool at Hofsos.
The fishing villages of North Iceland come alive in the summertime. You can go whale watching in Husavik or visit the snowglobe-village of Siglufjordur. Enjoy a freshly-caught bite on the harbor, then clink glasses with a local fisherman, freshly off his or her shift on the docks!
Volcanoes & Lava Fields
Volcanoes and lava fields can be visited year-round, however the winter may cover these wonders with a blanket of snow. If this hot attraction is on your bucket-list, a trip in summer, fall, or spring may be your best choice.
Winter in the North is much most quiet and peaceful, due to the fact that many surrounding fishing villages close up for the season. There are also far fewer tourists, making it a great time to see all the wonders without the waiting.
Myvatn is known as Iceland’s best place to see the Northern Lights – and winter is the season! Enjoy a dip in the Myvatn baths while the Northern Lights do their dance in the skies above – now that’s something worth writing home about!
During the month of December, Myvatn is also home to a local secret: the 13 naughty Santa Clauses, also known as the Yule Lads! Visitors to the Myvatn area during the month of December can find them wandering about Dimmuborgir playing games and collecting funds for their troll mother.
If you time your trip to Iceland just right, you may even catch them during their yearly bath with the locals in the Myvatn Nature Baths!
Also be sure to pay a visit to Santa’s Workshop, located outside Akureyri. The workshop is open year-round, but is so much more special during Christmastime!
You may not encounter a wildling, but you may encounter a wild Icelander or two, fresh from a hiking journey from beyond the wall.
Jon & Ygritte’s private cave is also in the Myvatn area! This geothermal cave was once used as a public swimming hole for local residents. However, due to the increasing heat of the water, it is now closed, but you can still pop your head in for a visit!
The lava formations of Lake Myvatn provided the perfect setting for many scenes North of the Wall. Go during the winter for a truly chilling experience.
It is said Dimmuborgir is home to an entrance of hell as well as murderous trolls. That didn’t stop the wildlings from setting up camp there! The otherworldly lava fields of Dimmuborgir are a must-see for fans and visitors to Iceland alike.