Like most regions of Iceland, North Iceland is spectacular and a haven for the adventurous. Things to do in North Iceland are plenty and you can visit several jaw-dropping locations in this region for the duration of your stay.
Some of the amazing highlights of North Iceland are; bubbling mudpots, grand waterfalls, blackened snow and lava fields, snowcapped peaks and mountain ranges, and the infamous whales found in the bays of North Iceland.
There is more than meets the eye in the northern area and here are our suggested top tips for things to do in North Iceland:
9 unique things to do in North Iceland
Rocky outcrops and formations at Dimmuborgir
Dimmuborgir can be found east of Mývatn where you will see unbelievable rock formations and various types of volcanic caves. Icelandic folklore believes this is the land of elves and if you were to spot one, it is more likely in this area than anywhere else.
In the area surrounding Dimmuborgir, you will come across many sizeable, hollow chamber like formations including vertical lava structures much of which was created by geothermal activity.
Go caving in Grjótagjá
Grjótagjá is a stunning lava cave not far from the edges of Mývatn lake. Although the cave is quite small, it has a wonderful thermal spring which was open to bathing at one time. Please do not attempt to enter the water since thermal activity in the area recently, has made the temperature impossible to bathe in. Nevertheless, worth a visit.
© Petr Brož
Visit the volcanic lake Mývatn
Mývatn lake is an amazing volcanic lake covering an area of 37 km sq. The nearest village to the lake is Reykjahlíð where you will find plenty of amenities including a swimming pool.
Whilst at the lake keep your eyes pealed for the various birdlife in the area and should you feel like taking a dip, visit the Mývatn Nature Bath which is open for bathing to visitors. Mývatn Nature Bath can be found east of Reykjahlíd village.
Geothermal fields of Hverir
Hverir is famous for its geothermal activity and there is plenty to experience. The large geothermal fields in Hverir consists of bubbling mud pots and larger pools, fumaroles, all packed with earthly energy. Or, you can experience geothermal activity from the air.
Hverir is found near the foothills of Námafjall, a volcano mountain with many fascinating geological hotspots. If you get lost on the way to Hverir, let your nose guide you 🙂 simply follow the strong smell of sulphur and rotten eggs!
The Hvítserkur rock formation
The world famous Hvítserkur rock formation can be reached via the eastern shore of Vatnsnes peninsula. It is pretty extraordinary and one of the most photographed basalt rock formation reaching over 15 metres high.
© Árni Gunnarsson
It is also know as the drinking troll due to the two holes found at the base of the rock characterising a troll drinking water.
You will find several species of birds in this area and seals have also been spotted here on regular basis.
Hike around Viti Crater
Viti Crater is located close to the lake Mývatn and so, you could plan to visit both sites in half a day. Viti is famous for its unique nature. It is surrounded by colourful mountains and geothermal areas, and the water in the crater is the most beautiful blue you will have ever seen.
The Viti Crater formed in 1734 through a monumental eruption of the Krafla volcano. The seismic eruption that blasted and deposited so much debris, the Icelandic people have a special meaning behind the name Viti – it simply means hell.
Village of Hofsós
Hofsós is a small village with a small population in North Iceland. It used to be the main service centre within the region and one of the oldest trading villages still surviving. There is a lot of history in the village of Hofsós which can be seen in the local museums or everywhere you walk.
Whilst here, the basalt rock formations by the coast are absolutely stunning. Similar to the Giant’s Causeway National Trust in Ireland, basalt rock columns of Hofsós are a unique wonder of nature.
Bathing and hiking in Askja
The central highlands area of Iceland is where you can find the Askja caldera. OK, so it’s not exactly North Iceland, but it is not too far from the north. While we’re talking about things to do in North Iceland, Askja should be on the list for the hardy adventurers.
Askja caldera is situated in the remote vastness of the highlands and it is surrounded by the stunning Dyngjufjöll mountains. You can bathe in this caldera, but be warned the smell can be overwhelming. Perhaps you could bathe in the Viti and Askja caldera on the same trip!
With plenty of places for hiking in this area, we have been along the Canyon of Dragons or Drekagil. This is among the most stunning volcanic canyons and there is lots of scope for doing some bouldering along the trail.
“The Beauty” of Goðafoss
One for the most impressive waterfalls in Iceland is Godafoss. “The Beauty” as coined by a local, gave rise to the understanding that Godafoss is the Waterfall of the Gods.
© Chris 73
As far as things to do in North Iceland, visiting Godafoss is a must. It’s absolutely remarkable any time of the year, and a walk around the waterfall will show you how breathtaking this waterfall actually is.
There are so many more things to do in North Iceland but we feel, these are a great starting point for a unique experience of the northern area.
While in the North and if your base is Akureyri, it’s worth noting the “Capital of The North” has plenty of things to do, visit and some awesome restaurants to dine and relax.