Referred to as the ‘Capital of the North, Akureyri is only a 45-minutes flight or a five-hour drive from Reykjavik, and acts as a natural base for travelers wanting a holiday break. It is Iceland’s second largest city with some of the finest timber buildings in the country, beautifully restored to their original glory. It also has some of the finest ski slopes in Iceland as well as opportunities for snowmobiling, horse rentals, ice fishing and Northern Lights hunting. The Arctic Circle is a mere 96 kilometers away! For its location, it is a surprisingly green with lush vegetation and delightful botanical gardens. The city is a center of education, culture and services in Eyjafjordur Fjord. Its trendy Listagil area is exclusively dedicated to culture, art and fine food made from local ingredients.
Recommended is a visit to the Nonni House, built in 1850 and now a museum dedicated to the memory of Icelandic author Jon Sveinsson. Fully restored, the house has been maintained in its original form including olden-day household appliances. Reverend Jon Sveinsson authored a series of beloved children’s books based on fictional brothers Nonni and Manni. Famous in Iceland and Germany, these books have been translated in over 40 languages.
On a coastal fjord less than 40 kilometers from the Arctic Circle, is the humble town of Siglufjordur. Once a booming fishing capital of Iceland and the Herring Capital of the world. As marine resources are dwindling, this historic village with a cheerful array of candy-colored houses, windswept wildflowers, and lively harbor is developing into Iceland’s next great undiscovered getaway with the opening of the Hedinsfjordur Tunnel in 2010. You’ll be charmed by the atmospheric fishing village full of welcoming Icelanders and colorful folk museums providing rare insight into life on the edge of the Arctic. The award winning Herring Era Museum pleasantly captures the town’s former ‘glory days’ in a trio of elaborate exhibitions set across three building located on the impossibly picturesque marina. During summer months a 1950s harbor atmosphere is brought to life with folk dancing, singing and salt fish demonstrations. A stroll around the Siglufjordur town center is entertaining, revealing local art galleries, cafes and shops in well preserved older buildings of a town wearing its faded glory with style and grace.
The glaciated mountains, lake and black sandy shores make for fabulous hiking and Siglufjordur is a favorite ski destination in the winter. Fishing in the Holsa River and sea angling appeal to outdoor types as do midnight sails across the Arctic Circle and a nine-hole golf course. Also recommended is a visit to the horse-breeding valley of Skagafjordur before returning to Akureyri. (B)
Later time to discover and explore Lake Myvatn, a geological wonderland, sculpted by volcanic eruptions over centuries. It is one of the largest lakes in Iceland and thought to nest more species of duck than any other place in the world. Bubbling mud flats, volcanic craters, and newborn lava fields are among the sights of the striking Lake Myvatn region, which is a designated nature reserve. Here, see the boiling hot Haverarond mud pits, some of the most visually bizarre attractions of the region. The pits are so hot they actually boil. Far cooler are the waters of Viti, an explosion crater nearby. Dimmuborgir, on the east side of the lake, is a badlands of lava pillars. An unforgettable sight near Myvatn is Eldhraun (fire lava), a rugged lava field where the Apollo 11 crew came in the late 1960s to train for their impending moonwalks.
Near Lake Myvatn in the north lie the still-warm lava fields of Krafla, teeming with lava flows, fissures and gullies. The surreal landscape is home to favorite geological wonders like Hverir, a large geothermal area of hissing steam vents and bubbling mud pools, Viti explosion crater, and the steamy Leirhnjukur lava fields. Krafla is also the name of the volcano which wreaked havoc on the region with the ‘Krafla Fires’ of the 1970s and 1980s. (B)
An interesting option is to visit Egilsstadir, located inland from the coast and is considered the hub of East Iceland, with the regional airport situated here. The landscape in this remote part of the island exhibits a rich variety in color and local folklore tells equally colorful tales of elves and other mythical creatures such as the Lagarfljotsormur, an ancient serpentine monster believed to be swimming in the depths Lagarfljot Lake. Nearby Hallormsstadaskogur is an impressive forest in a country otherwise almost bare of trees. Beyond that lies the wild and wooly natural habitat of Iceland’s reindeer population, which are only found in East Iceland. The wonderful expanses of woodlands are flanked by fields full of lamb and Icelandic horses, and historical sites from the ancient Sagas. Overnight in Hofn. (B)
The most bewitching site in the area is the mystical Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon with immense floating icebergs that have broken off from the descending glacier tongue of Breidamerkurjokull. This constantly changing Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon, where blue, white, turquoise and black streaked 1,000-year-old chunks of the retreating Oraefajokull glacier that have broken off and are floating out to sea is unnerving to watch as we battle climate change. The mystical lagoon is enormous and has provided the backdrop for many major feature films and programs including ‘Batman Begins’ and most recently ‘Game of Thrones.’
There are seals hanging out atop the icebergs during winter and the lagoon supports many species of fish, as well as some of the rich birdlife that Iceland is famous for. Onwards to the picturesque village of Kirkjubaejarklaustur for overnight stay. (Optional: Amphibian Boat ride on Glacial Lagoon). (B)
Coming to Iceland, one should not miss Eyjafjallajokull, probably the most famous (or infamous) volcano in the world that erupted in 2010. Drive along the spectacular South Coast, a sweeping landscape of sandy deserts, rocky shores and rolling farmland sandwiched between snow-capped glaciers, mountains and the ocean. Highlights will include Seljalandsfoss waterfall along Iceland’s southern coast which is fed by melting water from the famed glacier-capped Eyjafjallajokull volcano. The waterfall is best known for the walking path that runs behind the curtain of water where visitors can enjoy a truly unique viewpoint from this angle. Late evening arrive into Reykjavík for overnight stay.(B)
* Must be 21 years of age to rent a car, 23 years of age to rent car cat. 5.0 or higher.
**package price is based on 7 x 24-hour car rental days starting at the time of rental. If your flight arrives early on day 1 and departs late on day 8 an additional will apply, unless you choose to return the car in Reykjavik when the 7 day rental is up and use the ‘Flybus Transfer”