Road Trip Guide - North Iceland

North Iceland is a paradise for geologist; large lava fields, Hveravellir mud pools, Krafla volcano, most powerful waterfall in Europe, and so many more places.

Akureyri is known as the capital of North Iceland and it is the fourth largest city in Iceland with 18.000 inhabitants. A direct drive from Reykjavík is about 386km (5-5.5hrs). For travelers driving around the island we recommend you spend at least 2 nights in North or Northeast of Iceland. Akureyri has rich history and we recommend exploring the local museums, walk around the old town and enjoy the fascinating downtown area. The people of Akureyri have always been very independent and in the old days the city was a thriving trading post and maintained a prosperous fishing industry which allowed them to be largely independent.

If there is one thing Akureyri is known for, it is a local ice cream parlor called Brynja. It is rumored to be the best ice cream shop in the country. It’s located in the old part of town close to the Botanical Gardens, which are worth a visit as well.  

Here are a few must see places on for North Iceland:

Goðafoss, the waterfall of the gods is about 45min driving from Akureyri. It is as majestic as it sounds and photogenic, so take your time to enjoy the views. GPS: Latitude: 65.6829947 | Longitude: -17.5508227

Mývatn lake offers a unique natural environment and the volcanic eruptions have played a crucial role in the formation of the landscape. If you have time to explore the area, grant yourself a visit to Myvatn Nature Baths, alkaline bathing lagoon (admission fee is 3.800ISK ) GPS: 65.60386 | Longitude: -16.9961055

Dettifoss is the most powerful waterfall in Europe. Falling 45m with a width of 100 m – there are two ways to approach the waterfall with a car but visitors generally approach Dettifoss on the East side. There is a big parking lot there and the walk to the waterfall is about 15min. 

Krafla volcano was one of the most active volcanoes in the 70s and 80s. It has erupted 29 times including one eruption that lasted 5 years! Although the last eruption was in 1984, the area is still prone to earthquakes. Located just on the other side of Route 1 is Hverir, a geothermal hotspot area. It is highly active with hot steam and mud bubbling up at random spots. Just remember to be careful while walking around this area and stay within the roped pathways!

Other interesting places we recommend for this route: 

Hljóðaklettar, Dimmuborgir, Hvítserkur, Aldeyjarfoss, Kjarnaskógur, Ásbyrgi, Kolugljúfur, Herðubreið and Askja volcano. 

But have some time to spare? we recommend following the roads along the fjords. See detailed routes via Google Maps here

Towns and fjords that are interesting to visit in North Iceland:

  • Grenivík is one of the smallest villages in Iceland and has some great hiking paths and beautiful scenery. GPS: Latitude: 65.9504165 | Longitude: -18.1781267
  • Grímsey is an island on the arctic circle. To get to Grímsey you can take a ferry (3hrs) from the village of Dalvík or fly from Akureyri airport. GPS: Latitude: 66.5423498 | Longitude: -17.996116
  • Ólafsfjörður is magical to visit in the winter with various ski facilities and snowmobile tours. FYI you drive from Dalvík through Ólafsfjarðargöng tunnel. GPS: Latitude: 66.0714713 | Longitude: -18.65369839
  • To drive to Siglufjörður you drive from Ólafsfjörður through Héðinsfjarðargöng tunnel. The town is charming and the fjord is great for fishing. GPS: Latitude: 66.1511755 | Longitude: -18.91126520
  • Hofsós is one of the oldest trading posts in Iceland and has an amazing infinity pool overlooking the ocean. GPS: Latitude: 65.8975231| Longitude: -19.4125790
  • Húsavík is known as the whale capital of Iceland and one of the most popular places to go whale watching. GPS: Latitude: 66.0449706 | Longitude: -17.3383443

Enjoy North Iceland and for more information check out the official tourism site here

We recommend you bookmark three websites to use when doing a road trip in Iceland: Safetravel.isRoad conditions and Weather report.

Don’t forget to follow Sixt rent a car Iceland on social media for frequent updates via TwitterInstagram, Facebook and Youtube. And please use our official hashtag #SixtIceland so we can follow along. Happy travels!