East Iceland - impressive fjords and natural landscapes
East Iceland comprises the largest part of the Vatnajökull glacier with the national park of the same name in the south and extends to the village Vopnafjörður in the north. The east coast is characterized by a string of impressive fjords with rugged mountains and rocky coasts. In contrast to the barren highlands in the northern and western parts, especially in the south, there are fertile valleys and even the largest forest in Iceland: the Hallormsstaðaskógur.
Despite the ferry connection to Denmark, East Iceland is less touristy. It has very few inhabitants and most Icelandic holidaymakers cross it when coming from the west on their Iceland tour. However, there is also a large selection of beautiful and comfortable holiday homes. So if you want to go on holiday away from the more popular places in Iceland, you are well served here.
Landmarks in East Iceland
East Iceland is much less populated than the west or the south. The capital in East Iceland is Egilsstaðir, the capital of the East, with the main airport in the region. Other important cities are Seyðisfjörður, where the Norröna ferry of the Smyril Line arrives. Great natural wonders and exciting places can also be found here - some of them are downright insider tips.
Egilsstaðir, the Elven Rock and the secret jewels of East Iceland
Borgarfjörður Eystri north of Egilsstaðir is one of the hidden gems of the east. Visit the small settlement Bakkagerði with 100 inhabitants and take a look at the Álfaborg (Elven Rock). Maybe you can get a glimpse of one of the elves here. The area is also popular for its many hiking routes.
Drive south along Lagarfljót Lake near Egilsstaðir. Maybe you can see the sea monster? According to Icelandic folklore, an Icelandic sea monster called the Lagarfljót worm lives in the lake. The sightings have been recorded since 1345 and will continue into the 21st century.
The Hallormsstaðaskógur forest around the lake is the largest in Iceland, with the tallest trees found on the island. Over 85 different tree species can be found here. There are numerous beautiful hiking trails in the area.
The East Fjords
During the trip along the East Fjords, nature is always close by and the scenery is breathtaking. The region is rich in smaller fishing villages and fascinating sights along the winding roads. Take a break in Fáskrúðsfjörður, also known as the French city of Iceland as it used to be a hub for French seafarers. There is a French seaman's museum that will tell you more about their history.
In the Petra Stone Collection in Stöðvarfjörður you can see many rare and peculiar types of stones and minerals that can be found in the surrounding mountains. It was Petra Sveinsdóttir who started the collection. She spent her entire life collecting stones during her wanderings in the area. The variety of colours and shapes of the rock may surprise you.
Djúpivogur - one of the oldest places in Iceland
In the southern part, you will find the town of Djúpivogur, one of the oldest communities in Iceland. In the harbour, you can see the art installation by Sigurður Guðmundsson entitled "Eggin í Gleðivík" (The Eggs in Gleðivík). And that is exactly a row of large stone eggs lined up in a row along the coast.
The Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
Once part of the huge Vatnajökull glacier, the lake of Jökulsárlón has formed over the past 100 years after its retreat. It is a glacier lagoon that is filled with fresh water (meltwater from Vatnajökull). Icebergs up to 15 m in size float on the lake, sometimes forming interesting formations. With a depth of up to 284 m, the glacial lake is the deepest body of water in Iceland - it is 54 m deeper than the famous Loch Ness. An interesting fact: although the Jökulsárlón did not exist in this form over 100 years ago, it is probably not really new either - at the time of the conquest in the 9th century AD, the Vatnajökull glacier was significantly smaller than it is today - and the lake has probably already existed.
The Skaftafell National Park
Skaftafell is a nature reserve in the extreme southwest of the East Iceland region. Many local animal and plant species benefit from the comparatively mild climate, which makes the area particularly worth seeing: there are even birches and ash trees, trees that are very rare in Iceland. The cessation of the sheep business contributed to the spread of more flowering plants. Surrounded by the highest mountains in Iceland, which offer certain protection from the wind and great views, the national park invites you to go on beautiful hikes through unique nature, past waterfalls, rare plants and animals and a few historical ruins and buildings such as the Hof Sel museum.
The Skaftafell National Park is one of the largest national parks in Europe. Strictly speaking, however, since 2008 it has been part of the even larger Vatnajökull National Park, which surrounds the entire glacier of the same name and adjacent areas. With well over 14,000 km², it is the second-largest national park in Europe and makes up around 14% of Iceland's land area.
The Vatnajokull glacier
The largest glacier in Europe not only covers about 8% of the land area of Iceland but also some active volcanoes. It is the central part of the national park of the same name, but less visited due to the icy temperatures and the terrain. The glacier was formed around 2,500 years ago and is up to 900 m thick, but as a result of climate change and volcanic activity, it has lost 10% of its mass in the last 100 years.
Seyðisfjörður is a tranquil little place with many beautiful wooden houses. It lies at the end of a winding fjord, is surrounded by mountains often covered with fog and is the port of call for the Norröna ferry of the Smyril Line, which operates between Denmark and Iceland. A road connects the place directly with the nearby Egilsstaðir and the ring road.
Travel reports on holiday home trips in East Iceland
As the oldest professional holiday home agency in Iceland, we have been arranging private holiday homes for cosy holidays on the island since 2002. Some of our customers have left us insightful travel reports about their stay in Iceland. Here is a selection from reports and reviews of our holiday homes in East Iceland:
» The reindeers have visited us every morning here! «
Anita and her husband from Germany
» What a beautiful place to look outside and enjoy the view. «
Viers and family from Holland
» Loved to stay in this great big house with so much comfort. «
Elisabeth and family from Germany
Climate & weather in East Iceland - average temperatures and rainfall per month
In East Iceland, the climate is a little more severe than in the south-west, which is more strongly influenced by the Gulf Stream. Shielded from the hills and glaciers inland, the temperatures are a bit lower here and the fluctuation between the seasons is higher. On the other hand, the average precipitation is also lower, which increases the chance of a few hours of sunshine - but one should not overestimate that: the weather is changeable and the climate is always harsh in every place in Iceland.
»The view is great and the weather was most of the time good. Even sunny!«
Franco and wife from Italy