East Iceland: Things to Do

East Iceland: Things to Do

22.08.2018 | Camille Beuvard

Besides its best-loved stops and hidden gems, the East of Iceland is not short of exciting activities for adventurers and families alike, all year round. You obviously don’t go to the Eastfjords for all the comforts of home. The luxury there is rather found in simplicity, tranquillity, and slowness, although slow travel is not the first things most travellers associate with Iceland. Forgetting about time to sit back, live in the present moment, and reconnect with Nature has to be one of the best feelings.

We offer a selection of tours and activities in the area, of which you will find below a few of our favourites, from North to South.

Observe Unique Birdlife at Langanes Peninsula

Brünnich's guillemot at Langanes Peninsula

Shaped as a goose head, Langanes 40-kilometre long narrow peninsula was meant to be a birders paradise. This remote area is home to a rich flora and birdlife including the world’s third largest Northern Gannet colony, the scarce Brünnich's Guillemot and other auks at close range. Ytra Lón Farm Lodge guides you through the best birdwatching spots of the peninsula, telling you everything from the species distribution to their migration, all in the wildest scenery. For all visitors with an interest in migratory birds, there is always a small lake, rock out at sea, or wetlands to gaze out over. There you should be able to get close to flocks of Common Eider, Common Scoter and other waterbirds, along with a variety of waders and passage passerines. Look for the unusual birds that tend to stop there too, such as King Eider and Steller’s Eider!

Set Sail on a Journey into the Past

Sailing Tour from Neskaupstaður

Already breathtaking from land, the beauty of Mjöifjörður fjord increases tenfold as you set sail from Neskaupstaður and discover from the sea a world of vertiginous mountains, grassy hills and waterfalls emptying into the ocean. This experience at sea does not only provide priceless views, but also a unique insight of what fishermen must have felt while entering this 18-kilometre long narrow fjord. During the year, Mjöifjörður is home to less than 40 inhabitants, whose lives are closely intertwined with the seas, the boat remaining the only way of access to the fjord in Winter when all roads are closed. Upon docking in Mjöifjörður, you will be greeted by the most kind-hearted Icelanders, eager to share the local customs, culture and history of Icelandic rural life. Some cake and coffee with the locals and you won’t want to leave!

Witness Amazing Wildlife at Sea

Nature and Wildlife Sailing Tour from Neskaupstaður

If there’s a one-word shorthand for traveling to the Eastfjords, “serene” seems to fit well. Their remoteness and tranquillity make the Eastfjords a haven of peace for all kinds of wildlife, from land animals like reindeers and foxes to sea mammals like cetaceans and seals. Venture out from Norðfjörður Bay on the endless sea and pristine nature, where the animals grant you the privilege of welcoming you in their natural habitat. At the foot of the most massive 600-meter high sea cliffs, you will be carried away to the sound of the boat smoothly gliding forward, and soon encounter the majestic humpback whales as they feed, dive, or even breach in a spectacular splash! Puffins are returning visitors during the breeding season too, among other bird species!

Experience the Authentic Iceland

Reindeers in East Iceland in Wintertime

There is far more to East Iceland than remote fjords and wide hairpin turns – and more than abrupt mountains and icebergs lagoons. Especially in the countryside, the Eastern region is blessedly rich in history, culture, customs and, especially, legends. If you not only like to walk, but also like to learn, discover, and be surprised, then the Wilderness Center has a tour for you this Winter! Join the locals, adopt their way of life, and let the talented story-teller tell you all about the local folklore before sampling the best dishes of the Icelandic cuisine, prepared with the freshest ingredients. Discover for yourself the reasons why the Icelandic horse has gained worldwide praise and cap off the day by starring at the northern lights at the local stargazing station, with blankets and hot chocolate. That’s about as authentic as Iceland gets!

Horseback riding in the countryside at Skorrahestar

Skorrahestar - Horse riding Tour in Winter

Hiking is a great way to get out and explore the Eastfjords wilderness, but horseback riding allows you to take in the views while forging bonds with the unique Icelandic horse.  Plus it spares you the legwork! Skorrahestar, one of our 180 partners, is a small family-run horse rental offering riding tours just outside of Neskaupstaður, for all durations and for beginners and experienced riders alike. The 2-hour gentle ride is more enjoyable than effortful, taking you over steep mountains, along lush green valleys, scenic waterfalls and across sandy beaches. Your guide accommodates your skills perfectly and might invite you to try your hand at getting your horse to tölt. You will also learn everything about breeding, gaits, local culture, and will listen to a few legends and stories!

Unveil the secrets of Havarí Organic Farm in Berufjörður

Havarí Organic Farm in Berufjörður

The Havarí Organic Farm project was born to show guests what they had been missing when travelling Iceland. Couple Svavar and Berglind left Reykjavík in 2014 to chase their long-lived dream of a convivial and inspiring place in the small fjord of Berufjörður. They offer accommodation in the old sheep shed at Karlsstaðir, and fresh homemade food made from a handful of organic ingredients in the nearby café/bistro, once the sheep barn. Svavar has a successful career of musician in Iceland under the name of Prins Póló while Berglind plays in a band too. They now also express themselves creatively in organic farming, by producing such food as potatoes, beetroot crisps and vegan sausages, all minimally processed. Havarí also regularly welcomes live music and art events of all kinds, being a real connecting place for the artists. 

Walk on Vatnajökull Glacier Outlet, Breiðamerkurjökull

Glacier Adventure on Vatnajökull Glacier

Your Icelandic trip is not complete until you have set foot on one of its fascinating icy giants, covering 11% of the island, we named glaciers. A boat trip across the glacier lagoon will take you closer to the icebergs drifting from the glacier, staying up to 5 years into the lagoon, before making their way out to the sea. After listening to your guide’s safety instructions, put on your helmet and spikes, and enter a hidden world of turquoise blue hues, sinkholes, ice caves and other ephemeral formations on one of Vatnajökull 30 glacier tongues, Breiðamerkurjökull. It doesn’t matter how many pictures you have seen of it, there is nothing like the real experience, and nothing will prepare you for seeing the glacier that close.

If you want to learn more about East Iceland you should check out our articles about the top 10 experiences in the area, and our guide to discovering the hidden gems.


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