East Iceland Travel Tips

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Seyðisfjörður is among Iceland´s most charming towns, with its old wooden buildings and powder blue church. It is also known for its residents´ creativity and artistic flair, as well as for being Iceland´s only international ferry port – not that there are any warehouses or gantry cranes to spoil the views.

Seyðisfjörður is surrounded on three sides by mountains and looks out over the fjord of the same name: a steep-sided, snaking fjord which has for centuries offered sanctuary from North Atlantic storms.

As a driver, the greatest thrill is surely the journey along the only road into and out of town to nearby Egilsstaðir. “Postcard-picturesque” is an understatement.

Another feature of the Vatnajökull National Park, Dettifoss is Europe´s biggest waterfall by volume. And from the intense roar and dense spray, it´s not hard to believe!

Located in a rough and rocky part of northeast Iceland, Dettifoss is well worth the detour. The landscape has an epic, fairytale quality that will surely put you in mind of orcs, goblins and epic journeys into the clutches of danger.

Víti, part of the Askja volcanic system, is a flooded volcanic crater in the highlands of East Iceland. It is filled with bright blue warm water at excellent swimming temperature.

Lying in the rain shadow of Vatnajökull, Askja receives very little precipitation and played host to NASA Apollo astronauts training to carry out geological studies on the moon.

Despite the pleasant swimming temperature, it is not advised to take a dip in Víti on calm days, due to the possible build up of dangerous CO2. But fear not: there is lots more to see in the area.

The controversial Kárahnjúkar hydroelectric dam is used for one thing only: to power an aluminium smelter in the town of Reyðarfjörður.

Whether you think it is a sensible use of renewable resources bringing much needed jobs and money, or if you think it is an unwelcome and unwise attack on Mother Nature, you have to admit it is a marvel of human engineering. Like so many other things in this mini guide, it is the Biggest in Europe and it is very hard to remain unmoved by the towering structure and the brand new Hálslón lake.

There are occasional events and open days at the power station and it is possible to book tours for large groups.

Have you ever heard that old chestnut that there are no trees in Iceland? Or the joke about what to do if you get lost in an Icelandic forest (the punch line is 'stand up´)?

Well, don´t believe a word of it. It´s not quite the Amazon, but Hallormsstaðaskógur ('the forest at Hallormsstaður´) is the biggest in Iceland and even the tallest person will be dwarfed by the trees.

According to the forest rangers, experiments with planting trees from around the world began at Hallormsstaður in 1903 and the planting accelerated quickly after 1950. Now the forest contains multiple specimens of around 50 different tree species from 177 different locations all around the world.

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