We did all of northeastern Iceland on day 3. Looking back, it’s hard to believe we fit all of this in just one day! We started out in Akureyri and got all the way to Stöðvarfjörður in the Eastern Fjords that night. We were rewarded with another gorgeous day of weather.
Our first stop was about 45 minutes east of Akureyri. Godafoss is an impressive waterfall. It got its name when Christianity became the official religion of Iceland and all of the statues of the Norse gods were thrown into the falls. The falls were super easy to get to. They’re right off the ring road, and only a five-minute walk from the parking lot. There was a ton of mist coming from the falls, so if you plan on taking pictures remember to bring a lens cloth to wipe away the water droplets. I forgot mine in the car and ended up with this picture.
The next stop was Myvatn, another 40 minute drive east. First you will see the beautiful Myvatn lake, but fair warning: if you plan to stop and take pictures beware of the swarms of gnats! We stopped for less than five minutes, and the car was completely surrounded. Apparently they are found near bodies of water.
We made it to our destination: the Myvatn Thermal Baths. This is a spot similar to the Blue Lagoon, where you can soak in hot water supplied by a nearby geothermal power plant. Since our day was jam-packed, we didn’t have time to spend here, but we wanted to stop by and see it. There’s a nice cafe here looking out over the baths that we took advantage of with a tea and bathroom break. I loved seeing the way the landscape had drastically changed, into a very obviously volcanic region.
Our next stop was super close (five minutes away) and one of the most interesting stops of the trip! At this point, I felt like I had traveled to Mars with steam venting from the ground, bubbling mud, and barren, desolate earth. You’ll notice the sulphuric smell that is found in many places around the country. I loved that there weren’t many people here and you could wander around and explore, while being sure to avoid the roped off areas for obvious reasons. This is a quick and easy stop, I highly recommend!
Drive another ten minutes north of Namafjall and find yourself at the foot of a huge crater with a turquoise lake in the middle of it. There is a trail around the edge of the crater that takes you to a hot spring. On the walk, you will get fantastic views of the crater. One of my favorite things we did on the trip!
Krafla Power Plant
On our way back to the ring road, we passed a geothermal power plant only five minutes from the crater. We noticed that there was a visitors’ center, so we popped in. Working as a mechanical engineer in the energy industry, this was right up my alley! They were showing a short video about energy in Iceland. 25% of Iceland’s energy is geothermal! The visitors’ center also had restrooms and free tea and coffee. It was a worthwhile stop.
Dettifoss is the most powerful waterfall in Europe and only another 35 minutes east of Krafla. You can approach the waterfall from the east or west side but can’t easily drive from one side to another. I chose the west side because I had read that the view was better. Google Maps will try to take you to the east side, but I dropped a pin on the other side and found it no problem. Once parked, it is a 15 minute hike to get to the falls. On this hike, you’ll see tons of basalt columns that are found all over the country. You see the waterfall from the top looking down, and there were rainbows present the whole time we were there. This was one of my favorite waterfalls we saw, as you can see the pure power of the water going over.
Not far from Dettifoss, is another lesser-known waterfall called Selfoss (not to be confused with the town of Selfoss near Reykjavik) that is about 500 meters upstream. While Dettifoss was concentrated in one section, the water of Selfoss was spread out over a larger section, making it really interesting to look at. The hike to Selfoss was an easy one, as there was hardly any elevation change and a short distance. Definitely worth checking out if you’re already at Dettifoss.
The long drive
The next stretch was about two hours and the longest of the day, to a town in the Eastern Fjords called Seydisfjordur. This was the section that I was glad we had a full tank of gas on, because there was almost no sign of civilization the entire way. We rarely passed another car, which was so refreshing. It felt like we had the place to ourselves!
On the drive, the landscape changed dramatically. My favorite part was when the road went between some epic volcanoes. I had to stop and take pictures!
The drive to the town of Egilsstaðir was easy and then we looked up and saw the road that had several switchbacks going straight up the mountain in front of us. The climb was so worth it because you get a breathtaking view of the town below the entire way up. I imagine this road would be closed often during the winter!
Once you make the climb up the mountain, you drive on a flat area for about 20 minutes that feels like you’re in another world. There were so many lakes and waterfalls and I had to remind myself we were still on top of the mountain. Then we made the descent into Seydisfjordur, which looked like a town straight out of Norway. It was so picturesque and quaint. The main street has a rainbow path leading to a pastel-blue church at the end.
We found a restaurant named Kaffi Lara. The inside eating area was small, but we managed to grab the only available table. I ordered the grilled lamb with a baked potato and salad. My mom got the cod. We loved our meals!
After dinner, we still had a bit of a drive. It was about 1.5 hours to Stöðvarfjörður, where we were staying for the night. If I was doing this day again, I would’ve chosen to stay in Seydisfjordur. The day still wasn’t too long though. We arrived at our Airbnb around 8:30pm.