North Iceland

North Iceland is the region of Iceland along the Greenland Sea, flirting with the Arctic Circle.


Other destinations


There is no exaggeration in describing North Iceland as Iceland in miniature. It is an area of extremes: The lush farmland of Skagafjörður and Eyjafjörður, the rugged mountains of Tröllaskagi many capped by small glaciers, the almost desert-like landscapes of the far north-east, and Grímsey sitting on the arctic circle. The region as a whole is characterised by wide bays and fjords, surrounded by mountains on two sides and long river-shaped valleys on the third. It is probably the region in Iceland best suited for outdoor activities, but the north is also interesting for its cultural heritage. As Iceland's second largest urban area, Akureyri is an important centre for art and commerece. Many of the smaller villages offer an experience that rustic, rural Iceland with its deep traditions in farming and fishing.


The people of North Iceland have one of the few distinct accents left in Icelandic. Until the mid to late 20th century, most regions of Iceland had their own accents, but only the North has retained theirs into the 21st century. Unless you speak Icelandic, this is unlikely to affect your stay much - and even if you do speak Icelandic, there are no difficulties of understanding involved. However this can make for an interesting topic of conversation with locals. The people of North Iceland, as the rest of the Icelandic population, mostly speak good English.

Get in

By car

The Ring Road passes through much of north Iceland and the region is easily reached by car from any other regions. The distance from Reykjavík to Blönduós (the first town reached when driving into North Iceland from the west) is 244km with another 144km to Akureyri. From Egilsstaðir in East Iceland to Akureyri the distance is 260km.

By bus

Buses operated by Sterna link North Iceland with the West and Southwest regions. SBA has buses between Akureyri and Egilsstaðir.

By plane

Multiple flights a day, operated by Air Iceland , link Akureyri with Reykjavík. There are also seasonal flights between Akureyri and Copenhagen with Iceland Express .

From Reykjavík, there are also flights to Sauðárkrókur, operated by Air Arctic. And to Húsavík, operated by Eagle Air.

Get around

By car

The ring road passes through North Iceland. The stretch of road between Mývatn and Egilsstaðir (in East Iceland) one of the most remote parts of the road with very few settlements. Because of the shape of the area, many settlements in North Iceland aren't served by the ring road, but road connections are mostly good. Until recently, Siglufjörður was quite cut off, but a tunnel now links it with Ólafsfjörður making connections with Akureyri much better.

Car rentals include Hertz and Budget at Akureyri airport, Bílaleiga Akureyrar at Akureyri airport, Tryggvabraut in Akureyri and in Sauðárkrókur and Avis at Akureyri airport and in Sauðárkrókur.

By bus

Sterna operates scheduled buses along the western stretch of the Ring Road in North Iceland as well as between Varmahlíð (in Skagafjörður) and Siglufjörður, and Akureyri and Ólafsfjörður. SBA serves the stretch of the Ring Road from Akureyri to Egilsstaðir in the east, as well as the route between Akureyri and Húsavík and Akureyri, Þórshöfn and Raufarhöfn on the other.

By thumb

Iceland is typically a great country for hitchhiking, but be extremely careful of the weather in this region, as it is highly unpredictable. As late as March or April, terrible Arctic blizzards can blow in off the sea, and hit you in an instant. If you're even a couple kilometers out of town, and one of these storms hit, you will be stranded for an indefinite amount of time. It's wholly possible to freeze to death, or at least come down with hypothermia or frostbite, in such a situation.

By plane

North Iceland is the only region in Iceland with flights between towns. From Akureyri airport you can get flights to Þórshöfn in the northeast and Grímsey, a small island sitting on the arctic circle.

By boat

A ferry called Sæfari sails between Dalvík on one hand and Grímsey and Hrísey, operated by Landflutningar . Grímsey is only served on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and Hrísey on Tuesdays and Thursdays.




Hofsós outdoor geothermal swimming pool with a magnificent view over the fjord

North Iceland is probably the best destination in Iceland for outdoor adventure or activity tours. Practically anything that's available somewhere in Iceland, is available in the North.

Eat and Drink

There is little in the way of regional food traditions in North Iceland, but one of the best-loved brands of the Icelandic yogurt-like dairy product skyr (KEA Skyr) is produced in Akureyri.

The tiny village of Árskógssandur is home to a small brewery, Bruggsmiðjan, which makes beers under the name Kaldi.

With regards to nightlife, Akureyri is really the only place in Iceland that offers any sort of competition to Reykjavík, and has several clubs and pubs.

Stay safe

Safety concerns are not much different in the north than elsewhere in Iceland. However, the climate is understandably harsher, and during winters it can get much colder than in Reykjavík or more southern regions.

Go next

North Iceland has fjords on either side: the West Fjords and the East Fjords (in East Iceland). Both area easily accessible by car or by bus. With well-equipped 4x4s or on specially arranged tours, it's possible to go onto the highlands and cross Iceland by crossing either Kjölur or Sprengisandur. These are the only routes across the island.

There are seasonal flights from Akureyri to Copenhagen operated by Iceland Express.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, November 16, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.