Akureyri - North-Iceland
Where the midnight sun is at its most glorious
North Icealand offers a huge spectrum of scenery to explore, from the soft and gentle to the awesomely spectacular. Most of the communities are at sheltered coastal sites and really come into their own in summer, when the midnight sun is at its most glorious, but it´s also a great place for winter sports. You can go there for action or to escape from it all, to see wildlife, history or nature that defies the imagination.
Akureyri, 45 minutes by air from Reykjavík and five hours by road, is the regional centre and natural base for travellers with a whole world of nature righ on its doorstep. This is a town with family-friendly outdoor leisure sites and well-developed services, and offers different attractions throughout the year. In summer, you can choose between a hotel or guesthouse in town or nearby holiday cottages with a geothermal jacuzzi. Now designated the winter sports centre of Iceland, Akureyri has some of the finest ski slopes in Iceland as well as opportunities all around for snow scooters, hores rentals, ice fishing and other activities.
An hour away by road is Lake Mývatn, where a sizeable community has developed around this bird-watches´ paradise. Bizarre natural lava sculptures stand out in and around the lake, while at geothermal fields the land is painted in all colours of the rainbow. Some way to the east, Jökulsárgljúfur National Park completes the north´s trangle of "musts" stretching along an awesome canyon which includes Dettifoss, Europe´s most powerful waterfall.
On Skjálfandi Bay, the town of Húsavík has established itself as Europe´s main whale watching centre, with astonishingly high sighting rates.
Skagafjörður district, with its smooth green valleys, stark mountains and mighty glacial rivers flowing down from the highlands, is one of the big centres for river rafting. It is also the traditional heart of horse riding in Iceland and boasts some beautiful old buildings at its many Saga Age and historical sites. Top attractions include Glaumbær Folk Museum in an old turfbuilt farmhouse, the old episcopal see of Hólar and the Heritage Centre in the village of Hofsós, which is dedicated to the 19th-century emigrations from Iceland to North America. For wildlife lovers, Húnaflói Bay is probably the most accessible shore in Iceland for watching seals in their natural habitat.
A wide range of travel services can be found at Sauðárkrókur, the main town in Skagafjörður, as well as in the smaller communities inland and along the coast.
Iceland´s northernmost face can be seen on Grímsey, the only part of the country crossed by the Arctic Circle, where a hundred islanders and millions of seabirds live in proud defiance of the elements. Visitors there are presented with a certificate to prove they have crossed into the Arctic.