13 Reasons to visit North Iceland in the Spring
There are countless reasons why you should visit the beautiful Eyjafjörður fjord and the surrounding area in North Iceland during the spring. Here are a few!
Eyjafjörður in North Iceland is the country’s longest fjord, measuring 60 kilometres (37 miles) from its mouth to the bottom. The scenic fjord is surrounded by tall, majestic mountains, filled with gurgling rivers, bellowing waterfalls, and lush forests.
At the bottom of the fjord lies the town of Akureyri, Iceland’s second largest urban area—after the greater Reykjavík area, and often dubbed “the Capital of the North.”
1. It’s the centre for winter sports of all sorts
In Eyjafjörður you will find yourself spoilt for choice when it comes to winter activities. The Hlíðarfjall ski area is located on the slopes of Mt. Hlíðarfjall, located above Akureyri, and the neighbouring towns of Dalvík and Siglufjörður also boast good ski areas. Hlíðarfjall’s ski rental offers a complete range of equipment for alpine and cross-country skiing, and for snowboarding.
Kaldbakur Tours offers daily ski trips on Mt. Kaldbakur from January until May. With its peak 1174 metres (3852 feet) above sea level, Mt. Kaldbakur is the longest ski slope in Iceland. Pisten bullies transport passengers to the top of the mountain, where they can enjoy the magnificent panoramic view before skiing, snowboarding, or walking back down.
Bergmenn Mountain Guides offers specialized heli ski tours in Tröllaskagi from February until June. Skiers are transported by helicopter to the peak of a mountain at almost 1524 metres/ 5000 ft), where they will be awed by the million-dollar oceanic view, and where they will begin their descent on pristine, untouched slopes. Bergmenn also offers a variety of ice climbing trips, ranging from quick day trips to excursions lasting a whole week.
A number of tour operators offer snowmobile tours in the area, while Inspiration Iceland offers wild and exciting dog sledding tours operated from Akureyri. During the excursion you’ll take on the role of an active musher, guiding your team of strong Siberian huskies.
For those who want to try their luck fishing, there’s plenty of fish to be caught during Travel Viking’s ice fishing superjeep tour, which ends with a tasty barbecue.
2. Aðalstræti in Akureyri
Aðalstræti, or Main Street, is located in the old part of Akureyri’s centre. The quaint street runs along the ocean front and is dotted with gorgeous old houses and interesting museums. Located on Aðalstræti, one will find the Aviation Museum, the Motorcycle Museum of Iceland, the Industrial Museum, the Toy Exhibition in Friðbjarnarhús, Nonnahús—the house of the writer Jón Sveinsson (“Nonni”), and the Akureyri Museum, to name only a few!
3. Kjarnaskógur forest
This lovely woodland, located only a short drive south of Akureyri, is chock full of interesting hiking and mountain bike trails. In winter, the area is perfect for cross-country skiing. The forest is also home to a diverse array of bird species, making it the perfect spot for bird-lovers, who are able to watch the birds from a special shelter by the Hundatjörn marsh in Naustaborgir. What’s more, there is a large play area for children.
4. Brynjuís ice cream parlour in Akureyri
According to those in the know, this is one of Iceland’s best ice cream parlours. It’s also the perfect stop after a family outing to the Akureyri swimming pool.
5. It’s home to the traditional ‘leaf bread’
Laufabrauð, or leaf bread, originated in North Iceland at a time when wheat was an expensive rarity. These wafer-thin breads are traditionally made at Christmas time and decorated with leaf-like patterns. Even today, families and friends will gather together before Christmas to carve patterns into laufabrauð. These patterns have been transformed by designer Hugrún Ívarsdóttir and applied to gorgeous decorative table cloths and other items for the home.
6. It’s Christmas all year around!
The Christmas Garden, a short drive south of Akureyri, is a magical place to visit. It’s where the Christmas spirit rules every day, all through the year. Handmade Christmas ornaments, tidbits of traditional Icelandic Christmas food, and the Yule Lads are just some of the things to be found in Akureyri’s delightful Christmas House.
7. Because of all the art
The Centre for Visual Arts was opened in 2012. The centre is divided into three separate venues: The Akureyri Art Museum, Ketilshús, and Deiglan, all located in Listagil, or the Art Ravine, in the Akureyri city centre.
8. Hrísey island
Hrísey island is the second largest island off the coast of Iceland and has a population of around 120 people. There are no natural predators in Hrísey, making it a paradise for those who enjoy bird-watching. The ferry to Hrísey leaves the port of Árskógssandur every two hours and the trip takes about 15 minutes.
9. It’s home to the Kaldi micro-brewery
The micro-brewery Bruggsmiðjan in Árskógssandur produces one of Iceland’s most celebrated micro-beers. The owners offer guided tours around the plant and soon plan to extend its business by opening a small restaurant and a spa modelled after the popular Czech beer baths. On the way to Árskógssandur, one can make a brief stop to purchase locally fermented shark and calf skin.
10. Because of the colourful village of Siglufjörður
A visit to the lovely little fishing village of Siglufjörður should be on everyone’s bucket list. Located near the town’s harbour is the Herring Era Museum, where one can experience the heyday of Iceland’s herring industry. The museum is a re-creation of a typical herring factory and consists of three buildings, each showing a different aspect of the herring industry.
Þjóðlagasetrið, or the Folk Music Centre, is based in a house dubbed the ‘Madame House.’ Reverend Bjarni Þorsteinsson lived in the house from 1888 to 1898. The Reverend was a composer as well as a collector of old, traditional folk songs known as ‘vísur’ in Icelandic.
11. The swimming pool in Þelamörk
Jónasarlaug in Þelamörk is named after the beloved 19th-century poet Jónas Hallgrímsson, who was born in Öxnadalur in Eyjafjörður. The swimming pool was built by members of the local youth association and completed in 1945. For those traveling with children, Jónasarlaug is a barrel of fun.
12. Wooden sculptures in Hörgárdalur
Icelandic sculptor Aðalheiður S. Eyjólfsdóttir lives and works in Freyjulundur. Travelers might recognize her wooden sculptures from the Icelandair Hotels, as each hotel is decorated with various sculptures made by Aðalheiður. The artist welcomes visitors to her home in Freyjulundur in Hörgárdalur valley all year round. For more information go to freyjulundur.is.
13. The short drive to Mt. Námafjall
Námafjall is a volcanic mountain located within a geothermal area known as Hverir. The area is situated in the beautiful Mývatn region, only a twenty minute-long drive from Akureyri.
The hot springs found at the foot of Mt. Námafjall are simply spectacular and known for their changing variety and magnificent colours. Fumaroles, boiling mud pots, and a variety of sulphur crystals are also to be found in the Hverir area.
Avid hikers can also trek up the hiking trail to Námaskarð pass and the mountain itself.
Námafjall is located near the famous Krafla caldera, a 90 kilometre (56 miles)-long fissure zone in Northeast Iceland. There have been dozens of reports of eruptions in the area since the settlement of Iceland.
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