Many photographers and explorers rank the northeast as their favorite part of Iceland. It’s a very sparsely populated area, rich in beauty and completely free from stress. Keen to grab some of the attention the region deserves, a broad coalition of northeastern service providers have joined to create the Edge of the Arctic—an association set up to promote the region and help visitors enjoy its countless world-class attractions.
A gannet soars above Langanes peninsula.
Through its comprehensive website and helpful brochures, Edge of the Arctic invites you to experience renowned sites like Jökulsárgljúfur and Ásbyrgi, as well as lesser-known attractions like Langanes peninsula and Þistilfjörður—and the welcoming villages of Kópasker, Þórshöfn and Raufarhöfn—nicknamed the Arctic Circle village.
Ásbyrgi is a large horseshoe-shaped depression in the earth, surrounded by cliffs and filled with trees. It’s a favorite hiking spot among Icelanders known for its warm microclimate (in the summer, of course). Meanwhile, Jökulsárgljúfur is an impressive canyon and mountain range worth visiting in its own right, but also because it’s home to Dettifoss—Europe’s biggest waterfall by volume. Both form part of the Vatnajökull National Park, which is the largest park in Western Europe.
Revel in Relaxation
Iceland is famously peaceful, but nowhere more so than on Melrakkaslétta and Langanes peninsulas in the far northeast. Here you’ll find true peace in a place where the forces of nature are as tangible as the cliffs are high, and the noisy crowds are made up only of birds. There’s no better birdwatching spot than the new clifftop viewing platform at Stóri-Karl, where you’ll see more gannets than anywhere else.
On the surface it feels like the end of the world, but the smattering of people who call this place home will soon make you feel like it’s the center of the universe. Who needs anywhere else?
The northeast boasts some excellent hotels, hostels and guesthouses, as well as plenty of delicious surprises at its cafés and restaurants—not to mention its excellent museums. Raufarhöfn Arctic Circle village is home to the new Arctic Henge. Created as a giant sundial on the cusp of the Arctic Circle, the stunning Henge is a huge stone structure with allusions to mythology and folklore, designed to interact with the unique natural light.
Edge of the Arctic is proudly supported and coordinated by Dettifoss Guesthouse near Ásbyrgi, Kópasker Hostel, the Snartarstaðir museum and culture center at Kópasker, Nest Guesthouse at Raufarhöfn, Báran bar and restaurant at Þórshöfn, Sauðaneshús culture center on Langanes and Fell Cottages at Bakkafjörður. edgeofthearctic.is
Dettifoss Guesthouse, 25 km (15.5 miles) north of Dettifoss waterfall, offers you spacious, warm, modern rooms with shared, recently modeled bathrooms that guests rave about. This is a quiet place to rest, close to some of Iceland’s natural pearls. Very friendly staff.
Kópasker Hostel is a charming, spotless hostel, filled with classical music and books. This is what guests call great value with a view. The Kópasker Earthquake Center, open in summer, is located on the same road. The staff is exceptionally friendly.
Snartarstaðir Museum and Cultural Center, located 2 km (1 mile) from Kópasker, features a unique collection of local objects, representing daily life in the 19th and 20th centuries. Those include needle work, woven and knit clothing, wood carvings, blacksmith products and more.
Nest Guesthouse is located in Raufarhöfn, the Arctic Circle village. Here, you can enjoy a peaceful stay in beautiful, natural surroundings. The guest house has a rugged charm and a cozy interior. Rooms with a view of the harbor or the Arctic Henge. Welcoming hosts.
Báran Bar and Restaurant in Þórshöfn specializes in fresh, local food with meat and vegetables straight from the surrounding farms and fish caught by local fishermen. Enjoy anything from puffin to pizza in a dining room overlooking the harbor.
Sauðaneshús, located 7 km (4 miles) north of Þórhöfn, is the area’s old vicarage on the church estate. It features historical, local items and provides a glimpse of the way locals lived a century ago. The building, which dates back to 1879, houses a café.
Fell Cottages is located on the land of the farm Fell on Langanes Coast, between Þórshöfn and Bakkafjörður. The cottages are in beautiful and quiet surroundings, nestled under Smyrlafell mountain. You can experience farm life, take walks and go fishing in summer.