East Iceland

Nordical Travel, last updated: July 14, 2021

The Eastfjords offer peace, serenity, and a different slice of Iceland to what you might see on the South Coast. Stunning fjords and majestic mountains meet charming fishing villages and a more sleepy pace of life.

Egilsstaðir is the Capital of the East and its main hub, but Seyðisfjörður is perhaps its most famous village with its beautiful blue church and perhaps one of the most Instagrammed streets in Iceland. Seyðisfjörður is wildly popular and is also one of the key filming locations in “Ófærð” AKA “Trapped”, Iceland’s most-watched television show.

Sharing boundaries with Vatnajökull National Park, the Eastfjords are not short on exquisite scenery, as well as having their own stunning waterfalls and jaw-dropping basalt canyons. Of course, the Eastfjords would not be the Eastfjords if we did not mention the fjords themselves, the mountains that adorn them, and the tiny, but utterly charming villages that nest within them, not only Seyðisfjörður.

Even though Iceland comes up a little short of forests, the largest forest in the country can be found in East Iceland, Hallormsstaðaskógur. Nearby is the only campsite in Iceland situated right on the beach, and therefore this is a highly recommended stop if you are camping your way around the Ring Road. 

For those who really want to visit Iceland, but who also want to get away from the crowds, the Eastfjords are a perfect location to enjoy the blissful surroundings and won’t have to feel that they are sharing it with too many people.

Culture

The Eastfjords is a rich tapestry of culture, especially art and music. The Bræðslan music festival attracts some of the biggest names in Iceland, as well as other global artists. The festival itself is held in an old fish factory. Metalheads, rejoice! If you like your music a little heavier, then you might find the Eistnaflug metal festival is more your speed.

In Seyðisfjörður, you can experience the LungA art and music festival. The festival has been running for over 20 years, also featuring Iceland’s most well-known faces, as well as up-and-coming musicians.  It is also the site of a special, and deeply passionate art schoolwhere aspiring artists of all ages can discover and explore what is possible in this nurturing and inspiring environment.

From a creative point of view, Seyðisfjörður plays a key role in the art culture of the Eastfjords and, indeed, the country.

There is a wide array of museums and galleries dotted across the Eastfjords, celebrating the works of local artists, nature, agriculture, wildlife, geology, as well as showing how technology, industry, and the modern age changed the face of this side of the country. Even though Iceland has no military and did not actively participate in the Second World War, it was indeed touched by the global conflict and a part of this area was occupied by allied forces, and there is a museum dedicated to this unique period of Icelandic history.

Hiking

Hikers are in their element here, too. Trails that offer a variety of mountain paths that are less traveled, and as such you are far less likely to encounter another soul in what anything from 5-10 days can be, unlike the more popular Laugavegur hiking trail in the central highlands. The weather also fares slightly better on this side of the island too, and it enjoys a little more sunshine and milder temperatures.

The hiking opportunities here are for those who are looking for a true adventure, with more challenging routes, but incredibly rewarding for those who feel comfortable with a little more isolation. Just you and the wild, trails that take you high into the mountains or along the stunning coastline and cliffs.

East Iceland really is home to some of the country’s most outstanding hiking routes which are some of the best-kept secrets in this already exquisitely beautiful region. There are also many lighter and shorter trails on offer, and there is even a week-long hiking festival every June, giving you the chance to hit whichever trail takes your fancy, and perhaps even make some new friends along the way.

Reindeer 

The Eastfjords also boast a variety of wildlife, none more famous than the Icelandic reindeer. Whilst not being native to Iceland, the reindeer have been roaming free since the late 18th century. They were brought over from Norway for farming, but things did not exactly go to plan.

Harsh conditions almost wiped the population out, but they survived and can be found around the Eastfjords, so you can always keep your eyes peeled for Rudolph’s Icelandic cousins. You can also find puffins, mink, Icelandic foxes, and a rich variety of birdlife.

Activities 

It really is not a question of what you can do in the Eastfjords, it’s more a question of how much time do you have? Sightseeing, hiking, birdwatching, horse riding, skiing, fishing, more culture than you can shake a stick at. The Eastfjords really has it all. If you don’t manage to include it on your schedule the first time you visit Iceland, we really recommend you include it in your return trip!

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