The route along the East Coast of Iceland, through the eastern Fjords, is one of the most underrated areas of Iceland. The east coast is not so much about visiting famous attractions like the waterfalls of the South Coast or Golden Circle. Rather it is about admiring the beauty and isolation of the area as you wind back and forth along the coastal roads that line the fjords and connect the fishing villages.
There are four hostels in this eastern Fjords region of Iceland. They are spread evenly over the region and one should match up with your intended itinerary. They are Höfn Hostel, Berunes Hostel, Hostel Reydarfjordur and Hostel Seydisfjordur. There is also Husey Hostel in the north of this region but it is quite isolated and a little way off the beaten track. It looks like a wonderful spot if you can spare a few days to explore the surrounding glacial rivers
Sights and Highlights
Höfn is a town of about 2000 people. It is the first major town to the east of the Vatnajökull glacier. There are folk and art museums in Höfn, worth a visit if you have time. Hafnarbúðin is a decent fast food place and the best place for some cheap food. If you want to try something a little classier, lobster (or langoustine) is the local speciality and can be found at Humarhofnin restaurant. Höfn Hostel is the accommodation of choice for budget travellers in Höfn and is open all year round.
About 10km to the east of Höfn you will come to a 1300m long tunnel that curves under a mountain pass. The tunnel was built in 2005 because the mountain pass was regularly closed in winter during snowy periods. In summer, the road over the mountain pass is still accessible from the northern access ramp and provides stunning views of the surrounding landscape from the top.
Djúpivogur is a charming village with a strong fishing industry with tourism increasing rapidly in recent years. The pyramid-shaped Búlandstindur mountain dominates the landscape around the town. While in Djúpivogur, don’t miss the outdoor sculpture, Eggin í Gleðivík, by Icelandic artist Sigurður Guðmundsson. The artwork is on the coast, about 1 km from the centre of the village, a convenient walking distance. The nature around Djupivogur is highly varied. The Búlandsnes bird sanctuary is renowned among bird lovers throughout the world, where you can observe native Icelandic birds nesting in their natural habitat close by.
A very picturesque area. Make many photo stops as you wind around this snaky fjord. There a plenty of hiking trails that can be found in this area. Your best bet to get some info is at Berunes Hostel located on the north side of the fjord. This hostel is in an absolutely beautiful location.
Fáskrúðsfjörður is in the centre of the east fjords. At the bottom of the fjord there is a grassy valley with lovely arctic woodlands. The coastal road between Reyðarfjörður and Fáskrúðsfjörður along Route 955 is very scenic and should not be missed. It offers great views to the hollow cliff island of Skrúður. The island is home to a colourful bird life and a ‘Puffin Cave’ sheltering thousands of puffins and a great colony of Gannets. From the latter part of the 19th century until 1935, Fáskrúðsfjörður was the main hub for French fishermen in the east of Iceland. You can visit the French Museum and learn more about these historical connections. There used to be a French consul, a French hospital and a French chapel. Just outside the town is a graveyard, the burial place of 49 known French sailors.
Reyðarfjörður is the longest and widest of Iceland’s eastern fjords; more than 30 km long. Norwegians used to operate whaling stations along the fjord. During World War II, Reyðarfjörður was occupied by British forces. The remains of the occupation are still visible, ranging from an airport and old barracks to small gun shelters. A walk up to the waterfall in Búðará is recommended. A hike to the friendly, sheltered area beneath the shrub-covered slopes of Mt. Grænafell is a must. An easy, marked hiking path leads to the mountain from Fagradalur valley and there is also a magnificent hiking path along the beautiful Geithúsaá river ravine.
Hallormsstaður National Forest is located in Fljótsdalur east Iceland, about 25 kms inland from the town of Egilsstaðir. It is the largest forest in Iceland, covering 740 hectares, and includes the only village in Iceland that is located in a forest. There are over 40 km of marked trails and footpaths as well as an arboretum, two camp-sites, picnic areas, a hotel, and boat and horse rentals. Some further information can be found at visitegilsstadir.is
Egilsstaðir is the largest town in the eastern region of Iceland. It is the transport hub of the region and you will undoubtedly pass through it at some point. Egilsstaðir Airport is located on the outskirts of town. Egilsstaðir is a good place to stock up on supplies and fuel.
A small town at the head of a narrow curving fjord of the same name and with a population of about 800. Trading and fishing started in the 19th century when the Norwegian Otto Wathne opened a herring fishing and processing station. A place of singing waterfalls and peculiar characters, Seyðisfjörður is a welcoming town booming with creativity and rich in history. Seyðisfjörður has a flourishing art scene and a bunch of guided tours and hiking trails. Go to visitseydisfjordur.com to learn more about available day trips. The Gufufoss waterfall is located just outside of town and provides great photo opportunities.
Hengifoss is one of the highest waterfalls in Iceland, measuring 128 m falling from the plateau down into a magnificent gorge. There is a colourful rock face surrounding the waterfall showing different layers from volcanic eruptions. It takes 40-60 minutes to walk from the parking lot to the waterfall. On the way is another astonishing waterfall called Litlanesfoss. It is crowned by exceptional high basalt columns making it unique and photogenic. The river runs into the lake Lagarfljot, home of the famous worm monster, Lagarfljotsormur.
The magnificent mountain Dyrfjöll is located about 5km west of the town of Borgarfjordur Eystri. It is famous for the huge gap or door in the middle of the mountain after which it is named. Some information on hiking in the area can be found at borgarfjordureystri.is.
There are tours available that will take you through this area of Iceland however a cheaper option is to rent a car and go exploring yourself. It possible to rent a small car for as little as 50€ per day in peak season and 30€ in winter, a rental car is by far the better option. This will also give you greater freedom to visit all the stops in the order that suits you and at the time of day that is most convenient. Perhaps the cheapest car rentals in Iceland are through sadcars.com