4 Unforgettable Experiences in Iceland’s Eastern Fjords

Iceland native Katrin shares her top adventures, from a hut-to-hut trek on the slopes of Snaefell to the charming seaside towns of Borgarfjörður Eystri and Seyðisfjörður.

Even more remote and less traveled than the Westfjords, the eastern fjords will offer adventure, wilderness, and the best summer weather in Iceland.

Fljótsdalshérað

This is the largest county in Iceland and the least inhabited area of the country, with more reindeer than people. Hallormsstaðaskógur, Iceland’s largest forest, is only a few minutes’ drive into the Fljótsdalur valley from Egilsstaðir, the area´s main commercial hub.

This is a wonderful place to rent a summerhouse ,hike through the bush, go for a forest ride, or look out for the glacial river monster, the “Lagarfljót Worm.” Don´t miss the easy hike up to Hengifoss, located just beside the road near the farmstead Skriðaklaustur. The farmstead features monastic ruins, a cafe, and a center dedicated to local author Gunnar Gunnarsson.

Base yourself at the Wilderness Center, or Óbyggðasetur, at the bottom of Fljótsdalur. With a guesthouse, museum, and horse rental, this is your starting point for a guided trek or ride up to Snæfell, Iceland´s tallest mountain.

A day or two gets you to Laugarfell mountain hostel, where you can relax your muscles in a natural hot tub, and then another day or two to hike or ride to the Snæfellsskáli lodge, with spectacular views of Vatnajökull, Europe´s largest glacier by volume.

Fljótsdalshéraði heath with Vatnajökull glacier in the distance. Photo credit: Katrin Sif Einarsdottir

Borgarfjörður Eystri

At the far end of Route 94 is one of East Iceland´s most charming coastal villages: Bakkagerði. Borgarjörður eystri, or eastern Borgafjörður, not to be confused with the one in the west, has a harbor and an airport strip, but very little traffic passes through except when the Bræðslan music festival happens at the end of July.

For those hikers willing to make the drive, setting up camp in town and taking advantage of the dozens of well-marked trails is a must-do.

Find maps for Víknaslóðir, the “trails of the inlets,” and choose a hike that suits your fitness – walk less than an hour to Álfaborg hill (aka the Elf Queen Castle), or take a full day to get up and down Dyrfjallstindur or over to Loðmundafjörður.

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Seyðisfjörður

You´ll have to drive back inland to Egilsstaðir to pick up the road to Seyðisfjörður, the main eastern gateway out of Iceland by car or boat.

Weekly ferries run to the Faroe Islands, Denmark, and Germany during the summer. Starting or ending your trip in this picturesque village will definitely leave you with warm, fuzzy feelings for Iceland.

Hiking up from the bottom of the fjord will lead you past waterfall after waterfall. If you’re brave enough for a four-hour climb up the north face of Bjólfur mountain, you’ll have terrific views down to the town and out to the end of the fjord.

You may be tempted to go down the hill on a skateboard, Walter Mitty-style (this is where that scene of the film was shot).

Seyðisfjörður. Photo credit: iStock

Fáskrúðsfjörður

Carrying on south through the Eastern fjords, head through the tunnel to Reyðarfjörður and over the heath to Fáskrúðsfjörður. This town was once a station for French cod fishermen – the village road signs are in both French and Icelandic.

Stop in on the third weekend of July for the annual French Days festival, which celebrates the area’s French legacy, or check out the museum in the old French hospital.

If you´re looking for a more active adventure, just south of town are two intense mountain hikes. Start the 743 summit up Sandfell on the trail head between the farms Víkurgerði and Vík, or for something a little more challenging, the iconic Digritindur will take you an entire day to complete. There isn’t a well-marked trail – simply start the steep ascent from the abandoned farm Sævarendi. (Do this one on a day with good visibility.)

Tricolor bike in Fáskrúðsfjörður. Photo credit: Katrin Sif Einarsdottir

Want to know more about Iceland? Check out our podcast. We chat about where to capture the best photos in Iceland, how to speak like a Viking (almost), and how a social policy got the country to the World Cup.

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