Head off the beaten track and enjoy the untouched beauty of the North Coast. The region was ranked as the third-best destination in Europe by Lonely Planet in 2019, attributed to its impressive scenery and endless wilderness adventures and wildlife watching opportunities without the crowds. As the name hints, the Arctic Coast Way is the only place where you can cross into the Arctic Circle in Iceland. In the summer there are numerous spots to enjoy the midnight sun and in the winter it offers prime Northern Lights views.
Along with its natural sites, the route is sprinkled with charming fishing towns and villages, spread from Hvammstangi to Bakkafjörður. Explore the culture and history of Iceland’s traditional settlements.
To help you plan your trip we have divided the region into three categories to help you create your own individualized itinerary.
Part 1: The Coast of Sagas and Mythology in North Iceland
The first stop on the Arctic Coast Way is Hvammstangi, a northwest trading town. This part of the route features rugged seascapes, snow-peaked mountains, and hot springs. Like many natural attractions in Iceland, many of the stops in this area are connected to Icelandic mythology and sagas.
Before beginning your journey, take time to explore Hvammstangi. Stop by the Commercial Museum, which sheds light on the fishing communities of the north. The nearby seal colonies are another highlight, accessible by boat tour or at the nearby beaches. Don’t hit the road right away and take a quick dip in the community hot pool.
Skagafjörður Peninsula and Tindastóll Mountain
Grettislaug Hot Spring
Part 2: Coast of Fishing Towns and Heritage in North Iceland
The second half of the route highlights the culture and history of North Iceland. Starting from the 9th-century fishing has been an important pillar in the country's economy. Communities created around fishing areas have a rich and fascinating heritage and should be included in your Arctic Coast Way itinerary. Many of these settlements are located in the area's scenic fjords.
Dalvík is one of the most famous northern fishing villages, popular for its outstanding skiing and whale watching. Stop in this colorful town for the best fresh fish. Also on this part of the route is access to Grímsey Island, the only part of Iceland actually located within the Arctic Circle. Grímsey Island can be reached with just a short ferry ride from Dalvík.
Eyjafjörður Peninsula, Dalvík and Grímsey Island
Part 3: Coast of Elemental Nature in North Iceland
The last major town on the coast way is Húsavík, located in Eyjafjörður Peninsula. Húsavík has become popular with tourists as the whale-watching hub of Iceland. For visitors who can't get enough of these giant sea animals, the town created the Húsavík Whale Museum. Húsavík gained even more fame in 2020 after the town was used as the backdrop for Will Ferrell's Netflix comedy "Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga."
From Húsavík you will reach the pristine nature of the northeast. Overflowing with diverse geology, glacial rivers, active volcanoes, deep canyons, and Europe's most powerful waterfalls, this part of the coast way showcases some of the best mother nature has to offer.
Þistilfjörður (Thistilfjördur) Bay and Bakkafjörður