After driving through the desolate south coast, or the barely populated areas in the East Fjords, arriving in Höfn truly feels like entering a metropolis. Therefore Höfn, also known as Höfn í Hornafirði, is quite an important center for tourists who travel around Iceland’s ring road. However, the tiny town has scarcely more than 2200 citizens.
Höfn is located in the southeastern part of Iceland, near the Hornafjörður fjord.
Area: 6,280 km²
Location: Eastern Region, Iceland
Best time to visit: Winter
Top attractions: Hornafjörður Art Museum, Huldusteinn stone museum, Gamlabúð
Irish monks are believed to have lived in this area before the Vikings arrived in around 870 AD/CE. Later on, a farm belonging to one of the first Vikings to settle in Iceland was established, situated a little to the east of where the town stands today, in the area called Horn, “horn” has exactly the same meaning in English.
People actually started settling at Höfn less than two centuries ago, they came to work in the fishing industry, Höfn officially became a town in 1988. The high-value Norwegian lobster and the Icelandic lobster catch are now landed and processed in Höfn, making it the Lobster Capital of Iceland. Today, thanks to the growing number of fisheries and tourism, the town is blooming.
The land is dominated by stunning mountains, wide rivers and giant glaciers, the scenery of this place is mind-blowing.
Höfn - literally translates to Harbor. Sitting on the shores of the totally breathtaking Hornafjörður, in the shadows of the largest ice cap in Europe, the majestic Vatnajökull, is magical. Hornafjörður, however, is technically not a fjord, but a large freshwater lagoon, formed by the sediment left by powerful glacial rivers.
More accommodation options in the Vatnajökull region.
Hvalnes Nature Reserve with a beautiful yellow lighthouse and the picturesque Eystrahorn mountain, located nearby, is an absolute must-see. The black sandy beach stretches over a few kilometers, images of the surrounding mountains are mirrored in the water on calm days.
Stokksnes and the Vestrahorn mountain, just the other side of the bay, have a beauty that is equally breathtaking. Surrounded by grassy black sand dunes, this place is also the perfect playground for both amateur and professional photographers.
Hoffellsjökull is one of the closest glacier tongues to Höfn, located approximately 25 km from the town. There are some nice, short walks and longer hiking trails in the area, with excellent panoramic views over this glacier tongue, which calves into a small lake.
Fláajökull is another nearby glacier tongue, around 30 km from Höfn. A great walking trail leads from the parking area to this glacial tongue.
Heinabergsjökull glacier tongue is just next to Fláajökull. Its glacier lagoon is a fabulous hidden treasure.
Diamond beach, Jökulsárlón and Breiðamerkurjökull glacier are located about 80 km from Jökulsárlón. Höfn is the closest town to Iceland’s most admired natural wonder, this epic glacier lagoon with giant floating icebergs, seals and ice diamonds on the black sea shore.
The source of these monumental ice chunks, a glacier tongue called Breiðamerkurjökull, is an even more unique treasure, a Crystal Ice Cave, hidden within its depths. This cave can be visited from November to March but the glacier lagoon and Diamond beach are accessible all year round.