Justin Foulkes

North Iceland

Iceland’s mammoth and magnificent north is a geologist’s heaven. A wonderland of moonlike lava fields, belching mudpots, epic waterfalls, snowcapped peaks and whale-filled bays – this is Iceland at its best. The region’s top sights are variations on a couple of themes: the grumbling, volcanically active earth, and water and ice coursing towards the broad coast.

There are endless treats to discover: little Akureyri, with its surprising moments of big-city living; windy fjordside pastures full of stout Viking horses; and fishing villages clinging tenaciously to life at the end of unsealed roads.

Prepare to be enticed by offshore islands populated by colonies of seabirds and a few hardy locals; lonely peninsulas stretching out towards the Arctic Circle; white-water rapids ready to deliver an adrenaline kick; national-park walking trails to reach unparalleled views; unhyped and underpopulated ski fields; and underwater marvels that woo divers into frigid depths.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout North Iceland.