There are so many natural wonders to see and fun things to do in East Iceland. This portion of the Land of Fire and Ice is full of beautiful nature spots and hidden gems worth discovering.
Found clear on the opposite side of the country from the capital city of Reykjavik, eastern Iceland is too far for day-trippers from the city to visit. The only way to see this wild and widely untouched part of Iceland is to drive the Ring Road and take a few days to fully explore the area.
There are cascading waterfalls, deep canyons, small towns, and unique attractions to find in East Iceland. You should not pass up the opportunity to take a deep dive into this region.
You can expect to find fewer crowds here as you stop at each of the sites on this list. If you have the time to spare, make sure you fill your Iceland itinerary with these places to visit in East Iceland.
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14 Best Things To Do In East Iceland
Hike to Hengifoss and Litlanesfoss
We will start this list with some waterfalls since these natural wonders are some of the most loved sites in Iceland. This first hike will hit two awesome waterfalls. Round trip, this hike is three miles and some of it can be difficult, so come prepared.
You will see the first waterfall after trekking for about 1.3 miles. Litlanesfoss flows through some of the largest basalt columns in Iceland and is a beautiful sight to behold.
Keep hiking and you will find Hengifoss, the third largest waterfall in Iceland. This water feature crashes down 420 feet over a cliff streaked with red clay. Because of its location in eastern Iceland, there will be fewer crowds than the waterfalls on the southern coast. The hike might be hard, but it is so worth it to see a couple of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland.
Get Your Breath Taken Away by Gufufoss
Gufufoss is another of the waterfalls in East Iceland. This 39-foot waterfall has a similar look to Skogafoss but there will be way fewer people vying for the perfect photo. The name of this waterfall translates to “Steam Falls” which is an apt name since there tends to be a lot of vapor shrouding it.
The great thing about this waterfall is that it is much more accessible than Hengifoss. You only have to walk a few minutes from the parking lot to see Gufufoss. This is great if you do not have time for a long hike. It is easy to fit Gufufoss into your East Iceland itinerary.
Become Awed by Vestrahorn
Found on the Stokksnes Peninsula, Vestrahorn is one of the most iconic and photogenic mountains in Iceland. Rising above a gorgeous, black sand beach, you could not dream of a moodier or more enticing place for a photoshoot. In spring, the bright, purple lupine flowers Iceland is known for add an element of magic to the scene.
There is a small entrance fee to access the beach, but it is 100% worth it! Come for sunrise or sunset to add even more drama. In the winter, you might be able to glimpse the Northern Lights here as well. When the tide comes in, the water will reflect the mountains and the sky. How incredible is that?!
Find a Viking Village Replica
Included in the fee to visit the beach mentioned above is access to a Viking village replica on the Stokksnes Peninsula. Since it is included in the price, you might as well take some time to check it out. This is one of the most unique things to do in East Iceland and should not be missed.
This Viking village was built in 2010 for a movie that was never produced. Luckily for Iceland travelers, the village is now open to explore in full.
After paying the fee at the Viking Café, take the short walk to the village pass sheep and cute, Icelandic horses. The village is encircled by a fence and is full of wooden buildings covered in grass. After being left to the elements for so many years, you can easily pretend you are in a real, historic Viking village. You are sure to get some epic Instagram photos here!
Take a Photo With the Red Chair Art Installation
This next East Iceland attraction is random and certainly unique! On the Ring Road between Hofn and Egilsstadir, sitting in an otherwise empty landscape, you will come across the Red Chair. This mysterious art installation draws the eye with its bright color and obscure presence.
Pull over to take a picture of yourself sitting on this oversized chair. It is bolted onto a large rock and surrounded by moss. Maybe send a picture of it to your friends back home and see how they react.
With mountains in the distance, you can’t argue that this strange chair is a pretty place to sit. Stopping at the Red Chair on your Ring Road drive will give you the chance to stretch your legs and see a humorous Iceland attraction you will not soon forget.
Photograph Hvalnes Lighthouse
The bright orange color and funky shape of the Hvalnes Lighthouse attract travelers and photographers who visit East Iceland. With a height of 38 feet, this structure stands guard over the beaches of the Hvalnes Nature Reserve. This lighthouse was built in 1954 and is still in operation today.
Though you cannot tour the inside, it is still a great stop on your Ring Road drive since it is close to the road and does not take long to visit. Since its color stands out starkly against the dull landscape, you are sure to snap a few photos of it before moving on to your next destination.
Find Moody Beaches on the Laekjavik Coast
The Laekjavik Coast runs between Hofn and Djupivogur. These black sand beaches are not as popular as others in Iceland, so you will have fewer people blocking your view. Even though the cool beaches are visible from the Ring Road, they remain a hidden gem.
Walk along the beach and take in sights of the rock formations and powerful waves of the ocean. You will even find a cool, rectangular rock that begs to be photographed. Like any beach in Iceland, be cautious of the waves and do not swim. View the water from a distance to stay safe.
Hike the Studlagil Canyon
If you want to see one of the best canyons in Iceland, then you need to go to Studlagil Canyon. Walled on either side by black basalt cliffs and filled will bright blue glacial water, this canyon is jaw-dropping. This hidden gem in East Iceland needs to be added to your itinerary pronto!
If you like feeling like a character on a quest in a fantasy novel, then you will love hiking to Studlagil Canyon. At just under six miles round trip, this hike is not for the light of heart. Most of the trail is not maintained and can be tricky in parts. Wear appropriate shoes and be careful not to slip. Along the way, you will also see the beautiful Studlafoss waterfall.
Soak in the Djupavogskorin Hot Spring
What is a trip to Iceland without a dip in natural hot springs? The Djupavogskorin Hot Spring in East Iceland is not far from the Ring Road. The spring is about the size of two bathtubs, making this a great spot for a romantic couple’s soak. A hill hides the spring from the road, so you have privacy.
With wonderful views of nature as well as peace and quiet away from large groups, your time at the Djupavogskorin Hot Spring is sure to be memorable. As with any hot springs in Iceland, you are responsible for cleaning up after yourself so the next visitors can enjoy it as well.
Visit the Town of Seydisfjordur
Seydisfjordur is a cute town in East Iceland full of charm and brightly colored buildings. Probably the most photographed building here is the bright blue and white trimmed church. A rainbow painted on the road will lead you to the church where you can take tours in the summer.
Along with the church Seydisfjordur also offers a nearby ski area in the winter and a golf course in the summer. There are also museums and a lighthouse to visit. Plenty of beautiful hikes will lead you to amazing waterfalls and mountain views.
While this fishing village was once a hidden gem, it is gaining more and more popularity because of social media. It is found about half an hour from the Ring Road so you do not have to drive forever to get to Seydisfjordur. There are also plenty of places to stay here if you want to spend a night or two in this adorable east coast city.
Walk Through the Hallormsstadur National Forest
Iceland is not a country known for trees, but there are still some forests to discover if you know where to look. The Hallormsstadur National Forest is the largest forest in Iceland and is found next to Lagarfljot Lake.
Hiking and camping are popular pastimes here. There are eleven marked trails that will lead you among the over eighty species of trees growing in this forest. Compared with the rest of the country, you will have a hard time believing you are still in Iceland as the trees surround you on all sides.
Visit the Hallormsstadur Arboretum where trees have been protected since 1905. There are horses you can rent if you want to ride through the forest. Boat rentals allow you to get out on the lake too.
Mjoifjordur translates to the “Narrow Fjord” and this area is known for its beauty and calm weather. This East Iceland fjord and the small town of the same name found on its shores are worth visiting if you want to travel Iceland off the beaten path.
The town of Mjoifjordur is home to only a handful of people and is accessible for only a few months each year because of snow. If you plan your trip right, you can spend time exploring along this fjord.
Scenic hikes here will bring you to remote waterfalls that you may have all to yourself. If you love lighthouses, you will want to see the Dalatangi Lighthouse which stands out against the landscape because of its bright, orange color.
Another cool and unique thing to find on Mjoifjordur is an old World War II, U.S. Navy shipwreck. Surrounded by moody mountains and water, this rusty ship skeleton is a photographer’s dream. Clearly, this is one of the best east fjords in Iceland.
Enjoy the Magic of Storurd
With vividly blue water and mossy boulders, visiting Storurd will make you feel as if you have stepped into a world of fairies and gnomes. This beautiful valley is an Iceland hidden gem nestled in the Dyrfjoll mountains. The name of this place translates to “Giant Boulders” and these rocks found their way to this valley during the last Ice Age.
If you want to see Storurd for yourself, you have to be ready for quite the hike. Bring your hiking boots and pack plenty of water and snacks because the hike is about five miles round trip over rugged terrain.
The journey is worth the destination, especially since the trek brings you through gorgeous lands. Start the hike at the Vatnskard Service Center.
Spot Puffins at Borgarfjardarhofn
Borgarfjardarhofn is one of the best places in Iceland to find puffins. In the summer, thousands of birds flock here to nest each year. If you are looking for an easy and safe place to watch these magnificent and quirky creatures, then come to this area of East Iceland from mid-April to mid-August.
There are shelters and wooden platforms where you can bird-watch without fear of damaging burrows or falling off the cliffs. These platforms allow you to get a close look at the puffins, but be sure not to disturb these protected birds. Along with puffins, you can catch a glimpse of other bird species, including fulmar, kittiwake, and common eider.
Don’t pass on East Iceland! There are just as many amazing things to do and see here as there are in more touristy areas of the country. You get beautiful waterfalls, small towns, and wonderful hiking trails all with fewer crowds. If you plan on completing the Ring Road, make sure to schedule enough time to see some of these East Iceland attractions. You will not regret it!