East Fjords: the Most Underrated Site in Iceland

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Significantly less talked about than the country’s West Fjords, the East Fjords were our biggest surprise on our Iceland road trip and hands down one of the most underrated sites in Iceland. I planned for our Iceland trip for months so I pretty much knew what to expect in every place. Except when it came to driving the East Fjords. If you’re traveling around Iceland, there’s a good chance that your schedule is packed. We were hitting the road by 8:00 a.m. and ending after 8:00 p.m. every day and still didn’t see everything we wanted. Our shoes put on quite a few miles and we were sacrificing sleep most of the trip. In order to maintain our stamina for the remainder of the trip, we decided to take a “rest” day by driving the eastern fjords in the middle of our trip. The total drive time was only 5 hours between hotels, so we could sleep in and take the day in strides. To say it was amazing would be an understatement. We had time to stop at random places along the road, we had scenery that blew us out of the water, and we got to give our feet a rest. The fjords themselves are not only beautiful, but a day spent driving them is exactly what the doctor ordered.

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Before starting along the Fjords, we stopped to take in the view of Vestrahorn mountain from Stokksnes. Set your GPS to Stokksnes and it brings you to the base of the mountain where you have to stop in the coffee shop to pay a fee to cross the road/beach that leads to Stokksnes. We weren’t sure how the rest of our day would go so we crossed the road just for this snapshot, but you can stay and explore the black sand beaches and coast. Rumor has it, seals tend to like to hang out in the waters around Stokksnes – it looked like a fun place to explore if you have the time.

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When you’re done exploring Stokksnes, set your GPS to some mix of the following towns in order to drive through the east fjords:

  • Djúpivogur
  • Fáskrúðsfjörður
  • Neskaupstaður
  • Seyðisfjörður  

You’ll start out on route 1 but eventually veer away from it to stay along the fjords. Travel on this road is primarily paved, though there is one stretch where a few miles are rocky gravel. Throughout the journey, the road goes over, around, and even through several mountain ranges. This was the first and only day that we saw wild reindeer – and one even jumped across the road in front of us (fortunately, we just missed him). There were a few horses and some sheep, but for the most part the view was just sweeping landscapes. We did make one little friend along the way who I’m convinced would have followed us to our car if there wasn’t a barrier separating us. This guy nudged us for more pets and posed for some pretty epic viking horse shots if you ask me.

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Now, this day is all about driving, but that doesn’t mean we skipped getting out of the car and exploring a little bit. The first place we stumbled upon was an unsuspecting rest stop that served as a trail head into a small forest. I so wish we had planned for this ahead of time because we would have skipped sleeping in to spend a little time on the trails. I walked about half a mile up and it seemed to promise great views with snowcapped mountains in the background.

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To access the parking lot, pull off at the Askur pull off (which is between Stokksnes and Djúpivogur and nowhere on a map that I can tell).

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Also, keep an eye out for interesting lookouts and pull-offs. Before you reach the fjords, you drive along the atlantic coast where you are guaranteed to come across more black sand beaches, rocky coastline, and beautiful views for miles (all themes of our Iceland trip!). We also came across some pretty stellar waterfalls that weren’t on the travel blogs or books. My favorite find was the Fossardalur turn-off where we saw the bluest water in all of Iceland. This is saying a lot considering all of the water in the country is crystal clear!

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While the pull-offs were great, the real star are the fjords and towns that you come across when driving around them. We stopped and took pictures in every town. We grabbed coffee in the charming town of Fáskrúðsfjörður, got out and climbed some hills to see waterfalls in Eskifjörður, and trekked through the snow between Eskifjörður and Neskaupstaður. Along the way, the views were beautiful and unlike any other part of Iceland.

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We ended our day in Egilsstaðir but if you can, look for VRBO or Airbnb in one of these east fjord towns. You wont regret it!

 

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