We recently had the opportunity to visit Akureyri, Iceland, the second largest city in the country. After spending time exploring the city, we rented a car and set out to explore the Trollaskagi (Troll) Peninsula.
The Trollaskagi Peninsula is located in the north of Iceland, and it’s known for its dramatic scenery, including towering cliffs, rugged mountains, and stunning fjords. The peninsula is also home to a number of small villages and fishing ports.
We started our drive from Akureyri and headed north towards the Mulagong Tunnel. The tunnel is the only road that crosses the mountains on the peninsula, and it’s a one-lane tunnel with occasional pull-offs. It can be a bit challenging to drive through, but the scenery is worth it.
Once we emerged from the tunnel, we continued on my way, stopping at several viewpoints to take in the stunning views. We also checked to the picturesque fishing village of Siglufjordur.
After driving through the Mulagong Tunnel, we stopped at Hofsós to check out the beautiful community pool that overlooks the fjords and the basalt columns right next to the pool. The local store sells everything from gas, groceries and very good ice cream cones!
The Hofsós community pool is definitely one of the most unique swimming pools in Iceland. It’s built right on the edge of the fjord, with stunning views of the mountains. The pool is also heated with geothermal water, so it’s always a refreshing experience.
Right next to the pool you will find several rows of tall, basalt columns. Although they are not quite as impressive as ones you see in Stuðlagil Canyon in East Iceland. There are hiking paths that lead further down past the columns for more beautiful views of the fjord. The path is steep and can be slippery in wet weather.
The pool is open year-round, and it’s a great place to relax and enjoy the scenery. There are also several hot tubs and a sauna, so you can really soak up the geothermal goodness.
Grafarkirkja is a beautiful old church, and it’s definitely worth a visit. The turfed roof and hand carved wooden beams are really impressive. And I love that you have to open a gate to get to the parking lot. It’s a reminder that you’re in a remote area, and that the local goats are free to roam.
The church was built in the 1700s, and it’s one of the oldest churches in Iceland. It’s located in a small village called Grafarholt, which is about an hour’s drive from Akureyri.
Day 2: Godafoss Waterfall
On our second day of the road trip, we drove to Godafoss waterfall. Along the way, we had to stop several times to wait for sheep to move out of the road. It was a bit of a nuisance, but it was also kind of cute to see so many sheep just wandering around.
Godafoss is located about 21 miles (34 kilometers) from Akureyri, and it’s one of the prettiest waterfalls in Iceland. It has a width of 98 feet (30 meters) and falls from a height of 39 feet (12 meters). The waterfall is said to have been named “Waterfall of the Gods” because it was here that the lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði threw his pagan idols into the falls in the year 1000, signifying the official conversion of Iceland to Christianity.
We spent some time exploring the waterfall, taking pictures, and just enjoying the beauty of nature. The best time to visit is during the spring or fall, when the crowds are smaller. We went in the summer and the bugs were overwhelming. Take a head net and insect repellent. There is a small parking lot at the falls, but it can fill up quickly. There are a few walking paths that lead to different viewpoints of the waterfall. Be sure to wear waterproof shoes, as the rocks can be slippery.
After leaving Godafoss, we drove to the Skutustadagigar pseudo-craters in the Lake Myvatn area. These craters were formed by steam explosions when lava flowed over a cool, wet surface about 2,300 years ago. The craters are not actually volcanic vents, but they are a unique and interesting geological formation.
We arrived early to beat the crowds and had the craters mostly to ourselves. We spent some time exploring the craters, hiking between them, and taking pictures. It was a really cool place, and I’m glad we had the chance to see it.
From Skutustadagigar, we drove to Dimmuborgir, also called the “Black Fortress.” Dimmuborgir is a lava field of unusual rock formations that were created by volcanic activity thousands of years ago. The formations are said to resemble a medieval fortress, hence the name.
We spent some time exploring Dimmuborgir, hiking around the lava tunnels and arches. It was a really eerie and atmospheric place, and I could definitely see why it’s a popular tourist destination. Several scenes from the popular movie, The Game of Thrones, were filmed here.
Hverir Geothermal Area
After Dimmuborgir, we drove to Hverir geothermal area. Hverir is a geothermal area at the foothill of Namafjall, not far from Lake Myvatn. The area is characterized by fumaroles, mud pots, and hot springs. The fumaroles are vents that emit steam and gases, while the mud pots are pools of boiling mud.
The colors of the area are also very striking, with the yellows, oranges, and reds of the sulfur deposits contrasting with the black of the rocks. The smell of sulfur is also very strong in the area.
Hverir is a popular tourist destination, but it’s important to be careful when visiting. The ground can be very hot, and the steam can be very hot and irritating to the skin. It’s also important to stay on the marked paths, as there are many dangerous areas in the geothermal area.
The history of Hverir is not well known, but it’s thought to have been formed by volcanic activity thousands of years ago. The geothermal activity in the area is caused by the heat from the magma chamber below the surface.
The Trip Back
After a quick stop at a local convenience store, we headed back to Akureyri. On our drive, we encountered some really thick patches of bugs. They were so thick that we ran out of wiper fluid and had to stop to clean the windshield. The bugs were so thick, at times it sounded like it was raining.
We had a amzing day exploring some of the most beautiful places in Iceland.