The hidden grandeur of Northern Iceland

If we are building a list of hidden gems around the world, Iceland should not be on this list. Everyone knows Iceland is the epitome of natural beauty and offers so much for a relatively small island. A photographer’s paradise and filled with natural spectacles seen nowhere else, most have been recommended to visit “The Land of Fire and Ice”. However, there remains one relatively untouched region of the country, Northern Iceland, an area I have been very lucky to have visited.

As part of a five week expedition across Iceland, my group and I spent two weeks in the north west of the country. For the first few days we were based in Isafjordur, a small, sleepy fishing village (which was still the third largest town in Iceland). It was so quaint and so quintessentially Scandinavian, where barely anyone spoke English and old painted timber houses and buildings lined the streets. Occasionally, a cruise ship, probably on a circuit around Iceland, would pull into the dock with a small trickle of tourists in tow. But that was all there was of the outside world.

From here, we travelled even further north to the most northern point of Iceland, Hornvik. When I say the area was untouched, I mean it. There was nothing there, and there never has been. Arctic foxes with their summer coats were brave enough to try and steal food from us, and the air was so crisp and clean. Nearby waterfalls could be heard in the distance, and were so big and beautiful that if they were in the UK, or almost anywhere that wasn’t Iceland, they would be nationally recognised as the biggest and best. 

Our expedition took us further down the coastline where more stunning untouched scenery was waiting for us, and we were all repeatedly blown away. The water could not have been more blue and the grass could not have been more green. Think of what you know of the Scottish Highlands or the Lake District, and enhance that scenery tenfold. That is Northern Iceland.

If all these are not enough to entice you, what about the fact that it’s the perfect place to witness the magical allure of the midnight sun? Many people are not aware this is a thing, (I had no idea until I went) but the midnight sun is a sight to behold. The concept may sound alien, but it is truly a dazzling spectacle. I promise it will be the best sunset and sunrise you will ever see. 

It is worth noting, however, there is little attraction to Northern Iceland or reason to travel there if you are not an outdoorsy person. You will have to sleep in a tent, and you will have to do your business in a tiny triangular wooden hut (we called them Toblerone toilets), which I admit is not ideal. Personally, I would say that the sacrifice is definitely worth it.

As I said before, Iceland’s attractions are hardly a secret. Northern Iceland, as it is further out of the way, is as untouched now as it was thousands of years ago, so definitely look into making the trip before everyone else does.

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Sam Hewitson

Sam Hewitson

Travel Editor - 2019/20

Editor-In-Chief - 2020/21

February 2021
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