Akureyri and North Iceland

From Húsavík, Route 85 leads back to the Ring Road, with the choice then of an eastward turn towards Goðafoss, Mývatn and Dettifoss, or a westward trundle towards Akureyri. Route 87 follows a parallel track, but is only partially sealed.

Goðafoss is easily located, just off Route 1 to the east of the turn off to Route 85. There’s access to the falls on both sides, allowing a close up look at the waterfall that has great significance in Iceland’s religious history.

Further eastwards lies Mývatn, the lake of the midges, which could easily occupy a full day by itself.

Route 1 skirts the northern and western edge of Mývatn, while fully sealed Route 848 covers the eastern and southern stretches. Better pictures across the lake can be taken from the northern shores.

The lake itself is huge, taking well over an hour to circuit. Along the way, there are several significant sites to consider making a stop to visit, accessed through a mesmerising lava strewn landscape.

Halfway down 848 lies the short detour to Dimmuborgir, an astounding conglomeration of bizarre lava formations, with a number of easy walks of varying lengths amongst them.

Another option is an ascent up Hverfjell, an enormous tephra crater that lies adjacent to Route 848. If the midges are flying, getting above their operating height by climbing up here may provide a welcome escape.

When looking south from its northern shore, huge flat topped mountains can be seen, remnants of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge volcanic activity that created the topography of the area.

Heading westwards away from Mývatn, the approach into Akureyri from the eastern side of Eyjafjörður is a gorgeous stretch of Route 1, as the road drops down to cross a lengthy bridge at the head of the fjord before looping back on the other side into Iceland’s second city.

Cruise liners are frequent visitors here, increasing the population and adding to the hustle and bustle in the cafes, restaurants and bars.

Towering above the town is imposing Akureyrikirkja, a more boxy church than Hallgrímskirkja, which the same architect produced for Reykjavík, but still very impressive.

Akureyri’s main street, Hafnarstræti, has a generous selection of bars, cafes and restaurants to choose from, with good burgers to be found at Akureyri Backpackers and good beer at Götubarinn in particular.

A sweet little Akureyri touch is that the red traffic lights are heart shaped.

There’s also a tiny monument to fishermen to be found harbourside, behind the large circular Höfn cultural centre building.