Tuesday 23 February 2016

ICELAND ROAD TRIP: Akureyri to Húsavík

We spent a couple of hours exploring Akureyri on the morning of our eight day in Iceland. Having arrived super late the previous evening we didn't get to see much as we drove through Iceland's second city at midnight. I'd wish we had stayed for two nights as there's plenty to keep you busy in this small 'city' for one full day

We visited a couple of the main sights including Listasafnið á Akureyri (Akureyri Art Museum) and Minjasafnið á Akureyri (Akureyri Museum) which had a fantastic exhibition about the first female president of Iceland. We also visited Nonnahús which the former home of Reverend Jón Sveinsson, a famous Icelandic children's writer.

We had breakfast at the chalet like cafe Bláa Kannan and later in the afternoon we stopped at Brynja for a delicious cup of ice cream.


Fortunately we didn't have much driving to do but we did have a couple of major stops en route to Húsavík that evening. The first stop was Goðafoss, one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland. It's on the main road so it's super easy to spot whilst you drive from Akureyri to Mývatn, our next stop.

Mývatn lake sits on the mid-Atlantic ridge and the surrounding area is covered in crazy geographic delights such as lava formations and volcanic craters. Our first stop was Hverfell, an enormous volcanic crater. We climbed to the top which was more difficult than it looks thanks to the loose gravel. It's quite a view from the top as you look across the vast crater, I felt like I was on the moon. The weather was truly abysmal the day we visited so I didn't take many pictures of the surrounding area which is a shame because the lake is lovely.

Our next stop on the lake was Dimmuborgir, a lava field that is dotted with crazy rock formations thanks to a lake of lava spilling into the area over 2000 years ago.

Unfortunately we didn't have time to stop Sigurgeir's Bird Museum by the south of the lake.

Just east of the lake is another volcanic area, Krafla where a power station harnesses the rich source of geothermal energy. We found Viti, a hidden green pool amongst a crater.

Our final stop in the area was Myvatn Nature Baths where we spent a little time in the geothermal swimming pool. Myvatn is known as the smaller, but just as special Blue Lagoon of the north and having been to both I completely understand why. The milky blue water is really magical looking and the volcanic surrounding make you feel like you're on Mars. Of course this isn't a cheap place to visit being a pretty huge tourist site but it's still significantly cheaper than its southern counterpart.I really enjoyed the swimming experience here but I couldn't quite get use to the overpowering smell of sulphur.

We reached Húsavík around 7pm that evening, it was less than an hour's drive from Mývatn so Steve really appreciated the lack of driving that day. We stayed at the lovely Arbol Guesthouse which is a short walk from the main road. The guesthouse as lovely with a really homely feeling. Our room was pretty spacious and the breakfast spread the following morning was a generous continental style spread.

Húsavík is famous for whale watching and not wanting to miss out on the action we booked ourselves a tour that evening with Gentle Giants. During the summer there are 8pm tours which is perfect if you've got lots of sight seeing planned during the day like us. We met at the harbour and were taken out on a little sail boat. We were given overalls as it's gets really cold and wet on the ocean. We were lucky and saw quite a few humpbacks over the course of a few hours but in all honesty I was glad to get back on dry land as I felt freezing and sea sick during most of the evening.

Once we got back to the harbour Steve and I soon discovered that there was nowhere open to grab dinner. Fortunately a petrol station was open so it was another evening of hot dogs for dinner with some crisps on the side to liven things up. I remember staying up really late evening finishing a job application, I was exhausted the next morning but the late night did pay off I got that job!

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