No trip to East Iceland would be complete without visiting the fjords. Although there is no official boundary, the East Fjords of Iceland stretch from Borgarfjörður Eystri in the north to Djúpivogur in the south.
The sea literally carved out slivers of the Icelandic mountain ranges to form these splendid fjords. A land of small fishing ports, each more charming than the last, and fjords with unforgettable panoramas.
The village of Seyðisfjörður
The fjords as geological formations date back several million years when this region of Iceland underwent major glaciations. These carved out the valleys to create the fjords we know today.
While the East fjords of Iceland are not as huge as those that can be found in the northwest (Vestfirðir) of Iceland, they are on the other hand more densely packed. The peaks are also quite impressive here, sometimes exceeding 1,000 meters, while the longest fjord in the east is Seyðisfjörður with its 17 km.
Beyond the typical small fishing ports you will find at the bottom of the fjords, the region is widely known for its exceptional hiking trails, in particular those of Víknaslóðir.
This is not the Iceland of volcanoes, desert, and lunar landscapes, but rather the Iceland mountains, cliffsides, florid meadows, and waterfalls. Waterfalls are countless in this region, in fact it seems you can't drive 5 minutes without seeing a cascade, and even if they are less known than the famous ones of the south of Iceland, there are hundreds of them in all the fjords.
Regarding wildlife, the east is the only place in Iceland where you can observe reindeer, which love to graze around the fjords. Polar foxes are also present near the coasts, where they can catch their next meal thanks to the rich birdlife.
Road number 1 will get you there from Myvatn to the north, or from Höfn further the south. Egilsstaðir for example is located 175 km (2H drive) from Myvatn and 185 km (2H45 drive) from Höfn. The ring road also gets you directly to the Reyðarfjörður fjord.
There are no less than ten fjords in East Iceland, all of which are accessible in summer via the road to Egilsstaðir. The village of Egilsstaðir, though not located in a fjord, is considered the capital or at least the crossroads of the eastern fjords.
Indeed, the secondary roads 94, 95 and 93 all start from Egilsstaðir and lead to Borgarfjörður Eystri (Bakkagerdi), Breiðdalsvik, and Seyðisfjörður respectively.
There are a few more well-known villages in the East Fjords. Egilsstaðir is the crossroads and the only major town in the East with its 2700 inhabitants. Seyðisfjörður is known to be the main port of arrival by boat for travelers from Europe and probably the prettiest village in the East along with that of Borgarfjörður Eystri.
Among the most famous villages are:
Ideally, you should visit in summer. Indeed, while you can visit most of the fjords from April, some roads, particularly the 953 leading to Mjóifjörður for example, are only open late from June.
The Eastern Fjords are famous for their rather sunny climate in summer, generally more than elsewhere on the island. Foggy mornings are very common at the inland end of the fjord, but this will usually lift by midday. Temperatures often exceed 20°C or even 25°C, which is rather hot for Iceland. A record temperature of 27.5°C was recorded in 2021.
The weather is however variable and quick to change, sometimes cloudy at the bottom of a fjord but beautiful weather a few kilometers towards the sea, or after hike to gain some altitude.
In winter the fjords often become isolated from the world, the roads completely cut off and the villages accessible only by sea.
Depending on your itinerary and what you want to do, you can take a day-trip there, but you wouldn't run out of things to do even after a full week! For a two-week trip to Iceland, spending two days in the eastern fjords seems like an ideal stay.
If we had to highlight a few must-sees for two days in the east, the villages, and fjords of Seyðisfjörður and Borgarfjörður Eystri would be at the top of the list. Then when you drive to the next point on your itinerary you can simply take the scenic route along the coast and take photo breaks in the other fjords.
The French village of Fáskrúðsfjörður is also worthy of note for its history. Fáskrúðsfjörður served as a supply port for French fishermen who came from Brittany to fish in Icelandic waters. It has become a sort of French enclave in Iceland, and even signs are written in French there.
Here are five major tourist spots in the East Fjords you don't want to miss.
If there was to be only one village to visit in the east, it would probably be Seyðisfjörður. This place is known for its dazzling colorful houses and blue church, and there are also excellent restaurants.
It's a great place to stay for a few nights.
A little more difficult to access than the previous recommendation, Borgarfjörður Eystri, otherwise called Bakkagerdi, is a superb village located at the bottom of an exceptionally beautiful fjord in the heart of the mountains. The Dyrfjöll mountains are absolutely stunning, their amazing colors contrasting vividly with the green meadows and the blue sea.
At the bottom of the village there is even a site known to host a huge colony of Atlantic puffins.
The most French village in Iceland, this place has a fascinating cultural history. All the signs are translated into French there, and many references to France can be found in the village.
Possibly the most beautiful hike in all of eastern Iceland. The Storurð trail is an exceptional mountain excursion near Bakkagerdi that leads to the heart of the Dyrfjöll mountains, where lie the "giant boulders" around vivid turquoise mountain lakes. The place is simply magical.
Mjóifjörður is both a small town and a fjord on the east coast of the island. Mjóifjörður (Brekka) is a tiny village of only 42 inhabitants, the very definition of quaint. Mjóifjörður is just one of the many fjords in the region and even though it is one of the least frequented, the fjord is absolutely magnificent.
To take full advantage of your time in the eastern fjords, we recommend staying in the Egilsstaðir region which is close to all the fjords, and even better to find accommodation in a fjord. The ideal choice seems to be that of Seyðisfjörður.
Not only is it the most beautiful fjord, but it is close to Egilsstaðir as well. On site, in the village, there are many accommodation options and some very good restaurants.
For a night's stay and a good meal, the Aldan Hotel and Snaefell Hotel are the top choices in the village. For a drink, we recommend the Café Lara near the church which serves local craft beer that is top shelf.
For lunch, the Skaftfell Bistro is also a great find with an original decor where you can wine and dine in what appears to be a library.
The village offers camping spots from May 1st to October 30, for a rate of 1650 ISK per adult. The campsite is right in the center and very well located with an incredible view of the fjord for you to wake up to.