10 May

Inspired by Iceland

4 minute read

Austurland Guide

Austurland Guide

Top things to see and do while in East Iceland.

Puffin in Borgarfjordur, East Iceland. Photo: Thorsteinn Roy

There are plenty of puffins in Borgarfjordur, East Iceland. Photo: Thorsteinn Roy

We've said it before, and we will repeat it. It is hard to narrow down the "best of" in Iceland's seven regions because you could spend a lifetime exploring each.

From colorful canyons (and even more colorful puffins), glaciers, hiking and biking trails galore, huge waterfalls, and charming seaside villages, the Austurland Region is ready for you to make memories. Here is a list (not in order of importance) to help get you started with ideas.

Stuðlagil Canyon 

We think you'll agree; there are simply no bad angles to Stuðlagil. From the viewing platform on the canyon's west side or from ground level after a hike on the east side, the basalt columns and stunning blue waters are a photographer's dream.  

Hengifoss Waterfall 

Hengifoss is one of Iceland's tallest waterfalls and an Austurland highlight. It is genuinely picturesque, with its narrow stream, cascading off the cliffs, marked by black basalt patterns and distinctive lines of tertiary red lava layers.  

It takes 40-60 minutes to walk to the waterfall from the parking lot and is a worthy addition to your Austurland itinerary⁠. 

Rainbow Street in Seyðisfjörður 

In 2016, Seyðisfjörður residents gathered to paint Norðurgata Street to celebrate the local Pride Walk. The street was such a big hit that now it is a permanent feature. Every summer, the rainbow is re-painted. Rainbow Street is now one of the most photographed streets in Iceland—and the charming blue church and striking mountain backdrop certainly add to its appeal!  

Studlagil Canyon, East Iceland. Photo: Icelandic Explorer
Hengifoss Waterfall, East Iceland. Photo: Þorsteinn Roy Jóhannsson
Rainbow Street, Seydisfjordur, East Iceland. Photo: Icelandic Explorer

(L to R) Studlagil Canyon Photo: Icelandic Explorer. Hengifoss Waterfall. Photo: Þorsteinn Roy Jóhannsson. Rainbow Street, Seydisfjordur. Photo: Icelandic Explorer.

Klifbrekkufossar Waterfall 

Chasing waterfalls? Remote Mjóifjörður delivers the goods! Klifbrekkufossar is gorgeous, with water cascading in several tiers down the mountainside. For a sense of its majestic scale, can you spot the people in the photo? 

Bustarfell Museum, Vopnafjörður 

Travel back in time at the photogenic Bustarfell Museum in a spectacular valley outside Vopnafjörður. This evocative turf farm has been in the same family for almost 500 years! Inside the red-gabled, grass-roofed farmhouses, you can trace the family's history while learning about Iceland's path to modernization  

Burstarfell was a working farm until 1966—and the museum manager was born here! Stop by for a warm welcome, coffee and cake, a walk, and precious insights into Austurland life in the past.

Vök Baths 

Vök Baths is an Austurland highlight and the perfect place to relax regardless of weather conditions. What makes Vök Baths so distinctive are its floating geothermal pools with infinity views of Lake Urriðavatn. The two on-shore hot pools, sauna, cold water spray tunnel, tea bar, in-pool bar, and stop at the Vök Bistro are the icing on the cake of a perfectly relaxing day.

Klifbrekkufossar Waterfall, Mjóifjörður, East Iceland. Photo: Icelandic Explorer
Dog sitting in front of Bustarfell Museum, Vopnafjörður, East Iceland. Photo: Jessica Auer
Aerial view of Vök Baths and the floating infinity pools, East Iceland. Photo: Icelandic Explorer

(L to R) Klifbrekkufossar Waterfall, in Mjóifjörður, East Iceland. Photo: Icelandic Explorer. Bustarfell Museum, Vopnafjörður. Photo: Jessica Auer. Aerial view of Vök Baths and the floating infinity pools in Lake Urriðavatn. Photo: Icelandic Explorer.

Petra's stone collection   

Throughout her life, Petra Sveinsdóttir amassed a beautiful collection of Icelandic minerals, predominantly from the Austurland area. Collecting stones was her hobby. Her home and garden slowly developed into a collector's paradise. Today tens of thousands of people visit Petra's annually. Passion pays off in Austurland!

Puffins, puffins, and more puffins  

Puffins are among the biggest crowd-pleasers in Iceland each spring and summer. In Austurland, the best place to see them is in Borgarfjörður eystri. Did you know puffins mate for life? After spending the winter at sea, these colorful, comical birds return to Iceland each spring to their favorite nesting burrow. The best place to come face-to-beak with a puffin is in the beautiful Austurland fjord called Borgarfjörður eystri. About 5km from the small village of Borgarfjörður eystri is Hafnarhólmi, a puffin-watching paradise! 

The Eggs of Merry Bay  

The Eggs of Merry Bay (Eggin í Gleðivík in Icelandic) is an outdoor artwork installation by renowned Icelandic artist Sigurður Guðmundsson (b. 1942). Along the harbor are 34 large stone sculptures of birds' eggs that nest near Djúpivogur. The egg sculptures' unique shapes and smooth granite beg to be touched and reflect the town's strong connection with nature. Sigurður's large sculptures are found in public spaces across the Nordics and Central Europe. Not limited to just sculpture, Sigurður works with photography, drawings, graphic art, and performance art and has even composed music and written books. He lives and works in Djúpivogur, Reykjavík, Amsterdam, and Xiamen, China.

While in Djúpivogur, be sure to check out one of Iceland's newest art museums, ARS LONGA. This contemporary art museum was founded by Sigurður Guðmundsson and Þór Vigfússon in 2021 and is a premier venue for international contemporary art in Iceland.

Petra's stone collection, East Iceland. Photo: Jessica Auer
Puffin, East Iceland. Photo: Þorsteinn Roy Jóhannsson
The Eggs of Merry Bay, Djupivogur, East Iceland. Photo: Jessica Auer

(L to R) Petra's stone collection. Photo: Jessica Auer. Never enough puffins! Photo: Þorsteinn Roy Jóhannsson. The Eggs of Merry Bay, Djupivogur. Photo: Jessica Auer.

Sláturhúsið Cultural Center 

The Center for Art and Culture in Fljotsdalsherad (MMF)is in the Slaturhusid building in Egilsstadir. The Center received a massive facelift over the past few years and is a welcoming gathering spot in the region. It is a multi-purpose center used for performing arts, exhibition space, sharing, teaching, and community event hub. Performing arts are the main focus but stop in as there are rotating art exhibitions. 

Skriðuklaustur House

Skriðuklaustur House is the gorgeous stone home of writer Gunnar Gunnarsson and a historic site of monastery ruins revealed by an archaeological excavation between 2002 and 2012. Skriðuklaustur is near Fljótsdalur, Hengifoss, and Snæfell visitor center. One of East Iceland's best restaurants, Klausturkaffi, is on the ground floor of Skriðuklaustur. They offer a delicious lunch buffet with local produce and mouth-watering cakes. Highly recommended!

Vatnajökull National Park 

The northeast corner of Vatnajökull National Park is part of the Austurland Region. The area includes Snæfell and Geldingafell Mountains, Eyjabakkar wetlands, the cirque glacier of Sótavistir, and many more exciting places to visit. Stop in at the Snæfell Hut, and the rangers will be more than happy to provide information about hiking trails, conditions, and areas of interest. 

Food & drink

The Austurland Region offers various restaurants and eateries with regional fare ranging from burgers, sushi, fine dining, fish, and cakes Support of local farmers and the use of regional ingredients is a cornerstone of food in East Iceland. You can find something for every palate. Here are some regional recommendations. Iceland's microbrewery scene has taken off in the past ten years. Austurland is no exception; local breweries reflect the region's flavors and brewing influences.


Klausturkaffi is a small restaurant in the Skriðuklaustur Mansion close to Egilsstadir, East Iceland. Photo: Jessica Auer
Snæfell is the largest freestanding mountain in Iceland and is in East Iceland.
Nielsen Restaurant, Egilsstaðir, East Iceland. Photo: Icelandic Explorer

(L to R) Klausturkaffi restaurant in the Skriðuklaustur House close to Egilsstadir. Photo: Jessica Auer. Snæfell is the largest freestanding mountain in Iceland. Photo: Austurland. Seasonal delights at Nielsen Restaurant, Egilsstaðir, East Iceland. Photo: Icelandic Explorer.

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