The first part of Iceland to be discovered by the Vikings, the East is an untamed wilderness of mountains, fjords, deserts and forest. With the ring road clinging to the intricately carved inlets of the fjordland, isolated fishing villages of just a few hundred people emerge between each set of steep cliffs. A comprehensive network of hiking trails cross the mountains between the fourteen fjords, rewarding walkers with spectacular views across the dramatic coastline. Carved by an Ice Age glacier, Seyðisfjörður is the scenic location of a picturesque fishing village which begs to be explored. The colourful Norwegian-style wooden houses dating from the early 20th century bring the history of the village to life, whilst walking into the surrounding hills provides breathtaking views over the fjord below. Further south, the setting of Djúpivogur – or Deep Bay – village is one of incomparable natural beauty.
Teetering on the very edge of the headland, this pretty village is decorated by tiny boats and historic houses which date back to the fishing industry of the early 1700s. Relax in the geothermal hot tubs at the village’s outdoor swimming pool – one of many which can be found in the communities of the East Fjords, no matter how small the local population.
Reindeer were introduced from Norway in the 18th century, and today the wild herds remain only in the East. With no natural predators, the population is controlled by sustainable hunting, and with reindeer meat being one of Iceland’s top delicacies, expect to find it on the menu at most restaurants. Try the thick-cut steaks, reindeer burger or even the pâté at the Icelandair Herad’s fashionable hotel restaurant. Some of the country’s best salmon rivers can be found in Vopnafjörður, and the fresh fish dishes found in the East Fjords are a real delight. Historic Hotel Aldan in Seyðisfjörður is a wonderful place to enjoy the dish of the day. Take in stunning views over the fjord and harbour as you eat.
The small village of Fáskrúðsfjörður was originally settled by French seamen who came to fish the Icelandic coast from the end of the 19th century, and in recognition of its Gallic history, local street signs are in both Icelandic and French. The Fosshótel Austfirðir is a newly revived addition to the village’s heritage, housed in what used to be a hospital for French fishermen. There is no clinical feel to this bright 26-room hotel however – with its chic Scandinavianstyle décor and French inspired restaurant, L’Abri, it’s the perfect place to relax after a day exploring the village and surrounding walking trails. Speak to a Regent Iceland Specialist to include this hotel on your fly-drive holiday.
The long deep fjord of Seyðisfjörður twists and turns over 10 miles from its mouth to the bottom, where the colourful town of the same name lies beneath two towering mountains. Considered one of the most picturesque towns in Iceland, not only because of the location but for the collection of old preserved wooden houses. The pretty blue church offers great photograph opportunities against the backdrop of steep fjord slopes. Go kayaking in the still waters of the bay or take a hike to the oldest operational power plant in Iceland, built in 1913. Enjoy a local El Grillo beer in the town’s bar whilst listening to stories of Lara, a native legend.