The Arctic Coast Way veers from the traditional Route 1 ring road and hugs the dramatic coastline, passing through lesser-seen villages in the lands of sagas and mythology.
You can visit historical fishing villages to see reminders of the herring boom, go whale watching in an electric, carbon-free boat and see the dramatic effect that nature has had on this remote part of the country.
Fly from the UK to Akureyri, the largest town outside the capital Reykjavík, on the new direct flight with Nice Air. Pick up your hire car from the airport and drive into the city to your hotel for an overnight stay. In the town, perhaps visit the amazing Botanical Gardens - it's fascinating to see the variety of plants thriving in the sub-Arctic climate of Akureyri. There are plenty of places to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee in the summer sun. If you're partial to a scoop of ice cream or three, then pop by Ísbúðin Akureyri. In the evening, explore the variety of cafes, restaurants and bars. (3km)
From Akureyri, drive to the peninsula of Langanes often nicknamed the World's End. Perhaps drive via Dettifoss and stop off and view this powerful waterfall, one of five stops on North Iceland's Diamond Circle. Continue along route 864 (we have included a 4x4 on this holiday as it's a bumpy gravel road so take your time), with views of an almost lunar landscape.
Do visit the incredible crescent-shaped wonder of Ásbyrgi canyon (another of the five Diamond Circle stops), before continuing to the peninsula of Langanes. This remote corner of Iceland is popular with bird watchers, hikers and those seeking solitude accompanied by wild sea views. Visit the tiny villages of Thórshöfn and Bakkafjörður. There's also a great outdoor heated pool at Selárdalur with amazing views. Langanes boasts the third-largest gannet nesting site in the world and is also home to thousands of kittiwakes and guillemots during May and June. Explore Saudaneskirkja Church built in 1888, but abandoned in 1999. (B) (235km)
This morning, explore the coastline of Melrakkaslétta, the most northern part of Iceland. The coastal road stretches some 55km between the two small villages of Kópasker and Raufarhöfn. Stop off and visit Arctic Henge, a modern relation to its ancient predecessor - Stonehenge. Arctic Henge is like a huge sundial, aiming to capture the sunrays and cast shadows in precise locations.
Continue to the fishing village of Húsavík (the third stop of the Diamond Circle), for an early evening whale watching excursion. Sail onboard the electric Andvari and the hybrid-electric sailboat Opal to reduce your carbon footprint, gliding silently through the sea for minimal disturbance to the whales. (B) (275km)
Please note that we may book a hotel in the Myvatn area depending on availability.
From your base in Húsavík, head to the Lake Mývatn area to explore further. This is an area known for its spectacular geology, geothermal heat and the large number of ducks nesting by the lake. Lake Mývatn and Goðafoss waterfall complete the Diamond Circle of North Iceland. Discover pseudo craters at Skútustaðir, lava formations at Dimmuborgir and enjoy an optional soak in the Mývatn Nature Baths. One of our favourite places to stop is Namafjall Hverir Geothermal Area. This area stands out for its ochre-coloured landscapes, and the numerous fumaroles and boiling mud pools dotted over its moon-like terrain. There are some short walking trails around the area. Back in Húsavík, pay an evening visit to the amazing Geosea for a dip under the midnight sun. (B) (150km)
This morning, set off to drive around the dramatic peninsula of Tröllaskági. Pass through the town of Árskógssandur where a Beer Spa offers yeasty treatments, then continue to Dalvík where there are more whale watching tours. Stop off at the pretty harbour of Siglufjörður and visit the award-winning Herring Museum, to learn about when the harbour was transformed into a herring boom town, thanks to a large migration of herring.
From here, drive along the coast via Hofsos which has one of Iceland's iconic swimming pools. Municipal pools are a national institution and can be found in most towns, but Hofsos boasts one of the best. The little town is also home to the Immigration Centre located in three old buildings at the harbour, which documents the history and individual stories of Icelandic people emigrating to the USA, Brazil and Canada. Arrive in Skagafjördur for a two-night stay. (B) (260km)
Today is a long day but full of incredible scenery. Head off to Skagi Peninsula and perhaps stop off at the town of Sauðárkrókur, where the new interactive museum 1238: Battle of Iceland is located. Expect incredible wild ocean views, exquisite basalt column rocks, a beautiful lighthouse and impressive cliffs on this drive.
On Vatnsnes Peninsula, stop off at Hvítserkur Sea Cliff, where there is a great viewing platform. If the weather is good, walk down to the beach for a close-up view of the cliff. Do stop off at Illugstadir, a beautiful wild place where you can take in the fresh sea air on a walk back towards Svalbað – a great place for spotting seals! If there's time, stop at the Iceland Seal Centre in Hvammstangi. We also recommend the KIDKA Wool Factory Shop - a great place to pick up an iconic Iceland jumper or some wool to knit your own. Head back to Skagafjordur (B) (390km)
Make your way back to Akureyri and spend more time exploring Iceland's northern capital. (B) (95km)
Check out of your hotel and take the coach transfer back to the airport for your flight back to the UK. (B)
* Direct flights available starting from June 2022 with Nice Air
** Please call us on 020 7666 1290 for full details and conditions of car hire