Gateway to Vatnajökull
Hornafjörður is a scenic slice of southeast Iceland
Iceland earns its “fire and ice” reputation in the southeast as you see the mighty Vatnajökull glacier descend into black sands and hot streams erupting from frozen banks of ice. There’s a good reason why this is such a popular region for tourists.
The town of Höfn, which means harbour, is the gateway to the Vatnajökull glacier and is a convenient base when exploring the southeast, with numerous restaurants, hotels and guesthouses, museums and a fantastic swimming pool. The nature and hiking opportunities in the region are unrivalled, with breathtaking mountainous and glacial views.
Explore vast Vatnajökull
For many visitors, Vatnajökull is the draw to the region. Vatnajökull glacier features miles of white, pure ice intertwined with blue and smoky hues in interesting shapes formed by compression. It’s a wide-open space, sitting on top of active volcanoes.
Vatnajökull is the largest glacier in Europe and the third largest in the world (after glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica). It spans 8,805 square kilometres, which covers about 8 percent of the country, and the average thickness is 400 metres.
Vatnajökull’s vast, rugged terrain is a significant draw for hikers and climbers worldwide,and several local companies offer guided tours. Vatnajökull National Park covers over 60% of the Hornafjörður municipality, offering many hiking opportunities.
See icebergs up close and personal
Jökulsárlón is a spectacular sight with chunks of ice scattered about, walls of ice jutting from the sea, and icebergs of various sizes floating on the water. Huge blocks of ice constantly break off the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier into the lagoon, which, though not very wide, is up to 250 metres deep, the deepest lake in Iceland—and then slowly move toward a river mouth and the Atlantic Ocean.
Glacier lagoons are popular destinations, including Jökulsárlón, Fjallsárlón and Heinabergslón. Several companies offer amphibian, zodiac and kayak tours of the lagoons,where you can get up close to icebergs. There are also numerous hiking opportunities around the lagoons for travellers who want to enjoy nature and explore on their own.
You can also venture to the river mouth and nearby Diamond Beach. Chunks of ice sometimes wash ashore and are scattered about like giant diamonds against a backdrop of black sand. The scene is spectacular any time of year but genuinely magical when the sun shines.
Southeast Iceland is a can’t miss destination, and Hornafjörður is at the centre of it all. Be sure to spend some time in this beautiful part of Iceland during your trip.