The Glittering Jewel
South East Iceland’s Vatnajökull Region
The Vatnajökull region is a narrow stretch of land that lies just below Vatnajökull Glacier, spanning from Lómagnúpur in the west, to Hvalnes on its eastern border. From the highest peaks of Hvannadalshnúkur down to the expansive glacial outwash plains that characterise the area, the district embraces over 200km of Iceland’s ring road.
Where the snowcaps glisten
Glistening glacial lagoons, thundering rivers, waterfalls, black sand beaches and numerous ice caves are just some of natural gems that can be found within the region’s borders. And when the Northern Lights appear, they make an unforgettable sight over Vatnajökull Glacier’s gleaming ice cap and the surrounding wintery landscape. The area is also known for its fresh seafood, especially langoustines, aka Norway lobster, and restaurants throughout the district are keen to show off this speciality in a variety of ways. For families with kids there is a fun 2km nature trail by the sea, with beautiful views of the glacier where the solar system comes to life! Free maps of the trail are available at the Hofn Visitor Centre.
Into an ice-blue world
Should you have your heart set on visiting an ice cave, look no further, because the Vatnajökull region boasts many stunning ice-blue caves. They are only accessible from November to March for obvious reasons and several local companies, run by experienced teams of caving experts, offer tours into this awe-inspiring world of subglacial speleology. Booking in advance is highly encouraged as tours fill up quickly. For important safety reasons, it is not recommended to go into an ice cave without a certified glacier guide.
Well situated just off the Ring Road, Road No. 1, the attractive harbour town of Höfn makes an excellent base for further exploration of this vast region and beyond. With a population of just over 2,000 inhabitants, the town and its surrounding area boasts a number of comfortable hotels and guest houses, a supermarket, petrol stations, a pharmacy, as well as several notable restaurants known for their fresh langoustine dishes. At the tourist information office located in the Hofn Visitor Centre (Gamlabuð) you will find maps, brochures, souvenirs and helpful staff on hand who can answer all your questions.