What to see on the East Coast of Iceland

There is quite a magical quality about the East Coast, since the Queen of Elves is said to live in Borgarfjörður and the Loch Ness Monster's sister, the Langafljótsormur, supposedly swims in the river Langafljótsá. The area is made up of many coastal towns and villages, each with its characteristic appeal. The surrounding landscapes vary greatly, from forests to glaciers, and everything in between.

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Borgarfjörður Eystri

The Borgarfjörður region is known for its great natural beauty. The village has around 100 inhabitants. Borgarfjörður is famous for the good hiking trails named "Víknaslóðir" leading to the deserted fjords and coves, Víkur, and to Loðmundarfjörður. The area has become a hiker's paradise with local people marking numerous trails (1 hour to 1 day long, depending on the trail), comfortable hiking huts and good hiking maps. Borgarfjörður is said to be the home of the Queen of Elves. It is possible to walk to the hill "Álfaborg" - "The Elves' Castle" where the queen of the Icelandic elves allegedly resides with her court. The "Álfacafé" ("Elf Café") is worth a visit for trying out the local fish-dishes. A visit to the fish factory as a worthwhile experience or a glance at some of the beautiful hand-made crafts by the local artists. In Borgarfjörður and at Hafnarhólmi (by the harbour), there are excellent facilities for bird-watching, namely a special hide at the harbour from which over twenty species have been sighted at once.

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The spectacular valley of Breiðdalur is the longest and widest of the valleys in Eastern Iceland., surrounded by majestic, alpine mountains rising on both sides to over 1100 meters. The valley is dominated by the magnificent peak of Tóartindur, over 1000 meters tall, dividing the valley into north and south. The lovely arctic forest "Jórvíkurskógur" is great for walks and berry picking. There are good views of Breiðdalur from Breiðdalsheiði, an ancient eroded volcano on the main highway, with the impressive Breiðdalsá river, famous for salmon-fishing, winding its way across the valley basin to the sea. Breiðdalsvík, the charming village lies on the coast with great seascapes and black sand beaches. The first house was built in 1883 and soon after a shop was built. The old shop still exists and has been rebuilt to house a geological center, for the Breiðdalur region's volcanic history and the origin of the colorful minerals. The center also houses a collection dedicated to Stefán Einarsson, a linguist, and his research on the Icelandic language. In Breiðdalur you will find coffee shops, restaurants and activities such as horseback riding, fishing, bird-watching and hiking.

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Djúpavogshreppur is the southern most district of the east. Álftafjörður and Hamarsfjörður are lagoons, rich in birdlife whereas Berufjörður is a long and narrow fjord. The pyramid-shaped Búlandstindur, at 1069 meters, dominates the landscape, and according to legend it can make wishes come true during the summer solstice. Djúpivogur is a charming village with a long history of trading since 1589 located in a place of incomparable natural beauty. Today the main industry is fishing, with tourism increasing rapidly in recent years. Langabúð, the oldest house in Djúpivogur, originally built in 1790, has been renovated and now serves as a cultural center. It houses some of the works of sculptor Ríkarður Jónsson, a heritage museum, and a coffee-shop with delicious homemade cakes, and a display of local handicraft. Don't miss the outdoor sculpture, Eggin í Gleðivík, by the world famous Icelandic artist Sigurður Guðmundsson, consisting of 34 eggs. The artwork is on the coast, about 1 km from the center of the village, in a convenient walking distance. The nature around Djupivogur is highly varied. The Búlandsnes bird sanctuary is renowned among bird lovers throughout the world, where you can observe most Icelandic birds nesting in their natural habitat close by. Join the Papey bird and seal watching boat tours or hike in the fascinating mountains and fjords in the vicinity.

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Egilsstaðir is a large rural settlement in East Iceland, and is a service and communications center for Iceland, along with being an important area for education for young people in the east, including music schools. To discover more about the culture and history of the area, visit the Museum Center. Tourism is an important part of this town's livelihood, so a range of accommodation and facilities are available to tourists to guarantee a comfortable stay. One of the main natural attractions is Lake Lögurinn, a lake hollowed by a glacier, which empties its waters into Héraðsflói Bay through Lagarfljót River. Lagarfljót River is famous in Icelandic folklore for the infamous water monster, Lagafljótsormur (Lagarfjlóts Wyrm), who is considered the Loch Ness monster's sister. Fishing and hunting are both popular in Egilsstaðir, including reindeer, geese, and ptarmigan hunting.

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Hallormsstaður National Forest is considered to be Iceland's largest forest. The forest covers an area of 740 hectares, most of which is native birch. The forest is a popular recreational area featuring marked hiking trails and an arboretum with over 80 tree species. Another sight of stunning natural beauty is Hengifoss, one of Iceland's tallest waterfalls at 128 meters. Hengifoss is particularly pretty because of its visible layers of various volcanic rock. The lake Lögurinn is also worth a visit, as it feeds into Lagarfljót river, home of the Lagarfljótsormur, the Icelandic sister to the Loch Ness monster.

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Hengifoss is one of the highest waterfalls in Iceland, measuring 128m tall, falling from the plateau into a magnificent gorge. There is a colorful rock face surrounding the waterfall showing different layers from volcanic eruptions when Iceland was formed. It takes 40-60 minutes to walk from the parking lot to the waterfall. On the way is another astonishing waterfall called Litlanesfoss. It is crowned by exceptionally high basalt columns, making it totally unique and photogenic. The river runs into the lake Lagarfljót, home of the famous wyrm monster Lagarfljótsormur.

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Reyðarfjörður was founded at the turn of the 20th century as a herring fishing town, and then became part of Fjarðarbyggð. With a War Time Museum built in 1995 in an empty freezing plant and some old barracks, it has an interesting part to play in history for a country that was never at war.

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Rjúkandi Waterfall

Rjúkandi waterfall, also known as Ysti Rjúkandi, is a beautiful waterfall visible from the famous Ring Road. There is a nice walk up to a viewing platform, where you will be greeted by a beautiful landscape. This 93 meter tall waterfall is a striking place to stop and stretch your legs, and to appreciate the natural scenery of Iceland.

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The coastal fishing town of Seyðisfjörður lies by a fjord skillfully carved by the ice age glacier with the same name. It has an excellent harbor, and a strong Norwegian heritage, with colorful Norwegian style houses. The harbor and Norwegian background stem from the town's importance as a trading port for Iceland with northern Europe. The town offers guided tours, museums, and delightful hiking trails, where you can see sights such as the typical Icelandic waterfalls. One of the places to visit is the Technology Museum, which is particularly important, as Seyðisfjörður was the first town in Iceland to have electric street lamps! An international ferry coming from northern Europe stops in Seyðisfjörður, which means the townspeople are well equipped for tourists, with plenty of exciting activities, such as sea angling, kayak tours, and diving. For more information go to http://www.visitseydisfjordur.com/.

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Stuðlagil Canyon is a recently discovered beauty in Iceland's eastern region. The stunning basalt columns, shaped by lava and glaciers, emerged as the glacial river, Jökulsá, dropped to a much lower level, so this is a largely unseen gem of Iceland. To see this canyon you can either opt for a 250m walk to a viewpoint that overlooks the canyon, to see these beautiful columns from above, or you can choose the 10km round trip hike through Icelandic nature. The hike takes you from Klaustursel farm into the canyon, past Stuðlafoss waterfall about 3km into the hike. Whichever way you choose you will certainly be greeted with the stunning and delicate natural beauty of Iceland's east.

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