A Guide to Mývatn and Iceland’s Northeast

When you first hear about Iceland, you hear of Reykjavík, the Blue Lagoon and the Golden Circle. Thanks to the volcano eruption in 2010, you also might have heard about Vatnajökull National Park. But did you know there is a whole other world in the not-so-touristy part of the island? Frequented mostly by those who drive around the entire country on the ring road, Iceland’s east is just as – if not more – beautiful than the west.

Godafoss
Godafoss

Godafoss – Waterfall of the Gods. Driving through the Bárdardalur lava field towards the Mývatn region, the waterfall appears on the right. It is neither the biggest nor the highest, but definitely one of the most impressive waterfalls in the land of fire and ice. You have to jump over small streams and potholes to get the best view of the white beauty and maybe even a picture without other people in it since it’s accessible from both sides.

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Rock formations on the eastern side of Lake Mývatn.

Lake Mývatn and the surrounding area in the northeast of Iceland are probably the most diverse part of the country – and the one that is most likely to be overlooked by tourists. It is a huge outdoor paradise. It’s all of Iceland in a nutshell. The ring road goes all around the lake, connecting one spectacular view with the next with the next with the next with the next…

  • Take a stroll along parts of the lake surrounded by weird rock formations and exotic birds.
  • Hike through Dimmuborgir (‘the dark castles’), an otherworldly composition of caves, lava rocks and wildflowers.
  • Climb on top of Hverfell, an inactive volacano, and walk all around its crater.
  • Visit the Mývatn Nature Baths – the real blue lagoon – smaller, bluer and less touristy than the fancy one. The perfect, relaxing finish to an active day.
  • Take a trip to Mars at the Hverir geothermal area, where mud cauldrons, mineral deposits, steaming vents and fumaroles bring the inside of our planet to the surface.
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Inside a ‘dark castle’ in Dimmuborgir.
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Fooling around on the crater of Hverfell 😉
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Mývatn Nature Baths – relaxation deluxe.
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Hverir geothermal area/ the first humans on Mars.

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Dettifoss and the free shower.
Dettifoss and the free shower.

Dettifoss. The greatest volume of water in the whole of Europe falls down those cliffs. Driving there, you can already see the spray from afar. Apparently, on sunny days you can see double rainbows, on rainy days, however, you get a free shower from pretty much all sides. Selfoss, a smaller waterfall further down the river, is just a few meters’ walk away.

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