Eyjafjörður is the longest fjord in North Iceland
Surrounded by spectacular mountains, mostly over a 1,000 m high, this area has well-sheltered spots for farms and hayfields, and wonderful paths for hikers, mountain climbers and nature lovers. Steeped in Viking history, Eyjafjörður’s attractions are many and varied: from extraordinary landscapes to saga trails, beautiful old churches, arts and crafts, heritage museums and an elf gallery, this area has it all. In summer, Eyjafjörður is also one of the best places in Iceland to experience the Midnight Sun.
Eyjafjörður even has better weather than most other Icelandic regions. This is clearly shown by its fertile vegetation and strong agriculture. A relatively dense pattern of population, by Icelandic standards, is also unique. All services are close at hand, and yet the calm and quiet of the wilderness is within easy reach. Serene valleys and solitary spots abound, where untouched Icelandic nature displays its fairest hues and where one finds nothing to interrupt the tranquillity, except the singing of birds and the soft murmur of mountain brooks. In addition, Eyjafjörður is rich in Icelandic culture and unbroken history that goes back many centuries to the time when the first Viking settlers made their homes in Iceland more than eleven hundred years ago.
The district inland from Akureyri, south of the head of the fjord is named Eyjafjarðarsveit (Eyjafjardarsveit). The valleys of Eyjafjarðarsveit are surrounded by impressive mountains. The view from the valley ridges is magnificent at many sites, especially from Hólafjall (Holafjall) and, in particular, Kerling, which at 1,536 m above sea level, is one of the country´s highest mountains. In the adjoining valleys, the landscape is often ruggedly enchanting, featuring huge ravines with near-vertical slopes and peaceful small lakes.
Hrafnagil and Kristnes
This lush farming country with a population of about 1,000 has two main centres, or country villages. They are located at Hrafnagil and at Kristnes, the farm founded by the Viking settler Helgi the Lean. At Hrafnagil you will find Íslandsbærinn (Islandsbaerinn), a representation of a typical Icelandic turf farm, and Jólagarðurinn (Jolagardurinn), the Christmas Garden. Both sites are lovely and attract many visitors.
Íslandsbærinn is a traditional manor estate with four wooden panel walls and a turf walled exterior. Inside there is a large banquet room decorated in the traditional rustic fashion with seating space for 70 persons. A buffet that is a true gourmet’s delight emphasises Icelandic food and drink. Íslandsbærinn offers an excellent opportunity to establish a temporary connection with the culture of the past and the history of the Icelandic people.
In Jólagarðurinn, Christmas in celebrated throughout the year. The house itself is quite curious and resembles a cookie house. Inside, the fire glows and crackles snugly in the fire place. Christmas melodies and aroma fill the air. All kinds of Christmas items are sold, including Icelandic Christmas handicrafts. Icelandic "laufabrauð"(“leaf bread”) is there, wafer-thin, circular pieces of pastry carved with intricate traditional decorative patterns, as well as Christmas cookies, nuts and raisins. The garden around the house is decorated with lights and benches and tables are provided, making this a great spot for having a picnic lunch or enjoying the stillness of an evening.
Historic site Grund
There are many other interesting places in the valley of Eyjafjörður. Grund is a historic site and the impressive church there dates from the beginning of the century. Many important historical figures have lived at Grund, for example Þórunn (Thorunn), daughter of Jón Arason, the last Catholic bishop of Iceland, who was executed with the sanction of Danish authority. Feisty Þórunn reputedly tried to avenge her father´s death, but the attempt failed. Near the highway, in the piece of land belonging to Grund, there is a lovely wooded area named Grundarreitur, believed to be the second oldest woodland area in Iceland. It’s a popular place visited by many travellers.
Historic site Munkaþverá
At Munkaþverá (Munkathvera) there is an old church, built in 1844, and there is also a memorial dedicated to Bishop Jón Arason, who attended the monastery and did his studies there. Munkaþverá is a highly important historical site that once was the home of such famous heroes of saga literature as Einar Þveræingur, Víga-Glúmur and Bergur Sokkason and it is believed to be the burial place of Snorri Sturluson’s brother, Sighvatur Sturluson (1170-1238 AD), and his sons who died in the battle at Örlygsstaðir (Orlygsstadir).
Saurbær and Hólar
Saurbær is the site of an attractive little turf church, built in 1858. This is now a protected building, along with the adjacent old-style churchyard gate dating from 1781. The church contains relics such as a 15th century carved alabaster altarpiece. Yet another 19th century church is situated at Hólar which is also the site of the most remarkable turf farm that still stands in Iceland. At the farm, there is a spacious hall that is believed to date from the 17th century. The farm can be visited with the permission of the occupants and the same applies to the churches at these manor farms of ancient fame.
Geothermal area Laugaland
There are several geothermal areas, including Laugaland, which provides most of the hot water piped into Akureyri homes. This district also has its share of historic spots and there is certainly a lot to see and study. There is a road leading from the end of the valley up into the highlands but the terrain is rough, and it can only be traversed in the summer by suitably equipped vehicles.The southernmost parts of Eyjafjörður lie outside the circle route around Iceland but travellers in the northern parts of Iceland enjoy visiting this flourishing region of picturesque farmsteads and green mountain pastures.
The Northwest –Northeast boundaries
The boundaries of this area are drawn between the centre line of bays Hrútafjörður (Hrutafjordur) and the Siglufjörður (Siglufjordur) bay. This is a relatively densely populated agricultural region with a few hamlets and villages. The landscape is varied with mountain ranges of different size dividing the lowland areas. The northeastern boundaries of the area are drawn between the towns Siglufjörður and Þórshöfn (Thorshofn). The western part of the Northeast is more densely populated. Route 1, the Ring Road, passes through it.