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Don't Overlook Iceland's East Fjords

We toured Iceland for 10 days, but nothing compared to the landscapes and isolation in the East Fjords.

By: Will Cebron + Save to a List

Iceland is known for otherworldly landscapes, stunning waterfalls and rolling countrysides. Every landscape photographer has posted photos from Skogafoss, Seljalandsfoss and Jokulsarlon, and you've probably imagined yourself there. I'm here to let you in on a little secret. If you're willing to venture away from the Ring Road, you might find your favorite spot isn't a majestic waterfall or glacial lagoon. It might be a tiny town situated as far away from Reykjavik as physically possible; set deep in the East Fjords with a population of only 100. 

While planning my trip to Iceland, fellow explorer Brian Fulda turned me onto the town of Borgarfjordur Eystri. It's about an hour off the Ring Road but feels days away from civilization. To get there, you'll drive along a gravel road that winds through farmland, crosses the mountains and then hugs the coast. And the best part is you might not see another car on the entire jaw-dropping drive. This feeling of isolation was the first reason I fell in love with the East Fjords. 

Once you reach Borgarfjordur Eystri, I'd recommend staying at Blabjorg Guesthouse. It's cute, clean and situated right on the water. In this tiny town, you don't have many options and this is the best. Even though it's fairly isolated, there's great wifi, a spa and restaurant on site. After the drive, my girlfriend and I unpacked and soaked in what can only be called a hot tub at the end of the world. 

While the hot tub was a draw, we came to the East Fjords for another reason. This area boasts some of the best hiking in Iceland, which is apparent as you drive in. Tall mountains jut out of the landscape as tiny inlets of water pool between them. It's even rumored that the Queen of the Elves makes her home here. We did two hikes while in Borgarfjordur Eystri, although the names escape me. 

It's difficult to find any hikes here on the internet, so we resorted to the old fashioned way - using a map. Our first hike took us through a local farm and then up into the jagged and rocky mountains above the town. This was my favorite hike in Iceland. We didn't see another person and the views down into the fjord were stunning. Our second hike was an abbreviated one as we had to head south along the Ring Road. This hike took us through fields of wildflowers and ponds above another unnamed town. My only regret about the East Fjords is that we didn't stay longer. Often you'll leave a place and feel like you need more time, but it's been awhile since I've felt the urge to linger so strongly. I imagined myself hiking deep into the mountains during the day and then relaxing to a slower paced life at night. 

One other reason to journey to Borgarfjordur Eystri. In the summer, this is one of the premier places to see puffins in Iceland. They flock on the far side of the fjord until late August when they head out to sea for winter.

Bonus round - if you're making your way south after visiting the East Fjords, make sure to stop at Stokknes. The entrance fee is $10 but it's easily worth it. I preferred this black sand beach over the more famous Vik.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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