THE ROUTE BETWEEN Akureyri and Blönduós crosses the mountainous Tröllaskagi peninsula that is hemmed in by Eyjafjörður on the east and Skagafjörður on the west. The road follows the shoreline and passes through fishing villages like Dalvík, Ólafsfjörður, Siglufjörður and Hofsós. All have a selection of attractions from golf, swimming, angling, bird watching, whale watching and ski-ing in the winter.
The ferry to Hriséy sails from Árskógssandur, a 10-minute drive from Dalvík along R82. From Dalvík, you can take the ferry to the island of Grímsey, which just kisses the Arctic Circle. The north part of the island is the only place in Iceland where you are actually in the Arctic. The island´s 100 residents are far outnumbered by the myriad birds that nest there every summer.
Driving directly from Akureyri to Blönduós on R1 takes you through a steep sided valley down to Varmahlið (watch out for police cars on this stretch of road because they are equipped with radar for speed readings!) and from there it´s over the mountain top and down the wide valley of the Blandaa river. At the top of the Blandaa valley are two turn offs onto F734 and F733, which converge at Hveravellir as R35, which then takes you through the breathtaking scenery of the interior, past Bláfell and all the way to Gullfoss.
There is the option to turn off R1 at Varmahlíð and explore Skagafjörður´s shoreline and peninsula that lies between it and Húnaflói. You can choose to stay on the paved R744 or take the gravel road R745 along the coast and see the church at Keta or enjoy the viewing points at Skagatá and Kálfshamarsvík. There are also exhibitions, camp sites, swimming pools and golf courses along the way at Sauðárkrókur, Reykir, Skagaströnd and Blönduós. Why not have your fortune told at the Museum of Prophecies at Skagaströnd? Go on, we dare you!
The stretch of coastline between Blönduós and the start of the West Fjords peninsula is sparsely populated mostly with farmsteads and hamlets. The largest village is Hvammstangi, which lies a little way off the ring road on R72 and has an array of attractions worth exploring. There is a good selection of craft outlets including a knitwear factory, goldsmith and a cosmetics manufacturer. Just outside the village is the Icelandic Seal Centre and another company provides seal watching trips in the fjord.
Natural attractions in the area include the iconic Hvítserker monolith, which rises up from the shoreline in Húnafjðrður, the are the Ketubjörg cliffs and the spectacular waterfall that plunges from the to the ocean below. For those who like to walk in the hills there is an ancient fortress at Borgaverki or climb up Tindastóll and search for the wishing pool or the giant that are up there, according to folklore.