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Best Winter places in East Iceland

We wrote a short list of most beautiful winter places in Eastfjords. East Iceland is much less visited compared to the most touristy south. The difference is even more pronounced in winter. You will be often totally alone at many beautiful spots in Eastfjords in winter.

The aim of this article is not to list all of the beautiful places. We rather want to show you how some of our most favorite places in Iceland look like in winter. You can then decide for yourself, whether you want to visit a specific place or not, or whether you want to visit the place in summer or in winter, or at both times.

This post is part of our Winter Iceland articles series:


vestrahorn winter fog iceland

Vestrahorn hidden in the fog in the background.

If you catch a nice day without fog, stopping at Vestrahorn and even paying the entrance fee can be worth the nice picturesque views. Not on a foggy day, though. When we visited Vestrahorn at the end of February, the entire Vestrahorn was covered in fog. It didn’t make any sense to visit it in this case, so we rather stopped nearby and enjoyed the company of beautiful horses. This is how Vestrahorn looked on a sunny day in summer instead.

Skútafoss waterfall

skutafoss waterfall winter iceland

Skútafoss in winter

One of the waterfalls accessible also in winter is Skútafoss. You have to hike for about 20 minutes from the little (in winter often frozen) car park to reach Skútafoss. The trail was unclear at times, especially when covered by snow, ice or both. Bear this in mind. And don’t step on the moss. It will die.

Djúpavogskörin hot spring

djupavogskorin hot spring winter

Djúpavogskörin hot spring in winter

One of our favorite hot springs to visit in winter is Djúpavogskörin. Why? Because in winter, Djúpavogskörin is hot just right. In summer, though, it was simply too hot to be pleasant. Oftentimes, you’re also gonna be alone at Djúpavogskörin. Going for hot springs makes also perfect sense during foggy weather, as you can see from our pictures 🙂

djupivogur hot spring winter iceland

Djúpavogskörin in winter

Update: Djúpavogskörin was bit working from April 2022 until October 2022 but now it seems to be working again. Please check the signs onsite and beware of the potentially unstable water temperature.


djupivogur in winter

Djúpivogur in winter

We usually do not recommend to visit Icelandic cities and villages much in summer, because this is often where the most tourists concentrate at, due to restaurants, infrastructure, etc. Winter is a bit different, however. Number of visitors is much lower and they mostly focus only on the south and on areas close to Reykjavik. The further you go away from Reykjavik, the more “alone” you will feel.

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Some of the Icelandic villages and cities away from the south actually often look like they are deserted in winter. This was the case when we visited Djúpivogur in February. Almost nobody was there, just a few locals and us.

Djúpivogur is a cute little coastal town definitely worth making a short coffee or lunch stop. Just be prepared all the restaurants and cafes may be closed in winter 🙂 Don’t rely on opening hours from Google Maps. In winter everything is different in Iceland and many sites, including restaurants and cafes have different hours or are closed entirely.


winter Fáskrúðsfjörður

Winter Fáskrúðsfjörður

Fáskrúðsfjörður is our personal favorite when it comes to Eastfjords. It’s not so overhyped and touristy as Seyðisfjörður and it’s still so beautiful! We simply love the view of this fjord and always admire the reflection of nearby mountains in the fjord on a nice day. Don’t forget to visit Café Sumarlina for the (not very Icelandic) curry fish soup and book your night at the guesthouse Elinar and Helgu with the best views over the fjord!

Here is a short video of our Fáskrúðsfjörður visit in winter.

Klifbrekufossar waterfall

klifbrekkufossar winter


Klifbrekufoss is often inaccessible in winter, due to too much snow on the road 943 leading there. Always watch carefully www.road.is, once the road turns grey/red/black, stay away from the road, unless you have a true monster super jeep, like Land Rover Super Defender. Even with such a car, we highly recommend having a local Icelandic company to help if any emergency occurs.


Seyðisfjörður winter road vestdalur hike

Winter road from Seyðisfjörður to Vestdalur hike trailhead

Seyðisfjörður is popular for a reason. Not only is it a harbor for large cruise ships, it’s also one of the most beautiful fjords in Iceland, if not the most beautiful one. We more than just recommend stopping in Seydsfjordur and spending a half-day, day or even more in here. You won’t regret it, trust me.

Here is a short video of us getting stuck on a road to Seyðisfjörður in winter.

In winter, though, it’s sometimes difficult to get to Seyðisfjörður. It’s located down in the fjord, behind the mountain. This means you have to drive a pretty tricky, steep and zig-zagged mountain pass to get there. In summer it’s easy, but in winter, especially when there’s strong wind and a lot of snow, it may be an adventurous drive. The road to Seyðisfjörður is being ploughed several times a day. This, however, doesn’t stop snow from falling on the road when the plough isn’t there.

road to seydisfjordur winter

Road to Seyðisfjörður in winter

This is exactly what happened to us when we drove to Seyðisfjörður. Close to the highest point of the mountain pass, a strong wind started to blow and it made a huge pile of snow fall on the road from the nearby hill, right in front of our car. The road suddenly became impassable, because of 50cm / 20inches of snow, even for our “4wd” Dacia Duster. This was most likely the scariest moment of our trip, because we were simply stuck up at the mountain pass, with snow falling, wind blowing and no help nearby.

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Luckily enough, an Icelander with a jeep paved the way into the snow wall from the other direction with his jeep. This way he created firmer tracks we could try to follow. That’s exactly what we did and with our hearts beating (and with some luck) we were able to pass the snow pile. This is just a little example of how tricky the road may get in Iceland, and all of a sudden.

Seyðisfjörður in winter

Seyðisfjörður in winter

Nevertheless, once you finally get to Seyðisfjörður, you may quickly fall in love with this Icelandic city. On one hand, there are countless beautiful views everywhere around you and on the other hand there are many great restaurants and fancy accommodations. And also several beautiful hikes nearby!

Vestdalur hike

seydisfjordur vestdalur hike parking

Vestdalur hike parking. Seydisfjordur in the background.

One of the most beautiful, yet not much known hikes is called Vestdalur. Vestdalur hike starts as a quiet, not well visible detour up the mountains located right behind Seyðisfjörður, next to northwestern part of the fjord. The name Vestdalur comes from the nearby river Vestdalsá and a lake Vestdalsvatn, where this hiking trail actually leads. Vestdalur is then a „Vestdal“ valley.

vestdalur hike seydisfjordur map

The trail to Vestdalur we wanted to take, but took just the very beginning.

While a hike to Vestdalur is an easy summer hike, things get different in winter, as is often the case in Iceland. Why? Because everything may be covered by a lot of snow and ice. Unsurprisingly, exactly this happened when we tried to hike Vestdalur in the beginning of March. Trail was hardly visible, very slippery and didn’t seem very safe to follow.

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There are 2 different trailheads where you may begin the Vestdalur hike – the western and the eastern trailhead. The main advantage of an eastern trailhead is the little car park right next to it, and also a beautiful Vestdalsfossar waterfall along the way. That’s why we chose the eastern trail.

winter vestdalur hike views

Views from the Vestdalur hike in winter

We left our car on a little car park right next to the fjord. There’s a little, hardly visible, signpost pointing to “Vestdalur” on a western side of the road. This is how we knew where to stop and where to leave our car. We (wrongly) didn’t have any spikes on our shoes, so we struggled basically from the beginning of the usually pretty easy hike. There were some stairs built for support, which definitely helped.

Here is a short video from our Vestdalur hike in winter.

With every additional step leading upwards, though, the views over Seyðisfjörður get only better and better. Thus, no matter how far you get we definitely recommend at least taking a short walk by the beginning of Vestdalur trail to enjoy these beautiful views. We were alone on the hike. Just a few minutes into the hike, you will run into a picturesque Vestdalsfossar waterfall.

seydisfjordur farm

Friends next door at farm close to Vestdalur

That being said, soon after firstly seeing Vestdalsfossar we reached the point where the snow was simply too deep and the hill to climb too steep. Moreover, we couldn’t see the trail at all. This was the point where we simply admired the views a bit and rather turned back. We recommend you do the same at any hike where you don’t feel comfortable to continue, because Icelandic winter hikes may be very tricky and dangerous.

Vestdalur hike then actually continues a quite long way into the valley, along the Vestdalsá river, but views over Seyðisfjörður will soon disappear, because you will get more deeply into the valley. The final destination of the Vestdalur hike is the Vestdalsvatn lake, however we do not recommend hiking there in winter, because the trail is often inaccessible and may be dangerous to follow. We recommend doing what we did – start the hike, enjoy the views and continue until you feel comfortable to do so, and then turn back.

Vök baths

Vök Baths hot spa iceland

Vök Baths hot spa

After a day of exploring Eastfjords, we went for a relaxing evening at Vök baths. We were lucky to catch a beautiful sunset there. Vök baths are modern Icelandic hot spring SPAs with entrance fee, definitely worth visiting, though. At least in winter. We prefer going for SPAs more in winter, when it’s less comfortable and more difficult getting to wild hot springs.

Vök baths have several different hot pools. Large enough to accommodate 100+visitors. There were around 30 of them at the time of our visit in the beginning of March. There’s of course a pool bar and actually also a cold lake right next to hot pools. Those who dare may switch between hot pools and an ice-cold lake as often as they wish 😉

Hengifoss waterfall

winter hengifoss

Winter Hengifoss

A famous Hengifoss waterfall is accessible also in winter. There’s a huge car park where you may leave your car even in winter. Beware, though, the trail to Hengifoss may be covered with snow and ice in winter and thus be pretty slippery and not that easy to follow. On a windy and/or foggy they, the hike isn’t very pleasant.

Hengifoss also may or may not be frozen, this depends on the season. The same applies to its orange colors, which may not be visible when covered by snow and ice. This is usually the case anywhere from November to March. We rather recommend visiting Hengifoss outside of the winter months due to above mentioned reasons.

Borgarfjörður Eystri

winter borgarfjordur eystri

Winter Borgarfjörður eystri

Borgarfjörður Eystri is accessible also in winter, because the road is being ploughed few times a day. To get to Borgarfjörður Eystri you have to drive through the mountain pass, similarly to Seyðisfjörður. The mountain pass leading to Borgarfjörður Eystri may become a bit scary and dangerous to drive during snow and wind, so try to avoid such times.

Borgarfjörður Eystri is a hikers’ and puffin lovers’ paradise in summer and is also a very popular place in Eastfjords to visit with many tourists heading there. In winter, this is very very different. Firstly, majority of hiking trails are inaccessible due to snow and ice (such as Stórurð for example). Secondly, there are no puffins in winter. Thirdly, most of the accommodations and restaurants are closed.

We visited Borgarfjörður Eystri in the beginning of March and the place resembled a ghost town to us. This is both good and bad, depends what you’re looking for 🙂 On one hand, you had the town all for yourself. On the other hand, there’s not much to do in Borgarfjörður Eystri in winter.

Videos of East Iceland in Winter

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Posted by Igor

Igor has spent months exploring every inch of Iceland over several years. He specializes in the Highlands, F-roads, hiking, hot springs, and less touristy places. He loves Iceland and keeps coming back.

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