Akureyri, Mývatn, Dimmuborgir and Dettifoss or Jökulsárlón, Gullfoss, Skaftafell and Vík? It’s not easy to decide between visiting the north or the south of the island. This is a growing issue for travellers to Iceland. It is difficult to answer, because it depends very much on your tastes and your desires. However, we have tried to compile some information that will help you make your choice!
Iceland: North or South – The South
The south has a beautiful diversity of landscapes. Waterfalls, volcanoes, black sand beaches and glaciers. You can see much of the beauty that Iceland has to offer by confining yourself to the south coast. All year round, it is possible to visit southern Iceland and enjoy many activities, such as horseback riding, hiking on a glacier or a snowmobile tour.
In the north, the road is long to reach Mývatn, but it is really the must-see when you head north. From here you can easily visit the other incredible sites of northern Iceland, such as Dettifoss or Ásbyrgi. For skiing, whale watching or tranquility, the north is ideal!
The road number one to Höfn is very accessible, even in winter, and it is rare that this road is blocked. In the north, snow is more abundant and it is common for some stretches of road to close for a few hours a day or for longer periods. It may be wise to travel to the northern city of Akureyri by plane, and tour from there.
Most visitors prefer the south as it is more diverse and more accessible. Visitors can enjoy the Golden Circle, its geysers and its national park, the black sand of Vík and the Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls all year round. It is therefore rare to find yourself alone at these sites, even in the winter.
Less frequented, but with more dramatic landscapes, the north of Iceland will show you another facet of the country. Tourism is booming but most of the sites are rarely frequented outside the high season in July and August. If you seek tranquility and solitude it is to the north you must go!
If you have enough time on the island, you can also decide to tour and visit both the north and south. This is obviously the best compromise possible if you are torn between the two but if you are only staying a few days in Iceland, we strongly advise you to pick a region and explore it, rather than trying to see everything without having time to enjoy it. Iceland is a relatively small country, but you will find that the climatic and road conditions will not allow you to drive very quickly during your trip. You will often stop on the way, to admire the landscape around you.
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