My trip started in the capital of Reykjavik, arriving by container ship and leaving by the ferry to Denmark, a familiar route for a lot of riders who like to maximize their time there, and also reduce their costs.
Eastern Fjords, Iceland…Must See RoadsMotorcycle Diaries
On a recent month-long trip to Iceland that saw me covering some 5350km, taking in just a small part of what the amazing country of Iceland has to offer.
Unfortunately for me the highlands, specifically the F26 and surrounding area, is a section full of potential adventure, it remained closed for the duration, due to the worst summer in 75 years, the locals told me!
So where to ride? A little search on the topic would bring up the West Fjords, offering a vast mix of paved and unpaved tracks and the occasional river crossing, the stuff almost every magazine feature shows, ad nauseum.
The south coast offers an array of waterfalls and glaciers that are amazing to see, and the F35, a milder version of a highland crossing tends to open earlier than the F26. A very tame road, no river crossings and most riders agree it’s over too soon.
…but what about the east, why is there no mention of the East Fjords? I asked this question to a lot of my Icelandic friends, and to riders returning to Europe on the ferry, “did you ride much in the East Fjords?”
The three answers that were most common –
- It’s too far away!
- Didn’t have time!
- There’s nothing to see there!
To answer in order –
- If your planned trip was entering and exiting via a container ship in Reykjavik then this is understandable, but you missed some good stuff, and this might give you an excuse to go again.
- If you were using the ferry, you rode right by, and it honestly wouldn’t have added too much time.
- Oh really, that’s because not many riders document it, favoring other areas
So, what could you see and do in the East Fjords, instead of racing around the ring road doing the 1450km loop?
The ferry to/ from Denmark leaves from Seydisfjordur, a very nice, paved road with a little quaint village and great views, a good road to start your tour.
…but look on the map, look just one fjord south and you’ll see Mjóifjörður, often overlooked because of its proximity to Seydisfjordur a lot of riders told me –
“it’s got to be the same being so close!”
Did you ride it?
That’s a shame because even though it turns to dirt as soon as you leave the ring road, it is perfectly graded and just a short 13km ride will take you to one of the most beautiful fjords Iceland has to offer. Ridden in the late afternoon the sun will be at your back and the dramatic light will make this a memory forever.
If you can spare 3km more, ride down the dirt switchback and you will be rewarded with a very close up view of Klifbrekku Waterfall, a multiple stepped waterfall that will put a lot of the more well-known falls to shame…and there is no one around.
Would you double your distance and ride a whopping 32km? If you do, then you will enter the village of Mjóifjörður having the same name as the Fjord. It’s the smallest village in Iceland of just 11 residents, a former whaling station, a little diverse and it gets the least sunlight in the summer months due to its location.
If you can spare a night, there is small hotel, very basic and cheap, I paid 35 euros, it is worth the stopover. Get up early in the morning as the sun rises and it brings the fjord to life before anywhere else on the island will get any sun, and the morning light on the waterfalls is nothing short of spectacular.
If you or the weather made you choose a northbound direction, most riders told me they jumped on the ring road #1 to get to the ‘good stuff’ as soon as possible.
From Seydisfjordur its just 27km to reach the #1 in Egilsstaðir a big town which is a great place to get supplies, but at 24km from the port you’ll pass an unassuming paved road called 94 right before Egilsstaðir headed to Borgarfjarðurhofnvegur
Take this right and in 74km from that turn you will have the chance to see Puffins at amazingly close range, around one meter or so away from you.
Puffins nest in a few places around the island, in the West Fjords it can involve a long hike and an area that is often covered in fog. If like me you got fog in the west then the south coast is your next chance, there are paid tours, they were sold out for days in advance when I was there.
Take the 74km ride and see up close and personal these amazing birds, for free, from a very safe viewing platform, and the ride there is great too…and all paved.
Heading back to Egilsstaðir and the 1, 24km out of town heading north take the turn signposted F-917. It will turn to dirt after a few km but it is exceptionally smooth and well graded that a motorcycle with street tires can easily ride.
Around 100km of unpaved riding will give you the chance to see some amazing long-distance views.
One of the Heradhssandur bay and the other just a few more kilometers is the Hlíðarvegur valley another spectacular view and hopefully the weather is on your side for both as they are long distance views.
These often-missed detours from Seydisfjordur if totaled together only add up to 368km to see all of them. If river crossings and remote roads aren’t your thing, these could be one of the highlights of your visit to Iceland.