The colourfully named Tröllaskagi (Troll Peninsula) is the area immediately west of Akureyri.
The route northwest from Akureyri takes you through Hauganes, a quiet, small town right next to the ocean. Here, you can go whale watching, hiking, ride a horse, and enjoy a meal at Baccalá Bar, self-described as the “best (and only)” restaurant in Hauganes. Visit the hot tubs on the beach for a moment of relaxation.
Close to Hauganes is the village of Árskógssandur, where you have a chance to taste the locally-brewed Kaldi beer and relax in their Beer Spa! This is also the departure location for the ferry to Hrísey Island, a birding haven with a charming fishing village.
Further north is Dalvík, great for whale watching and home to the Hvoll Folk Museum. The museum is well worth a visit, featuring an exhibition on Jóhann the giant (2,34m) as well as a natural museum, complete with a stuffed polar bear. Dalvík is also the departure point for the ferry to Grímsey island, located on the Arctic Circle, also renowned for bird-watching.
Drive on through the tunnel to the charming fishing town of Ólafsfjörður and try to spot all the troll murals on your way through town. The following destination is Siglufjörður, a historic fishing town that rose to prominence during the early 20th century and its upswing in herring fishing. Visit the Herring Era Museum to learn more, an impressive museum with exhibitions in three buildings by the harbour and historic reenactment of harbour scenes during the summer. A popular ski resort in the winter and great for hiking in the summer, Siglufjörður also has a Folk Music Centre, a lively arts scene, and an endless list of outdoor activities such as fishing, skiing, and hiking. Siglufjörður is a great place to enjoy some seafood and a beer at one of the restaurants by the harbour.
Heading southwest from Siglufjörður, down the other side of the peninsula, you will arrive at Hofsós, which was an important trading town in ages past. You can visit the old tarred-timber warehouse built in 1777 and pay homage to the exodus of Icelanders to Canada at the Icelandic Emigration Centre, or view some impressive basalt column rock formations at the nearby black sand beach. Whatever you do, don’t miss the Hofsós swimming pool, where you bathe in hot geothermal water while looking out over the ocean and nearby mountain ranges.
You might even venture as far west as Sauðárkrókur. The most dynamic attraction in town is 1238: Battle of Iceland Exhibition, an immersive virtual reality experience of Iceland’s Sturlung Era, the bloodiest period in Iceland’s history and one of its most formative. You can also visit Glaumbær Folk Museum and a reconstructed traditional turf house. There are plenty of fun activities to choose from in the area, including horseback riding, bird watching, golfing, or even a boat trip to the dramatic Drangey island, famous for its birdlife.
Finally, in the nearby Varmahlíð area, there are companies offering rafting experiences on both the east and west parts of the Jökulsá river. One is family-friendly, but the other is not for the faint of heart.
Heli-skiing is probably the most thrilling and luxurious activity you can do in Iceland.
Taking a helicopter up to mountain peaks where humans rarely step and skiing down the untouched slopes of the magnificent mountains of the Tröllaskagi is an experience you’ll never forget. Relaxing in a hot tub after a long day of skiing underneath the northern lights or the midnight sun is the icing on the cake!