If you think that Iceland is sparsely populated, then Tröllaskagi Peninsula gives new meaning to this phrase. We could have had a picnic on the road without risking our lives because that is how low the traffic is. At least vehicle traffic that is; sheep and horses are in plenty. The terrain is full of grassy healthlands, mountains covered with snow, ice and moss and valleys with pure, meandering rivers. Every twist and turn, every blind curve and steep slope, has a surprise awaiting for you that is sure to take your breath away.
We took it slow this day because we were reluctant to leave our lovely bed and breakfast in the stunning Öxnadalur valley. Once we did manage to pull ourselves out around noon, we decided to drive along the Tröllaskagi peninsular coast via the towns of Holar, Siglufjörður, Ólafsfjörður, Dalvik and finally Akureyri. Things didn’t really go according to plan…
We started off by heading west from our accommodation in Öxnadalur valley towards Varmahlíð.
Grafarkirkja, also known as the Gröf Chapel, is a little wooden chapel with turf roof from the late 17th century. It is located on the western side of the peninsula, just south of Hofsós. The chapel was deconsecrated in 1765 and rebuilt by the National Museum of Iceland in the original form in 1953. The pulpit, altar and altar painting are still from the original church. It is the most adorable turf roof church we had seen in all of Iceland.
Continue driving north and you will spot some geothermally active areas and warnings of boiling water. Further on the 76, we found out that the rains in the north had resulted in landslides and the road was closed. So we had no choice but to cancel Siglufjörður from our plans and instead head to Ólafsfjörður via the Ólafsfjarðarvegur (802). This was probably a blessing in disguise.
We drove up one particular hill on the way not knowing what awaits. The speed limit reduced and road signs warned us of steep descent. With built up tension, we reached the top and gasped in awe. We had the view of a still lake offering picture perfect reflection of the surrounding mountains. This happened many times on the way. We stood still for what felt like eternity in an attempt to capture the moment not just in photographs but in our memories.
After passing by the Lake Stifluvatn and the heath Lágheiði, we finally reached Ólafsfjörður.
Ólafsfjörður is a small town of 780 people ensconced in a gorgeous fjord. The town was only settled in early the 1900s. Fishing and tourism are the main businesses here. This part of Iceland is also popular for winter sports. Just as we entered the town, we were welcomed by yet another gorgeous reflection. This time of the town in its lake, Ólafsfjörðurvatn. Apparently, the Ólafsfjörðurvatn is a little mysterious because both salt and fresh water fishes can be found it in.
Ólafsfjörður is a small town of 780 people ensconced in a gorgeous fjord. The town was only settled in early the 1900s. Fishing and tourism are the main businesses here. This part of Iceland is also popular for winter sports. As we drove around the town, we couldn’t help but stop every couple of metres because it was so scenic. We have heard that the town’s lake, Ólafsfjörðurvatn, is a little queer because both salt and fresh water fishes can be found in it.
As we drove south on the 82, we spotted the island of Hrisey which lies in the Eyjafjörður and soon reached Dalvik. There is something about this place that gives you the end-of-the-world feeling. It felt so far away and quiet. The harbour shows clear signs that fishing is the main business here. There is a museum about Jóhann Pétursson, the tallest man from Iceland.
On good weather days, you may be able to spot the Grimsey island from here. The arctic circle cuts rights through the island. It is relatively easy to spot the lighthouse of Grimsey.
Akureyri felt like a metropole after all the tiny towns and settlements we had seen the past days! It is the second largest city of Iceland after all. Apart from being a transport and commercial hub for the region, it is also a university town which gives it a youthful vibe.
We were not keen in the heated water park or the Christmas gardens that are popular local attractions. So we just visited Lystigardurinn, the botanical garden. It was pretty, but for someone from the tropics, it was nothing special.