We woke up on a pretty dreary day in Iceland for our 4th day of the trip. Nevertheless we continued on towards Dettifoss, the most voluminous waterfall in all of Europe! Once we made it there, we braved the sleet, snow and wind to head out towards the massive falls. Wrapping our scarves and hats closely around our faces, we hurried to snap a few pictures, walk the length of the falls, and then hustled back to the car. These Californian's don't fend well in below freezing conditions!
After reheating our fingers, toes and noes we headed towards our day 4 highlight, the Mývatn baths. Similar to the blue lagoon, but far less touristy, this location boasts warm sulfuric healing waters and adult beverages as you swim. Complete with a restaurant and full bar, this is exactly what is needed when the weather outside isn't optimal.
Before we made it to the Mývatn baths, we took a pit stop at Mývatn lake. A volcanic crater with sparkling blue water... On days when it's not sleeting, I'd recommend walking the exterior of this lake, it's a fairly short walk.
Near Mývatn is a geothermal energy field called Námafjall. Famous for it's roiling fumaroles and overly pungent sulfur smell this place is hard to miss. You can walk through a maze of bubbling mud baths, and stare in awe (or horror) at the massive piles of rock emitted tons of sulfuric steam into the atmosphere--don't worry it's all natural so not bad for the environment at all. It feels very supernatural and if ever there was a place that resembled the Mars of my imagination, it is Námafjall.
After we had had our fill of the smell of sulfur, we finally headed towards the Mývatn baths. In the interest of not taking pictures of random people enjoying their lounge in the baths, I didn't even bring my camera in the facility. So please enjoy one from Google!
Image from Viator
We spent about 2 hours floating in the warm healing waters, finding pockets of heat and enjoying the silky mud between our toes. Once we were fully sulfured out, we headed back to the car and made our way towards an area my Game of Thrones fans will find interesting. A certain cave... And yes, THAT cave. The cave where Jon Snow and Ygritte, made things *cough cough* official...
We headed a bit further towards a small nature hike through a previously volcanic area that looked like the ruin of a massive fortress, called Dimmuborgir. While slightly anticlimactic, I couldn't resist the impulse to at least get a picture inside the massive rock with a hole straight through the middle!
We departed and headed towards our home base for the evening, Akureyri, the largest town in the north of Iceland. It is an adorable little stop that should definitely be on your list of towns to visit while in Iceland! Oddly enough, and thanks to a previous and very unusual job, this would be my second time visiting Akureyri. I was excited to see what parts of this little town I remembered and what had changed in the 3 years it had been since I was there before.
On our way we stopped by another beautiful waterfall called Godafoss. Affectionately called the waterfall of the Gods, this waterfall derives it's name from a rather unusual story:
When Iceland was first settled by Norweigans, they worshipped the older Norse gods like Loki and Thor. When the Europeans began to ponder the invasion of Iceland, the leader of the country had a decision to make. Would the people of Iceland continue to worship the old golds, and have to potentially fight for their religious freedom? Or would they decide as a nation convert to Christianity to save themselves a fight and worship the old gods in private? In the interest of his people the leader of Iceland decided Christianity was the way to go. To symbolize his decision he travelled to Godafoss and threw his idols of the Old Gods into the falls, where they would stay forever more.
A quick drive from Godafoss and we were in Akureyri! Thankfully it still resembled the quiet, sleepy town from 3 years ago. Boasting a main street with coffee shops, small boutiques, restaurants, and a fun book store this town certainly has charm! Brightly colored buildings line the street, and there are sculptures and paintings adorning the walls and sidewalks.
We walked in the bookstore and picked ourselves out some fun trinkets to bring back to the states including a drinking horn, stuffed puffins and adorable onesie for my future nephew! We stopped for dinner at a restaurant called Bryggjan and packed it in for the night.