Greinasafni: Austurland einnig undir: Icelandic Times
A Road Less Travelled
A Winter Retreat in Fjarðabyggð will transform your perspective
In the mild Icelandic winter, the Eastern fjörds are blanketed with a reflective stillness that falls over the land with the snow.
Fjarðabyggð’s six towns cropped up around naturally calm harbours created by its fjörds, towered over by impressive mountains that have earned the area the nickname of East Iceland’s Alps.
A Therapeutic Mountain Retreat
The region is known for mountain therapy, which lets guests unwind with the help of well-marked mountain hiking trails and the unspoilt nature found everywhere.
Off the main road, Route 1, which frequently closes in winter, the road to Fjarðabyggð stays open year round enabling visitors to embark on an unforgettable winter adventure with local people.
For visitors who want a much-needed mountain retreat, a new winter tour is available that can be booked through Tanni Travel, the bus company travelling around Fjarðabyggð. Simple travel and enjoyment is the focus of this tour which connects visitors to local culture and Icelandic winter traditions. Three- to five-day packages allow visitors to get a feel for the area. Everything from lodging and meals to transportation and activities in the area are included so that visitors will get the benefit of local knowledge without the hassle of figuring out where to go. “We want everyone to feel a part of the community while they are here,” says Hildigunnur Jörundsdottir, Fjarðabyggð’s tourism officer.

Reindeer and Northern Lights

Day trips from accommodation at Mjóeyri’s guesthouse and cottages explore the region’s life and traditions, while visitors enjoy winter’s special charms. Reindeer are known to wander on snowy mountains in search of food and the Northern Lights liven up cold nights with a stunning natural light show.
Day trips get visitors involved in the history of the region, such as a trip to Helgustaðanáma spar mine, which fed the field of physics with materials needed for experiments in optics, allowing them to see the conditions that miners had to face.

Skiing for All Levels of Expertise
Winter in the East means skiing season in Oddsskarð, or Odd’s pass. Recently, Fjarðabyggð has become known for its exceptional ski area, where ski lifts at Oddsskarð take visitors over 800 metres for a spectacular view of the area. Skiers can descend the slopes of the East Iceland Alps while other visitors can simply take in their surroundings. Avid skiers also have the chance to ski from mountaintop to the seaside with local guides who are expertly trained. Gerpir, a hiking area between Eskifjörður and Norðfjörður, will delight hikers with its superb view of the transformation of the fjörd and mountains in winter.

Tradition and Culture

No trip to the Fjarðabyggð is complete without driving Norðfjörður’s scenic route with its avalanche defenses built to protect residents from heavy snows and hiking down to Páskahellir, the seaside Easter cave where, it is said, humans turned seals gather. Easter and Christmas traditions are shared on the tour as locals teach visitors how to make traditional twisted donuts and handicrafts for winter.
After an active day, guests are welcomed to dinner by a local family or treated to a restaurant’s specialities, such as reindeer, served by friendly staff. The glow of campfires and candlelight on Mjóeyri’s beach illuminates conversation and provides guests the opportunity to share their experiences with each other.
The package includes free trips to museums that will give visitors more insight into different aspects of town life including the history of fishing at Eskifjörður’s Maritime museum and, at Norðfjörður’s museum, about the area’s local flora, fauna and culture, including contemporary paintings by Icelandic artists. Foreigners have also visited the area, with some settling down to stay - such as the French in Fáskrúðsfjörður, where a museum reveals the lives of this small community and Reyðarfjörður’s World War II museum catalogues life during the war, when troops from several nations came through the region, flooding traditional towns with a whole new way of life.

An Icelandic-style Farewell
On the last day, everyone will gather to party like a local with dinner, dancing, and samples of Icelandic shark and schnapps passed around. “We want our visitors to leave feeling, not like tourists, but a part of our town,” says Hildigunnur.
Before travelling back to Reykjavik or through the rest of Iceland, Fjarðabyggð’s mountains are sure to restore a sense of tranquility to guests looking for a winter retreat.

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