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The Ins and Outs of the Arctic Coast Way

If you want to go off the beaten path, explore raw nature, and discover some of the most remote places in Iceland, driving the Arctic Coast Way is just the thing for you! It is a unique route following 900km (560mi) of coastal roads close to the Arctic Circle. The Arctic Coast Way covers the entire coastline of North Iceland from Hvammstangi in the west to Bakkafjörður in the east. Driving the Arctic Coast Way means leaving the crowds behind and going on an adventure.

Arctic Coast Way
Arctic Coast Way, photo: arcticcoastway.is

How much time do you need to drive the Arctic Coast Way?

The Arctic Coast Way is about travelling slowly and taking in the beauty. Narrow gravel roads make up one third of the route, and the remote location with less infrastructure and Icelandic weather conditions are all factored in the time you should calculate for your trip. It is best to drive slowly and look out for animals like sheep and birds on the road. You can stop as often as you like to admire the beautiful sights, but make sure to do so at designated areas. It’s easy to only do parts of the Arctic Coast Way if you don’t have many days, and you can also add days if you want to explore more. Experiencing the entire route and its peninsulas will take about nine days.

Puffin Boat Tour
You can spot puffins at many places along the ArctIc Coast Way.

What are the best sights along the Arctic Coast Way?

The route includes six peninsulas, taking you from black sandy beaches to spectacular cliffs, along glacial river deltas and fjords to high mountains. The six peninsulas offer unforgettable experiences and small towns along the way tell unique stories about life on the edge of the arctic. The route includes 13 beaches, 5 whale watching spots, 10 lighthouses, 8 impressive rock formations, and some of Iceland’s best spots to watch seals.

Humpback Whale
There are excellent whale watching spots along the Arctic Coast Way, as well as a top-notch Whale Museum in Húsavík.

What activities can you do along the Arctic Coast Way?

Along the Arctic Coast Way, you will find the Birding Trail consisting of 38 bird watching locations, and there are excellent spots for whale watching and seal spotting en route. You will come across more than 20 towns which each have their own unique character, and you will drive past 24 cultural sites and museums. You can choose from many outdoor activities, from hiking, biking, and paddling to mountain climbing, skiing, and swimming in one the many geothermal pools.

Turf Houses Glaumbær
Glaumbær Museum

Where to stay along the Arctic Coast Way?

All along the Arctic Coast Way, you will find great accommodation options. There are hotels and guesthouses, but also apartments and youth hostels. Wild camping is not allowed, but all villages along the route have campsites with facilities. These campsites are perfect for those camping with a tent as well as for those travelling with a camper van.

You can find a list of accommodations at Arctic Coast Way – Places to Stay.