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East Fjords - A view from our expert author
A view of the stunning coastline along the East Fjords © Max Topchii, Shutterstock
Iceland’s east coast is a rugged fringe of long, V-shaped fjords in between rows of layered, pointy mountains. There are 14 fjords in total (not counting the smaller bays) and each one cut out by the fast-moving glaciers of the ice age. These eastern fjords are said to be the oldest in Iceland, evident in the jagged peaks that time has sharpened – (younger fjords have flat-topped mountains). The most basic things make this area so extraordinary – the unnamed waterfalls, the single fishing village at the base of each fjord, and the way the sunlight hits the mountains from the east.
As an area, the East Fjords has always felt a little secluded from the rest of Iceland. The narrow fjords are a more dependable outlet than the barren highlands, and the ring road had no choice but to careen its way around each of the channels. For all those people whizzing past on Route 1, the East Fjords represents the part of the journey where most people wish they could stop and stay awhile, simply for the view. Every curve in the road is heightened by the surprise of the scene unveiled in the next fjord – it’s no coincidence that so many travellers’ tales begin with: ‘We were driving in the East Fjords, when…’
Don’t make the mistake of whizzing past the East Fjords on Route 1: this is somewhere you should stop and stay awhile.
Singular fishing villages cling to the base of each fjord – each is home to a few hundred souls, and each is totally different from the next one over. The isolation of these communities (and the recent drop in fishing) has contributed to their slowing down and general lack of cheer. Town museums aim to lure unsuspecting tourists (some are better than others) but the main attractions are the fjords, the people and birds who live there, the incredible rocks on the ground, and the extraordinary hiking.