Austurland is the region of Iceland home to Vatnajökull, Europe's largest glacier.
- 1 Jökulsárlón - a beautiful glacial lagoon (the name literally means "glacier river lagoon") crowded with icebergs right by the ring road in the southeast. A popular location for filming, has been featured in two James Bond films and one Tomb Raider film. It is possible to go sailing on the lagoon.
- 2 Skaftafell National Park
- 3 Vatnajökull National Park - This large national park, covering the entire glacier of Vatnajökull as well as some of its surroundings, reaches into three different regions of Iceland. The glacier itself is most easily accessible in the south, with the service centre and campsite at Skaftafell lying just off the ring road.
Austurland is a vast and very diverse region. Vatnajökull, Europe's largest glacier, sits on the mountaintops of the south-east, with only a narrow strip of land between the sea and the glacier. The coastline is a long sandy beach, with only one natural harbour at Höfn which is also the main town in the south-east. A little further north, in the central section of Austurland, are the East Fjords. These fjords are dotted with fishing villages in picturesque settings squeezed between the mountains and the sea. Hérað is an inland area on the other side of the mountains from the East Fjords. Hérað is known for being one of the warmest places in Iceland in the summer and a very popular destination for Icelanders travelling in their own country. The main town in Hérað is Egilsstaðir by the Lagarfljót lake. Finally, in the northeast you will find the remote and fascinating villages of Vopnafjörður and Bakkafjörður.
The Ring road, highway 1, passes through the region and connects it with the rest of the country.
Strætó operates busses that travel almost the entire length of the Ring Road, with busses coming from the North terminating in Egilsstaðir and busses from the South terminating in Höfn. As of summer 2015 the times of busses are as follows:
- Bus 56 to Egilsstaðir leaves from Hof in Akureyri at 15:35.
- Bus 51 to Höfn leaves from the Mjódd bus terminal in Reykjavík at 9:00 and 17:40 daily.
The Ring Road runs through Austurland and most of the inhabited fjords are connected by highways leading off the ring road. Some sections of the fjord roads can be quite unnerving, with steep drops from the road to the sea.
Austurland is one of only two regions in Iceland not covered by the Strætó network, the other being the West Fjords. Instead the municipalites in the region have set up their own system, Strætisvagnar Austurlands (East Iceland Busses) or SVAust.
As elsewhere in Iceland, weather is the primary safety concern. Always check the weather forecast before setting off on your journey, especially if you're planning to go through one of the mountain passes in the region.
Note that Austurland has the only unpaved sections of the Ring Road and that some of these run along sheer drops to the sea in the East Fjords. Drive carefully.