Ásbyrgi: A Horseshoe Shaped Canyon of Iceland


Basic Information

A remarkable horseshoe-shaped canyon, Ásbyrgi is surrounded by extremely high cliffs. This glacial canyon draws the attention of a large number of tourists throughout the year. The tall cliffs with a height of around 90 meters and huge crag in the right contribute to the mesmerizing beauty of this place. There are few theories related to the formation of this canyon, the most known theory is that Ásbyrgi was formed as a consequence of calamitous flood from Jokulsa Glacier. One theory says that it was formed when sea-water entirely came over the already covered lava field. The lava of Ásbyrgi and the surrounding places flowed from the Stóravíti, a volcanic crater about 10-12 thousand years ago. It is also known to be the capital of Hidden People in Iceland among a group of persons. While exploring the place, you will find Botnstjörn Lake inside the canyon.

At this lake, Eurasian Wigeon and northern fulmars nest so you can capture the nature’s hidden beauty. Visiting this picturesque location offers a view of gigantic mountains, glacial rivers, high cliffs, and lakes. While tracking the path within this canyon, you will witness another lake called Ástjörn, situated northeast of Ásbyrgi. If you are an adventure lover and want to do camping on your journey, there is a camping site for you. The Ásbyrgi camping ground or Jökulsárgljúfur canyon ground is known for its peaceful environment and extraordinary serenity. There is a bigger camping site that provides you access to tents and mobile homes. On the camping grounds, there are a total of 8 showers for men and women, a washing machine and a tumble dryer.

Man Hiking in Ásbyrgi canyon in north Iceland

Hiking Paths at Ásbyrgi

To explore the woodland of birch, spruce, larch, and pine, you can choose to hike the trails around Ásbyrgi Canyon. The view of huge lava rocks on both sides looks astonishing. The first path for hiking is going to the Botnstjörn Pond, you can walk from the parking space to the upper platform along the west wall of the canyon. The second route Eyjan “The Island” also starts from the parking lot but it leads you to the island in central Ásbyrgi. There are wooden steps on this route to make access convenient and easier. The third most popular route starts from Visitor’s Center and stretches below the eastern wall of Ásbyrgi. This track is surrounded by the versatile trees of Ásbyrgi.

Eyjan the Island in Ásbyrgi canyon in north Iceland

How to Reach Ásbyrgi

Located in the Jokulsargljufur river canyon within the Vatnajokull National Park, the Ásbyrgi is 525 kilometers away from the Reykjavik, a capital city of Iceland, but only 138 kilometers from Akureyri, the capital of north Iceland. If you are driving by your vehicle from Reykjavik, it will take about 6 hours and 50 minutes without stopping anywhere on the way to reach Ásbyrgi. Since there are many beautiful attractions on the way, admire these natural attractions to make your trip memorable and adventurous. Drive on the Ring Road 1 from Reykjavik and pass through Borgarnes, Hraunfossar, Grábrók Volcanic Crater, and Varmahlíð. While driving on this route number 1, you will cross Akureyri, the fourth largest town of Iceland. Keep driving and you will reach the parking lot of Ásbyrgi.

There are plenty of hostels, hotels, and guesthouses near this beautiful horseshoe-shaped canyon. If you are planning to explore the areas nearby, you can easily find great accommodation. 

In winters, the roads to Ásbyrgi including Route 864 and 862 get blocked due to snow. These routes usually remain open in the months of summer or spring so it is ideal to plan your trip in the summer season as you can also witness the heavy flow of water in the waterfalls. If you are planning for camping and hiking, bring clothes according to the weather and a pair of hiking boots. 

Man in a yellow raincoat walking in Ásbyrgi canyon in north Iceland

Map of Ásbyrgi

Interesting locations in the area

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Hljóðaklettar: The Whispering Wonder in North Iceland

Saurbaejarkirkja turf church

Saurbæjarkirkja Turf Church

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