Ásbyrgi Canyon

Basic Information

Ásbyrgi is a unique and breathtaking horseshoe-shaped canyon located in the northern part of Iceland. The canyon was formed thousands of years ago by a catastrophic glacial flood and is surrounded by steep cliffs that reach up to 100 meters in height.

The area is home to diverse vegetation and wildlife, including birch trees, mosses, and various bird species such as the arctic tern and puffin. It is also believed to be the dwelling place of mythological creatures such as elves and trolls.

Ásbyrgi is a popular destination for hiking, camping, and sightseeing, and it is part of the Vatnajökull National Park. It is a must-visit location for nature lovers and anyone seeking to experience the natural beauty and wonder of Iceland.

Tours to Ásbyrgi

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Formation of Ásbyrgi

Ásbyrgi, a glacial canyon nestled in northern Iceland, is a mesmerizing destination that draws in countless visitors year-round. Towering cliffs, reaching heights of approximately 90 meters, and a massive crag on the right-hand side enhance the stunning beauty of this natural wonder. Theories surrounding the formation of Ásbyrgi abound, with the most widely accepted explanation attributing its creation to a catastrophic flood from Jokulsa Glacier. Some suggest that it was formed by the engulfment of seawater on top of a previously covered lava field. The lava of Ásbyrgi and its surroundings flowed from the volcanic crater Stóravíti around 10-12 thousand years ago. In local folklore, it is considered the capital of Hidden People in Iceland by some. As you explore the area, don’t miss the Botnstjörn Lake nestled inside the canyon, adding to the natural beauty of this awe-inspiring location.

At this serene lake, the Eurasian Wigeon and northern fulmars find a home, offering you a glimpse into the hidden beauty of nature. A visit to this picturesque location rewards you with stunning vistas of towering mountains, glacial rivers, soaring cliffs, and crystalline lakes. As you explore the winding paths of the canyon, don’t miss the opportunity to witness Ástjörn, another stunning lake situated northeast of Ásbyrgi.

For adventure enthusiasts, there’s no better way to experience the natural wonders of Ásbyrgi than camping. The Ásbyrgi camping grounds, also known as the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon grounds, provide a tranquil environment for those seeking peace and serenity. With access to tents and mobile homes, the camping site is equipped with 8 showers for both men and women, a washing machine, and a tumble dryer, ensuring that you have all the amenities you need for a comfortable stay.

Ásbyrgi canyon in North Iceland, horseshoe shape canyon in Iceland

Hiking Paths at Ásbyrgi

Ásbyrgi is a natural wonderland that offers visitors an opportunity to explore its diverse terrain through a range of hiking trails. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a novice explorer, there’s a path that caters to your needs and preferences.

  1. Botnstjörn Trail: This easy hiking trail takes you around the picturesque Botnstjörn Lake, nestled in the heart of Ásbyrgi’s horseshoe canyon. The 1.5-kilometer-long trail is perfect for a leisurely stroll, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding cliffs and lush vegetation.

  2. Jökulsárgljúfur Trail: This moderate hiking trail takes you through the stunning Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon, where you can admire the towering cliffs, glacial rivers, and diverse flora and fauna. The 8-kilometer-long trail is ideal for those who want to experience the rugged beauty of Ásbyrgi while enjoying a challenging hike.

  3. Rauðhólar Trail: This easy hiking trail is perfect for families with children or those looking for a short, scenic hike. The 2-kilometer-long trail takes you through the Rauðhólar volcanic craters, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape and a chance to learn about the area’s geological history.

  4. Hólmatungur Trail: This challenging hiking trail takes you deep into the remote Hólmatungur wilderness, offering an unforgettable experience for adventurous hikers. The 24-kilometer-long trail takes you through rugged terrain, mountain passes, and spectacular views of the Vatnajökull glacier, making it a true test of your hiking skills.

  5. Stórurð Trail: This moderate hiking trail takes you through Ásbyrgi’s most unique geological formations, the Stórurð boulder fields. The 8-kilometer-long trail is perfect for those who want to explore the area’s geological wonders while enjoying a moderate hike.
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No matter which trail you choose, hiking in Ásbyrgi promises an unforgettable adventure through one of Iceland’s most stunning natural wonders. Don’t forget to pack appropriate gear and plan for changing weather conditions, as the climate in Iceland can be unpredictable.

Activities near Ásbyrgi

Ásbyrgi canyon in North Iceland, horseshoe shape canyon in Iceland

How to Reach Ásbyrgi

Ásbyrgi is located in North Iceland, approximately 50 kilometers east of the town of Húsavík and 30 kilometers north of the town of Ásbyrgi. Here are the different ways to reach Ásbyrgi:

  1. By Car: One of the easiest ways to reach Ásbyrgi is by car. You can rent a car from Keflavik Airport, Reykjavik or any other major town in Iceland and drive to Ásbyrgi. The journey from Reykjavik takes around 6 hours and the route passes through some of Iceland’s most scenic landscapes. A Custom Iceland Itinerary is highly recommended for this trip. For discount on car rental use the code ICELANDTRAVELGUIDE at check out with Go Car Rental. Add an extra driver free of charge and get a % off your car rental. 

  2. By Tour: You can find Multi Day Tours from Reykjavik or Day Tours from Akureyri that will take you to Ásbyrgi. The Multi Day Tours are highly recommended to maximize your time when in Iceland with a local knowledgeable guide. These tours typically include transportation, accommodation, and guided tours of the area’s natural wonders. Find tours to Ásbyrgi here. 

  3. By Air: The closest airport to Ásbyrgi is the Húsavík Airport, which has regular flights from Reykjavik and other major towns in Iceland. From the airport, you can rent a car or take a bus to Ásbyrgi.

No matter how you choose to get to Ásbyrgi, make sure to plan your trip in advance, especially during peak tourist season (June-August), as accommodations and tours can fill up quickly.

Ásbyrgi canyon in North Iceland, horseshoe shape canyon in Iceland

Map of Ásbyrgi

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