In search of trolls on Iceland’s Trollaskagi Peninsula
The fantastically named Trollaskagi Peninsula (or Trolls Peninsula) lies in the far north of Iceland. This fairy-tale land of high peaks and deep valleys is actually fairly unexplored despite having quite an accessible location. The peninsula sits just west of Akureyri the capital city of North Iceland.
By Iceland standards it is actually quite densely populated along the coastal lowlands. Head inland though and it’s a very different story altogether. High mountains rise up to well over 1000 metres and deep valleys plunge down to meet rushing rivers. This is the wild country of the Troll’s Peninsula and these giant peaks are likely how the area got its storybook name.
In this article we will explore some of the top things to do across Iceland’s Trollaskagi Peninsula. From backcountry skiing to visiting outdoor hot springs with incredible North Atlantic views.
Getting to the Trollaskagi Peninsula.
If you are hiring a motorhome or a camper van then exploring the Trollaskagi Peninsula is a straightforward road trip. A pretty decent tarmacked road runs right around the dramatic coast passing through sleepy fishing villages along the way. If you are driving the Ring Road route then adding on the Trolls Peninsular road trip is just a short detour. Driving anticlockwise on the Ring Road you would leave at Akureyri re-joining it a little further west at Varmahlíð.
The full detour should take you about 2-3 hours to drive non-stop. There is of course a lot to see and do along the way. So we recommend spending at least a night or two on the peninsular. This will depend on how many activities and sights you want to take in.
Things to do on Iceland’s Trollaskagi Peninsula
Hit the winter slopes
The high mountains of this northern land are excellent for winter sports. Skiing and snowboarding in Iceland are both popular. In the small town of Dalvik there are ski slopes within easy walking distance of the town. The resort boasts some five kilometres of groomed tracks suitable for all levels. A good portion of these are lit up after sundown so you can even enjoy a moonlight cruise.
Heading deeper into the mountains for some backcountry skiing would necessitate hiring the services of an expert tour guide. And for the really adventurous and seasoned skier you could even book a heli-ski adventure. Hello adrenalin!
Take a whale-watching trip
The old fishing village of Dalvik sits on the Eyjafjorður fjord and the views are spectacular. In season when the sea is calm there are regular whale watching tours heading out into the sheltered waters here. This is more of a summer month activity although it does stretch into the shoulder seasons either side.
Discover Iceland’s history and heritage
A little further around the dramatic coast you will arrive at the town of Siglufjörður. This now quiet place used to be the booming herring capital of Iceland. Its heyday ran all the way through the first half of the 20th Century. Fleets of fishing boats docked at the busy pier unloading their catch for processing. Much of the town’s inhabitants used to work in the industry.
The Herring Museum can be found near the harbour and has been expertly designed and put together. In fact it is has even won awards for its interpretation of life in the busy herring era. If you would like an engaging insight into Iceland’s history and heritage you should definitely pay a visit. Perfect for a rainy day afternoon visit followed by a cosy dinner in one of the nearby restaurants.
Summer hiking and horse riding
So, heading back out into the great outdoors now. If you are visiting the peninsular during the summer months then skiing is of course out. But you will definitely want to get out and about in the stunning countryside. There are hiking trails galore to enjoy across the peninsular. And you’ll have no shortage of incredible views to take in.
Another great way to take in the views is on horseback. The peninsular is home to a large number of Icelandic horses. And there are many places offering guided horse riding tours into the mountains. A great option if you have children with easily tired legs!
Lounge in a seaside hot spring
The beautiful outdoor swimming pool at Hofsós might be one of the most spectacularly set hot springs in Iceland. It has been built in an elevated postion right at the edge of the North Atlantic Ocean. It has been designed as an infinity pool. So you can gaze right out across the wild seascape beyond as you swim in the thermal waters.
As well as the Hofsos pool there are many other things to enjoy in the town. It is actually one of Iceland’s oldest ports so has a fascinating history dating back to the 16th Century. It is also a great base for hiking and horse riding excursions into the mountains.
Visit the enchanting town of Hólar
The lovely town of Hólar lies in the Hjaltadalur Valley just inland as you leave the peninsular to the west. It is a town with a long and venerable history. This used to be the capital of North Iceland before Akureyri took the title. The town also has an important religious history. There are several lovely churches as well as the glorious Hólakirkja Cathedral to visit.
Where to stay: Campstites and hotels in the Trollaskagi Peninsula
There is n shortage of places to stay around the coastal loop of the peninsular. There are seven campsites spaced around the route. The main ones are to found at Hofsós, Hólar and Siglufjörður. All of these towns also have hotel options as well. We particularly recommend the magical Kolkuós Hotel in Hofsós with its beautiful views right out across the ocean.
We also recommend that you stay a night or two in Siglufjörður. It’s a great place and marks the halfway route around the peninsular. Favourite hotels here are the modern Scandinavian chic Siglo Hotel or the family-run Siglunes Guesthouse. There are two good campsites to choose between as well.