Recommendations from the locals
East Iceland - It's oh so quiet
Fáskrúðsfjörður is in the centre of the eastfjords, in between peninsulas Vattarnes and Hafnarnes. At the bottom of the fjord there is a grassy valley with lovely arctic woodlands. The route from Reyðarfjörður along the coast is very scenic and should not be missed. It offers great views to the hollow cliff island of Skrúður. The island is home to a colourful birdlife, with the unique wonder the 'Puffin Cave' sheltering thousands of puffins and a great colony of Gannets that can be seen plunging like arrows into the water. The town at the bottom of the fjord goes by the name of Búðir, but everyone calls it Fáskrúðsfjörður. The town became a trading post in 1880. From the latter part of the 19th century until 1935, the town was the main hub for French fishermen off East of Iceland. The town is famous for its French heritage and has a strong connection to its French counterpart, Gravelines. It is worth while to visit the French Museum and learn more about these historical connections. There used to be a French consul, a French hospital and a French chapel. It is also believed that France had a say in the fact that the district doctor was positioned in Búðir. The village road signs are also in French. Don't forget to visit the local Café which is known for great cakes and refreshments that can be enjoyed in cosy surroundings. An eligeble place to stay is the farm Tunguholt.
Just outside the town is a graveyard, the burial place of 49 known French sailors. The former French hospital, erected in 1903 and notorious for being haunted, is currently being restored to its former glory.
One of East Iceland's most illustrious spots is the Stórurð ("The Giant Boulders"), located to the east of the road leading to Borgarfjörður eystri. Stórurð lies below the small glacier west of Dyrfjöll mountains. It consists of gigantic tuff boulders, charming meadows and attractive ponds. This wonderful scene can be reached in 2.5 hours on foot from Vatnsskarð pass. To enjoy Dyrfjöll and Stórurð a whole day plan is highly recommended.
Iceland's largest forest surrounds Hallormsstaður. Experiments with imported tree species were initiated here in 1903; in 1938, the first larch grove was planted, demonstrating that wood cultivation was feasible in Iceland. In fact, the woods are an extensive and congenial area, and in late summer large quantities of berries and mushrooms are yours for the taking. A home economics´ school with dormitories, which initially only accepted women, now educates both sexes. It is placed in a stately building dating from 1930. The Hallormsstaður arboretum is unique in Iceland, comprising a collection of around 70 tree species. Many enjoy stralling through the arboretum, and there are well-marked trails throughout much of the surrounding woodland, clearly indicated on a map published by the Forest Services.
Helgustaðanáma is an old Icelandic spar mine, located above the trail leading from Eskifjörður til Vödlavík inlet. It is partially open to visitors and there is good walking path leading up to it.
All removal of the spar is forbidden and the area is a protected nature reserve.
The Icelandic spar is made out of especially pure cristalls of calsit. Characteristic for the Icelandic spar in Helgustaðanáma is its size, purity and clarity. The spar was used in telescopes and other technical instruments in times gone by. Icelandic spar can be found in several stone collections and geological museums around the world.