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Where to Travel in East Iceland – A Guide Egilsstair Eastern Region – Cosmopolitan


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When you think of Iceland, you probably think of the neon-blue waters in the Blue Lagoon and photos of the major city Reykjavk, all great touristy hot spots in the western part of the country. But have you ever thought about the eastern region of Iceland? No, right? It might be off the beaten path, but its worth a visit becauseyeah, Ill say it!its cooler than the trendy spots you see on IG.

A direct flight from New York City, Iceland is a 5.5-hour flight, making it shorter than a flight from New York to L.A. The route on Icelandair has gotten so popular over the past few years because average economy flights go for an average of $504. But PSA: If you want a good deal, try booking a trip for February or March, when you can grab a round-trip flight for as low as $380.

Book Now Icelandair Flight

From Reykjavk, youll need to hop on a 50-minute AirIceland Connect plane connecting you from the west side (Reykjavk, the Blue Lagoon, all the overdone tourist stuff) to the east, aka Egilsstair (pronounced like ey-oles-daughter). NGL: The AirIceland flights are not as cheap for the cross-country hopping as youd expect (tickets run around $100 bucks but can go as low as $75 when theyre having a sale), but its way faster than driving the whole way, which can take eight hours.

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Patagonia Women's Sweater with 1/4 Zip Fleece - Small - Birch White

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K, so you know how everyone who goes to Iceland goes to the Blue Lagoon? That shit is straight-up factory runoff. LEGIT. Its not even a secret.

But there are more natural spas in Iceland, like Vk Baths, which opened earlier this summer.

Hot springs and Jacuzzi-ing is very popular in Iceland, as the geothermal heat that runs underneath the whole island makes it easy-peasy to find a spot to hang. There are tons of pools in Iceland, but no one heats their pools using heating systems like we do in America. The ~ground~ heats it for everyone!

Pro tip: Shower before getting into any Jacuzzi, spa, or sauna thing, as going into any body of water without completely showering (as in using soap and shampoo and, like, fully bathing your naked body in the locker room) is seen as fucking gross by everyone in Iceland.

Our tour guide was like, You can totally fill up your water bottle at the airport, and I was like, Lol, sure, Jan, and then I googled it in the bathroom and its true! Their tap water is not only 100 percent safe to drink but also delicious.

This is attributed to two uniquely Icelandic things: First, their abundance of natural glacial water. And secondly, their infrastructure is all relatively modern and new, so its not, like, dirty-ass water running through an ancient aqueduct system. Iceland was a Danish territory until WWII, when it declared independence while Denmark was preoccupied with the Germans. Most of Iceland was pretty rural until the 1950s too, so buildings are all relatively newish and you can rest easy knowing youre not going to be in a crumbling prewar building.

Also, if you needed any more reason to get on board: Apparently, buying bottled water in Iceland is the quickest way to look like a goober tourist.

3. Go chasing waterfalls (within reason).

Break in your brand-new hiking boots by trekking to see Flgufoss waterfall, which is 60 meters high and situated at the tail end of a pretty easy hike. Its not too steep, although the moisture can make things kinda muddy and slippery, so it helps when you have very experienced tour guides that you can follow behind like a lost puppy.

Bonus! We found some berries along the path and when our guides were like, You can eat those, I was like, Thanks, I dont feel like dying rn though . But of course, as always, they knew what they were talking about and the berries were delish. Thats Iceland for you. Its magical and natural and it will make you feel like a dumb city twerp for thinking twice about saying no thank you at first to road berries.

4. Visit an organic farm for a legit farm-to-table meal.

Turns out that farming of any kind, especially organic farming, is more challenging in Iceland than most places, as its climate and soil arent the friendliest or easiest to work with. On the upside: The climate means less bugs (if any) so theres little need for pesticides. It takes a lot of experimenting and patience, but the Mir Jr organic farm in Vallanes has done the impossible and now grows over 100 kinds of organic veggies and grains.

Another uniquely cool Icelandic thing is the attitude of sustainability, which you can see in pretty much everything, but I felt it especially at this farm. They use the runoff from the refrigeration to flow under their house and to their greenhouse, keeping things toasty in cooler months. The whole system was designed by the farmer himself as a means of using everything you already haveand they dont even brag about it. I only found out about their greenhouse heating through some other random sideways convo. Icelanders = pure of heart and humble when it comes to caring about the Earth. Me = recycles when someone is watching (Im working on it).

The whole experience seemed like the vacay movie of my dreams, which I played in my head while stuffing my face with delicious beet burgs and these wonderful lil garlic chive thingies that come in a bouquet. Theyre also famous for their Symphony Jam, named because one taste will have you hey. I tested this out myself and can vouch.

5. Hope to see the northern lights.

Some larger hotels will have northern lights wakeup calls where you can write down your name and room number if youd like to be woken up in case the lights come out (very cool!). I only got to see them on our third night at Htel Hallormsstaur, when the waitresses came out while we were still eating dinner and excitedly let us know that the lights were visible. Not only was this so nice of them but, again, also proof that Iceland is a magical, pure place. In New York, Im not sure my neighbors would let me know if our building was on fire.

To get actual photos of the northern lights, download NightCap Camera and My Aurora. My Aurora gives you northern lights predictions based on where you are, and NightCap Camera allows you to take super-long exposure photos to capture the auroras. If you try to photograph them without special settings (NightCap makes it easy because its all automatic), then your photos will turn out like this:

Carina Hsieh

Youll also need a tripod to hold the camera steady during this long-ass exposure.

Download Aurora for iOS and Android

Download NightCap for iOS

6. Get a peek of the infamous Icelandic monster.

Lagarfljt lake is supposedly home to the famous Icelandic lake monster, the Lagarfljt Worm. In 2012, a farmer caught the worm on camera and the town made international headlines when the video was scrutinized by experts who reported that the video was not altered or manipulated in any way to fake it. Spooky.

The Worm is also mentioned in the X-Files Quagmire episode (the one about the generic Kirkland Signature version of the Loch Ness monster).

7. Visit the best museum in the whole world, the Icelandic Basement Museum.

Wilderness Center Iceland

K, so the best part of the entire trip was definitely the Icelandic Wilderness Center, which is a v generic name for a baby Disney World of Icelandic history run by Denni, an Icelandic movie set designer who used to live in L.A., and his wife (a historian). Im about to go OFF about the Wilderness Center and how cool it is, so lemme just say that Im not #sponsored by the Wilderness Center, I just GENUINELY love it so much and am so floored by the hard work and love this family put into the most pimped-out bed-and-breakfast in Iceland. It has:

This power coupling means you get Dennis attention to detail in everything from the audio guides and legit backstory about the history of East Iceland. I dont want to spoil anything, but somehow, Denni created a glacier with northern lights (with a man trapped underneath a hunk of ice under your feet) out of plexiglass in his basement.

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8. Hoist yourself across rapids in a hand-pulled cable car.

Another cool thing at the Wilderness Center: the cable cars! Theyre built like boxes that you stand in and then use to pull yourself over the rapids. Before bridges had their moment in Iceland, this was how people crossed the many bodies of water. It looks scary but is so fun and you feel like youre Indiana Jones. And dont worry, they are safe and have been checked out as certifiably so by the local authorities. Im annoying, so I made the whole gang double back so I could do it, like, four more times. It was that fun.

The Wilderness Center also has a Jacuzzi in the middle of the field thats ripe for stargazing and telling ghost stories at night, which is the ultimate way to end your trip. As spooky as it could be to swap gruesome stories in the middle of a field in the pitch black surrounded by snoozing sheep, its hard not to feel like your soul is just soothed and at ease when youre surrounded by as much nature and beauty as the eastern region of Iceland.

Yes, these sheep could rise up and attack us, but its magical Iceland, so they wont. Those berries could kill us, except theyre delicious and they wont. This tap water could taste like sucking on pennies and give you diarrhea, only it wont.

But yeah, I obviously made my friend bunk in my room with me that night because I got less brave the second it was bedtime.

Seriously, Book Now Icelandic Wilderness Center

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Where to Travel in East Iceland - A Guide Egilsstair Eastern Region - Cosmopolitan

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