Turning off the main Ring Road of Iceland onto Road 953 leads to an adventure that you may not expect. Most people head to Seyðisfjörður a small town where the ferry arrives from the Faroe Islands, but if you are looking for something slightly different, Mjóifjörður may be what you are looking for.
Mjóifjörður is a long, narrow fjord in the Eastfjords region of Iceland. It is a remote and rugged destination, but it is also home to some stunning scenery, including the Klifbrekkufossar waterfalls and the Dalatangaviti headland, the most easterly point in Iceland.
The best way to reach Mjóifjörður is by driving Road 953, which is a 4WD road that is only open from May to October. There is no public transportation to Mjóifjörður, so you will need to drive or take a boat. It is a bit off the beaten path, but it is well worth the effort to get there.
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Things to do in Mjóifjörður
Located in the east of Iceland 55km southeast of Egilsstaðir is the isolated Mjóifjörður. Known as the ‘narrow fjord’ it stretches for 18km with the small village of Brekkuþorp halfway along towards the lighthouse.
Despite its isolation and lack of visitors, this narrow fjord is beautiful in its simplicity. There are a number of locations that are worth stopping to explore and around every corner is another stunning landscape.
From the main Ring Road 1, the road instantly becomes a rough track and the signs warn of it only being suitable for 4WD vehicles. Given the narrow road and the sheer drops to the sea towards the lighthouse, these are signs that shouldn’t be ignored.
The road is rough gravel and best driven in thick fog as the drops on either side are quite steep. There are two small mountain lakes before the road starts to descend into the fjord. Even in the summer snow clings to the peaks and once the first snow arrives in early October the road is impassable until May.
At the head of the fjord is the spectacular Klifbrekkufossar waterfalls which tumble over a number of falls towards the road. Stories of trolls seducing priests abound and it is easy to see how these tales evolve.
Aptly nicknamed “the seven-tiered waterfall,” Klifbrekkufossar is a beautiful cascade with a height of 90 metres which is easy to miss as you drive the switchbacks from the mountain pass. The source of Klifbrekkufossar’s magnificence lies in the pure waters of the Fjarðará River. This spring-fed river feeds the waterfall, ensuring that the water gushing down is exceptionally clear and untainted.
The origin of the waterfall’s name, “Klifbrekkufossar,” reflects its unique nature. Translating to “climbing slope waterfalls” in Icelandic, the name perfectly encapsulates the visual spectacle. Unlike conventional waterfalls that rush down steep cliffs, Klifbrekkufossar appears as if it is gently climbing the slopes of the surrounding mountain. This illusion adds a touch of mystique to an already mesmerising sight, making the waterfall one of the more unique Icelandic waterfalls.
Asknes and Abandoned Landing Craft
As the road reaches the shoreline of the fjord it passes through the old whaling village of Asknes. It is hard to believe that this was home to over 200 workers in the early 1900s. Now an isolated farmhouse the whaling past is long gone.
A little further along is the rusting American landing craft (LCM). Being battered by the elements she is looking a little sorry for herself. She was first used by the Americans to transport radar equipment into the area as well as vehicles and later the fishermen used her for transporting the heads and guts of herring from the harbour in Brekka to the processing plant. In 1966 she was laid to rest on the shoreline where she has been ever since.
Brekka Village – Brekkuþorp
This small village is home to about 20 people who are mainly involved in the fishing industry. The harbour is busy with boats and the small shop and cafe are a welcome break on the drive towards the lighthouse.
The village has everything you need as a visitor and there is a small pretty church on the shoreline just before you reach the village itself. Dogs potter about and were pleased to see new friends to play with.
As the road heads towards the lighthouses, it crosses a little bridge with a small but perfectly formed gorge called Hofsárgljúfur. This is worth a stop for photographs as the clear mountain water crashes over the boulders.
Beyond Hofsárgljúfur is the small inlet of Smjörvogur, once used as a prison as there was no way out. After Hofsárgljúfur the road narrows and the drops become sheer as the road heads towards the headland.
After what seems like a white knuckle drive of epic proportions Dalatangi Farm and the two lighthouses come into view. This is the end of the road and the end of the fjord. The older white lighthouse sits on a small hill overlooking the sea.
It was made from basalt in 1895 and despite its exposure to the weather it still stands strong today. The newer orange lighthouse is still in use and was commissioned in 1908. This is the most easterly point with a road in Iceland and also the most easterly lighthouses in the whole of Iceland.
Getting to Mjóifjörður
Mjóifjörður can be reached by driving Road 953 which leaves Ring Road 1 just south of Egilsstaðir. It is 675km by road from Reykjavík travelling in a clockwise direction with a drive time of about 9 hours.
The distance is slightly more and slightly longer following the south coast, but there is very little difference in either route.
From Egilsstaðir it is 40km with a driving time of about an hour to Brekka village.
If you want to continue to Delatangi lighthouse then you will need a further 40 minutes drive in each direction to cover the final 14km. The road is only suitable for 4WD vehicles and slow speeds and concentration are needed for the entire drive.
What are the road conditions like in Mjóifjörður?
For most of the drive to Mjóifjörður, the road is gravel. Across the mountain pass, there are steep drops and on the final descent into the valley, there are tight switchbacks.
Fog and mist will hang over the mountain pass and snow lingers for much of the summer. After Brekka village the road becomes less used and extremely narrow.
There are a few passing places, but getting to these can be a test of nerves as the road hugs the sheer drop to the ocean below.
When is the best time of year to visit Mjóifjörður?
The road is open from May until mid-October although this changes with the weather conditions and may be earlier or later.
There is no public transport although a boat does run in the winter months from Norðfjörður. You can check the opening and condition of the road at road.is.
Where to stay in Mjóifjörður
There is a small campsite in Brekka and the small but perfectly formed Sólbrekka holiday homes. These small wooden huts have free WiFi and a hot tub and are found on the shore of the fjord. For a cheaper option, Sólbrekka Guest House provides sleeping bag accommodation in bunks with a communal kitchen and facilities.
Other places to explore in the Eastfjords
The Eastfjords of Iceland are often overlooked, but there are so many stunning places that it is worth taking your time to explore.
- Djúpivogur is located on the Búlandsnes peninsula. It is home to the iconic glacier-carved horn, Búlandstindur, and is surrounded by beaches, wetlands, and numerous islands and skerries. The town has a calm feel with old buildings and there are plenty of nearby hikes.
- Bakkafjörður is a small village of under 80 residents in the far northeast of Iceland. Dependent on fishing and fish processing it is a lonely and isolated location. It is the furthest village from the capital, Reykjavík which is 634 kilometres away by road. A distance that makes it feel like a different planet.
- Hafnarhólmi is a small island close to Borgarfjörður Eystri where puffins nest during the summer months. On Hafnarhólmi you can see thousands of puffins up close as you follow the boardwalks across the island.
Mjóifjörður is a truly unique and special place in Iceland. It is a remote and rugged destination, but it is also home to some stunning scenery and rich history. If you are looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination with plenty of adventure, Mjóifjörður is the perfect place for you.
The best way to experience Mjóifjörður is to take a road trip to the Klifbrekkufossar waterfalls and the Dalatangaviti headland. The waterfalls are a series of cascading waterfalls that plunge down the cliffsides, while the headland is the most easterly point in Iceland. You can also visit the Brekkuþorp village, which is a small and charming village located in Mjóifjörður.
If you are looking for a place to stay in Mjóifjörður, there are a few guesthouses and cabins available. There is also a small campsite in Brekka. The best time to visit Mjóifjörður is during the summer months when the weather is good and the mountain pass is open.
Mjóifjörður is a truly unforgettable destination. It is a place where you can experience the beauty of Iceland in its rawest form. If you are looking for an adventure, Mjóifjörður is the perfect place for you.
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