Information about Ásbyrgi

Ásbyrgi Canyon is a horseshoe-shaped depression in the northeast of Iceland, found only fifty miles east of Húsavík along the popular Diamond Circle route.

This beloved natural feature measures approximately 3.5km in length and 1.1km in width, making up only a small part of the extensive and dramatic Vatnajökull National Park. Visitors to Ásbyrgi will quickly take note of the canyon’s 100m high cliff faces, as well as the thick woodland of birch and willow below, creating an area quite unlike that found anywhere else across Iceland. Other tree species include spruce, larch and pine, and there is a small lake called Botnstjörn which visitors can hike to. One of the canyon's most distinctive features is Eyjan ("The Island"), a 25m rock formation that divides Ásbyrgi for almost half its length. 

Formation and Folklore 

Geologists estimate that Ásbyrgi Canyon began to form roughly 8 - 10,000 years ago, just after the last Ice Age, following a catastrophic glacial flooding of the Jökulsá á Fjöllum river. This flooding likely occurred due to a volcanic eruption beneath the ice-cap, Vatnajökull glacier. Later, only 3000 years ago, this process repeated itself, further sculpting the soul-stirring, spectacular gorge that we know and love today.

With that being said, Icelandic folklore dictates an alternative theory. Given the canyon’s horseshoe shape, legend has it that Odin’s eight-legged steed, Sleipnir, placed one of his feet on the ground here, leaving a deep imprint on the earth. Ever since, a wealth of art and literature has depicted Sleipnir as Ásbyrgi’s true creator. Other myths claim that Ásbyrgi is the capital city and true home to Iceland’s ‘hidden people’, the Huldufólk and elves; self-professed psychics have claimed that they can see and hear these mystical beings living in cracks and ravines of the canyon.

Nearby Attractions 

Thankfully, a number of other fascinating attractions are easily accessible from Ásbyrgi Canyon. One could visit Hljóðaklettar, a strange and enchanting cluster of columnar rock formations located in the neighbouring Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. Nearby, there is also Europe’s most powerful waterfall, Dettifoss, a striking and mighty spectacle for any observer; glacial water from the Jökulsá á Fjöllum cascades 44m over the lip of the falls, culminating in a misty, roaring spray. 

The video below shows one of Iceland’s most famous post-rock bands, Sigur Ros, who chose to play an outdoor concert at Ásbyrgi in 2006, only adding to the area’s rich and ethereal atmosphere. This and the rest of their performances can be seen in the film Heima (2007). 

 

 

Services near Ásbyrgi

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Attractions nearby Ásbyrgi

Hljóðaklettar

Hljodaklettar (‘Echo Rocks’) is a distintive cluster of columnar rock formations, located by Jokulsargljufur in Vatnajokull National Park....

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Nesgjá

Nesgja is a fresh water fissure in North Iceland, close to Husavik and Asbyrgi. It is one of Iceland‘s top dives.    As with the Silf...

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Hafragilsfoss

  Downstream of Dettifoss, Europe's most powerful waterfall, is another major waterfall, the thunderous Hafragilsfoss. Like Dettifoss, Hafr...

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Gjástykki

  Gjastykki is a beautiful and rugged rift valley to the north of the caldera Krafla, in the north of Iceland. Gjastykki was literally blown ap...

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Litlaá

The beautiful Littlaa is a fresh water river in the Kelduhverfi district by Oxafjordur in North Iceland and is one of Iceland‘s greatest trout r...

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Dettifoss

  Dettifoss, in the glacier river Jokulsa á Fjollum, flowing from the glacier Vatnajokull, is reputed to be the most powerful waterf...

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Jökulsárgljúfur

  Jokulsargljufur is a preservation area and former National Park which became part of Vatnajokull National Park in 2008. It derives its name fr...

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Selfoss (waterfall)

Selfoss is a beautiful waterfall in the river Jokulsa a Fjollum in North Iceland. Selfoss belongs to the Jokulsargljufur preservation area, with its ...

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Víti in Krafla

Viti (meaning 'Hell') in Krafla is an explosion crater. It is one of the two most famous Viti craters in Iceland, the other being Viti in Askj...

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Öxarfjörður

Oxarfjordur (a.k.a. Axarfordur) is a fjord in North-East Iceland between the headlands Tjornes and Melrakkasletta. As the fjord is rather wide, it mi...

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Tjörnes

The stubby peninsula of Tjornes in North Iceland is one of the best-known geological locations of the country. Layers of fossil shells and lignite ca...

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Krafla

Krafla is a caldera ca. 10-15 km north of Lake Myvatn in North Iceland. The diameter of the volcano is 10 km and it has a fissure zone of 90 km. Its ...

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Leirhnjúkur

  Leirhnjukur ('Mud Peak') is a 525 m high active volcano, located to the northeast of Lake Myvatn in North Iceland. Leirhnjukur is pa...

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Húsavík

Husavik in Skjalfandi Bay in North Iceland is called the whale watching capital of the world. Whale watching is highly recommended from Hú...

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Höfði

Hofdi is a building in north Reykjavik, most famous for being the meeting point of then-presidents Ronald Reagan of the United States and Mikhail Gorb...

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Námafjall geothermal area

The Namafjall geothermal field is located in Northeast Iceland, on the east side of Lake Myvatn.  At this area, also known as Hverir, you may se...

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Reykjahlíð

  Reykjahlid is a small village by the shores of Lake Myvatn, in North Iceland. Reykjahlid has about 300 inhabitants and is close to many natu...

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Grjótagjá

Grjótagjá is a small lava cave located near lake Mývatn. It features a geothermal hot spring inside. Grjótagjá...

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Hverfell

Hverfell is an explosion crater on the east side of Lake Mývatn in northern Iceland and is one of the largest explosion craters in the world. ...

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Mývatn

  Myvatn is a beautiful lake with many small islands in the north of Iceland, the fourth largest lake in the country. Along with its surrou...

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Tours near Ásbyrgi

Dettifoss Waterfall & Ásbyrgi Canyon Tour from Akureyri

Join this tour to explore the Diamond Circle to see some of the most precious locations in the......

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Diamond Circle Tour in North Iceland from Reykjavik with Flight

Join this amazing day tour to fly from Reykjavik to the town of Akureyri: there, you'll witness......

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14 Day Self Drive Tour | Circle of Iceland & The Westfjords

Book this two-week tour of Iceland’s Ring Road and the Westfjords - the best that Iceland has to......

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Summer 7 Day Self Drive Tour | North Iceland & Myvatn

Explore the incredible north of Iceland on this 7 day, self-drive tour. Lake Mývatn, Akureyri,......

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10 Day Self Drive Tour | Best Ring Road Attractions with Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Make the most of your time in Iceland with this extensive 10-day, self-drive tour. Over the......

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 7 Day Self Drive Tour | The Ring Road of Iceland

Make the most of just one week in Iceland on this 7-day, self-drive tour. You'll drive the......

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Diamond Circle Flying Tour

This tour takes you over Godafoss (Waterfall of the Gods), Lake Myvatn and Dettifoss, Europe's......

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4x4 Tour from Akureyri: Diamond circle, waterfalls and amazing landscapes

Visit Lake Mývatn, Waterfall Dettifoss, Ásbyrgi and Húsavík First stop is by Waterfall Goðafoss......

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10 Day Self Drive Tour on a Budget | The Ring Road with Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Explore the best Iceland has to offer on this extensive ten-day self-drive tour. Travel the......

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7 Day Self Drive Tour on a Budget | Around Iceland in a Week

See it all on a budget with this fantastic 7-day self-drive package touring the famous Ring Road......

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14 Day Budget Self Drive Tour | Iceland's Ring Road & the Westfjords

See the whole of Iceland and visit the Westfjords with this affordable two-week package. You’ll......

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