There’s good reason to turn off the Ring Road at Route 85: the secluded town of Vopnafjörður sits pretty on a scenic stretch of coastline, surrounded by mountains, valleys, sea cliffs and rock formations.
The natural wonders are in evidence, but there are great tributes to history here, too: Kaupvangur in the heart of town houses a museum in remembrance of the thousands of emigrants who left the region for Canada and the USA in the wake of the Askja volcanic eruption in 1875. Outside Vopnafjörður, the 250-year-old turf-roofed farm Bustarfell is a folk museum where history comes alive through summertime storytelling and workshops.
The surrounds of Vopnafjörður hold plenty of natural beauty as well as farm guesthouses and cottages ready to welcome visitors keen for a taste of local life. World-renowned salmon-fishing rivers have hosted illustrious guests including the Prince of Wales and George Bush snr. The local birdlife is a magnet for birdwatchers, while coastal walking trails and mountain hikes add more opportunities for active sightseeing. At the end of the day, seek out the remote riverside swimming pool Selárdalslaug for a true local experience.