When I thought about crossing the Arctic Circle, I could see myself in my hiking boots and my winter suit, surrounded by snow everywhere. You know, kinda like the fantasy pictured in movies and children books about the North Pole. Well, I was wrong.
It’s a good thing I made some research before going on Grimsey Island! I don’t know about the winter, but I can tell you there’s no trace of snow on the northern polar circle in the summer! In June, weather is good, neither too hot nor too cold, and the sun shines strongly. However, bring a windbreaker jacket, because it’s really windy o the island and on the ferry!
The hike around the island is easy and wonderful (7.3 km/4.5 miles; approximately 2.5-3 hours). It offers spectacular views of the cliffs and ocean.
I suggest you follow the path to the north of the island, where the only sounds you’ll hear are birds and ocean waves. I liked the feeling of being secluded from the rest of the world. Although the island is small (area of 5.3 square kilometres/~2 square miles), the absence of trees, the vast ocean view, and the fact that you’re completely alone really make you feel like you’re on a spacious island.
Here is the trail map:
I went to Grimsley Island to cross the Article Circle, the only place in Iceland where you can do that. The monument to the arctic circle is right by the airport building. You can even get a certificate that states you’ve crossed that line!
During your hike, it’s very likely that Arctic Terns will try to peck you, even if it’s not their nesting time. To protect your head, I suggest you wear a hat.
Thankfully, you will have the chance to observe other birds, like the famous puffins. Grimsey Island is a great place for birdwatchers (best during spring and summer months).
During the summer, you can have a meal at the Krían restaurant.
How to get there:
- Bus to the Ferry (35-minute drive from Akureyri): The time between arrival to Dalvík and departure to Grímsey is short and it is therefore recommended to buy tickets and register at the Offical Tourist Information in Akureyri, Strandgata 12. Summer schedule: The bus leaves Akureyri at 8:06 am and arrives in Dalvik at 8:50 am. At the end of the day, the bus leaves Akureyri at 7:08 pm.
- Ferry Sæfari: Take a ferry from Dalvík (40 km north of Akureyri), available 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, all year). The ferry leaves Dalvík at 9 am, arrives at Grimsey Island at 12 pm and leaves the island to get back to Dalvík at 4 pm (sailing time is 3 hours one way). I recommend you book your trip in advance in the summer months. Tickets can be bought at the Offical Tourist Information in Akureyri.
- Norlandair and charter flights (flying time is 30 minutes): Offered daily during the summer (aprox 10th of June till 20th of August) and three times a week (Sun, Tue, Fri) the rest of the year. Length of stop on a day trip by flight is around 2 hours all year. During summer, daily flights are offered – with the possibility to choose the number of overnights stays, and also to combine flight with ferry.
- Organized boat tours: