The staging post for the southeast, HÖFN is a small town perched on a narrow neck of land, with a prime view inland of four glacial tongues descending Vatnajökull – at least on days when the pernicious fogs abate. The bay here, Hornafjörður, was settled in Viking times by Hrollaugur Rögnvaldsson, distant ancestor of saga writer Snorri Sturluson, though the town itself began life as late as 1897 as a trading post, unimaginatively named Höfn (Harbour) after the bay’s deep anchorage. Expansion followed the 1950s fishing boom and the establishment of a fish-freezing plant, which remains the largest local employer; Höfn is famed for its fine lobster.
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Höfn’s main street is Hafnarbraut, which runs for about 1.5km south through the town, with most services in a loose cluster towards or around the harbour.
Glacier tours from Höfn
From Höfn, Glacier Jeeps (478 1000) focus on trips to one of the nearby glaciers descending Vatnajökull. Base camp is the snowline at Jöklasel hut, some 45km west of town along the Ringroad and then 16km up the four-wheel-drive-only Route F985. From here you mount a skidoo and drive out onto the glacier, tearing across a frozen, empty horizon at upwards of 40km an hour. The usual destination is Brókarbotnstindur, a sharp-edged nunatak with great views west across a deep valley to more tall peaks and ice. Warm clothing, crash helmet and full instruction are provided (bringing sunglasses is a good idea).
For a different take on glaciers contact Ice Guide (661 0900), who offer two hours’ kayaking on a glacial lagoon and, in winter only, ice cave exploration; Glacier Trips take you out on full-day glacier hikes. Finally, Fallastakkur (478 1517) make four-wheel-drive trips into Lónsöræfi.