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Akureyri is a great base for excursions fanning out in several directions. Eyjafjörður, with its broad, smoothly sloping bowl shape and rich farmland, seems to welcome human habitation more than other Icelandic fjords. Safnasafnið and Smámunasafn are two of Iceland's most offbeat and inspiring museums. The inhabited islands of Hrísey and Grímsey, both infested with birdlife, are fascinating worlds unto themselves. Farther afield, Goðafoss and Aldeyjarfoss are among Iceland's most exquisite waterfalls. Some sights, notably Safnasafnið and Goðafoss, are on the Ring Road and can fit into trips to Mývatn, Húsavík, and Jökulsárgljúfur National Park.

Between Akureyri & Mývatn

Goðafoss -- Located right off the Ring Road, about 50km (31 miles) east of Akureyri and 53km (33 miles) west of Reykjahlíð, Goðafoss (Waterfall of the Gods) is not very tall or powerful; but admirers point to the separate cascades forming an elegant semicircular arc, the swirling patterns in the blue-green (or sometimes brown) water, and the strange bubbliness of the surrounding lava. According to legend, Goðafoss was named in the year 1000 when the Law Speaker of the Icelandic parliament, after proclaiming Iceland a Christian country, tossed his pagan statuettes into the falls.

Just downstream is the restaurant and guesthouse Fosshóll (tel. 464-3108; www.nett.is/fossholl; 11,500kr-13,500kr ($184-$216/£92-£108) double; May 15-Sept daily 6-10pm; closed Oct-May 14), which serves local trout on top of the usual road-stop fare. You can park right by the falls, but walking upstream from Fosshóll is a more satisfying approach.

Aldeyjarfoss -- This stunning waterfall is worth the substantial detour from the Ring Road. The falls have awesome churning force, and the freakish basalt formations are enough to make spectators wonder what planet they've been transported to. To reach Aldeyjarfoss, turn south on Route 842 from the Ring Road, just west of Goðafoss, and proceed 41km (25 miles) to the marked turnoff. Buses on the Sprengisandur route from Mývatn to Landmannalaugar all make a sightseeing stop.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.