Rte 870 over Melrakkaslétta, connecting Raufarhöfn and Kópasker, is the northern-most part of the Arctic Coast Way

Rte 870 over Melrakkaslétta, connecting Raufarhöfn and Kópasker, is the northern-most part of the Arctic Coast Way

Raufarhöfn and Kópasker: Tales of tranquility

Raufarhöfn and Kópasker are tiny villages, peninsula apart, as a dual destination for travelers exploring rugged roads and Iceland off the beaten path. 

The Arctic Coast Way, a 900km route along the northeastern coastline, certainly lives up to its name around here: Rte 870, the Melrakkaslétta, connecting Raufarhöfn and Kópasker over summer is the road closest to the Arctic Circle, driftwood the only trees dotting the desolated landscape. 

The Arctic Henge in Raufarhofn

The Arctic Henge was created as a tourist attraction by a Raufarhöfn resident

The Arctic Henge 

The man-made Arctic Henge is the postcard picture of the remote northeast. The huge structure, on a hill above Raufarhöfn, resembles a complex sundial, with pillars casting shadows towards the centerpiece. While the inspiration draws from Norse Mythology, the phenomena is a modern construct - a grand idea from local business man Erlings Thoroddsen who embarked on the construct in 2004. 

The Henge is particularly popular among photographers, at moments of magical light: the soft midnight sun or the Northern Lights glowing in the background.  


At Rauðinúpur on Melrakkaslétta is a view over to a gannet colony and nesting sites for puffins

The Northeast Bird Trail 

Raufarhöfn and Kópasker are within the Birding Trail spanning the northeast, both with a bird watching hide on the outskirts.  Waders are most common within walking distance from the settlements, according to the birding map. The number of species increases on Melrakkaslétta and at Rauðinúpur and Núpskatlar, on the western tip, is a view over to a gannet colony and nesting sites for puffins. Gyrfalcons are rare, but possible. 


Kópasker (population 120) has a calm beach

Kópasker Tubs 

Bakkaböðin are two outdoor hot tubs at Melar Guesthouse in Kópasker, open over summer. The beach location has a wonderful view, and a path leading to sea for a cold plunge, if not a swim. Admission is 1000kr per person. 

Raufarhöfn has an indoor pool, year-round, with a hot tub and a gym. 

South of Kópasker, where the local school is located, is the public pool Sundlaugin í Lundi, open from June to August. 


The sun sets over Raufarhöfn where locals claim the prettiest of views in June

Raufarhöfn Lighthouse 

Raufarhöfn is the northern-most settlement in Iceland, established out of nautical convenience. The village of 100 people, grew to a major settlement over the decades of Iceland’s herring boom. Today, many of the 1970s hay-day houses have been repurposed. Hotel Norðurljós, the largest of several accommodation options, overlooks the harbor and was once housing for seasonal workers seeking to strike rich from herring bonanza. 

Raufarhöfn has an exceptionally pretty harbor, sheltered by cliffs and creeks. Past the marina, the road leads to Raufarhöfn Lighthouse with a view over the stormy Atlantic Ocean. Best around sunset. 


The arch-shaped cliff, known as Gatstapi, is north of Kópasker

Gatstapi (Hestfall) at Hvalvík Cove

If Hvalvík Cove was located elsewhere in Iceland the rocky beach would have a jammed parking lot and Internet fame.

The cove is located along Rte 870 north of Kópasker, with a parking lot marked with painted stones. Get out of the car and walk straight to the beach. Please be careful on the beach and do not go too close to the sea as the waves are very strong and dangerous.

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Raufarhöfn and Kópasker: A tale of two tranquilities