The town of Egilsstaðir is East Iceland. Or, to put it another way, it is the biggest town and major service centre in the whole east of the country. It has a population of under 2,500.
The East Fjords are definitely a part of Iceland you should visit, if you get the chance. The scenery can truly be described as epic – especially the mountain roads down into some of the fjords – like Seyðisfjörður and Fáskrúðsfjörður. And the region has a surprising number of towns and villages to discover – practically one per fjord, in fact. But more on that in our East Fjords article.
But Egilsstaðir is not by a fjord at all. It is practically the only (and certainly the biggest) inland town in Iceland. It has only been a town since 1947 and had been a humble farm for most of its existence. This changed at the end of the 19th Century when the farm was bought by the perceptive Jón Bergsson, who had big plans based on the idea that the farm lay at the intersection of all the most important roads in the East. He turned out to be right and the town passed the 1,000 population mark in around 1980.
As a result of its young age and lack of harbour or beach, Egilsstaðir cannot be considered a remarkably pretty town or a major tourist draw by itself. But it scores major points for being surrounded by incredibly interesting and desirable destinations on all sides (thereby making it an excellent base-of-operations) and for its full range of services.
The town has an international-standard airport (with regular flights to Reykjavík), a hospital, a college, a wine shop, several supermarkets, restaurants, post office, night club, a DIY store… You get the idea.
While staying in Egilsstaðir you will want to visit some, many, several or all of the East Fjords; especially nearby Seyðisfjörður (a charming village and Iceland’s only international ferry port). Then there is Hallormsstaðir forest (the biggest in Iceland), Hengifoss waterfall (one of the tallest in Iceland), Lagarfljót lake (home to the legendary Lagarfljót Worm), the Kárahnjúkar hydroelectric power station (the largest in Europe) and countryside featuring wild reindeer (the only part of Iceland they can be seen).
Not far to the north of Egilsstaðir you have Europe’s biggest waterfall, Dettifoss, and then onward to all of North Iceland!