Traditionally, Iceland was divided into four quarters: North, South, East, and West. This was of course a geographical division, but it also had important implications for the legal system in medieval Iceland. Each district had its own legal assemblies where local matters would be solved. More important matters, and matters of unclear jurisdiction, would be brought before Alþingi, the national assembly.
Today, Iceland is organised differently, but when people talk of “going North” or to other regions, the modern usage still conforms largely to the historical boundaries of these districts.
The largest settlement in North Iceland is by far Akureyri, with some 20,000 inhabitants. In fact, Akureyri is the largest settlement outside of the great capital region. Akureyri is a charming town with a bustling but modest walking district. We recommend seeing the church, botanical gardens, and harbour. For winter visitors, Akureyri also has some excellent ski slopes.
Húsavík is also another small but important settlement. A historical fishing and whaling village, it remains an excellent place to go whale watching and is a very popular summer destination.
North Iceland also has numerous natural features, such as Dettioss and Goðafoss waterfalls, lake Mývatn, the Dimmuborgir lava fields, and Ásbyrgi, an impressive horse-shoe shaped canyon near Húsavík.
Besides that, North Iceland is also known rather surprisingly for its summers, which are often warmer and clearer than in the capital region.