According to Wholevehicles, Isafjordur is almost the northernmost and westernmost Icelandic city. It lies on the vast rugged Westfjords Peninsula and is the largest city in the Westfjords. But don’t be fooled by this characterization: by any objective measure, Isafjörður is tiny and located on the outskirts of the country as much as the country itself is on the outskirts of Europe. People come here not to do something in the city: rather, they use it as a transit base, so that later they can go on a cruise through the fjords or to the islands.
Vigur Island is the most popular destination around Isafjordur. The same family has lived here since 1884, and here you can see the oldest boat in the country, built in 1800.
How to get to Isafjordur
Isafjordur can be reached by car or bus from Reykjavik, but the latter only go here during the summer months. You can take a ferry from Stykkisholmur. But the easiest way, of course, is to fly from the capital: Isafjordur Airport is located 5 km from the city and receives 2 flights from Reykjavik daily.
The first semblance of a village appeared in the 10th century, after which merchants from Iceland and Norway began to visit the future Isafjordur. In the 16th century, trading companies from Germany and England even settled here. Later, when Iceland was under the rule of Denmark, a ban on foreign trade was introduced in the city. At this time, the oldest buildings not only of the city, but also of the country appeared. Without the right to trade, the inhabitants were engaged in fishing and harvesting fish and were very successful in this, so that Ísafjordur became a serious center for this part in Iceland. Hence the material prosperity, which made it possible to give the city a completely “urban” appearance with all the usual institutions and institutions.
Isafjordur is constantly growing: the fjord, on the banks of which it stands, is drained and covered with earth.
Entertainment and attractions of Isafjordur
The largest city on the peninsula, Isafjörður, is actually very small. Its population does not even reach 4 thousand people, and getting around the city on foot is not a problem even for the laziest traveler. On foot you can also walk to the neighboring pretty village of Hnifsdalur, where 250 people live: it is located near hiking trails. But the rest of the settlements are very far from here: Isafjordur is really the edge of Iceland, and therefore, in a sense, the Earth.
5 things to do in Isafjordur:
- Buy a morning roll in the excellent Gamla bakery in the city center.
- Of course, try bacalao – local salted cod.
- Sailing to Vigur and seeing the smallest post office and the only windmill in the country.
- See a small monument to the sailors of the QP-13 convoy, all seven ships of which were blown up by mines in the local waters. The convoy was coming from the USSR, and on the monument you can read the inscription in Russian.
- Take a picture of the white egg of the American radar on Mount Bolafiaudl near the city.
The Westfjords Heritage Museum is dedicated primarily to the maritime glory of the area. Here you can learn more about the traditional local craft – fishing and about different technologies for harvesting fish. In addition, the museum’s exhibitions reflect the life of fishermen and their families, as well as the entire coastal culture and how it has changed over the centuries. In addition, one of the tasks of the museum considers the restoration and maintenance of old fishing boats in a usable condition, as well as the preservation of knowledge about how to make them, and the transfer of this knowledge to posterity. The museum is located in the old part of the city, in Nedstikaupstadur, in a building built in 1784. The opening of the museum on June 5, 1988 took place on Fishermen’s Day, a public holiday in Iceland. Among the interesting objects of its expositions, you can see almost 200 accordions, national costumes, household items and, of course, boats. On holidays – at Christmas, Easter and Ski Week – the museum arranges performances, and since 2002 it has been holding a small bacalao festival.
The museum took under guardianship and restored, making a number of places around the city attractive for tourists. This, for example, is the island of Vigur – the most popular destination near Isafjordur. The same family has been living here since 1884, and here you can see the oldest boat in the country, built in 1800. In addition, there are a huge number of birds – puffins and gulls. In the summer season, sightseeing boats depart daily for the island.
All three roads leading from and to Isafjörður pass through mountain tunnels. So, the road to Syudavik passes through the oldest and shortest tunnel in the country.
The local fish shop – almost the only one of its kind on the entire peninsula – is called Fiskbuð Sjavarfangs. It is located at Sindraghetu 11, in the fishing port. It’s right in front of the cruise ship dock. Here you can buy a variety of fresh, dried, salted and any other fish.
The city cultural center, which is located in the old building of the former hospital, has a library and showrooms. The city has a music school and a university center, as well as the only college on the peninsula.
Events in Isafjordur
There are surprisingly many events in the city for such a kid. These are the week-long Ski Festival and the Fossavatn Ski Marathon, matches of the European Swamp Football Championship and two music festivals, including the June annual View of Dupid, whose invited guests were quite famous personalities in the world. The festival hosts not only concerts, but also master classes from famous musicians. And also the theater festival “Act Elone”, dedicated to all forms of dramatic art that involve the participation of one performer – that is, monodrama. This festival takes place annually in August.
The music festival Aldrei for eg suður was first held in 2002, organized by the private initiative of two musicians, and became the pride of the city. This is a rock music festival whose name, taken from a song by Bubby Mortens, can be translated as “Never went south.” It symbolizes the patriotism of local residents who do not move to the capital, but courageously remain to live and even make music on the edge of the Earth.
In general, wherever you go from Isafjordur, amazing views are provided to you. Nearby are the green valleys of Tungudalur and Engedalur, and on the shore near the city is Laatrabjarg – a sheer mountain range. Here, on the rocks, which abruptly break into the sea (some are 400 m high), many sea birds live.
And if you go on an excursion on a cruise ship, you can see the Dynyandi waterfall on the other side of the fjord, which, according to many estimates, is the most beautiful in the country. This is a cascading waterfall, not too high, but wide. The climb up can be tricky, but the view from there is worth it.