Whether you’re looking to get active in nature, or explore the local culture, this idyllic Icelandic town is a captivating place to spend a memorable day.
Nestled into the jagged coastline of the Westfjords region of Iceland, Isafjordur (Ísafjörður) is not only the most populous town in the region, with around 2,600 inhabitants, but also one of the oldest outposts in Iceland. Originally founded in the 9th century, Isafjordur grew rapidly as a merchant trading post in the 16th century — while in town, you can visit a house originally built in 1734, which is now part of a local museum. The town combines easy access to spectacular landscapes, athletic adventures, harbor charm, and some of the most renowned baked goods in the country.
The landscapes of Iceland are legendary for a reason, and the Westfjords boast some of the most unique vistas in the country, from golden sand beaches to towering waterfalls. You can take one of the seasonal summer ferries to Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, a nature preserve where you can observe arctic foxes and seals in unspoiled beauty. If you want to stay closer to town, it’s an easy hike along the Naustahvilft Valley, which is situated in the 500-meter-tall mountain overlooking Isafjordur. You’ll have panoramic views of the city and the harbor, extending out into the sea.
Go Back in Time
Exploring Isafjordur on foot is a perfect way to explore the old city, filled with historic buildings and old houses. Seabourn offers a two-hour walking tour through the backstreets of Isafjordur. After passing the fisherman’s monument and peeking into store windows, you’ll end your tour at the Westfjord Heritage Museum. Located in one of four 18th-century houses considered some of the oldest surviving buildings in the nation, the maritime museum contains all things celebrating the fishing industry that has propelled Isafjordur forward for the past several centuries. You’ll see everything from a fishhook to a ship, along with a celebrated accordion collection.
Taste the Local Cuisine
Start your day exploring Isafjordur with a delicious bakery breakfast at Gamla Bakaríið (the Old Bakery). Known all over Iceland for its signature kringla, which are horseshoe-shaped breads studded with caraway seeds, the bakery is beloved by locals and tourists alike. It’s no surprise that a fishing hub would have delicious and fresh seafood. Settle in for lunch at Tjoruhusid, which features a warm atmosphere and a daily selection based on whatever is freshest from the day’s catch. Dinner is a buffet with everything the restaurant has made for the day, with seatings at 7 PM and 9 PM, if you are still in town.
Chase a Waterfall
Perhaps the most famous spot in the Isafjordur vicinity is the Dynjandi Waterfall, the largest in the Westfjords region. From the parking lot, it’s a 15-minute hike to the waterfall itself, which is often compared to a bridal veil, thanks to its smaller waterfalls cascading underneath the main (and largest) fall. You can take a guided Seabourn tour, where you can even walk under the waterfall itself for a spectacular view. After visiting the waterfall, visit the sustainable fishing village of Suðureyri, where the small local population focuses equally on eco-tourism and the Icelandic fishing tradition.
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