Isafjörður is the capital of the West Fjords region in Iceland, and is home to less than 3,000 people. The small wooden houses and boats in the village are surrounded by some of the most amazing scenery imaginable. There is a reason this place has been used as the backdrop for countless movies and TV shows.
The setting of Ísafjördur is one of a kind. The city sits right in the middle of a sand and dirt strip that runs under the fjord under a pair of hulking mountain ridges that seem to stand as security guards over the area.
Access to the areas in the West Fjords (Bolungarvík, Súdavík, Flateyri and Suðureyri) from the Ring Road and Reykjavik has improved in recent years thanks to the addition of a number of new tunnels.
You can now get from the small Isafjörður to Reykjavik in about 40 minutes by plane.
Lots of fun in one small town.
As mentioned earlier, Isafjörður is a small town, but the people that live there have access to a great cultural and social life. Roughly 100 students per year take advantage of the distance learning available at University Centre. There is also a hospital, a conservatory, and a cultural center that is home to a concert hall and library. A number of popular bands, Mugison being the best known, from Isafjörður have shone the musical spotlight on the town, as has a pair of annual music festivals.
Since the decline of the fishing industry, tourism has become all the more important. That, and the improved communications there, have seen several small IT start-ups move into the area.
Isafjörður was once a major fishing port in Iceland, but drastic changes to the territories in the fishing industry has seen the role the town plays now very much reduced.
Things to see:
Streets and buildings put in place during the 17th century are still in place in Isafjörður.
As well as the buildings we mentioned earlier, there is also a Municipal Museum to be found in home that dates back to 1742, making it Iceland’s oldest. There are a number of early 18th century houses still standing and still in great shape. One of those is home to the Maritime Museum.
The two mountains that tower over Isafjörður provide protection from the elements, but they are also great tourist spots that can be easily accessed. Hikers and photographers in particular will get a kick out of the views, especially during the summer months.
Things to do:
Besides the attractions we touched on earlier, there are two more that help put Isafjörður on the map. Golfers can enjoy a round or two on the Isafjörður Golf Corse, the northernmost course on Earth. You can also strap on your skis and head on over to the slopes in Week Fossavatn Skiing and Ski Marathon.
There are two large annual music events held here. The first takes place in mid-April and is called “Aldrei fór ég suður” (I never went to the south) http://aldrei.is.
This particular festival travels to a lot of smaller communities throughout Iceland. The other event, the Við Djúpið Music Festival, is held each August, and offers a number of activities besides the music.
If you are looking to beat the cold in winter, we suggest taking a dip in the hot springs found in the area.
This is definitely the place to go if you are looking to get off the Ring Road and find somewhere cool to visit. It may be isolated, but it is beautiful and packed with fun things to see and do.
Travel Guide Iceland Team – Reykjavík (Iceland)