Category: Culture

Ísafjörður – Westfjords in Iceland

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.

Ísafjörður 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.

Fossavatn Skiing

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)

Aldrei fór ég suður

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.

Ísafjörður Maritime Museum

Travel Guide Iceland Team – Reykjavík (Iceland)

Best Restaurants in Iceland

Reykjavik is known as a haven for food lovers. They have local seafood, meat and game, which is why tourists love coming here when they want the very best New Nordic cuisine. Today, this article is going to cover our personal favorite restaurants found in Iceland.

best restaurants iceland

Snaps Bistro

Snaps Bistro is located in the discreet area of Skolavorduholt, which is home to various coffeehouses and the Hallgrimskirkja church, which is known for the breathtaking view that the observation tower provides. When at Snaps Bistro you can enjoy a variety of French Brasserie style dishes that are made with local foods, ranging from French onion soup made with Icelandic Isbui cheese and moules marinières with mussels from the Breidafjordur. According to CNN Travel, this is one of the coolest bars found in Reykjavik.

Location – Snaps Bistro, Þórsgata 1, 101 Reykjavik, +354 511 6677

restaurant reykjavík


If you did not try some of Iceland’s world-class seafood while in the area you would find that your trip is not complete. Fiskfelagið is one of the cozy basement restaurants that serve the best seafood dishes in all of Iceland and they have the best fish dishes from around the world. The building that the restaurant is located in, the Historic Zimsen building, has been around since 1884. When guests come here to eat, they find that the booths are very comfortable, some of the best dishes are the Icelandic salted cod and burnt langoustines, and the Malaysian inspired blackened monkfish with the lobster spring roll.

Location – Fiskfelagið, Vesturgata 2A, 101 Reykjavik, +354 552 5300


DILL Restaurant

You can find the DILL Restaurant secluded in Vatnsmyri, Reykjavik. They are known for utilizing local food and seasonal ingredients in their dishes.

The DILL Restaurant can be found in the Nordic House, which was designed by Alvar Aalto. When guests come here to dine, they experience classic Nordic ingredients that have a present-day twist during lunch. Many guests fine that the meatballs and plokkfiskur hit the spot during lunch. If coming for dinner you will have three course options to choose from available and wine comes on the menu. All of the innovative recipes can make it hard to know what to eat yet the locals recommend the baked rutabaga with cheese foam.

Location – DILL Restaurant, Nordic House, Sturlugata 5, 101 Reykjavik, +354 552 1522 

DILL Restaurant Iceland


Grillmarkaðurinn, also known as The Grill Market, is where visitors go when they want a creative meal that is made with local Icelandic products. This restaurant can be found where the old New Cinema was located and you will notice it because of its artistic and deluxe design, which is composed of Icelandic elements such as water and rock. The lounge area provides customers with a variety of brews and wines, and the décor is modern yet comfortable. The environment is sure to make you relaxed. When here, you have the option of meat, fish and game grill dishes. Many guests love trying the minke whale steak or the reindeer mini burgers.

Location – Grillmarkaðurinn, Laekjargata 2A, 101 Reykjavik, +354 571 7777 

Grillmarkaðurinn Reykjavík Iceland


Perlan is one of the most recognizable buildings thanks to its glass dome shape. There are trees established on the surrounding hillsides and this helps make a unique woodland setting that all tourists love. The restaurant is found on the revolving floor and provides 360-degree views that will astound you. You have access to seasonal four-course menus and buffet style food. Many locals recommend the reindeer meatballs and the wild goose breast and Skyr cake.

best restaurants iceland

Travel Guide Iceland Team – Reykjavík (Iceland)

Swimming Pools in Iceland

Swimming and bathing in hot water pools is a way of life in Iceland. Locals go to the pool to either relax, exercise or even socialise (sometimes all three!). Bathing in hot pools goes back to the settlement period, and one of the oldest and most famous pools is Snorralaug in Reykholt, named after Snorri Sturluson, a famous medieval poet and author. The first hot pool or “hot pot” that was built according to ancient tradition, was opened in 1923 in Seljavallalaug.



A combination of its unique geographical position on the Mid Atlantic ridge and an abundance of glacial rivers and waterfalls gives Iceland access to an abundance of clean energy. Over the years Iceland has become highly adept at utilising this energy, and today about 85% of the its energy requirements is met by renewable resources.

The energy generated from hydro power is mainly used for electricity production, whereas the geothermal energy is used to provide hot water for a variety of uses: Heating homes, schools and, yes, you guessed it Swimming Pools.

Today there are around 170 swimming pools in Iceland, the vast majority of which are outdoor. At the very least they come with a pool divided into lanes for swimming and one warmer hot pot for relaxing. A few of our favourite pools in the Greater Reykjavik area are listed below.

Swimming Pool Iceland


This pool is the largest and most popular in Reykjavik. Located in Laugardalur valley, a  recreation area just outside the city centre.

Its facilities include a 50 metre long swimming pool, a giant waterslide (plus a smaller one for the younger children!), numerous hot pots, a steam bath, mini golf course and a gym.

Swimming Pools in Iceland


Slightly further out from the centre is Árbæjarlaug. This pool is particularly good for children and features a water slide, water fountains, hot pots, jacuzzi and a sauna.


Álftanes Pool

This is a very modern pool in the town of Alftanes, just outside Reykjavik. It comes with all the features one expects from an Icelandic pool but with one exception – a wave machine

Álftanes Pool


There are a few things the foreign visitor should be aware of when visiting a pool in Iceland.

  1. Take your shoes off before entering the changing room. There should be a shelf where you can place your shoes. Alternatively you can put them in a plastic bag and secure them in your locker.
  2. Shower without a swimsuit before entering a pool. This is for hygiene purposes. The showers are usually provided with soap.
  3. Don´t use your camera or camera phone in the changing room. You could find yourself in trouble with the police if you do.

Swimming Pools in Iceland

Visiting an Icelandic pool is a fantastic experience. It relaxes tired muscles, aching limbs and can greatly reduce stress and make you feel much more calm and relaxed. The contrast of the cool air and the hot water adds to the experience. At around 600 ISK a visit, it´s a cheap way to while away a couple of hours in Iceland.

Travel Guide Iceland Team – Reykjavík (Iceland)

Ólafur Arnalds – Iceland’s finest young composer

Iceland is known for having one of the longest working weeks in Europe. People work on average between 46 and 49 hours per week, with most individuals working several jobs. This may help explain the prolific creative output of one  Ólafur Arnalds – a 27 year old composer from Iceland.

Ólafur Arnalds

Despite his relatively young age, Arnalds already has eight album releases to his name (including his most recent release – For Now I Am Winter), as well as providing the soundtrack to four full length films, a ballet and a television miniseries. He has toured extensively with Sigur Ros and performed throughout Europe and Asia. Whilst he has yet to conquer North America he recently featured on the bill for South by Southwest, accumulating plenty of new fans who have also tuned into his philosophy that not all classical music has to sound like Mozart.

At 27, Icelandic multi-instrumentalist Ólafur Arnalds has already accomplished more than most musicians do in a lifetime.

His aim is clear. By combining classical symphonic compositions with edgy beats and loops he aims to change our perceptions of classical music. As he said himself, he wants to make “ classical music for people who don’t really listen to classical music”.

What endears Arnalds to his fans is that it is often difficult to predict what he will do next. Take his most recent album for example. The addition of vocalist

Ólafur Arnalds

Arnor Dans (singing in English) add a rich tapestry to Arnalds compositions that will undoubtedly make people sit up and take notice.

Both sophisticated and edgy, Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds deals in rich contrasting textures and creates a sound that is uniquely his. What he does next is anyones guess. But I for one cannot wait to find out.

Travel Guide Iceland – Jón J. – Reykjavík