Isafjordur, Iceland

Isafjordur Iceland

Isafjordur, Iceland

Ísafjörður in the largest town in Iceland’s Westfjords peninsula, but is home to fewer than 3,000 residents. The town, fuelled by a thriving fishing industry, did not form on this site until after the mid-19th century, but the oldest part of Ísafjörður town (the land near the fjord Skutulsfjörður) witnessed human settlement as early as the 9th century, and became an important trading post by the 16th century. While its fishing industry declined, it became prosperous as a tourist hub for travellers using it as a base for their trips across the Westfjords and West Iceland.

Fjord reflection on the water at Isafjordur, Iceland
Fjord reflection on the water at Isafjordur in Iceland

On your tour of Isafjordur, you’ll find that the town’s main draw is its historic city centre, composed of old timber frame houses built in the 18th century. Some of these houses have since been renovated.

The Westfjord Heritage Museum is one of these houses, and focuses on the town’s maritime history. It features displays of fishing gear through the ages, and even a ship. Another is Tjöruhúsið, Tar House, now a seafood restaurant that still maintained its medieval tavern look even after renovation. Here, you can expect to be served the freshest catch of the day.

City centre of Isafjordur (Ísafjörður), Iceland
View of the city centre of Isafjordur, the capital of the Westfjords region in Iceland.

The town’s old hospital was renovated in 2002-03 and is now called the Museum House, serving as city library, art museum, and photography museum.

You can enjoy the town’s medieval and cosmopolitan charm, and in the summer you can take a boat cruise through the fjords and a day tour to nearby sights, such as Snaefellsnes Peninsula in west Iceland, Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, Akureyri. You can visit the Arctic Fox Center, which focuses on the Arctic fox, the only native terrestrial mammal in Iceland. At the nature reserve, you can experience watching the beautiful arctic terns and other wildlife. Arctic terns and other sea birds can also be viewed while kayaking in Isafjordur’s calm waters. Hiking and horseback riding are other activities you can pursue in the Westfjords.

There are flights from the capital to Isafjordur at the Reykjavik Domestic Airport. You can also drive between the two towns, but make sure to check the weather first before heading out.

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