The town of Isafjordur is considered the honorary capital of the Westfjords. Being the largest town and the major commercial center in the area, it has a charming vibrancy with a thriving harbor, lively city center, world-class dining and swanky cafés.
Settled in the 16th century, Isafjordur is located on the spit of Skutulsfjordur fjord and owes it’s existence to rich fishing grounds just off the coast. The town boasts a lovely old center with some of the finest and most beautifully restored timber buildings in the country. With its colorful narrow streets and old buildings, Isafjordur has a warm and inviting feeling to it.
Due to the town’s location surrounded by steep mountains, early mornings and late afternoons are usually without wind. Which is a nice change from Iceland being very windy in general. The locals have a saying that calm weather has permanent residence in Isafjordur!
Isafjordur’s cultural life is known for being vibrant and the highlights are several festivals taking place in the town. The music festival Aldrei for eg sudur is held annually during Easter. This music event offers local bands and singers the center stage, along with other better known national celebrities. Isafjordur buzzes with activity during Easter, not only for the music, but also as it’s a splendid skiing resort. The cross country skiing area is one of a kind in Iceland. It attracts visitors from all over the country, both for professional practice, races and as a fun recreational activity. Finally the European Mud Soccer Championship takes place in the town in August each year, and draws crowds from all over, during a week-end filled with fun entertainment.
What to do in Isafjordur?
The pristine landscape is typified by narrow fjords and steep mountains, many of which descent directly into the sea. Outdoor enthusiasts flock to this remote area for fabulous hiking trails, sea kayaking, downhill skiing and the rich bird-life. Many also like to enjoy boat trips around the fjords which include stops at the tiny islands nearby.
Restaurants and cafés offer delicious dishes, made from local ingredients, not to mention the excellent bakery in heart of the center. The family-run Gamla bakari (or the Old bakery) sells irresistible pastry, cakes and bread and is a favorite among the locals. The out-door area at Edinborg cafe is a lovely place for relaxing with a cold drink, during warm summer days. Not to mention the great view towards the harbor.
The meticulously restored Turnhus (Tower House), built in 1744, now houses the Westfjords Heritage Museum, which is well worth seeing. It’s located only a short stroll from the center, heading towards the harbor area.
Other interesting buildings include the Old hospital, next to the church. It now houses the local library, an art gallery and a photography museum.
Check out our complete guide to the Westfjords.