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Towns and Villages

Towns and Villages

Society and the economy have many faces. Whereas agriculture is the mainstay of rural areas, the towns depend upon fishing, industry, trade and a range of services, with each village having its own characteristics though they all prove hospitable hosts. 

The availability of food and accommodation and the possibilities at every location for recreation and entertainment make hopping between the villages informative as well as fun.   
In every case, the residents are lively and ready to celebrate.


At Skagaströnd you will find not only the natural beauty of landscape and vegetation, and a flourishing cultural life, but much, much more.

Artists pursue their work in the Nes Artist Residency.

Spákonufellshöfði promontory (usually known as the Cape) is a popular outdoor recreational area. There is a choice of marked walking trails, and information boards give details on the flora and bird life of the area. Spákonufell (Soothsayer's Mountain) is a dignified mountain rising above the town, with staked out walking trails.

Skagaströnd also has a good golf course, an attractive, a camping site with excellent facilities and a swimming pool which is small but pleasant. After a bracing walk there are few better ways to relax than to lie in the hotpots or splash around with your kids in the pool.


The heart of Þórshöfn beats in time to the waves, and fishing and fish processing have been the town's main form of occupation throughout the years. Therefore, it is interesting to go for a walk, take a look at harbour life and activity, then perhaps look into the restaurant Báran, and sample their excellent soup made from ocean quahog (Arctica islandica). Fishing for ocean quahog is one of the many things which set Þórshöfn apart from other villages.

Þórshöfn offers excellent services; a health centre, shop, restaurant, a sports stadium, swimming pool, savings bank, petrol station etc. There is also a camping site with facilities for camper vans.


Raufarhöfn is a fishing village with 250 inhabitants and is also the most northerly community in Iceland. Because of its position, Raufarhöfn has the longest days in Iceland during the summer and the shortest ones in winter.

The Arctic Circle lies just off the coast and in the village an arctic henge is being prepared.

There is a good camping site with excellent facilities, including showers and electric hook-ups for caravans, tent trailers and camper vans. And for the youngest and most energetic members of the family there is a playground, situated close to the elementary school, and a sports centre beside the camping site.

In Raufarhöfn can be found all the basic services, such as a health centre, chemist's shop, food store, a bank, post office, petrol station, garage, hotel, pub, gallery, etc. And from the village it is possible to book a sail to take you north across the Arctic Circle.

There are many other pursuits which may tempt the visitor, for example bird watching, fishing by the harbour or in one of the many lakes and rivers, or going for a walk on Höfði or around the flatlands of Melrakkaslétta.


The township of Grenivík lies under the 1,173 metre high mountain Kaldbakur. There are many excellent routes up the mountain, but if you do not feel like tackling those, there are easier paths up Þengilhöfði, which is a 260 metre high mountain just south of Grenivík. But for those who want a really challenging climb there are Blámannshattur and Laufáshnjúkur, both in the surrounding area.

When Grenivík is mentioned, Fjörðurnar and Látraströnd immediately spring to mind. Both were once populated, and these ancient sites are now a veritable paradise for hikers. Nowadays, more and more walkers are making their way to these locations, both to savour the beautiful and diverse natural assets and to acquaint themselves with the story of these long gone occupants, which unravels with every step taken.

The township and its surroundings are constantly attracting more and more visitors and most people should be able to find something to their taste. Pólarhestar run a horse rental stables at Grýtubakki. Fjörðungar specialise in walks and hikes around Fjörður and Látraströnd, while Kaldbaksferðir offer snowcat trips up Kaldbakur. Besides all that, there is fishing in the rivers Fnjóská and Fjarðará in Hvalvatnsfjörður.

Coffee and restaurant facilities can be found at the grocery store, Jónsabúð, in Grenivík and at the "Gamla prestshúsið" (the Old Rectory) by the old turf farm, Laufás. Beside the elementary school, there is a good swimming pool and a camping site. Hléskógar farm offers accommodation both at the farmhouse and at the camping site.

It is well worth making a detour from highway 1 to enjoy the unspoilt nature and hospitality of the area's inhabitants.


Hvammstangi is the largest community in West Húnaþing whose history as a trading centre dates back over more than 100 years. If you would like to see how people in days gone by conducted their daily trading in the general stores, the Trade Museum will tell you all you need to know.

The town is blessed with a good harbor from which seal watching and sea angling trips are organized.

For the tourist, Hvammstangi is an excellent place to stop as it has a good swimming pool and a camping site well situated in the lee of the cliffs, with excellent facilities and with electric hook-ups for trailer tents, campervans and caravans.

Hvammstangi also has a hotel, shop, restaurant, banking service, petrol station and garage, as well as a health centre and other necessary services.

The Icelandic Seal Center provides information on seals and the Vatnsnes area, besides serving as a general tourist information bureau.


Lake Myvatn is one of the highlights of the north. All major services are provided in the village of Reykjahlid, such as a mini supermarket, bank, post office, health care centre, school and swimming pool. At Lake Myvatn, different types of accommodation are available as well as good restaurants and cafés.

Birdlife by the lake is abundant and a visit to the new Bird Museum is worthwhile. Myvatn Nature Bath is located just east of Reykjahlid village, where travellers can enjoy a relaxing dip in the warm natural water. In the Myvatn region there are many marked hiking routes.

Grímsey Island

Grímsey is a green, grassy and particularly agreeable island, probably best known for its proximity to the Arctic Circle, which cuts across the island. Many visitors go there solely to step across that line, south to north.

The island is 5.3 km2 in area, its highest point is 105 metres and the distance from "Iceland" is 41 km.

Life on Grímsey is bright and energetic, and the inhabitants are of a happy disposition, working and playing with equal wholeheartedness. A good swimming pool was opened there in 1989. The inhabitants of the island do their shopping in the village store, Búðin, which is privately owned, and sells a wide variety of goods. There are two guesthouses on the island, one of which is open all year round.

The ferry, Sæfari, sails from Dalvík to Grímsey 3 days a week all year round. There are also regular flights by Air Iceland, 3 times a week during winter and 7 days a week during summer.


Húsavík is the oldest settlement in Iceland, besides being the largest town in Þingeyjarsýsla district and the service centre for the surrounding area.

The Museum House at Húsavík, as the inhabitants of the district call their cultural centre, houses part of the South Þingeyjarsýsla District Museum, a maritime museum, natural history museum, folk museum, district archives, photograph archives, and an art gallery. And of course we must not forget that Húsavík is also home to the Whale Museum .

Cultural life in and around the town is flourishing, the active and enthusiastic drama society being among the best amateur theatre groups in Iceland. And, as there are a number of choirs and instrumental groups playing an active role in the field of music, Húsavík can offer inhabitants and visitors alike a wide variety of concerts, performed by musicians both from home and further afield.

There are several whale watching companies to choose from in Húsavík, and a sail through the ocean waves in pursuit of these wonderful creatures is an experience no one should miss and will certainly never be forgotten.

Other attractions on offer are a beautiful botanical garden, a camping site, a golf course and many pleasant walks to suit all abilities.


Sauðárkrókur lies on the south west shore of the inner reaches of Skagafjörður fiord. Here you will find a variety of services on offer; exhibitions, museums, places of entertainment, shops, restaurants, accommodation, a hospital, workshops and garages, a sports ground, a beach volleyball pitch, a swimming pool etc.

On Aðalgata, you will find a store bearing the name Haraldur Júlíusson, which has been in constant operation since 1919. Also the Minjahúsið Folk Museum, where four small workshops demonstrate the types of occupation pursued by the inhabitants of Sauðárkrókur in days gone by - and they even have a polar bear on display! Minjahúsið also houses the Tourist Information Bureau.

On top of Nafir, the ancient sea cliffs which rise above the town, there is a golf course and also a viewfinder which gives you a wonderful view across the fjord.

Sauðárkrókur combines a thriving fisheries operation with the processing of produce from the extensive agricultural area surrounding it and a very effective service system. The town is one of the busiest most important communities outside the capital, and it would be hard to find better services anywhere outside the Reykjavík area.

To the east of Sauðárkrókur stretches Borgarsandur, a long sweep of black sandy beach almost four km in length, and just to the south, on the shores of Áshildarholtsvatn lake, information boards give details on the rich variety of birds frequenting the area.

The most abundant birdlife is to be found at the mouth of the river Héraðsvötn and on the lakes Miklavatn and Áshildarholtsvatn, just to the south of Sauðárkrókur.


Through the town of Blönduós flows one of Iceland's greatest glacial rivers, Blanda, and taking the path along its banks, towards the mouth of the river, is a particularly romantic walk, with spectacular views of the open ocean.

There are other things to do around Blönduós besides exploring its natural beauty; e.g. golf, swimming in the town's swimming pool, angling and shooting, horse riding and visiting the unique Textile Museum.

Accommodation in hotels, guesthouses and summer chalets with hot pots and saunas is on offer for the visitor as well as excellent camping site facilities. There are a variety of eating places, ranging from cafés to grills and restaurants.

In the waters of the river Blanda lies the town's most treasured asset, Hrútey. Here you will find many good footpaths and a connecting bridge from the mainland to the island.


Life in Bakkafjörður revolves mostly round the fish in the sea and the right to survive by catching this!

For the tourist, sea angling for cod is always a popular pastime and, if the weather is good, it should be no trouble persuading one of the fishermen to take you out for a fishing trip in his boat. There is a walking track which takes you past Viðvíkurbjörg cliffs at Viðvík, then over to Álftavatn and so on to Bakkafjörður, where the birdlife is abundant and varied.

The swimming pool at Selárdalur is owned by the people of Vopnafjörður, and is about 30 km from Bakkafjörður. The pool commands a magnificent view of the mountains, and in the salmon fishing season you can watch the fishermen wrestle their catch from the waters of Selá river which flows only a little way below.


Kopasker is a fishing village on the eastern shore of Oxarfjordur fjord. The main economy is based on services to the farms in the area as well as fisheries. In Kopasker, the local museum at Snartarstadir is worth visiting, as well as the Earthquake Center, describing the big Earthquake of 1976.

In Kopasker there is a shop, garage, health care centre, bank, campsite and guesthouses. North of Kopasker is the peninsula Melrakkasletta, with its abundant birdlife, and also the northernmost point of mainland Iceland, Hraunhafnartangi.


Laugar in Reykjadalur is a community which has sprung up around the geothermal activity which is a characteristic of the area. The village is home to the Laugar in Reykjadalur primary and secondary schools, besides being the administrative and service centre for Þingeyjarsveit District, with, for example, a bank, a shop and a restaurant. During the summer months, visitors can find accommodation at the summer hotel, or with one of the other service providers in the surrounding area. Laugar has an excellent swimming pool and other sports facilities.


Svalbarðseyri is a village in the Svalbarðsströnd district and lies on the eastern shores of Eyjafjörður. At one time this was a trading centre, but the village now concerns itself mainly with the provision of services. Most of the inhabitants work in the neighbouring districts.


Hrafnagil was, in ancient times, a chieftain's estate and the site of a church. In present times, however, a small community has sprung up which serves as a service centre for tourists. Hrafnagil is also home to the Eyjafjörður Christmas Garden and Íslandsbærinn (the Iceland Farm) community centre.

Hjalteyri is a small village on the western shores of Eyjafjörður. Until the early 20th century, this was one of the main hubs of the herring fishing industry and is today an aquaculture centre where research is conducted into the feasibility of halibut culture. The buildings of the old herring factory are often used as a venue for art exhibitions during the summer months. Hjalteyri boasts some of the most interesting diver areas in the World, as the famous geothermal struts are right offshore.

Hauganes lies next to Árskógssandur, and is part of the Árskógsströnd coastal area. It is also the most southerly community in the district of Dalvík, with a population of about 140. As with its neighbour, Árskógssandur, life in this village is mostly concerned with fishing and fish processing. In this small but attractive community you can combine the luxury of experiencing a country atmosphere with the convenience of being within easy reach of larger towns; Akureyri is only a 20 minute drive away, and 10 minutes will take you into Dalvík, which is the main service centre for the area.


Árskógssandur is a small community situated on the shores of Eyjafjörður fiord, about 10 minutes by car from Dalvík and a short distance from the village of Hauganes. It is also the crossing point to Hrísey island, by the ferry Sævar.

Árskógssandur provides a variety of services for the village itself and the inhabitants of the surrounding countryside, as well as possessing a wealth of great natural beauty. Children brought up in such an environment are, indeed, fortunate, as they learn to respect nature as well as having, "on tap", an important aid to their development.

There is plenty to do and see around Árskógsströnd; the Kaldi brewery, whale watching, paint ball, and laser tag, besides interesting day trips around the vicinity which are operated by several companies.


The island of Hrísey is rightly known as Eyjafjörður's pearl of nature, and is renowned for its abundant birdlife. It lies out in the middle of the fiord and can be reached by the ferry, Sævar - a journey of about 15 minutes.

This small fishing village provides various services which will benefit the visitor e.g. a swimming pool, small guesthouse, restaurant, camping site, café and shop.

From the village, walking tracks fan out to many parts of the island, and for those who are less energetic, an entertaining itinerary could be the following: Sightseeing by tractor round the island, taking in a visit to the shark museum en route. This museum contains much valuable information on the shark hunting activities of yesteryear, as well as other details on the history of island life on Hrísey.

To get to Hrísey, first head in the direction of Dalvík, but before you reach the town, take the turning leading to Árskógssandur. The Hrísey ferry runs a scheduled service from Árskógssandur - and you can pick up a copy of this at any tourist information centre, most hotels or online.


Surrounded by high mountain peaks and long valleys, with a lake in the middle… that’s Ólafsfjörður!

For the general tourist, as well as those who are keen on outdoor activities, Ólafsfjörður has many interesting and enjoyable pursuits on offer.

During the winter months it is a skier's paradise and an outdoor enthusiast's dream come true. There is a choice of cross-country skiing, slalom, alpine skiing, skating, zooming around on a snowmobile or ice-fishing in the waters of Ólafsfjarðar lake. There is even a ski jump ramp on Main Street. For alpine skiing Ólafsfjörður is perfect as you can ski to sea from over 1000m peak to the shoreline and all in virgin powder.

The black sandy shores with big waves draw attention to Arctic Surfers and you can say that Ólafsfjörður is one of the best places in the world for surfing under the Northern Lights.

During the summer, it is the mountains, the lake, the sea and the black sandy shores which beckon us, and there is a wide selection of walks and hikes in both mountains and valleys to tempt the visitor. A few hours walking through the area's rugged landscape gives one the chance to savour the peace and tranquillity which emanates from these natural elements and is so rarely found in modern society.

The diversity of leisure activities in is almost endless and in Ólafsfjörður fishing is popular due to the layers of fresh water and sea in Ólafsfjörður lake. It is a natural phenomenon. At the black beach are two Motocross tracks appealing to both beginners and advanced riders. Fjallabyggð Golf-Club is located near the town and is a 9-hole golf course, par 33. It is a short but challenging due to his location in Skeggjabrekka Valey. Ólafsfjörður Geothermal Pool contains water-slides, steam room, cold tub and hot tubs, resembling a miniature Spa-Waterpark. Pálshús Museum hosts the Natural History museum of Ólafsfjörður, containing a polar bear, and a wonderful exhibition called “The Desire to Fly”.


Siglufjörður offers a variety of interesting and enjoyable things to do and see - both for the tourist and for those in search of some outdoor activity.

The winter turns the town into a paradise for the skier and is a dream come true for the outdoor enthusiast. Here they have a choice of trying some cross-country skiing, slalom, skating, or zipping across the snow on a snowmobile.

During the summer, it is the mountains, the lake and the black sandy shores which call to us, and there is a wide selection of walks and hikes in both mountain and valley to tempt the visitor. A few hours walking through the area's rugged landscape gives one the chance to savour the peace and tranquillity which emanates from these natural elements.

The recreational possibilities are almost endless; it is possible to go sea angling or angling in the waters of Hólsá river - and we must not forget that it can also be fun just fishing from the end of the pier. Midnight sails and trips across the Arctic Circle can be arranged as well. It is possible to organise special activities for those who so wish, such as combining a walking and a sailing trip by e.g. walking out along Héðinsfjörður fiord then returning home by sea. For golf enthusiasts there is a 9 hole golf course at Siglufjörður, and for swimmers, a good swimming pool.

The Síldarminjasafnið herring museum is the largest marine and industrial museum in Europe. It is housed in three widely differing premises where the visitor can become acquainted with the pursuit of the "silver darlings" and the processing of that valuable commodity. Síldarminjasafnið received the European Museums Award, the Michletti Award, in 2004. The Folk Music Center is also to be found in Siglufjörður.


Hofsós is a small community lying on the east of Skagafjörður fiord. In days gone by this was the main service centre for the region and is one of the oldest trading posts in Iceland still in existence.

Here you can see an old log building, Pakkhúsið, a warehouse dating from the times of the Danish trade monopoly (1602-1787). Another old building, which has newly been renovated, houses yet another museum which is well worth a visit - the Icelandic Emigration Center - which tells the story of Icelandic emigrants to North America.

The restaurant Sólvík offers refreshments in a relaxed atmosphere. There is a camping site by the primary school and also a guesthouse. On 27 March 2010 a new and impressive swimming pool was opened at Hofsós. The new swimming pool and its surroundings are beautifully constructed. The pool itself is situated on the sea shore, to the south of the village and above Staðarbjargarvík. It is so designed that when one swims from south to north, the surface of the pool and the surface of the ocean below appear to merge, and the swimmer seems to be setting a course straight for the island of Drangey.

On Midsummer's Day a festival is held at Hofsós.


This is one of Iceland's most famous historical sites and was, for centuries, an Episcopal see. There has been a church at Hólar from the 11th century, the present one dating from 1763. It was built from red sandstone quarried from the mountain Hólabyrða, and is the oldest stone church in Iceland.

The student population at Hólar University College has risen dramatically over the past few years and the number of halls of residence has also increased to meet the demand. During the winter months, over 200 people reside at Hólar.

Archaeological digs have taken place over the past few years and more than 40,000 items have been found. A selection of these finds can be seen in the old schoolhouse. A walk through the winding paths of the wooded area will lead you into the wonderland of natural beauty surrounding this ancient place; a site filled with echoes from Iceland's history.

During Hólar Festival, which is generally held in the middle of August, there are many ecclesiastical and cultural events on offer, e.g. Pilgrims´ Walks, church services and other activities. T

he Laufskálaréttir horse round-up pens at Hjaltadalur are among the most popular in the country, and each year up to 3,000 visitors congregate there to be part of the proceedings. In fact some say that the Laufskálaréttir pens are the crème de la crème of all round-up stations.


This community offers a wide variety of services for visitors and local people alike, making it one of the most popular stopping points for those travelling along highway 1. There you will find, for example, a service shop with petrol pumps, a food store and restaurant facilities.

The Tourist Information Centre, located right next to the KS shopping premises, has on display, items from the Skagafjörður area, crafted by the Creative Arts Society, Alþýðulist. There is also a good sports stadium, a child-friendly swimming pool and a football practice pitch. If you require a place to stay, there is a wide choice on offer in Varmahlíð and the surrounding area; a hotel, summer chalets, farm accommodation and camping sites.

The Miðgarður Cultural Centre is situated in Varmahlíð and is the locale for a variety of entertainments all year round. The woodland at Reykjarhóll is also recommended, with its marked paths, one of which leads up to the viewfinder at the top of the hill. On a good day, the view across the central region of Skagafjörður is magnificent.


Laugarbakki village is situated in the west Húnaþing district, on the eastern side of Miðfjarðará river, and close to highway 1. The first house to be built at Laugarbakki was erected in 1933. In 1970 a large boarding school was built, which is now used as year round hotel with modern luxury and a big ballroom cabable of hosting 400 people.

There is a shop, a swimming pool (which has been converted into relaxing hotpots) and a community centre which is popular as a venue for family gatherings during summer. From Laugarbakki it is only 7 km to Hvammstangi.


Lake Myvatn is one of the highlights of the north. All major services are provided in the village of Reykjahlid, such as a mini supermarket, bank, post office, health care centre, school and swimming pool. At Lake Myvatn, different types of accommodation are available as well as good restaurants and cafés.

Birdlife by the lake is abundant and a visit to the new Bird Museum is worthwhile. Myvatn Nature Bath is located just east of Reykjahlid village, where travellers can enjoy a relaxing dip in the warm natural water. In the Myvatn region there are many marked hiking routes. The Yule Lads live at Dimmuborgir in the Myvatn area, you don't want to miss them.


Dalvik is a seaside town, located on the natural paradise of Tröllaskagi Peninsula.

Recreation available for tourists in the area includes a well equipped swimming pool, a museum, skiing facilities, a golf course, sea angling, whale watching, bird watching and horse rental.

There are multiple hiking trails in the area and we recommend trying these, led by one of our top class guides.

Dalvík harbour is a large fishing and commercial port; the ferry Sæfari, wich sails from Dalvík, serves the island of Grímsey, Iceland's northenmost community, wich lies on the Arctic Circle.


Whatever the time of year, Akureyri is a lively and energetic town, and home to around 20.000 inhabitants. It is by far the most densely populated community outside the Reykjavík area, and is the centre of trade, culture and services for the north of Iceland.

It is a town closely associated with educational institutions and cultural events, all of those having strong traditional roots. Two of the largest fisheries in Iceland are based in Akureyri, and the growth of the tourist industry means that this is playing an ever more important role in the life of the town.

Akureyri is close to many of Iceland's most renowned natural beauty spots and the town itself is a popular stopping place for both long and short stays.

Below is a list of places we would recommend as being well worth a visit while in Akureyri:

  • The Akureyri Botanical Garden (with 400 plants indigenous to Iceland and more than 7,500 foreign species)
  • the Akureyri Art Museum Listagil Art Centre
  • Akureyri swimming pool
  • Húni II - a boat built from oak in 1963, which is to be found at Torfunefsbryggja pier
  • restaurants which offer dishes prepared from produce originating in the surrounding countryside
  • Kjarnaskógur wood the
  • old town -museums, a church and historical buildings
  • Jaðar golf course - the most northerly 18-hole golf course in the world
  • Hrísey island - the pearl of Eyjafjörður
  • the Akureyrarvaka festival which is held in August each year and is the culmination of the Summer Festival (Listasumar) which runs from mid -June until the end of August
  • beer from the local breweries, Víking and Kaldi
  • Brynja ice cream - a favourite with the local people
  • Akureyri Church
  • Hlíðarfjall ski slopes.

North Iceland

Towns & Villages

Society and the economy have many faces. Whereas agriculture is the mainstay of rural areas, the towns depend upon fishing, industry, trade and a range of services, with each village having its own characteristics though they all prove hospitable hosts. 
The availability of food and accommodation and the possibilities at every location for recreation and entertainment make hopping between the villages informative as well as fun.   
In every case, the residents are lively and ready to celebrate.

Explore map with pictures

Map Akureyri Hrafnagil Grímsey Raufarhöfn Kópasker Þórshöfn Bakkafjörður Húsavík Mývatn Laugar Svalbarðseyri Grenivík Hjalteyri Hauganes Árskógssandur Dalvík Hrísey Ólafsfjörður Siglufjörður Hofsós Hólar Varmahlíð Sauðárkrókur Skagaströnd Blöndós Hvammstangi Laugarbakki Borðeyri