It's a unique feeling to walk around the green island of Grímsey. Look to the horizon on the Atlantic ocean in the north, or turn your head to the south to see the glistening mountain tops of the shoreline of North Iceland. In this remote place, it's easy to imagine you are alone in the universe, even though roughly 70 people call this island their home. Feel the birds' vibrating sounds in the cliffs, see the puffins poke their head up from their nests, and the roaming sheep eating the green grass. There is no place quite like Grímsey.

The travel to the island is an adventure in itself. Either you fly for about 20 minutes from Akureyri or take the ferry from Dalvík that gets you there in 3 hours. Some only stop for a few hours, but many choose to stay for a few days, disconnect from the busy life, find their connection to nature, and relieve stress. In Grímsey, two guesthouses are open year-round, but it is best to book your stay in advance, especially during summer. In the small village, you'll also find a small convenience store, a café, and a restaurant (pre-booking recommended during the off-season.)

One of the major attractions of Grímsey is the puffin that makes its nest in the cliffs in April and goes back to sea in August. Another one is the Arctic Circle, with many visitors aiming to step over the circle. In 2017 a new landmark was revealed that signifies where the Arctic Circle goes through the island. It's a giant ball and is called "Orbus et Globus. " Weighing almost 7 tons, it is moved each year to align to the Arctic Circle.

A visit in the summertime is highly recommended, but a visit during winter will not disappoint.  With little sunlight, the isolation from others almost becomes tangible, with the Northern Lights dancing around in the sky.

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Grímsey Island
GPS Points N66° 32' 46.546" W18° 0' 14.935"
Postal codes

611

Highlights in Grímsey Island

  • Orbis et Globus

    The artwork "Orbis et Globus" was inaugurated on the Arctic Circle in Grímsey Island in the fall of 2017. It is a 3-meter sphere which is meant to be moved around the north end of the island in accordance with the movement of the Arctic Circle.

  • Camping site

Travel directory for Grímsey Island

The official travel index of Iceland

Others

Krían veitingastaður
Restaurants
  • Grímsey
  • 611 Grímsey
  • 467-3112, 898-2058
Galleri Sol
Cafés
  • Sólberg
  • 611 Grímsey
  • 467-3190, 467-3150
Nature
Grímsey Basalt columns

Grímsey has many beautiful basalt columns formations especially at the south west corner of the island. Basalt is a volcanic material that can crystallize into special formation if thick lava flow is cooled relatively rapidly from a horizontal angel - then the lava cracks and creates these special hexagonal formations. This has happened in Grímsey as the lave flow has been encountered by the cooling from the ocean.

The size of the columns depends on the rate of cooling; very rapid cooling may result in very small columns, while somewhat slower cooling is more likely to produce large columns.

Nature
Orbis et Globus

The artwork "Orbis et Globus" was inaugurated on the Arctic Circle in Grímsey Island in the fall of 2017. It is a 3-meter sphere which is meant to be moved around the north end of the island in accordance with the movement of the Arctic Circle.

Before the 2018 Summer Solstice Festival in Grímsey, the artwork was moved about 130 meters to the south, and this year it will be moved approx. 69 meters.
The artwork is a symbol and a landmark for the Arctic Circle and has attracted attention from all over the world. The aim of the project was to draw attention to this northern most part of Iceland and to increase attractiveness of the island for tourists. Already, this has happened with great success. The inhabitants of Grímsey are less than 100 people and it is of the utmost importance to strengthen residence there all year round.

Most visitors that come to Grímsey now, aim to reach "the sphere of the north". They want to see and touch the artwork and while doing so step beyond the Arctic Circle.
The walk from the harbour to the artwork is about 3.7 km and from the airport about 2.5 km. One must expect about 3 hours walk forth and back. It is recommended to stay overnight as the traditional stop of the ferry and the air plain is almost too short to enjoy and see the most essential things on the island. Things one should try to do while on the island is to walk around in the little village, drop by the Fiske-monument and read the sign-boards, visit the restaurant Krían (Arctic tern) and/or the smallest Café in Iceland at the Guesthouse Gullsól. Take a walk to the lighthouse at the islands southernmost point and walk along the south-west shore of the island and look at the beautiful basalt columns and old fishing huts. On that route one can find the "Century stones" which display the position of the arctic circle Anno 1717, 1817 and 1917. During the birding season (end April till beginning August) one must also calculate some time for bird-watching as that's one of the phenomenal things experiencing in Grímsey.

Orbis et Globus was designed by the artists Kristinn E. Hrafnsson in collaboration with Studio Grandi. It was selected to be the new landmark for the Arctic Circle in a competition for such an artwork held in 2013.

History and Culture
Grímsey lighthouse

This is one of the notable buildings in Grímsey, It is 9,6 m high and built in year 1937 according to the design of the engineer Benedikt Jónasson.

The lighthouse is located on the south-east corner of the island. In the beginning it was run manually with a gas lamp which had to be turned on and off manually. Now days the lighthouse is automatic and plays an important role to the boat traffic in the surrounding waters.

The lighthouse is closed to the public but offers a good viewing point to the cliffs and birdlife at the east cost of the island as well as being a popular photo object.

Other lighthouses built according to the same plan as the Grímsey Lighthouse are Hegranesviti and Raufarhafnarviti.

History and Culture
Church of Grímsey

Miðgarðar is the site of the most northerly church in Iceland. It was consecrated by Bishop Jón Ögmundsson in the early 11th century and was dedicated to Ólafur the patron saint of the Nordic people. At that time two clergymen served the church, and mass was sung daily and twice on holy days.
These services have dwindled but 50 clergymen have been recorded as serving the church over the years.
The vicar of Dalvík is now in charge of the church.

Miðgarðakirkja was built from driftwood in 1867 on a site near Miðgarðar farm but was moved over by its own length in 1932 due to fire hazard and, at the same time, a choir stall and portico with a steeple were added.
The church was extensively renovated in 1932 and reconsecrated in 1956.
The altar painting is by a local artist painted in 1878 and is a copy of a work by Leonardo da Vinci.

It was granted conservation status on 1st January 1990, in accordance with the provisions of legislation on ancient buildings.

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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 Eyjafjarðarsveit 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