Ísafjörður

Is in the heart of west fjords, one of the country’s most beautiful region. It has of the longest bird cliff in northern Atlantic Ocean, home of thousands of bird species, spectacular waterfalls which is among the reasons it is one of the most popular hiking area in Iceland.

Population: In 2010 the population was 2,667 people.

Museums and Galleries:

  • Edinborg Cultural Centre - Aðalstræti, 400 Ísafjörður.
  • Westfjords Heritage Museum - Neðstakaupstað, 400 Ísafjörður.
  • Ísafjörður Photo Museum - Eyrartún, 400 Ísafjörður.
  • The Culture House - Eyrartún, Ísafjörður.

Interesting Sites:

  • Látrabjarg Cliff - the westernmost part of Iceland, road nr 612.
  • Rauðisandur (red sand) - road nr 614.
  • Dynjandi waterfall - by Arnarfjordu/Dynjandivogur, road nr. 60.
  • Vigur island - a daily boat trip from Ísafjörður.

Restaurants:

  • Hamraborg - Hafnarstræti 7, Ísafjörður.
  • Tjöruhúsið - Neðstikaupstaður, Ísafjörður.
  • Vesturslóð Restaurant - Hafnarstræti 7, 400 Ísafjörður.
  • Hótel Ísafjörður - Silfurtorg 2, 400 Ísafjörður.

Accommodation:

  • Guesthouse Mánagata - Mánagata 1, Ísafjörður.
  • Gamla Apótekið - Hafnarstræti 18, 400 Ísafjörður.
  • Kagrafell - Mánagata 1, 400 Ísafjörður.
  • Gamla Guesthouse - Mánagata 5, 400 Ísafjörður.
  • Gamla Space Guest Apartments - Fjarðarstræti 6, 400 Ísafjörður.

History:
According to Landnámabók (The Book of Settlement) the fjord Ísafjarðardjúp, of which the town is named after, was settled in the 9th century. In the 16th century the town became a trading post for foreign merchants and consequently grew. In the 17th century witch trials became frequent, especially in the Westfjords and many of the witches were either banished to a nearby peninsula called Hornstrandir, or simply burned. In Ísafjörður is the oldest house in the country, dating from 1734 which used to serve as trade house. Today it hosts the local folk museum. This area is the largest in the country of old trading houses which all originate from the middle of the 18th century.

Nature:
West fjords is the name of the large peninsula in northwest Iceland. The coastline is very indented by its many fjords surrounded by high hills and the area in whole is very mountainous. Látrabjarg cliff is the most famous nature attraction of the area and is the longest bird cliff in northern Atlantic Ocean. The Area has the fifth largest glacier in Iceland, Drangajökull Glacier, which is the only glacier of the region.

Conditions for agriculture are difficult in westfjords but the area instead provides excellent harbour conditions as the fishery of the area is the most important source of income for its inhabitants. Of interesting sites there is the previously mentioned Látrabjarg, or the cliff of all cliffs, as the locals dub it. It serves as the home of numerous bird species. These cliffs are the most western part of Iceland and being free of foxes the birds thrive fearlessly and give visitors thus exceptionally good photo opportunities, thus making it the most popular tourist attraction of the region.

Another spectacular nature phenomenon is Dynjandi waterfall. It is easily accessible by car and it only takes travellers 15 minutes to walk down to the waterfall where they can even walk behind it without getting relatively wet! Hornstrandir is one of the most spectacular places of the area, and it has been uninhabited since the 1950s. This area is therefore very popular among hikers and is currently one of their hiking grounds. Day trips are also provided for those who just want to experience a look of this magnificent place.

Culture:
In the Bildudalur, south of Isafjörður is the location of only museum which pays tribute to the hundreds of stories of sea monsters. Such stories have played an important role in the folk tales of Iceland for hundreds of years. In the museum the creatures are brought to live through a lively mix of words, animation and music. One of the most bizarre and original museum in Iceland is to be found in Selárdalur, at Brautartunga. There a local farmer collected items, sort of objet trouvés, and installed them at his home. Among other interesting cultural activities in the region is the Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft Museum which is located in Hólmavík. The museum traces the history of the period in Icelandic history in the 17th and 18th century where alleged witches were hunted down and burned. It has two sites, the museum in Hólmavík and the sorcerer’s cottage 30 km north of Hólmavík.

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