Located on the Westfjords peninsula in northwest Iceland, Isafjordur is a small town with a population of 2,400. Its main attraction is its stark scenery, with sheer-faced, barren mountains towering around this tiny community at the edge of a vast, deep blue fjord. In addition, Isafjordur has a peaceful, tranquil atmosphere reflecting the fact that it is remote from modern city life.
Isafjordur is said to have been settled by Helgi Magari Hrolfsson in the 9th century. However, the area achieved notoriety in the 17th century as a result of its witch and wizard trials.
The settlement was granted municipal status in 1786 and became one of Iceland's six official trading centers.
Due to its fine harbor and proximity to the fishing grounds, Isafjordur became home to a large fishing fleet. Nearly everyone in the town was associated with either catching or processing fish.
This industry peaked in the mid-20th century. However, a decline in the fish population and new fishing restrictions caused severe economic hardship. Today, the large trawlers that were once based in Isafjordur have been replaced by small commercial fishing craft.
Isafjordur is a small community and as such, its man-made attractions can be seen in a few hours. None of these can be described as spectacular. But the atmosphere of this unhurried community surrounded by so much natural beauty is something to savor.
An attractive section of Isafjordur is the Old Town. Most of the houses in this section were built in the late 19th century, which is considered old for an Icelandic house. They are small and close together but look surprisingly comfortable.
Isafjordur has a few museums. The Westfjords Maritime Museum is housed in a former warehouse and is one of the oldest buildings in town. The Culture House, located in the Old Hospital, is a combination public library and exhibition hall. However, think in terms of local artists rather than Claude Monet or Rembrandt.
Another landmark is the town church. This is a large modern building erected in 1993 to replace an earlier structure. Its modernistic design was inspired by the waves of the ocean.
Trees are few and far between in this area. But the Jonsgarour botanical garden on the edge of town is a small but pretty forest-like park.
Isafjordur has a number of restaurants and cafes as well as a few shops. Although these welcome tourists, they are not directed exclusively at tourists. Thus, you can still come into contact with locals and experience something of their way of life.
Since Isafjodur is a small area, the best way to see it is by walking. The tourist office provides maps and suggested walking tours.
There are a limited number of taxis and a public bus system. However, these really only make sense if you want to go out and see the surrounding countryside. The cruise ships also provide shore excursions that go out into the neighboring area.
The weather iin Isafjordur tends to be cool even in summer. In fact, Isafjordur is said to be the coolest place in Iceland at sea level. Iceland is often overcast but the weather can change quickly revealing blue skies and a unique light.
The currency in Iceland is called the Icelandic króna. However, many places accept U.S. Dollars and Euros Credit cards are widely accepted. Indeed, Icelanders typically use credit cards to pay for almost everything.
The Isafjordur cruise port is next
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Above: The Culture House.
Below: The largest church in Isafjordur.
Above: Almost all of the trees in Isafjordur are in the Jonsgarour botanical garden.
Below: The mountains surrounding Isafjordur have a stark beauty.
Cruise destination profile - Isafjordur, Iceland- overview