Things to do in Þórshöfn

Things to do in Þórshöfn

Photos by
Ryan Parteka

10:30 The eagle has landed

Looking out of the window, the shadow of our airplane is shrinking. Below us is Þorshöfn, a little gathering of houses surrounded by uninhabited pampas and the endless ocean. It is not even noon, but we’ve already been on quite a trip. Early this morning we took our first flight of the day from Reykjavík to Akureyri. Once there, we changed from a mid-sized plane to a smaller one (red and very shiny). After the co-pilot explained the security instructions—not through a intercom, just by turning around in his seat—we and the other five passengers took off. Our route was a triangle between Akureyri, Vopnafjörður and Þorshöfn. In perfect sunny weather we found ourselves on a breathtaking sightseeing tour. Beneath us was the beautiful fjord of Eyjafjörður, surrounded by majestic mountains with white spots of snow on their flat hilltops. We flew over Mývatn, the sublime Dettifoss and the canyon of Jökulsá á Fjöllum River. By our third flight of the day from Vopnafjörður to our final destination, the trip was already worth it—and the photographer had filled his first memory card.

Ryan Parteka Þórshöfn

11:00 Strolling around down town

As the only passengers getting off the plane in Þorshöfn, we walked the fifteen minutes hike into town, seeing only a couple of horses and a man on a tractor along the way. Arriving “down town” we were greeted by the pleasant smell of the local fish factory. We counted three men chatting in front of the post station, a white car with two young boys driving around and a few men repairing boats and working at the harbour. So far, we have met ten souls from Þorshöfn—only 390 more to go.

11:30 Piano with a view

From the outside, our accommodation looked like a regular house. We missed it and walked by at first, but on our way back we noticed the Name “Hótel Jórvik” written on the wall. The style of the inscription and also the slightly run-down look of the place suggested that it had not been renewed since the eighties. The Australian caretaker let us (his only guests) in the house, located directly by the sea. We spent half an hour playing the out-of-tune piano in the living room, which provided a fantastic view of the surroundings through a large window, and inspecting the fabulous design of the bathroom (green tiles with golden fish head shaped towel racks) and flicking through the selection of French cookbooks and Mandarin novels next to the fireplace.

13:00 Stunning Rauðanes

After chatting with a bus driver who didn’t speak any English (our Icelandic is poor at best), we arrived at the next attraction of the day, 30 km north of Þorshöfn. We started to walk the 7 km long hiking trail on Rauðanes peninsula in bright sunshine and light breeze. The trail took us through beautiful surrounding of blueberries, crowberries, moss, grass and heather, and we were overwhelmed when we found ourselves standing on the top of a massive cliff with the ocean below us and sea birds playing in the wind. Following the hiking trail we passed by caves, arcs and other impressive basalt formations. We could hardly wait to get around the next bend to take a look of the next amazing jewel lying beyond. The cliff Gluggur, with its spectacular arc and near perfect symmetry, almost looks like a gate to a medieval castle. We could have hiked around sublime Rauðanes forever—with no one around but the birds and us, and the sound of waves breaking on the various stone formations in the backdrop. But, time waits for no man, and we had to get going.

16:00 Lost Highway

Lacking a subway, or other forms of public transportation, we decided to hitchhike back into town. It was not as easy as we had hoped. Rides are hard to catch when there were no cars passing by. We kept on walking on the middle of the paved road towards Þorshöfn, hoping for a ride. The few cars that passed were either fully packed or totally ignored us—except the one who sped up and almost killed us. After nearly two hours of desperate thumb lifting, we got lucky. Lina, a driving teacher, picked us up and gave us the local viewpoint on fishing, tourism and car driving. We reached town three minutes past six, three minutes too late to buy beer at the local Vínbúðin.

18:30 Dinner at Eyrin

For dinner, we went to Eyrin, a restaurant and bar down by the harbour next to the fish factory. We found fresh local clams on the menu, which we supplemented with an order of eggs from the Black Seabird, collected at Rauðanes, the place we had just come from. The eggs tasted extraordinary fresh and the shell—turquoise with patterns—looked like works of modern art. We could have stayed at Eyrin for beer and a game of pool or played the lobster slot machine, but something else was tempting us even more—the peninsula Langanes.

Ryan Parteka Þórshöfn

20:00 Tour of Langanes

The Langanes peninsula used to be inhabited by fisherman, but depleting fisheries saw the population dwindle. Now, bit-by-bit, life is returning to Langanes in the form of tourists and artists, which Miriam, the owner of Langanes Farm Art Hostel, Ytra Lón, tempts to attract to the place. The hostel expanded its bed capacity from sixteen to sixty beds and offers an exhibition space.
The beautiful orange lining between the ocean and the sky kept getting thinner and thinner, and we noticed the next surprise of this eventful day: northern lights. After leaving the Hostel, we hooked up with Halldóra Gunnarsdóttir, culture and tourism officer for the Langanes area. She showed us to a 130-years old church and an old rectory. This rebuilt stone house from the late 19th century serves as the museum of Sauðanes, dedicated to the showing how people lived in this area more than hundred years ago. Northern lights above us, goose and swans cackling and a competent local showing us around, Langanes showed off at its best. We returned to the patio of Hótel Jórvik, overlooking the calm ocean, the crescent moon surrounded by uncountable stars and aurora borealis dancing all around. Words fail me…

10:30 Time to say goodbye

Sitting in the sun and enjoying my morning coffee, it feels like I am at the Icelandic Riviera. This trip felt a lot longer than just one day, there was so much to do, and we tried to do it all. Next time we’ll visit Þorshöfn in winter with more time on our hands, to experience another side of this fishing village.

Flight provided by Air Iceland. Book flights: +354 570 3030 or www.airiceland.is