The northernmost village in the Westfjords, Bolungarvík, is a fishing village that is home to 900 residents. Despite the small population, the town stands true to the adage of quality over quantity. With lots to do and plenty to see, it is a six-hour drive from Reykjavík. The settlement of Bolungarvík is unique to Iceland in that it was founded by a woman named Þuríður Sundafyllir rather than by some renowned male Viking. Boasting a rich history and cozy community, Bolungarvík will certainly be a highlight on your travels around Iceland. And for locals who want a break from city life, it is also a perfect destination.
Stay: Camping Ground/ Einarshús
Bolungarvík offers two choices for overnight stay—camping, or sleeping in a guesthouse. For camping, there is a site that offers all the essentials, such as washing facilities and electricity. In addition, the campground is located near the river Holsár, not far from the public swimming pool—talk about prime location. If you’d rather not camp, the alternative is a stay at Einarshús, a guesthouse and restaurant. Though there are only two options for staying overnight in Bolungarvík. Sometimes less is more.
With a great mix of locals and tourists, the aforementioned Einarshús has a warm and relaxed feel. Its history is just as lively as its service. Built in 1904, the restaurant displays its saga through old photographs and family trees that decorate the walls. Although the menu is basic, the staff is always accommodating and willing to invent original dishes for you. Good food is sometimes accompanied by live accordion or guitar music, played by the owner, as well as singing done by the staff, which creates a memorable experience.
Eat: Verslunar Geiri
It’s more than just a gas station—here you can also grab a bite to eat. There is a pizzeria that offers food on the go for your convenience. Additionally, while you wait there are two slot machines to keep you occupied. Bolungarvík is no stranger to the pairing of food and entertainment.
The most popular attraction in Bolungarvík is the Bolafjall mountain, which offers a stunning view over Ísafjarðardjúp, Jökulfirðir and even up to Greenland…if the weather permits. To get to the mountain you drive up the road leading to the old Latrar Air Station, which is home to the remains of some U.S. military facilities. The road is open from the middle of June to September, so plan accordingly
Until the 1960s, people use to live in Skálavík, a creek westwards of Bolungarvík. Since then it has been uninhabited. However, don’t let that keep you away—it’s a great spot to walk along the black sand beach or enjoy the view on top of the mountain. On hotter days a swim into the river should never be a missed opportunity.
Museum: Ósvör Maritime Museum
Ósvör is a replica of a 19th century Icelandic fishing station. On display you can see a crew hut with tools and equipment used for fishing, a rowing boat, a fish drying area and a drying hut. A curator in a traditional fisherman outfit welcomes guests so you get a true oceanic experience.
Shop: Drymla Local Handicrafts
Coordinated by local women, Drymla began in 1933 as a place where they could engage in conversation while drinking tea and knitting. Today, you can purchase unique, one of a kind hand-crafted goods. In addition, Drymla also has a workshop where windows from local houses are cut and used for art.
Established in 1927, this shop adheres to its vintage style but offers new products on its shelves. You can purchase clothing, food, books and much more. “Everything but alcohol says,” the owner behind the counter.
Swim: Bolungarvík Pool
A pool complex that consists of two outdoor hot tubs, a kiddie pool and a waterslide. Inside there is a swimming pool and steam rooms, making this one of the town’s biggest recreation areas. So don’t forget to pack your swimwear! Even if you do, it’s okay—towels and swimsuits can be rented.
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