Tucked away in a picturesque bay on the west side of Eyjafjörður, Dalvík is surprisingly lively for a 1400-strong municipality. The town’s surrounding attractions are accessible all year round, but it’s especially beautiful during autumn, when rich reds and burnt oranges dot the countryside like precious gems against the snowy mountains. You won’t have problems finding good chilling spots or hiking trails, and the town itself has many interesting stories to tell.
Stay: Dalvík Hostel Gimli
This small family business is the perfect spot if you don’t want to break the bank but still wish to feel comfortable. With its wooden accents and doilies, the common room might feel a bit like your grandmother’s living room. The bedrooms, however, have been blessed with a modern touch that pairs wonderfully with the original rustic charm of the place.
Only 162 people live on the ‘Pearl of Eyjafjörður,’ as this island is known, and yet its sole town still boasts a church, a museum and a swimming pool. It can be reached by ferry from Dalvík, unless you’re a polar bear—then you could float over on a piece of melting ice cap. This is no joke: polar bears love visiting Hrísey. Unfortunately, the love is unreciprocated—so much so that armed guards are always on the lookout to protect tourists and locals.
The Reykjaheiði pass used to be the only way to get to the village of Ólafsfjörður from Dalvík. Mailmen used to cross it on horseback, but it’s now become a popular and easy-going hiking route, surrounded by summer houses. If you need a rest, stop by the local ski resort and slide down to the town.
Café: Gísli, Eiríkur, Helgi Kaffihús
A bar, café and restaurant all in one, this establishment offers good beer, cakes and arguably the best fish soup you’ll ever get in the North. Bjarni, the manager, is always ready to provide a good story when he’s not busy organising concerts and events in the adjacent cinema building. Stop by during a stormy evening and enjoy the atmosphere.
Activity: Heli-skiing & Whale Watching
Why one would want to jump out of a helicopter and ski down a mountain is beyond me, but if you want to feel like the next James Bond, here’s your chance. For the less adventurous (or more sane), there’s a less adrenaline-driven option of whale watching by boat. Just sit down, lean back, and keep watching the waves.
Swim: The Beer Spa
Granted, this spa is more expensive than the local pool, but if you are looking for something different, you’re in for a treat. Soak in a mixture of beer, water and yeast to feel as decadent as a modern Cleopatra. If soaking in fizzy beer is not your thing, however, you can always hop into the small hot tub (full of water) that overlooks the harbour and get lost in your thoughts.
Shop: Vellir in Svarfaðardalur
Attached to Bjarni Óskarsson’s organic farm is a small, rustic shop whose shelves are packed with fresh vegetables as well as homemade jams and sauces that are prepared right next door. Not too long ago, Bjarni decided to leave his hectic city life to work on his small farm, where he breeds arctic chars as well as tending to his greenhouses. A good excuse to combine shopping and eating that you should take advantage of.
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