Town Guide: Seafood, Wildlife, Crystals & Caves in Neskaupstaður

Town Guide: Seafood, Wildlife, Crystals & Caves in Neskaupstaður

Photos by
Timothée Lambrecq

Iceland’s easternmost town of Neskaupstaður is known to many for the Eistnaflug metal festival, but it’s a charming place to visit all year round. With a new road tunnel running from nearby Eskifjörður, it’s easier to reach than ever, and you’ll be rewarded with a picturesque, slow-paced area with plenty to see and do.

Stay: Hildibrand apartments and hotel
One of the main buildings in town is the Hotel Hildibrand. There are hotel rooms on offer, but you can also take one of the plushly appointed two-bedroom apartments, with comfortable furnishings, a fully equipped kitchen, and a balcony looking out over the fjord. The hotel also has a bar and restaurant called ​​Kaupfélagsbarinn, housed in the town’s old co-op shop, which serves locally-sourced lamb and seafood dishes.

Swim: Sundlaug Norðfjarðar
This small swimming spot is one of the best in East Iceland, with modern facilities, perfect hot pots, a pleasant sauna, and a view that can’t be beat. After basking, swimming, and steaming yourself with a view across the fjord to the vast mountains on the other side of Norðfjörður, all the tension will be gone from your body and mind—and if you present a key from Hotel Hildibrand, the swim will be on the house.

Visit: Neskaupstaður Museum
It might not look like much from the outside, but the town museum is well worth a visit. On the ground floor, there are exhibitions by local artists; the first floor houses a sprawling collection of antique tools and machinery. But the star of the show is the top floor, which features an interactive display of taxidermied wildlife, from birds to seals to sea creatures and mammals, set up in a vivid diorama that includes recordings of all the birds’ calls. On the other side of the room there’s an impressive mineral collection with bright and gleaming crystals, stones and geodes, all found in the surrounding area.

Trip: Norðfjörður Boat Tour
Just outside the museum you’ll find a pier with the Gerpir NK 120 bobbing in the harbour. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays it’s possible to take a 2-3 hour spin around the fjord in this restored oak-hulled vessel. You’ll get views over the rugged cliffs of East Iceland, pass close to abandoned settlements, and see all sorts of wildlife along the way, including the possibility of whale sightings at certain times of the year.

Eat: Beituskúrinn Bait Shack
This seaside diner is a recent addition to the town. Run by the same family behind the Hildibrand, it’s a cosy wooden restaurant with various options, specialising in local seafood. The sizzling fish pan comes with various cuts of freshly caught fish, all pulled straight out of of the waters of Norðfjörður and cooked to perfection.

Hike: Easter Cave
At the edge of the village you’ll find a nature preserve, with an easy 15-minute hiking trail leading to Páskahellir, or the Easter Cave. There are wooden steps down to the cave, which has dramatic basalt and lava rock formations—local lore attaches various legends to the cave, including tales about selkies, and a special view of the dancing sun at Easter time.

Read more town guides here.

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A Room For The Night
Stay at Hotel Hildibrand