Unlike its nearest neighbours to the north, which nestle within the steep embrace of narrow fjords, the small fishing village of Breiðdalsvík sits along a wide cove that opens onto a low-lying valley. Despite its miniscule population of about 140 residents, the town bursts with civic pride, thanks to the concerted efforts of a few eager proprietors. A casual stroll along the active harbour road reveals some of the oddities that set the town apart: decomposing reindeer heads, a brilliantly orange lighthouse, and picturesque weather-worn fishing shacks. But there are enough reasons to spend an entire afternoon or spend the night in town.
Stay: Hótel Bláfell
With a vivid blue roof and a rainbow walkway leading to its front steps, the rustic Hótel Bláfell provides a welcome splash of colour amidst the dull greys and browns of Breiðdalsvík. Offering 46 cosy rooms, a Finnish-style sauna and a restaurant, Hótel Bláfell promises comfort at the beginning or end of a long day’s adventure.
If you want to get a sense of daily life in Breiðdalsvík, grab a bite at the café in Kaupfjélagið, the town’s old general store. A constant stream of locals and tourists alike keep the place abuzz from open to close. Try their fish and chips, made from the fish that arrives in Breiðdalsvík’s harbour; or, perhaps, the reindeer burger that regularly appears as a rotating special.
Drink: Beljandi Brewery
Once you get over the initial surprise of encountering a craft microbrewery in such a tiny town, it’s well worth sipping a pint (or four) of the various drafts cooked up by Beljandi Brewery. Despite the building’s former history as a slaughterhouse, Beljandi’s amiable bartenders, pool table and book exchange library have transformed the space into a welcoming, unpretentious watering hole.
Swim: Íþróttamiðstöð Breiðdalshrepps
Set on the edge of town, the swimming pool and hot tub at Breiðdalsvík’s municipal sporting facility offer a grand mountain view interrupted only by a short perimeter wall that (thankfully) shields the area from piercing winds. Although its opening hours are restricted to afternoons and evenings in the summer months, the view makes for a worthwhile visit if the timing is right.
Explore: Routes 964, 966, 95
A small network of roads extending into the valley west of Breiðdalsvík offers views of a landscape that toes the line between pastoral and epic. Natural gems scatter the region along these under-travelled roads; but, with informational signs few and far between, it’s the perfect place to let curiosity and adventure guide you. At the heart of the valley, the Breiðdalsá river tumbles down the short, but staggeringly broad falls at Beljandi. Further up the valley, tucked within a recess in a dark cliff wall, the narrow Flögufoss waterfall passes under a narrow rock arch before plummeting into a moss-splotched hollow.
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