Seyðisfjörður gets a lot of traffic for a tiny town of fewer than 1,000 residents. It’s one of the 14 fjords that make up the region known as the Eastfjords, some of the most remote and unspoiled parts of Iceland. Each fjord has its own charm and tiny population; there are waterfalls among small fishing villages, and unique museums lure tourists off the Ring Road. If you’re on an extended trip to Iceland, you’ll be well rewarded for making time to explore this wonderful land where wildlife greatly outnumbers humans.
Since Seyðisfjörður’s harbor acts as the main ferry terminal that shuffles passengers to and from continental Europe, you may be arriving here as a point of necessity, but the darling town has lots of reasons to stay a couple days and explore.
Sights in Seyðisfjörður
Bláa Kirkjan (Blue Church)
The Bláa Kirkjan (Hafnargata 44, tel. 354/470-2308) is a quaint blue wooden church built in 1922 that hosts a series of concerts during the summer months. Concerts range from classical music to choral to jazz. Concerts are on in July and August and cost 2,000ISK. Check the website for the summer schedule. If you like traditional churches, be sure to check it out, but if you’re not seeing a concert here, you can skip it.
Tækniminjasafn Austurlands (Technical Museum of East Iceland)
The Technical Museum of East Iceland (Hafnargata 44, tel. 354/472-1596, 11am-5pm Mon.-Fri. June-mid-Sept., 1,000ISK) is home to the first telegraph station in Iceland along with exhibitions that depict the technical innovations from 1880 to 1950. There are tools on display, a letterpress machine and type, as well as equipment used for the fishing industry. It’s an unexpected museum due to the remote surroundings, and it’s worth the trip. A couple of exhibitions are meant for children.
Tvísöngur (Sound Sculpture)
Tvísöngur is sound sculpture by German artist Lukas Kühne that is situated on a mountainside of Seyðisfjörður. The concrete structure consists of five interconnected domes of different sizes ranging 2-4 meters. Each dome has its own unique resonance that corresponds to a tone in the Icelandic musical tradition of five-tone harmony, and the dome works as a natural amplifier to that tone. Guests can experience an acoustic sensation that can be explored and experimented with. The site’s remoteness and serenity offer a perfect setting for playing music or singing—alone, in harmony, or even for an audience. To visit Tvísöngur, guests need to walk a gravel road that starts across from Brimberg Fish Factory (Hafnargata 47). It takes 15-20 minutes and is a moderately difficult walk. Make sure you have good shoes.
Myndlistarmiðstöð Austurlands (Skaftfell Center for Visual Art)
The Skaftfell Center for Visual Art (Austurvegur 42, tel. 354/472-1632, 10am-4pm Tues. and Thurs.-Fri., 10am-6pm Wed., free) works hard to bring contemporary art exhibitions to a predominantly rural area. And they succeed. The center hosts exhibitions by local artists and visiting artists from an art residency program as well as a permanent exhibition of contemporary art featuring Icelandic and international artists.
Vestdalseyri Nature Reserve
The Vestdalseyri Nature Reserve, which is about one kilometer north of the town, is a valley known for its many waterfalls and rich birdlife. It’s a beautiful place to roam and take in the mountain scenery. There’s an easy hike up the nature reserve that is one of the most popular trails in Seyðisfjörður. You can start at Vestdalseyri entrance and follow the trail. After a few glorious waterfalls, you will arrive at a small lake, Vestdalsvatn, which remains frozen most of the year. The hike is about four kilometers and takes about 2.5 hours.
Dvergasteinn (Dwarf Boulder)
Dvergasteinn (Dwarf Boulder) (Vesturgata 12) was once the site where a church sat, with the boulder behind it. The town’s church moved, but the boulder remained, and folklore enthusiasts say the stone is inhabited by dwarves, or “hidden people.”
Where to Stay in Seyðisfjörður
Hótel Aldan (Norðurgata 2, tel. 354/472-1277, rooms from 27,900ISK) is an adorable guesthouse that features seven double rooms and two triples with vintage furniture, antique lamps, and modern amenities, including Wi-Fi, mini bars, private bathrooms with showers, TV and DVD players, and laundry service. The rooms are tasteful, charming, and authentically Icelandic. Breakfast is included in the room rate, and the hotel is open year-round.
Hótel Snæfell (Austurvegur 3, tel. 354/472-1277, rooms from 23,900ISK) is operated by the same owners as Hótel Aldan. This guesthouse, however, is based in a large three-story wooden house and offers 12 rooms. The rooms are bright and spacious and feature comfortable beds, but they lack the charm of rooms at Hótel Aldan. Guests have access to free Wi-Fi, a private bathroom with a shower, a small television, and laundry service. Breakfast is included.
Skalanes Mountain Lodge (Skalanes, tel. 354/861-7008, May-Sept., rooms from 9,800ISK) is a 1927 farmhouse that underwent an extensive renovation in 2007 to include a comfortable library, sauna and hot tub, and a lounge with a classic wood-burning stove. Rooms are small but clean and orderly, and common areas are equipped with Wi-Fi. The deck, which overlooks the sea, has an outdoor fireplace and is a perfect place to curl up with a book when the weather is pleasant. Skalanes’s restaurant serves baked cod, lamb fillets, and vegetarian options like veggie burgers.
Hafaldan Seyðisfjörður Hostel (Suðurgata 8, tel. 354/611-4410, rooms from 6,500ISK) offers rooms in two buildings. Halfaldan Harbor Hostel is on the north side of the fjord, just two minutes from the town center, offering twin, double, and four-bed rooms, all with shared bathroom and kitchen facilities. The second location, Hafaldan Hospital Hostel, occupies a historic former hospital building. It was renovated in 2013 and offers private double rooms as well as double, twin, and dormitory rooms with shared facilities. In both locations, the dining and living rooms are lively and great places to meet fellow travelers. Rooms aren’t pretty, but they are clean and adequate. The guests tend to be young budget travelers.
Getting to Seyðisfjörður
Seyðisfjörður is 27 kilometers east of Egilsstaðir, the nearest hub. By car, Route 93 is your only option to get to Seyðisfjörður.
FAS (tel. 354/893-2669) operates a year-round daily bus connecting Egilsstaðir’s airport to Seyðisfjörður. Each way costs 1,050ISK, and the trip takes about one hour. For information on schedules, visit www.visitseydisfjordur.com/project/local-bus-schedule.
By ferry, Smyril Line (tel. 298/345900) operates a ferry from Denmark to the Faroe Islands to Iceland, with weekly departures from Hirtshals, Denmark. The trip from Denmark to Iceland is approximately 47 hours and costs 90,000ISK each way. For more information, check the rates and schedule online.
Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Iceland.