Among Iceland's smaller towns, Seyðisfjörður has perhaps the best concentration of historic buildings and homes. Most compelling are the chalet-style houses inspired by German and Swiss models, and clustered along Bjólfsgata and Norðurgata streets. Well-off merchants imported these houses from Norway -- assembly required -- roughly between 1890 and 1910. The free brochure Historic Seyðisfjörður, which can be found all over town, provides an in-depth history and walking tour of the architectural highlights.
Despite Seyðisfjörður's reputation as a magnet for Iceland's artsy community, the population is under 800, and visitors should not expect to find streets bristling with shops and galleries. Things do liven up the nights before and after the ferry arrival, however. It's also a good idea to check with the information center for special events. The various cultural festivities known as Á seyði are concentrated in early June but extend through July. The less-known LungA festival (tel. 861-5859; www.lunga.is), in the third week of July, invites young people aged 16 to 25 to join workshops led by artists specializing in everything from visual art to circus performance to fashion design. Non-Icelanders are welcome, and the week culminates with live concerts by prominent Icelandic bands. Classical concerts are presented in Bláa Kirkjan (tel. 472-1775), a blue-painted church in the center of town, on six consecutive Wednesdays in June and July at 8:30pm. Tickets cost 1,500kr ($24/£12) and go on sale half an hour before the performance.
Besides the Skaftfell restaurant and cultural center, Seyðisfjörður has not had consistent art gallery locations. Exhibitions have been held at Skálinn, an old gas station on Bjólfsgata near the church, but the building's future status is unclear.
From mid-May to mid-September, a crafts market (handverkmarkaður) is held on Austurvegur at Brekkuvegur from 2 to 4pm weekdays, though it could return to Wednesday and Thursday only; call tel. 866-7859 or contact the tourist office for an update. The tax-free shop Ósk, Norðurgata 8 (tel. 472-1208; Mon-Wed and Fri 2-6pm, Thurs 9am-6pm), sells souvenirs, woolens, and local handicrafts.
Tours & Activities
From June through September, Hótel Aldan (tel. 472-1277; www.hotelaldan.com) leads a 2-hour cultural walking tour for 1,000kr ($16/£8).
Local sailor Hlynur Oddsson (tel. 865-3741; www.iceland-tour.com) offers individually tailored fishing, cycling, kayaking, and sailing tours. Fishing trips generally pursue cod, haddock, and coalfish. Mountain-bike rental starts at 1,500kr ($24/£12) for a half-day. Guided kayak tours range from 1 hour in the harbor (1,500kr/$24/£12) to 2-day excursions to Skálanes and back (17,000kr/$272/£136).
For bird-watching tours of Skálanes, 19km (12 miles) from Seyðisfjörður.
Venturing from Seyðisfjörður
The lonely, pristine, and beautiful fjords north and south of Seyðisfjörður make for wonderful adventures off the beaten path. The best topographical hiking map of this entire region, including Borgarfjörður Eystri to the north, is titled Víknaslóðir: Trails of the Deserted Inlets. To buy this map in advance of your trip, contact Helgi at tel. 894-1012 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A road leads along the north shore of Seyðisfjörður, reaching halfway to the tip of peninsula. Close to the water, about 6km (3 3/4 miles) from the village and 5 minutes' walk from the road, is Dvergasteinn (Dwarf's Rock), a 3m-high (10-ft.) rock that looks like a petrified cross-section of pock-marked foam. At the end of the road, a 4WD track extends another 5.5km (3 1/2 miles) to Brimnes, an abandoned farm with a lighthouse, and a good destination for a coastal walk. Campers should definitely consider the hike overland to Loðmundarfjörður, which once had several farms but was abandoned in 1973. Loðmundarfjörður is 8 hours' walk from the village, or 6 hours from further up the coastal road. For more information on Loðmundarfjörður and other deserted inlets to the north, see Borgarfjörður Eystri. Another wonderful trek leads from the southern shore of Seyðisfjörður overland to Mjóifjörður -- yet another incredible find for connoisseurs of obscure fjords. Mjóifjörður is particularly long, steep, and narrow, with a beautiful series of waterfalls at its base, abundant crowberries in August, and about 35 inhabitants. Brekka lies right where the trail meets the fjord, and a gravel road (Rte. 953) leads back to Egilsstaðir.
The isolated Skálanes Nature and Heritage Center (tel. 690-6966 or 861-7008; www.skalanes.com; May-Sept 15), 19km (12 miles) from the village on Seyðisfjörður's south shore, is a great day trip or overnight from Seyðisfjörður, especially for bird-watchers. Skálanes provides very basic, shared accommodation for up to 16 people and leads guided tours of the area, including high cliffs and a beach popular with seals. The lodging lacks privacy, but has made-up beds and showers and serves three meals a day -- largely fish, birds, and eggs harvested by the staff. Meals are by reservation only, but traditional Icelandic soup is usually on hand for drop-ins. Regular cars can reach within 6km (3 3/4 miles) of Skálanes, and 4WD vehicles go all the way. Transportation can be arranged from as far as Seyðisfjörður; other options include biking or kayaking with the help of Hlynur Oddsson. The Hótel Aldan can also put together a Skálanes package for you.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.