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Exploring Husavik, North Iceland

Updated: Feb 14, 2023

Húsavik, Iceland was one of the most beautiful and unique experiences of my life. Not only is this town rich in history and culture, but it also offers a wide range of activities and adventures for travellers of all kinds. Húsavik is a charming fishing town located on the north coast of Iceland. It has a rich history, having been inhabited since the 9th century and it is said to be one of the first places in Iceland where Christianity was established. Today, it is known as the "Whale Watching Capital of Iceland" and attracts visitors, like us, eager to catch a glimpse of these magnificent creatures.

Iceland can be a challenge for the budget traveller but we were driving a campervan, cooking our own meals, and were ready for something a little different. As we approached Husavik, the sky was clear and it was a warm Icelandic summer day. We were looking forward to our day.


Husavik Campsite

We had become accustomed to the outstanding quality and affordability of the local campsites found all over Iceland. I highly recommend the Húsavik Campsite, with its stunning views of the bay and easy walking distance of the town center. It was very clean, well-maintained, and had all the facilities we needed for a comfortable stay. There are cooking facilities, two showers, a washing machine, a dryer and toilets and FREE internet connection.

Húsavik Town

There is no shortage of things to do in Húsavik, and I was amazed by the range of activities available. Whether you're into outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or just want to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery, there is something for everyone. Some of the most popular activities include whale watching, kayaking, horse riding, and hiking.

Services in Húsavík include different types of accommodation (hotels, guesthouses, and hostels), restaurants and cafés, a brewery, a geothermal swimming pool and campsites as well as a golf course and skiing area on the outskirts of town. A newly opened Sea Bath invites visitors for a dip in geothermal hot sea water while enjoying a magnificent view over the bay. Húsavík is serviced by Húsavík airport.

The main hub of the town is centred around the port. For those passing through there is a parking lot right in front of the whale-watching tour offices. From there, visitors can walk around the town and enjoy the spectacular views of Skjalfandaflói Bay.


Whale Watching

We chose to go on a whale-watching tour with North Sailing and it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Up to 23 species of whale, including the Blue Whale, as well as large colonies of puffins can be found in the bay. The company is eco-friendly, kind and responsible to the wildlife, and has sustainable company practices. Our tour was called Whales and Puffins.


Not only did we see puffins but we also spotted a minke whale in the distance and then had the privilege of watching three humpback whales swim close to the boat.

The puffins we saw are known for their colourful beaks and playful behaviour, and they are a delight for any wildlife enthusiast. Puffins only come to land during mating season and spend the rest of the year alone out on the ocean. During mating season, great flocks of these almost-silent birds arrive to nest in the cliffs of nearby Puffin Island.

The minke whale is a species of toothed whale that is relatively uncommon elsewhere but is the most commonly-spotted whale in Iceland. These are relatively small whales with a narrow snout. It was amazing to see one in its natural habitat, even if it was too far away to get a really good view.

The humpback whales, meanwhile, are known for their acrobatic displays and are one of the most popular whales to see on a whale-watching tour. We were thrilled to our very cores to be able to get close to the whales and to watch as they came to the surface and then dove deep.

The Whale Museum

The Húsavik Whale Museum showcases the history of whale hunting in Iceland and the country's relationship with these magnificent creatures. Admission to the museum is reasonably priced and provides access to a wide range of exhibits and interactive displays.


The museum is open seven days a week, with convenient hours that make it easy to fit a visit into any schedule.

Visitors can spend as much time as they like exploring the exhibits, which include life-sized models of various whale species, information about their habitats and behaviours, and educational displays about their importance to the ecosystem. There is also a gift shop on site where visitors can purchase souvenirs and whale-related merchandise.


Swimming Pool

If you want to bath like the locals the Húsavik Swimming Pool is the place to go. The main swimming pool is spacious. There are three hot tubs and one tub with ice-cold water, a children’s pool with two water slides and a larger waterslide.

Make sure to read my post about what to expect when visiting Iceland, so you understand the showering requirements to use public pools.


Candy Days Festival

Almost every town in Iceland has a special day or weekend, and Húsavík is no exception. The town’s festival is called Mærudagar, which means Candy Days. It is held the last weekend in July as a time for everyone to come together and enjoy Húsavík.

The town is divided into 3 districts: Pink, Orange, and Green, and people decorate houses, businesses, light posts and themselves in their colours. The population more than doubles during the festival, as many people who have moved away pick this weekend to come back for a visit, and the whole town is buzzing with life.

During Mærudagar, there is something for everyone: art exhibitions, open-air theatre performances for kids of all ages, a parade, a golf tournament, a market and a small carnival at the harbour. The shops & restaurants are open longer and there is live music all over town. We arrived as preparations were being made for the festival the following weekend. We were fascinated by the decor and were sad that we couldn't stick around to enjoy the festivities.

Husavikurkirkia

The Húsavik Church, also known as Húsavíkurkirkja, is a beautiful and historic place of worship located in the small town of Húsavik, Iceland. The church has a rich history dating back to the late 19th century when it was first built to serve the religious needs of the local community. Over the years, the church has undergone several renovations and expansions, but it has remained an important part of Húsavik's cultural heritage.

Visitors to Húsavik Church can admire its stunning architecture and beautiful interior, which features stained glass windows, a spacious nave, and a wooden altar. The church is open to visitors during regular service hours, as well as during special events and exhibitions. Admission is free (although donations are gratefully accepted), making it an accessible and affordable destination for budget travellers.


Tips

To make the most of your visit to Husavik, I would suggest packing a camera and plenty of warm clothing, as the weather can be quite unpredictable. I would also recommend booking your activities and tours in advance, as they can get quite busy during peak season.


Húsavik is perfect for anyone looking for a unique and affordable adventure. With its rich history, stunning scenery, and incredible wildlife, it offers something for everyone and will provide memories that will last a lifetime. So pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable experience!

 

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