Húsavík

by Katie Hammel on November 1, 2010

by Katie Hammel | November 1st, 2010  

Húsavík sits in the northeast of Iceland, just east of Akureyri, tucked in an inlet above Skjálfandi Bay. Húsavík started forming as a village in the late 19th century, founded upon the fishing industry, shipping, trade and agriculture. Today it is one of the most popular tourist spots outside of southwest Iceland, known as one of the best spots for whale watching in the entire world. It’s also a great home base for exploring more of northern Iceland.

What to do:

Several companies offer whale-watching excursions from Húsavík. I went out with North Sailing, the oldest tour operator in Húsavík. Several different tours are available, starting at 8000 ISK for the three-hour whale-watching tour. Other whale-watching tours can be combined with puffin tours or horseback riding. Included in the three-hour tour are hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls, and the use of rain coats or warm suits. Though it may be warm on dry land, it gets very cold out at sea and you will get splashed, so dress appropriately, and be sure to take Dramamine if you are prone to getting seasick. Whale sightings are never guaranteed, but you can ask what whales have been spotted in the last few days to get an idea of your chances.

Horseback riding is available at Saltvik, just a short drive from Húsavík. One and two hour rides are available and can be combined with whale-watching tours. They also offer multi-day tours, starting at 1600 euros per person. Within an hour’s drive from Húsavík, you’ll also find the Myvatn Nature Baths, Godafoss waterfall, Lake Myvatn, Krafla volcano, and the town of Akureyri. On a longer day trip (in summer) one can also visit the mighty Dettifoss waterfall or the Askja caldera in the interior. Several companies like Saga Travel offer day trips around the area from Akureyri and Myvatn.

In the town of Húsavík, there are two main attractions: the Phallological Museum, and the Húsavík Whale Museum.

My suggested itinerary for the area is three days: one day to visit the town of Akureryi or go horseback riding and then settle in, one day to go whale-watching and then explore Húsavík, and one day to drive around the area and visit Godafoss, Lake Myvatn and the Myvatn Nature baths, or to schedule a day trip into the interior to visit Dettifoss and Askja. If you have another day, there are plentiful hiking trails around Húsavík as well.

Where to stay:

Many people choose to stay in the larger town of Akureyri and then drive into Húsavík just for the whale-watching. I recommend staying in Húsavík as the town provides a better contrast to your experience in Reykjavik.

>> more on where to stay in Húsavík

Where to eat:

There are only a few restaurants in town. Try Gamli Baukur for fresh fish and a lovely patio with a view of the harbor or head to Salka for excellent pizzas, seafood, and pastas. For those self-catering, there’s a well-stocked grocery store and a Vinbudin in town.

Getting there and around:

Once in Húsavík, it’s easy to get around the town on foot; it’s small enough that you could walk from one end to the other in under 15 minutes or so. Getting there from Reykjavik is pretty straight-forward as well. Just take the Ring Road to Akureyri and then continue on for another hour or so.

>> more on getting from Reykjavik to Húsavík

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