Seydisfjordur

Hard to believe but this little town in east of Iceland was once upon a time the capital of the country. It is seldom visited by tourists apart from those arriving by Norraena ferry. Which is a great pity.PIC seydisfjordur.is

Sadly, the only foreign visitors to this small town locked on two sides by deep sheer cliffs are people coming over to Iceland on the Norraena ferry and a handful of Hollywood stars that find this place eerily fascinating. Neither group really takes time to stay here long enough.

Let´s be clear about one thing. On average not much is happening here. In wintertime you would be forgiven to think this a ghost town and in summertime you would be forgiven to think this a ghost town. The esteemed editorial board of Total Iceland had to go without coffee here for a whole day in the end of april. There simply was no place open.

However, Seydisfjordur is both different and more likeable than most other towns in Iceland. It is different for its seclusion. Getting here or out of here is far from easy. Apart from arriving by boat and not going anywhere you will have to cross the Fjardarheidi mountain road which is the highest road in Iceland not tunneled. At 620 meters the view on either side is nothing short of magnificent. The view from either side on a clear day is but the best advertising for Iceland you can find. But one would be forgiven for writing his will before crossing for the road is pretty hair-raising at the best of times.

For such a small town there is much to see in Seydisfjordur town. First and foremost it has the most wonderful collection of old wooden houses in Iceland. They are not that many but most are well maintained. They make up the soul of this place and you will know why when you get here.

It does have the usual Icelandic small town stuff like library, nice hot swimming pool, a convenience store and even a pretty decent golf course. It also boasts two decent hotels and two decent bars. What else you need when surrounded by the magnificent nature of Iceland?

But all this is superficial stuff. What makes Seydisfjordur unique is the location

But all this is superficial stuff. What makes Seydisfjordur unique is the location. Rammed in between high and steep mountains this is something you are always aware of while staying. Climbing one you not only get the view of a lifetime but could also be lucky enough to wander upon a group of reindeer. Which are pretty much the most dangerous animals in the whole country.

As for services and entertainment, in the unlikely event that the thrilling setting does not do the trick, you will find here first class, in the Icelandic sense, coffee houses and even a remarkable small bar making its own microbrew. Cafe Lara, Kaffi Lára, is located in Nordurgata, Northern street, and run by an old sailor who knows a story or two should you care. He brews his own El Grillo beer named after an oil tanker that was sunk in Seydisfjordur harbor by the Germans in World War II. [UPDATE: Kaffi Lara sadly burned down in may 2012. It is not known if the owner intends to rebuild at this moment.]

Should you care for even more remoteness than the town itself head to Skalanes. Thus named is the very mouth of the Seydisfjordur fjord and there you will find welcoming you a family guesthouse and restaurant. Perhaps not a five star hotel but the surroundings surely are. Keep in mind this place is only open in summertime and you will need your own sturdy 4×4 car to get to and fro. To get there you have to cross dirt roads and pass over some rapids. But it is worth it and if you do not have a car get in touch with the family at Skalanes and they will most likely come for you in person.

Another fine place for a coffee or something to munch over is Skaftfell. It is the former residence of the famous German artist Dieter Roth which viewed Seydisfjordur as a magical place. This is where he lived and worked in between returning to his homeland. You can view his works on the walls whilst sipping coffee or beer. Over summertime this turns into a community center where other artists stay and work on their projects. A fine place indeed.

Eerie indeed but that just adds to the fascination in Seydisfjordur town. PIC Tanio Ho

Eerie indeed but that just adds to the fascination in Seydisfjordur town. PIC Tanio Ho

Last but not least you can enjoy pretty fine dining in the local hotel Aldan in Nordurgata street where naturally you can also stay if you care in a lovely refurbished house. Should you be young and wild, or young and easygoing, the youth hostel Hafaldan is the place.

Should you have two feet and dying for a walk your choices are limitless. Climb one of several mountaintops here or walk from the town itself to the mouth of the deep and beautiful fjord. Better yet, skip the car and walk from Seydisfjordur through halls of mountains and crystal clear rivers and streams on to the Lagarfljot river in the next valley. This trek will take a decent walker between 7 and 9 hours to complete but is a little steep for beginners. Whilst walking think about the fact that only a hundred years ago people from other parts of the East had to make this walk at least once a month to get needed supplies.

Entertainment available, in summertime, include kayaking in the harbor. The town is really small and you will notice the bright yellow rental place when entering. The town has an indoor swimming pool which is nice but old.

Seydisfjordur is a fisherman´s town. Should you care to go sea angling or just take a boat tour you will probably find a willing sailor by the harbor. If not, contact the local tourist office which has information about boat owners offering services. This is very worth it especially if the owner speaks English. This way you can learn loads of interesting things about the fjord and fishing.

At the tourist office you can also rent bikes for enjoyment and sign up for a guided walking tour around the old part of town. This is recommended.

only a hundred years ago people from other parts of the East had to make this walk at least once a month to get needed supplies

Amazingly for a small closed community they have managed to build a decent golf course here in Seydisfjordur. The Hagavollur course is a nine-hole only but worth a shot if only for the nice setting. But don´t expect to lower your handicap here. The course is two minutes drive from the town on way to Egilsstadir and all foreigners are very welcome.

Another spot to visit but only in wintertime is the Seydisfjordur ski area in Stafdal. About ten minutes from the town on the way to Egilsstadir. Nice area with good views over the fjord.

Ultimately make sure to visit Seydisfjordur whilst the Lunga art festival takes place. This annual event is unique in Iceland and brings together young artistic people from all across the country for a weekend of togetherness and art creation. During this time, weather permitting, this small town takes on an appearance of a large city since the streets and most other spaces will be filled with interesting people doing interesting stuff.

It is not too easy to get to this place and from this place as one might imagine. No taxis are on call in Seydisfjordur but coaches do make regular trips from Egilsstadir airport and back once or twice a day. Once there there is availability of taxis or rental cars.

Interesting places close to Seydisfjordur

Mjóifjordur, Eidar, Egilsstadir


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