Quite a number of smaller villages in Iceland are, when we get down to it, empty shells and mostly devoid of interesting things for people.
Those places are more often than not avoided even by locals on their own trips in Iceland. Villages that once upon a time may have offered some vitality and weirdness but have since fallen on hard times and are worthless to visit. Nothing to see, nothing to do and nothing to remember but hardship and horrors.
In earlier times Bildudalur was never a nice place. Even Iceland´s only Nobel prize winner, Halldor Laxness, travelled here in the 1930s and could not hide his distaste. Utterly hopeless place were his thoughts.
Even just 20 years ago this remote place was firmly in the empty shell category. Locals were fleeing en masse. No jobs, no future and for a while one could even buy a whole house here for a mere pittance. That was a sad chapter in the life of a pretty important village in still older times when fishery was the king of everything and Bildudalur actually attracted peoples on a daily basis.
Fast forward to today and some very enterprising lovers of the village have fought back the decadence and pretty successfully. The village is now worth visiting and team Total Iceland even ventures to recommend travelers should stay here a day or two.
Make no mistake. Bildudalur is a very small place with less than 200 locals calling this place home. And coming here in January is not advisable unless darkness and nothingness is your kinda cup. But show up when the sun does the same and you will enjoy your time.
Located in the beautiful Arnarfjordur fjord Bildudalur village itself will never be much for the eye although the surrounding steep mountains do make the location pretty exciting for a visitor. However, the town quickly grows on you and if you have time to spare the whole valley is pretty amazing. The locals are also, on average, more friendly than in most other parts of Iceland. Here you will most likely receive a genuine smile from people instead of the fake one.
Amongst the local residents here is an eccentric old man by the name of Jon Kr. Olafsson. This old fart is a legend in the Icelandic music industry and once upon a time had a massive local number one hit single. His single is nothing to shout about nowadays but what is perhaps worth shouting about is his own home-made music museum. Run in his own home this is a must stop for any curious local Icelander traveling and so it should for you. The museum Melodiur minninganna, Museum of Lost Memories, is certainly worth a visit and since it´s located in the artist´s home opening hours are pretty much when you knock on the door. It is not a slick competitor to the Louvre but for a museum you can tell your friends about it is first class. In case you don´t like the museum the owner and curator will certainly leave you with amusing memories.
Amazingly, that is not all she wrote museumwise in this little village. Here also you will find a pretty neat little Sea Monster museum. Yes, we do have sea monsters also and here you can gain knowledge of the most monstrous ones in easy and nice setting. Again, not a world class museum by any stretch of the imagination but a nice and unique one indeed.
You see what we mean about amazing village. Where else in the world would you find two weird and unique museums in a town of 250 people?
As for staying there is a decent hostel here open during summertime. Bildudalur hostel is pretty central and cheap to boot. Another option is Eaglefjord Guesthouse at Dalbraut road. This is rather cheap except for the price but central also. These guys offer a nice selection of tours should you wish.
Team Total Iceland recommends a one day stay here. A whole day in a summer setting will not disappoint anyone. You will meet locals, you will see the sights and get a feel for the hard life that was once, and still is up to a point, the normal thing here.
Do make the effort of seeing more of the valley in which Bildudalur is located. It is certainly worth it. Guarenteed.
View Bildudalur village in Iceland in a larger map