F ew places in Iceland are as remote as the village of Bolungarvik in the Westfjords of Iceland. Should you find you hereabouts take pride in being very independent and adventurous since not too many people make the time or effort to go this far.
What strikes the first time visitor instantly on arrival is the location of Bolungarvik right under the towering 638 meter high Bolafjall mountain. Whilst it makes for a stunning backdrop for a picture and a fascinating hike during summertime, in wintertime this is a constant hazard. Avalanches happen here regularly and extensive, big and ugly barriers have been built on the outskirt of town to compensate. However, be here over the warmer months and grab the chance of visiting Bolafjall sightseeing platform. Absolutely stunning views in most directions but do take serious care, especially with children, since falling off here is the end of everything.
But while the surrounding nature here is as beautiful as elsewhere in the country the village itself is bound to disappoint.
Bolungarvik is, surprise, a fishing village as most villages in Iceland and very nice placed for such industry. Less than one thousand peoples call this place home nowadays and services are limited. Even on foot you can explore the whole place in less than an hour but in honesty there is nothing remarkable to see.
Much more interesting is coming here when the enterprising locals arrange something special. The locals are very inventive with regards to tempt visitors and it was here where the first Icelandic love week was held in 2003. The town is made extra nice and the people are actually extra nice too. Originally intended to kindle sparks between locals this soon got further attention and the festival now draws outsiders in some numbers. Naturally though, this “festival” mostly takes place in privacy.
For entertainment you are limited to a swimming pool and a small golf course but in summertime you must make the effort to climb, hike or drive to the top of Bolafjall mountain. A dirt road leads up the mountain where the US Army once had some bases. Those are gone but what remains is a fantastic viewing platform from the top. On a clear day, locals say, you can see Greenland. In town there is the Einarshusid, House of Einar, an old restored townhouse which is a bar slash hotel slash community center.
Also of interest is the small turf building by the sea you see clearly from the old road by the sea on the way into Bolungarvik village (see map). This is in effect a museum of former times, Osvor museum, when fishermen stayed in such houses between tours to sea for months on end. Take notice of how short a time has actually passed since this was the way of life on the shores of Iceland. A fine place for photographs of Bolungarvik village. In town there is also a Natural History Museum of quite some size. A fine way to get to know the local flora and fauna.
As for staying a while you have the choice of guesthouses, camping and a very small hotel. Guesthouse Manafell offers sparsely furnished flats all year round. Einarshus we have mentioned which has a nice ambiance but sleep can be hard to come by when live music is played in the cellar on weekends. A designated camping area is here but a better option is camping away from the village where loads of nice places can be found and usually no problems with camping.
» During the Cold war one of the most important US radar stations was located on the top of Bolafjall mountain. A wet and windy place at the best of times but a fantastic viewing platform.
» Two ways. Either fly to neighoring town of Isafjordur and drive or drive the whole way. Scheduled bus trips are between the two places and from Isafjordur airport
» If you´ve made it this far you might as well make a stop. Especially fantastic is the view from Bolafjall mountain but only when the weather agrees with you.
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