Húsavík is an easy day trip from Akureyri and offers a number of attractions that make it well worth the visit. The town itself is a charming little fishing village of fewer than 2,500 people. Often called Iceland’s whale watching capital, the most popular reason to visit Húsavík is to take a whale watching cruise. In addition, the town has a beautiful old wooden church, built in 1907, a surprising number of great museums considering its size, and, of course, a charming local culture.
Watch the Whales
Although you can go whale watching in most large towns in Iceland, Húsavík has the benefit of being only a short sailing time away from the open sea, where more species of whales reside rather than in fjords and bays. You can see blue whales, the largest mammals on earth, who live mostly in the ocean north of the country. Add to this the possibility of going puffin watching, and the rich birdlife, and you will see why Húsavík is many a nature lover’s idea of paradise.
Entertaining and Educational
In addition to wildlife, the town has many interesting museums. The Whale Museum is a 1,600m2 hall which houses exhibitions on whaling and marine ecosystems, featuring real whale skeletons. A stone’s throw away, you can find the Húsavík Folk Museum, whose exhibition on the culture, nature and animals in the area will give you a rare glimpse into life in the north in days gone by. The Folk Museum is unusual in its display and curation, arranging the natural (including stuffed birds, a fox and polar bear) and historical specimens (including tools, clothes and kitchenware) together in a thematic and aesthetic way.
For a quirkier look at Icelandic culture, stop by the Exploration Museum. Its exhibitions tackle everything from astronauts visiting Iceland to prepare for the moon landing to the early explorers who discovered Iceland and settled there.
After a long day of watching whales and exploring museums, taking a dip in the GeoSea Geothermal Sea Baths on the outskirts of town is a refreshing luxury. The recently opened sea baths have an incomparable view of the mountains and Skjálfandi bay.
It’s easy to spend a whole day taking in the atmosphere at Húsavík and wandering down to the harbour to enjoy one of the excellent local restaurants. If you want to make more of your day, you might consider detouring to Goðafoss waterfall en route or driving to Aðaldalur valley where you can visit Grenjaðarstaður Folk Museum, which resides in a traditional Icelandic turf house dating back to 1865.