Embark on a journey to the heart of Arctic beauty as you step into Ísafjörður, surrounded by towering fjords and steep mountains. Isafjordur lies on a large peninsula in northwestern Iceland known as the Westfjords (aka West Fjords; Vestfirðir) and is Iceland’s third busiest port after Reykjavik and Akureyri. As the largest town in the Westfjords, Isafjordur boasts stunning fjords, majestic mountains, and a rich maritime heritage. Cruise vessels either tender or dock at two small piers within walking distance from the town center. In this article, read about:
- Isafjordur cruise port (getting around, cruise tips)
- 5 best things to do in Isafjordur port, including the popular Isafjordur shore excursions
Isafjordur Cruise Port
Cruise ships can either tender or dock at the port of Isafjordur, depending on the ship’s size. If the cruise ship is too large, it normally anchors in the bay, and passengers are transferred ashore via tender boats (the ride takes around 10 minutes). Small vessels can dock at two berths located within a 5-minute walk from the town.
Helpful info & links:
- The currency in Iceland is the Icelandic króna (ISK), but euros are accepted as well. 1 USD equals 137.61 ISK. 1 EUR equals 149.51. You can pay almost everywhere by credit card.
- Within a short walk from the port, you’ll find a tourist information center, a couple of banks with ATMs, a pharmacy, several restaurants and cozy cafes, craft stores, and art galleries. Most cafes and restaurants offer free Wi-Fi for their visitors. Car and bike rental agencies are available, as well as a few tour agencies where you can book tours of Isafjordur and its surrounding natural wonders. Convenient transportation options, including taxis and buses, are also available just outside the port.
- In Isafjordur town, you can visit a town church, Westfjords Heritage Museum, Culture House/Library, a charming Old Town, and a few more museums. If you are into walking and hiking, upon exiting the port there is a well-marked road that takes you up to a hill from where you can admire spectacular views of Isafjordur. Biking is a popular activity as well.
- The best way of getting around Iceland is by car (check out rent-a-car deals) or on guided shore excursions.
- Those of you who decide to stay in town should consider exploring the town on foot or renting a bicycle for a leisurely ride through the charming streets, allowing you to soak up the local atmosphere at your own pace.
- There are also welcoming and knowledgeable staff at the port’s service desk ready to assist, offering valuable tourist information and insider tips. Whether you’re looking for cultural experiences or outdoor excursions, their expertise will help you make the most of your stay in and around Isafjordur.
- The high season in Isafjordur typically occurs during the summer months, from May/June to September. For useful cruise packing tips, have a look at my article What to Pack for a Cruise – Top 55 Cruise Essentials
- Explore Isafjordur tours and activities
- Book a private transfer to/from Isafjordur cruise port
- Cruise lines sailing to Isafjordur include Viking Ocean Cruises, Windstar Cruises, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line, Azamara, Oceania Cruises, Cunard Line, Ponant and a few more.
5 Best Things to Do in Isafjordur Cruise Port
As you explore this charming port town, a wide range of experiences awaits, from encounters with wildlife to cultural immersion!
1. Dynjandi Waterfall
Embark on a captivating journey to Dynjandi, a crown jewel among Icelandic waterfalls, situated approximately 60 km/37 miles (a 1-hour drive) south of Isafjordur. This stunning waterfall is the largest in the Westfjords and stands out for its unique, tiered cascade that plunges approximately 100 m (328 ft) down a mountainside. The name “Dynjandi” translates to “thunderous” or “resounding,” and it perfectly captures the powerful and awe-inspiring nature of the waterfall.
The road trip to Dynjandi is an important part of the adventure, as you will navigate through the rugged landscapes of the Westfjords to reach this remote gem. Upon arrival, travelers are rewarded with not only the breathtaking sight of Dynjandi but also the surrounding natural beauty, including sweeping fjords and majestic mountains.
If you’re into hiking, you can explore the surrounding trails and hiking paths that lead to different viewpoints of the waterfall. You can also enjoy fishing and birdwatching, or explore the historical sites and remnants of ancient settlements around Dynjandi to learn more about the cultural and historical aspects of the region. Remember to wear sturdy hiking boots, dress in layers for unpredictable weather, and embark on your journey as early as you can to avoid crowds.
2. Westfjords Heritage Museum
If you want to learn about the history, folklore and culture of the Westfjords, you should check out the Vesturferðir Westfjords Heritage Museum, conveniently located in the heart of the town, a stone’s throw from Isafjordur port. Housed in an 18th-century building, the museum serves as a treasure of artifacts and exhibits that provide a fascinating insight into the cultural heritage of the Westfjords.
As you enter the museum, you’ll be immersed in the region’s stories, from its early settlement to its modern-day life. The displays feature a varied range of items, including traditional clothing, tools, and household objects, providing a glimpse into the daily lives of the people who have lived in this area for generations. The displays dig into the mythology, rituals, and traditions that have defined Isafjordur and the Westfjords’ identities. It’s an opportunity to step back in time and admire the community’s unique heritage.
3. Boat Tour to Vigur Island
Embark on a delightful boat tour to Vigur Island, a small, privately owned island located in the Ísafjarðardjúp fjord known for its tranquil beauty, rich birdlife, and historical landmarks. Several tour operators in Isafjordur offer half-day and full-day boat tours to Vigur Island and these may include guided birdwatching excursions, historical insights, and the chance to explore the island’s landscapes.
Upon reaching Vigur Island, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the natural wonders and observe the vibrant birdlife, including puffins and other seabirds. The tranquility and unique charm of Vigur Island make this boat tour a memorable adventure, allowing you to connect with Iceland’s rich natural heritage just a short distance from Isafjordur port.
4. Kayaking in the Fjords
The calm waters of the fjords are ideal for a kayaking adventure that combines tranquility and breathtaking natural wonders. You’ll be surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, towering cliffs, and maybe even local species as you paddle through serene fjords.
The starting points for kayaking tours are conveniently located near Isafjordur port, allowing easy access to this thrilling activity. Local operators often offer transportation to kayaking launch points, making sure participants have a smooth and hassle-free experience. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced kayaker, there are guided trips to suit your skill level, with safety briefings and expert guidance throughout the journey.
5. Savor Local Cuisine
If you’re a foodie, you can’t leave Isafjordur without savoring local cuisine. While Ísafjörður is a relatively small town, it embraces traditional Icelandic dishes, particularly focusing on seafood and lamb due to the abundant fisheries and sheep farming.
Because of its closeness to the North Atlantic, Isafjordur has an abundance of fresh seafood and you can taste a variety of locally caught fish such as cod, haddock, and salmon in local restaurants. Traditional dishes include “Plokkfiskur” (fish stew) and “Harðfiskur” (dried fish). For meat lovers, Icelandic lamb is renowned for its tender and flavorful meat, and the main dishes include lamb stew (“Kjötsúpa”) and lamb chops.
Skyr is a must-try dairy product with a yogurt-like consistency and is usually served with berries or honey. To top off, make sure to try Brennivín (the translation to English is “Burned wine”), a traditional Icelandic schnapps often referred to as the “Black Death”.
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