Siglufjördur: A Not-So-Sleepy Fishing Village

Iceland is renowned for its fishing villages, and Siglufjördur is one of the best. With a population of only 1,300, the town boasts an idyllic harbor, which, like those of similar towns, thrives due to the fishing industry.

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More recently, tourism has become an increasingly vital part of the economy, and a visit will show you why. Formerly one of Iceland’s biggest towns, Siglufjördur became known as the capital of herring fishing. Now it’s perhaps even better known as the setting for the Dark Iceland series of detective novels by Ragnar Jónasson.

Visiting the Herring Era Museum is even better than eating herring.

The Herring Era Museum isn’t just one of Iceland’s largest fishing museums — it’s a gathering place in town. In summer, there’s dancing, singing, and a demonstration on how to salt fish. Visitors can learn how herring provides both food and oil, and visit a boathouse with vintage boats that capture the town’s old spirit.

The Folk Music Center is a must for folk fans.

Founded in 2006, the music center is officially open from June to August and, upon request, at other times during the year. Folk music enthusiast Reverend Bjarni Thorsteinsson compiled the collection of recordings and items there while serving the local parish.

The Folk Festival is an all-ages bonanza.

The folk music festival takes place every year in July and features traditional Icelandic music as well as international material. Workshops and courses are also available.

There are 2,000 birds in Siglufjördur.

One of the town’s main attractions is its birdlife. There are roughly eighteen species of birds and about 2,000 birds in total around the town. The most bird-heavy area is Leirurnar, home to many Arctic terns and eider ducks. Other species include the red-breasted merganser, white-tailed eagle, black-headed gull, and short-eared owl.

Siglufjördur is a good spot for hikers.

From snowcapped mountains to black-sand beaches, the local landscape is a feast for the senses. The Holsskard and Hestsskard passes are popular trails, both leading to the deserted Hedinsjordur fjord. There, you’ll see steep mountainsides leading down to the valley below, and Hedinssfjardarvatn Lake, known for trout fishing. Experienced hikers can head northeast from the abandoned fjord, where you’ll find the deserted farmhouse of Hvanndalir.

It’s great for skiing.

Due to its remote location, Siglufjördur isn’t as well known as other skiing destinations, but that just means more snowy trails for you. Ski season lasts from March to June, and heliskiing is available, a service that replaces a ski lift with a helicopter.

You can take a midnight sail over the Arctic Circle.

The town experiences the midnight sun in June and July, and there’s no better way to enjoy the resulting natural beauty than going on a romantic midnight sail. Surrounded by high mountains and glimmering water, you’ll feel Zen instantly.

There’s no airport in Siglufjördur, but once you’re settled, the placid environment of this quiet seaside town, coupled with the tourist attractions on offer, will make you want to linger. Plus, with picturesque trails for hiking and slopes for skiing, it is a true natural masterpiece.

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