Húsavík Travel Guide: Whale Watching Capital of Iceland

Husavik is a town on the eastern shores of The Skjalfandi Bay.  It is a commercial centre for a large agricultural area and processing of farm produce plays a considerable role in the town’s economy.  Many dairy and meat products processed here are appreciated all over the country.  Fishing and fish processing are also important bases of livelihood.  The fastest growing trade, however, is tourism.


Husavik

Whale Watching

Nestled on the edge of Shaky Bay, the town of Húsavík is globally recognised as one of the best locations in the world from which to watch whales. In fact, there is a higher chance of seeing whales in Húsavík than any other place in Iceland. So, if you’re ever considering where to go whale-watching, our town is without a doubt, second to none.

Husavik

Whale-watching Tips

• If photographing, you don´t need a huge lens, the whales are so big, a small zoom or even a normal 50mm is often sufficient.
• Don´t worry too much about the cold because you get thick insulated overalls to wear, and at the end of the trip, some companies offer a hot chocolate or if you´re lucky, even a shot of rum.
• Although high winds might prevent you from going out to sea at all, rain is never a bad thing, as you have more chance of seeing a Humpback breach (jump) in this kind of weather.
You can check the weather in advance, but the weather in Iceland is notoriously changeable, so none of the whale-watching companies will be able to tell you for sure if they are offering trips until the day itself.

Husavik

• If you get seasick, some of the companies offer medication on bumpy weather days but you can also get it from the local pharmacy, just ask for Postafen or Dramamine.
• Typical whale-watching trips take three to four hours and can be quite tiring, especially if you’re not used to being at sea. So, make sure you give yourself time afterwards to sit in the harbour and take a coffee in Gamli Baukur or eat some fish and chips.
• Don´t try and go looking for whales to eat in Húsavík, when a fair portion of the town’s income comes from watching them, eating them is a little counter-productive.

Husavik

Húsavík Whale-watching Companies

There are three different companies offering whale-watching trips here in Húsavík. Trips take about 3 hours, and can be taken on the beautiful wooden boats pioneered by North Sailing, the speedy ribbed boats of Gentle Giants or with the singing tour guide of Visit Askja.

Husavik

All the companies have very friendly (we recommend you Visit Askja), multilingual guides who are passionate about whales, many of them working for the companies for many many years. The local companies are also active participants in the education and research of the whales.

Húsavíks harbour is a hive of activity in this respect, because as well as the three whale-watching companies that use the docks, there is the Whale Museum and the University of Iceland´s research centre. There are partnerships between these organisations and the whale-watching companies, with many boat trips containing researchers.

Husavik

Nearby Things to Do and See

1. Horse-riding

At nearby Saltvik, visitors to Húsavík can take advantage of the local horse-riding facilities. With horses chosen according to the rider’s ability and excellent guides to help you on your way, what better way to get out and about and see some of Iceland’s magnificent countryside than sat on a lovely little Icelandic horse.

Husavik

2. Ystafell Transportation Museum

From weird, repurposed tanks used to deliver milk, to giant snowmobile buses that look straight off the set of Dune, the Transport Museum at Ystafell has collected and preserved half a century´s worth of vehicles, and set it on display in a wonderfully remote location. Covering an array of automobilia, along with the cars themselves, there´s photographs and information to read about Iceland’s transportation history.

Contact:
464-3133 or 861-1213
sverrir@islandia.is

Husavik

3. Flateyjarskagi Peninsula

Flateyjarskagi is a mountainous peninsula in Northern Iceland located between Akureyri and Húsavík. Practically deserted on the peninsula itself, it´s relative remoteness makes for prime but easily accessible hiking ground.  In the west is Laufás Turf House Museum, whilst in the southwest before you reach Akureyri is an Outsider Art Museum. At the base of Flateyjarskagi is the oldest and second largest forest in Iceland, Vaglaskógur. A popular place for camping, there is a range of tree species and the oldest stone bridge in Iceland.

Husavik

4. Eider Falls

The Eider Falls are one of the closest waterfalls to Húsavík. Known in Icelandic as Æðafossar (pronounced eye-tha-foss-ar) they are located about 10 kilometres southwest, in the River Laxá. The Laxá is an extremely rich fishing river running from Lake Mývatn to Skjálfandi Bay, with some of the largest brown trout in the country.

Husavik

5. Knútsstaðaborg Hollow

Knútsstaðaborg is an accessible hollow chamber inside a rocky outcrop to the west of Húsavík. About 10 square metres in size, brace yourself for the strong smell of sheep´s wool when you step inside, the local livestock keep shelter here in hot sun or bad weather.

Husavik

Where to eat

Gamli Baukur, (on the waterfront in an old wooden building) ☎ +354 464 2442. They have an excellent selection of fish, soups, and salads. Downstairs is the small restaurant and upstairs a lively, little bar.

Husavik

Fosshótel Húsavík. ☎ +354 464 1220Has a reasonably priced restaurant/pizzeria.

Naustið, Naustagarður 2 (yellow house by the harbour), ☎ +354 464 1520. Nice and simple seafood restaurant.

Pallurinn, (behind the Gentle Giants ticket centre), ☎ +354 496 1440. An interesting tent restaurant where they grill whole lambs. Very nice food with reasonable prices. Only open during the summer season.

Husavik

Salka, Garðarsbraut 6 (green house right by the main road.), ☎ +354 464 2551. Restaurant/pizzeria, where it is also possible to taste puffin.

Where to Sleep

Fosshótel Húsavík. Fosshótel Húsavík is a friendly and well-equipped hotel, located in the heart of Húsavík, within walking distance of the harbor.

Húsavík Cape Hotel. Húsavík Cape Hotel is a new 16 room hotel, located at Húsavík Cape, with a fantastic view across the town and Skjálfandi bay.

Husavik

Kaldbakskot Cottages. Eighteen newly built log cabins, 20-30 square meters in size, with all modern conveniences.

Árból Guesthouse. Árból is a particularly beautiful and pleasant guesthouse located by the stream Búðará in the west corner of the town park. 

Get a free map of Húsavík here.

Johanna, Iceland24
February 2016

Húsavík Travel Guide: Whale Watching Capital of Iceland