Grímsey, Iceland


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Grimsey
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Grímsey at a Glance

Grímsey is a small, flat island straddling the Arctic Circle situated to the north of Iceland’s mainland. It covers an area of 5.3 km2 and is 5.5 km long; it is 41 km (25 miles) from the mainland and has spectacular 100 meter (328 feet) high sea cliffs that are home to over sixty types of birds. Grímsey is Iceland’s only real piece of Arctic territory and it is popular with tourists. Sandvík is the island’s only settlement with a population of just 155 people, most of whom make their living from agriculture and fishing. Despite its northerly position, the climate here is mostly mild, thanks in part to the North Atlantic Current, which ushers in warm water from the Gulf of Mexico. The temperature at Grímsey is considered to be roughly similar to that of Reykjavík – the capital of Iceland, which is further south.

Because it has only one settlement and the only services are one or two guesthouses, a swimming pool, and a church, most visitors only spend a day at Grímsey, and those who visit can obtain a certificate to say they visited the Arctic Circle. While it may be small, this island is not without appeal; it is of particular interest to hikers and bird lovers, and it is also the spot in Iceland to see the magical midnight sun. However, to see this spectacle, visitors need to come here in the summer and an overnight stay will be necessary. The island offers several different hiking trails.  For example, a hike around the entire island covers a distance of 10 km and takes around four hours, while there are other routes that take in shorter sections of the island and can take anything from one and a half to two and a half hours.    

Perhaps the best aspect of Grímsey is that it is a very peaceful place, providing a great environment for solitude and reflection.