The small fishing village of Húsavík is located on the shores of Skjálfandi Bay on Iceland’s north coast. The village, with a population of 2,237 people, is set in one of the area’s most dramatic landscapes, and it is very picturesque with its pretty harbor, colorful houses, and a good view of snow-capped Viknafjöll. The inhabitants of Húsavík mostly derive their income from fishing, tourism, and other small industries.
There are lots of things for visitors to do in Húsavík. Firstly, there are several whale-related activities in this village, which is known as the whale watching capital of Iceland. During the summer, evening whale watching cruises are run beneath the midnight sun. Then there is the award-winning Húsavík Whale Museum, which provides detailed information about whales and their habitat, and where visitors can see displays on all the species found in Iceland, as well as skeletons, videos, other library items, and an exhibition dedicated to Keiko (“Free Willy”) – the killer whale captured near Iceland in 1979. At the Culture House, visitors will find a combined maritime, folk and natural history museum. This is one of the most interesting museums in the region where a stuffed polar bear takes pride of place. The animal arrived from Greenland to Grímsey on pack ice in 1969. Other items at the culture house include a 1584-printed Bible, books, paintings, and a selection of 16th century weaponry. The large, impressive church in the town is another must-see. Built in 1907, with a painting of Lazarus behind the altar, this is a good example of Middle Eastern architecture.
Grímsey is also a place of historic significance. It is believed that Húsavík was the first Icelandic place of settlement for a Norse man. Garðarr Svavarsson, a Swedish Viking, is said to have stayed here for a short spell in 870 AD. Two slaves and a man named Náttfari remained behind and set up a farm here. It is thought that Garðarr lent his name to the town (“bay of houses”).