Husavik: Iceland’s capital of whale watching

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Husavik, actually Húsavík in Icelandic, is Iceland’s centre in the far north. Known as the “capital of whale watching”, it attracts numerous nature-loving holidaymakers every year. But the historic town on the picturesque bay has even more to offer: Find out here what exactly.

What does Húsavík mean?

Húsavík means “bay of houses“. According to tradition, the Swedish Viking Garðar Svafarsson was the first person to spend the winter in what is now Husavik. One of his men settled here and built the first house. Husavik has only been officially recognised as an Icelandic town since 1950.

Where is Husavik located?

The name Husavik also comes from the bay on which the small town of around 2320 inhabitants is located. Skjálfandi Bay is located in the north-east of Iceland on the Greenland Sea. The name means something like “earthquake bay”, as many volcanic fissures run into the sea here.

Husavik is 92 kilometres from Akureyri and 480 kilometres from Reykjavík.

Why travel to Husavik?

The small town of Husavik is located in the far north of Iceland. A trip here is particularly worthwhile for Iceland fans who want to enjoy nature – whether hiking, fishing or mountain biking. Husavik’s lively centre is the fishing port, set against the picturesque backdrop of Skjálfandi Bay and the Greenland Sea: The snow-covered mountains can be seen in the background. Whale-watching tours in the bay also depart from here.

Husvik harbour town
Husvik is a picturesque and tranquille harbour town in Iceland.

Whale watching makes Husavik particularly popular with travellers in summer, but the town also has its advantages in winter. Husavik has its own ski area with steep mountain slopes. Cross-country ski tours are also possible in winter.

Sights and activities in Husavik

Husavik wooden church
The beautiful wooden church in Husavik

Husavik church

Although most holidaymakers don’t come to Husavik for the Húsavíkurkirkja, it is definitely worth seeing: the small Protestant church was built entirely of wood and consecrated in 1907.

With its chalet style, it is even known as the most beautiful church in Iceland. It stands not far from the water and offers a view over the bay. From the other side, you can see a green hilly landscape. The interior of the church is also very bright and inviting.

Whale watching

Whale watching with the fishing boat

Whale watching is the main activity for travellers: Husavik is considered the capital of whale watching. While Icelanders used to go whaling, today small fishing boats set out from the harbour for several hours on whale watching tours.

Anyone wondering where and when to go whale watching in Iceland should visit Husavik in summer: You can see minke whales, bottlenose dolphins, humpback whales and sperm whales, but more rarely even orcas, blue whales and dolphins. A total of 23 whale species have been sighted in Husavik. The season for whale watching tours lasts from May to September. There is hardly any other place where the probability of actually spotting whales is as high as in Husavik.


If you’ve already been whale watching, you can make a detour to one of Husavik’s museums afterwards. The Húsavík Whale Museum, which is run by the European Whale Centre, is the perfect place for this. The exhibition is not only signposted in Icelandic, but also in English.

In the Safnahúsið museum complex there is a folklore and natural history museum, a maritime museum and an art museum. The Exploration Museum is dedicated to the human spirit of discovery. In addition to the first explorers in the Arctic and the voyages of discovery of the Vikings, the exhibition shows exhibits from space travel and discoveries in outer space.

Restaurants and catering

Gamli Baukur restaurant
The Gamli Baukur restaurant right on the harbour

Even though the catering scene in Husavik is rather small, it still has a lot to offer. In addition to 6 restaurants and 5 cafés with traditional and modern dishes, there is a micro-brewery with locally brewed beer. Icelandic fish and chips are sold directly at the harbour.

A tip is the restaurant “Gamli Baukur”, which is very centrally located between the harbour and the church. It is located in a red wooden house in a rustic, maritime style and offers a beautiful view of the harbour.

Travelling to Husavik

Husavik has a small airport with regular flights from Reykjavík. This makes the city the perfect starting point for tours through North Iceland.

The easiest way to travel to Husavik is by cruise ship. Some of the Hurtigruten expedition cruises pass through Husavik.

Accommodation: hotels and more

There are various types of accommodation in Husavik, including hotels, flats, guesthouses, hostels and cottages. Some of them are located in secluded spots in the beautiful Icelandic countryside. However, if you are looking for central accommodation in the city centre, we recommend the Fosshotel Husavik.

Husavik: song and film

The city received special attention thanks to the Netflix film “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga”. This is largely set in Husavik. In it, the fictional Icelandic ESC duo “Fire Saga” (played by Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams) perform the song “Husavik – My Home Town”.

The song was nominated for the 2021 Oscars, which is why Icelandic singer Molly Sandén performed it live from Husavik at the Oscars awards ceremony. Here you can get an insight into the film and the backdrop of Husavik:

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