Getting Off the Beaten Track in Seyðisfjörður, Iceland
Iceland has all kinds of stunning and otherworldly landscapes. From the mountainous Westfjords, to the moon-like landscape of the Lake Myvatn region, to the lava fields surrounding Reykjavik, it has everything and so much more.
But what I found in the eastern area is something I like to think of as Classic Iceland – lush valleys cradling brightly colored little towns nestled in between high, rough mountains. And, so much green as far as the eye can see – at least in the summertime.
The town of Seyðisfjörður in East Iceland was my second stop in the country this summer, and I was excited to spend time in a place that is less touristy than, say, Reykjavik.
I was ready to get off the beaten track.
Seyðisfjörður sits at the end of a 17km long fjord of the same name. Heading into the fjord, the mountains on either side become higher, the water calmer, and the first signs of life appear in the form of lonely wooden houses on the water’s edge.
Seyðisfjörður originated in the mid-19th century when Danish merchants started trading in the fjord. The community grew when Norwegians set up a herring fishery between 1870 and 1900. Over time the herring fishing facilities expanded, and Seyðisfjörður grew into a thriving town.
Today, the people living here still rely on fishing as their primary economy, but like all other areas in Iceland, tourism is on the incline as well.
Once we got off the ship we inquired about possible hiking trails in the area. The local tourist info center recommended a trail called Waterfall Lane, a 6-10km loop that begins in Seyðisfjörður, winds its way past several breathtaking waterfalls and Iceland’s oldest operational power plant before leading back into town.
I would highly recommend the waterfall trail if you’re looking for an easy hike to do in Seyðisfjörður. It’s easy to accomplish in a few hours and you don’t need to be an experienced hiker.
Iceland is often referred to as the Land of Fire and Ice because of its massive glaciers and volcanic activity, but to me it will always be the Land of Waterfalls.
Whether on the popular Golden Circle tour, at Lake Myvatn in the northeast, or in the remote Westfjords I was spellbound by the amazing waterfalls.
Seyðisfjörður was no exception.
We wandered past waterfall after waterfall, each more spectacular than the last.
The skinny waterfalls in this valley run down from the very tops of the mountains, over multiple rocky tiers before finally joining the river which cuts through Seyðisfjörður and ends up in the fjord.
As we were walking I appreciated the simplicity of my surroundings – the inviting green color of the landscape, the snow dappled mountains, the blooming wildflower fields, and the clean, cool air.
It’s easy to not have a care in the world here, to be completely at peace.
In the not too far distance I could see Icelandic horses roaming green pastures. I couldn’t wait to get a closer look at this iconic breed!
Icelandic laws prevent horses from being imported from other countries and any horses from Iceland that leave for shows or competitions are not permitted re-entry. Due to this isolation there is very little spread of disease within the breed.
When we arrived back in Seyðisfjörður hungry but content after the long hike, I was able to take a good look at the town. Most of the buildings here are wooden structures, which have remained from the early 19th century when ready-made kit houses were imported from Norway – the new construction style at the time.
Today, approximately 700 people live in this quiet and scenic town.
With some time to spare before having to head back to the ship we hiked up to the Tvísöngur sound sculpture, which lies on a mountainside over looking Seyðisfjörður.
The structure is comprised of five connected concrete domes of varying sizes. Each dome has its own sound, which is naturally amplified and corresponds to a tone in the Icelandic musical tradition of five-tone harmony.
I can imagine it would be a magical and spine tingling experience to hear an Icelandic choir performing inside the sculpture.
It was from up here that I took a moment to look around and take in my surroundings. It’s not often that I find my breath truly taken away by the scenery (or maybe it was just the hike uphill!), but the landscape was so beautiful it was hard to know where to look first!
With a slightly heavy heart it was time to return back to the ship and leave beautiful, rough, charming, and serene Seyðisfjörður.
Until next time.
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