Húsavík

Húsavík has a lively harbor scene with a view across the Skjálfandi Bay

What to do in Húsavík besides whale watching? 

It’s easy to spot the number one activity in Húsavík: the charming harbor is lined with schooners and wooden boats boarding passengers for the next whale watching tour. But what else is there to do in this northern town – and how to best see those whales? 

GeoSea 

Sjóböðin, GeoSea, in Húsavík
Sweet view and salty water at the GeoSea baths

What says ‘Iceland’ more than watching the Northern Lights while bathing in salty geothermal water? The GeoSea is a bath resort with a view. The waters are distinctive in that they are hot seawater, rather than a mix of seawater and fresh water.  

You might catch a glimpse of humpback whales surfacing below, and the icy Kinnarfjöll mountains in the distance.  

Picking the Right Whale Watching Tour  

Skjálfandi whale watching
Passengers on an old wooden trawler viewing a humpback whale in Skjálfandi Bay

All whale watching tours from Húsavík essentially do the same by sailing into Skjálfandi Bay and look for whales. The season extends from March to November and the range of species vary somewhat over the months: blue whales are most common in summer while orcas are spotted during spring and fall.  

The ‘classic’ whale watching tour lasts three hours and takes place on an old wooden ship operated by either

North Sailing

or

Gentle Giants

. Passengers stay out on the deck the entire time, but warm overalls are provided.  

To take this nautical experience to another level, the schooner tours by North Sailing take passengers sailing. One of the vessels – The Opal – has an electric engine, keeping both noise and carbon emissions to the minimum. Sails are typically raised on the way back to harbor.  

For speed, the RIBs of Gentle Giants and

Húsavík Adventures

move twice as fast as the other vessels. Passenger number is limited, making the RIBs the most expensive option. The boats are a strong option when the whales are far out, but less so in high waves since searching for whales requires a good view over the surface.  

Land based whale watching is the final – and free option – sometime possible from the cliffs of the

yellow Húsavík Lighthouse

.  

The Húsavík Whale Museum  

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The ambitious Húsavík Whale Museum, housed in a renovated slaughterhouse overlooking the harbor, is one of the few museums in the world solely dedicated to whales. The most interesting item is also the largest: a blue whale skeleton recovered from a 2010 corpse found on a remote beach in northern Iceland. The whale is displayed upside down, with the rib bones reaching towards the ceiling, and isn’t visible until halfway through the museum. Other parts include Iceland’s whaling history and, most recently, an installation about plastics in the ocean.  

The Eurovision Museum  

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The 2020 Netflix comedy Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga made Húsavík known as the ‘Eurovision town’. In the film, Húsavík is the hometown of Lars and Sigrid (Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams) who eventually make it to beloved Song Contests. The film prompted so much interest from Eurovision fans that a local entrepreneur – who also operates a bar called ‘JaJa DingDing’ – decided to open a small museum about Iceland’s role in Eurovision. Netflix contributed items from the film, too.  

Kaðlín  

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Kaðlín is a store operated by a local handknitting co-op, selling just about everything made from Icelandic wool. Members take turns shopkeeping, offering expert advice on the lopapeysa woolen sweater.  

Húsavík Öl  

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The local micro-brewery in Húsavík has won international awards for craft beers using local ingredients such as blueberries and herbs. Attached to the operation is a bar with evening hours. Cans are available for purchase during opening hours and some restaurants in town have the beer on draft.