Bolungarvík: Ósvör sea to Bolafjall summit
Dramatically positioned at the end of Ísafjarðardjúp, Bolungarvík offers outdoor activities and amazing fjord views.
Bolungarvík is sending out bold invitations: in 2022, the town completed a cliff-edge viewing platform on top of Mt. Bolafjall. The attraction is one of the most ambitious tourism investments in Iceland. It is set to visitors in this fishing community of 1,000 people, just a tunnel-drive away from Ísafjörður.
Proudly presented history: Ósvör Maritime Museum
What was it like to fish in Iceland before the days of motored ships and harbors? To understand the tight connection between the ocean and the people of Bolungarvík, step into the (skin)-shoes of fishermen at the Ósvör Maritime Museum.
The museum is a replica of a fishing station from the 19th century. It is accessible outside of opening hours, but a guided tour adds to the experience; the guide, authentically dressed, illustrates the hardship of pre-industrial fishing with rowing boats and the working life of seasonal fishermen (who came from farms over the cold months when agrarian work was idle.)
Up the road from Ósvör is the 1937 Óshólaviti lighthouse. For an even better view of the fjord, walk some 15 minutes up the discontinued road ahead. Keep an eye out for whales.
The Westfjords View: The Bolafjall Platform
Mt. Bolafjall is a sight where visitors are encouraged to walk to the cliff’s edge, standing on 60 tonnes of steel supporting the massive viewing platform.
At 628m, the Bolafjall platform spectacularly overlooks the fjords of Djúpið, as the long Ísafjarðardjúp is casually called, over to the rugged Hornstrandir Peninsula. Some have claimed to see Greenland!
From June to early September, it is possible to drive all the way to the top of Bolafjall, some 9km from the town of Bolungarvík. In light snow, the road remains open most of the way, with the remaining 3.5km a modest walk. Bear in mind the mountain is notoriously windy. The summit is also, interestingly, a giant radar station scanning the Atlantic airspace for NATO.
The fruity taste of town: Arna Dairy
Over the past years, Bolungarvík has become known for the crafty Arna Dairy. Founded in 2013, the business specializes in lactose-free skyr and yogurt in multiple flavors - for a treat, try the wild blueberry yogurt - as well as a growing selection of oat-milk products. Products are sold across the country, but in Bolungarvík, we recommend the adorable family-run grocery store Verslun Bjarna Eiríkssonar. (A side note for Reykjavík: Arna operates a coffee house in the neighborhood of Seltjarnarnes.)
Mountain biking has a strong following in Bolungarvík, with paths for all difficulty levels. Check out a trail map on Mountain Bike Ísafjörður, with scenic routes connecting Ísafjörður and Bolungarvík via coastline (Óshlíð) and mountain (Heiðin).
As in many towns on the Westfjords, Bolungarvík is protected by snow avalanche barriers. The barriers - 710 meters long with eight cones placed higher up the mountain - are part of the landscape, with added health benefits: walking paths.
Bolungarvík’s public pool is a step up from the indoor pool in Ísafjörður; while the swimming pool is indoors, the leisure area outside has two tubs and a waterslide.
Experiences around Bolungarvík
- Beach fun and hiking: The beach of Skálavík (also known as Minnibakki) is popular for short walks and cold swims. The remote creek, habited until the 1950s, is dotted with summer cottages and family fun on warm summer days. Experienced hikers can cross the (demanding) mountain pass to Galtaviti lighthouse.
- Culture: The Westfjords Heritage Museum in Ísafjörður adds context to the fishing station at Ósvör.
- Sailing and hiking: Over the summer, passenger ships depart daily from the harbor in Ísafjörður to Hornstrandir Nature Reserve and Vigur Island.