Overlooking a rugged coastline with a small town on the shore

Neskaupstaður strikes a perfect balance between accessibility and a charming sense of remoteness

Neskaupstaður: Discovering the Charm of Iceland's Easternmost Town

Nestled in the easternmost corner of Iceland, Neskaupstaður town is a unique blend of cultural vibrancy and natural tranquility. Situated on the shores of Norðfjörður fjord and backed by imposing mountains, this town offers visitors a distinctive Icelandic experience. From its roots as a remote fishing village to its emergence as a metal and punk music hub, Neskaupstaður’s character is as diverse as its landscape. Beyond its rich history and vibrant culture, the town offers various recreational opportunities.

The town was established in 1895 as a legal trading place on Nes in Norðfjörður fjord. The boom of the salt fishing industry in the 1870s led to the development of Neskaupstaður, which attracted fishermen and traders alike. Previously, the town could only be reached by sea, but it's now conveniently accessible through an eight km-long road tunnel via road no. 92.

A wooden red museum building on the bank of a marina with tall mountains in the back

The Safnahúsið three-in-one museum serves as the heart of Neskaupstaður's cultural scene.

A Cultural Haven: Music and Museums

The town is home to one of Iceland’s most popular music festivals, Eistnaflug, dedicated to metal and punk music. The Safnahúsið, a three-in-one harborfront museum, showcases the local culture through its natural history collection, maritime exhibit, and the modernist artworks of local painter Tryggvi Ólafsson.

Nature's Bounty: Hiking Trails and Geosites

Neskaupstaður Public Park is an ideal spot for hiking and nature exploration. Just beyond the town's eastern end lies a nature reserve with well-marked hiking trails. These include a path leading to the sea cave, Páskahellir (Easter Cave), a fascinating geosite where you can see tree holes left by a forest engulfed in lava 12 million years ago. Informative signposts about the local birds, plants, and geology enrich the experience, making this a perfect place for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts to wander. Another hiking trail starts near the avalanche defense structure adjacent to the campground, offering captivating views of the town and fjord.

A man standing in a sea cave near a small waterfall

The Easter Cave is a fascinating geosite with fossilised treeholes

Exploring the Remote Mjóifjörður Fjord

Adding to the areas charm is the remote Mjóifjörður fjord, a hidden gem that is only accessible by vehicle during the summer or by a passenger-only ferry from Neskaupstaður between September and May. This 'Narrow fjord' offers a unique exploration opportunity.

Local Services in Neskaupstaður

The town also provides services for a comfortable stay, with quality restaurants and hotels, apartments and a campsite. Neskaupstaður houses the regional hospital, and also hosts a pharmacy. For a taste of local life, visitors can relax in the beloved Stefánslaug pool, sample farm-to-plate lamb and fresh seafood at local restaurants, or stock up at the local grocery store for a picnic in the botanical park or down at the Marina.

For sailing enthusiasts, Neskaupstaður offers a calm port, providing an ideal stopover in your nautical journey.

A church and wooden houses on a shore

Neskaupstaður Highlights:

  1. Safnahúsið Museum: A cultural hub that houses three exhibitions: a natural history collection, a maritime exhibit, and the modernist artworks of local painter Tryggvi Ólafsson.
  2. Hiking Trails in the Nature Reserve: The town is surrounded by numerous hiking trails, including those in the local nature reserve, offering educational paths and stunning views of the fjord and mountains. Get a pdf map.
  3. Páskahellir (Easter Cave): One of the paths in the Nature reserve leads to Páskahellir, a sea cave or rock shelter on the shore formed by a prehistoric lava flow and offers insight into the region's geological past. A staircase takes you down to a rugged shore so caution is advised. We also recommend checking out the tide tables for Neskaupstaður beforehand.
  4. Stefánslaug Pool: Relax in the pool with the locals. It offers water slides and panoramic views of the surroundings. A picnic in the Botanical Park or at the Marina after is ideal.
  5. Mjóifjörður fjord: Accessible by a passenger-only ferry from Neskaupstaður, this 'Narrow fjord' is a hidden gem waiting to be explored.
  6. Local Cuisine: Enjoy farm-to-plate lamb and fresh seafood at the local restaurants the Bait shack, or Kaupfélagsbarinn, offering a true taste of Icelandic cuisine.
  7. Eistnaflug Music Festival: This renowned annual festival brings the metal and punk music community together for a memorable celebration.
  8. Skorrastaðir Farm: Experience horse riding and hiking at this nearby farm, offering a unique way to explore the area's impressive landscapes.

For more information on Neskaupstaður and surroundings, check out the local travel webs Visit Fjardabyggd and Visit Austfirdir.

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Discover Neskaupstaður: Iceland's Easternmost Town