Laufás - turf-houses in North-Iceland.
Laufás turf-houses is a must visit in Iceland. Laufás was mentioned in the records from the settlement of Iceland way back in 874-930. It was rebuilt when Rev. Björn Halldórsson resided at Laufás in 1853-1882.
It was a wealthy farm by Icelandic standard. The last minister lived at Laufás until 1936 when he moved into a newer vicarage.
There has been a church at Laufás since early Christianity in Iceland. The current church at Laufás was built in 1865 and was dedicated to the Apostle Paul in Catholicism. In the church you will see a very decorative pulpit from 1698. The church is open and you can go inside and have a look around.
I love these old turf-houses, they are so typical Icelandic. Laufás is bigger than the normal turf-houses though. Up to 20-30 people were living here at Laufás, including domestics. The furnishing inside is from ca 1900 and shows how Icelanders were living at that time.
In this neighbourhood there are also 2 other turf-farms which are now a museum like Laufás; Glaumbær in Skagafjörður and Grenjaðarstaður close to Húsavík (see my tips).
When I was last visiting a man (tourist) had stopped his car on the road and ran out and took photos like crazy (like most of us here on VT do). What he didn't know was that if he had driven just a a short distance ahead there he would find a parking lot and the entrance to Laufás. I guess he was just so excited about seeing such old turf-houses :)
Opening hours: June 1st - August 31st from 09:00-17:00.
There is an entrance fee seeing that Laufás is now a museum.
There is a big parking lot by Laufás, a restaurant and a souvenir shop.
Fiskidagurinn "The Great Fish Day" in Dalvík :)
Dalvík village is a hamlet with ca 1.200 inhabitants. The main industries here is fish processing, fisheries, industry and trade.
In Dalvík there is a very popular annual family festival called Fiskidagurinn mikli or "The Great Fish Day". It is held on the second weekend in August, the week after Verslunarmannahelgin or "The Bank holiday weekend" every year. The theme of the festival is for people to get together, have fun and eat fish :D And the nation is invited to a great sea-food buffet.
It is so much fun and people from all over Iceland visit Dalvík this weekend. I visited on its 10th anniversary. The festival starts on Friday when locals offer "Fiskisúpa" or fish-soup in their homes, but the main events are on Saturday. The theme is fish and all kinds of fish-courses are offered to guests for FREE - even the soda-pop is for free. The main events and entertainment are by the harbour and there you can see lines of people by the 14 fish-stalls getting their different fish-courses. Master-cooks prepare the courses and you can taste many different types of fish. On the longest barbeque (8 meters) in Iceland fishburgers are prepared. There is music and singing and everybody is just so happy :D
By the main-street there is an open-air market where locals sell all kinds of stuff.
This is just so much fun and a lot of people attend. Every guest-house is booked solid and the campsites are full. I was lucky enough to be offered to camp in Hauganes by relatives.
The stalls are open from 11:00-17:00 on Saturday and in the evening there are bands playing by the harbour and the festival finishes with a big fireworks show :) It is very well organised.
Highly recommended if you are in this area the second weekend of August.
I must give a big thank you to the fish-producers and other companies in Dalvík for their great generosity towards the nation and guests visiting Iceland :D
The old turf church Saurbæjarkirkja in Eyjafjörður
In the innermost region of Eyjafjörður valley you can find Saurbæjarkirkja, one of the few turf churches left in Iceland and the biggest one of the original turf churches. It was raised in 1858 by Einar Thorlacius.
There have been churches here since the early days of Iceland. They were dedicated to St. Nicolas and the virgin Cecilia when Icelanders were still Catholics.
It now belongs to the National Museum of Iceland and is declared as protected.
It was closed when I visited, but there was a sign in the window indicating where you can find the key and at what hours.
When travelling in Eyjafjörður valley it is well worth going almost to the end of it and visiting Saurbæjarkirkja. Very close by is a museum callled Smámunasafnið.
The Wishing well of unborn children.
There is a very lovely wishing well close to the Christmas House in Eyjafjörður. It is called The Wishing well of unborn children - in Icelandic "'Óskabrunnur ófæddra barna".
On a sign there says: "Walk to the well and make a silent wish. Touch the surface of the water and your wish will join all good wishes in the wishing well for children of the future".
There is a white tree there with stars on top of its branches representing unborn children. On a sign is written: "I child is a star in the sky of life. A wish for a child is a wish for a star".
I can tell you that one can get very emotional there. Not all of us can have children, including me. But I recommend going there, it is a lovely little grove.
A boat-trip to Hrísey island.
Just outside of Dalvík village is Hrísey island called The Pearl of Eyjafjörður fjord. It is well worth the while taking the ferry across to the island while in this area.
Hrísey island is the second largest island in Iceland with ca 190 inhabitants. It is 7,5 km long and 2,5 km wide at its widest point.
When arriving in Hrísey you get greeted by the taxi in the island - a tractor with a hay-cart (see my photo) capable of transporting quite a few people. The taxi takes you on a 40 minutes' trip around the island.
But it is equally fun just walking around in the village at Hrísey. There is a convenient store, a church, restaurants and guest-houses, a campsite and a swimming pool.
The oldest house in the village is the red "Hús Hákarla-Jörundar" or the House of Shark-Jörundur built in 1886, and is now a museum and the tourist information of Hrísey. The museum tells the story of shark fishing in Iceland through the centuries. The main industry in Hrísey is small fishing vessel fishery and blue mussel breeding - and of course tourists in the summer time :) From what I have read recently then it seems like the mussel breeding has stopped and almost 20 people moved away.
You can get a beef-steak in Restaurant Brekka in Hrísey from mongrel Limosine, Aberdeen, Angus and Galloway breed.
The ferry (called Sævar) leaves from Árskógssandur and it only takes ca 15 minutes to reach the island. There are 9 trips a day. You buy the tickets by the accommodation ladder when entering the ferry. A round-trip on the ferry costs ISK 1.400. I add the website of the ferry for further information. The inhabitants of Hrísey island, i.e. those who have their legal residence there, use the ferry for free.
Hrísey island is so peaceful and there are a couple of houses here that are used as summer houses, one of them owned by a police chief in Reykjavík.
I absolutely loved my visit to the island - I got the best weather ever - 20 degrees C, still and sunny, so this made for a beautiful trip.
There is a lot of angelica (hvönn) in Hrísey and it is used for the health-products of Saga-Medical. And for one type of beer produced at the brewing factory at Árskógssandur - Stinnings Kaldi. All of the beer produced at this factory is called Kaldi something or another.
The beautiful Grundarkirkja church in Eyjafjörður.
The church at Grund is ever so beautiful and different from most other churches in Iceland in that it has a lovely spear tower. And it is so lavish on the inside (seeing that it is a Lutheran church).
At Grund there has been a church since ancient times, the first mentioned church here was in 1106. While the church was Catholic it was dedicated to St. Laurents.
This beautiful church was built in 1905 by the farmer, Magnús Sigurðsson, and belonged to him. He cut its window panes, but a head-carpenter, Ásmundur Bjarnason, drew the church. It is the biggest church in Iceland built by an individual.
Ancient church relics from Grund are now kept at the National Museum of Iceland.
The church is only half-open, as it were, the front-door is open and you walk up the stairs and open a door to the balcony of the church and there you have great view of this lovely church. And don't forget to sign the guestbook :)
There is a very friendly dog from the farm by the church which will want to accompany you into the church ;)
Grund used to be one of the manors of Eyjafjörður and here lived Sighvatur Sturluson, who got killed in Örlygsstaðabardagi battle in 1238, the biggest Viking battle in Iceland. See my tips on Sturlunga Saga in Skagafjörður.
Munka-Þverá in Eyjafjörður.
At Munka-Þverá was a monestary for 306 years from 1155-1551, but in 1429 the monastery and the church burnt to the ground with a lot of valuables and 2 priests died. The current church at Munka-Þverá was raised in 1844.
Munka-Þverá was in the olden days one of the best lands in Iceland and here chieftains resided.
There is a statue of the Virgin Mary at Munka-Þverá, made in 2000 in remembrance of the 1000 year anniversary of the adoption of Christianity in Iceland. Munka-Þverá church was dedicated to Virgin Mary back then when the nation was Catholic.
In the grave-yard is Sturlungareitur or "The plot of Sturlungar" and Sighvatur Sturluson and his sons are buried there, but they got killed in the big Viking fight - Örlygsstaðabardagi battle (see my tip).
There is a statue of Jón Arason, the last Catholic bishop, in the site where the old monastery used to stand. Jón Arason studied to become priest here at Munka-Þverá.
Here was the home of Víga-Glúmur, the protagonist of the Saga Víga-Glúmur.
The church was closed when I visited without any sign of where you could go to get the key. There is a farm by the church though, but I didn't feel like knocking on its door, so I wondered around the graveyard instead. Churches shouldn't be closed here in Iceland though.
The Icelandic Folk and Outsider Art Museum.
There is a delightful museum by Svalbarðseyri in N-Iceland called Safnasafnið in Icelandic or "The Icelandic folk and outsider art museum". It is the only museum in Iceland which collects folk and outsider art.
There are such lovely diverse rooms with all kinds of collections. One room is filled with dolls from all over the world. Another room is a replica of a store from the early part of the last century - I loved that one.
And another room is a collection of men carved in tree branches :) There are just so many rooms.
All in all the museum stores ca 4.100 works.
There is also a room with books, where you can read the books while visiting the museum.
The museum is located in a white painted house by ring-road 1. You cannot miss it as outside the house is a statue of a very tall man dressed in blue - it is called The Curator. And by the house there are all kinds of figures, it is like being in a fairy-tale.
The museum was opened in 1995 by a married couple, Magnhildur Sigurðardóttir and Níels Hafstein.
The exhibitions vary from year to year so if you visit it next year f.ex. there might be totally different exhibitions. The museum now owns more than 4.000 pieces of folk art. The museum received the noted prize, Eyrarrósin in 2011, it is a prize given for cultural activities in the countryside, which excel in one way or the other.
I highly recommend visiting this museum, it is so well made, it was a pure pleasure wandering around the different rooms. It is so delightful and you feel good inside after having visited this museum.
The opening hours are: May 19th - September 8th. Entrance fee is ISK 1.000.
Jólahúsið - The Christmas House in Eyjafjörður.
There is a lovely Christmas House in Hrafnagil in Eyjafjörður. It is a must visit while in this area. It is ever so lovely, like a magical world. Last time I visited it was in August and the temperature was 20 degrees C so it was out of this world entering the Christmas House.
The Christmas House is on two floors and sells everything imaginable related to Christmas. There is a cave there with Grýla inside (see my photo). You cannot see her that well but I put my camera inside her cave and got a bit startled when I looked at her photo ;) She is the mother of the Icelandic Yule lads and eats children who behave badly.
The owner of the Christmas House tells children, who ask him why he is celebrating Christmas in summer time, that he is making sure that Christmas won´t get lost.
I know that people visit the Christmas House only to have a look inside while travelling in this area, but then always end up buying something - one just cannot resist it - it is like a fairytale world in there. You can find Christmas stuff from all over the world, but also a lot of Icelandic Christmas handicraft. And if you wonder what the lovely smell is upstairs, then it is smoked lamb "hangikjöt".
There is also a lovely garden by the Christmas House with benches and a lot of Christmas stuff. In the garden is the Tower which is the largest calendar in the world. Yes, and not to forget the lovely outside Christmas toilet :)
The Christmas House is open all year round:
June - August: 10:00-22:00
September - December: 14:00-22:00.
January - May: 14:00-18:00
A highly recommended place to visit :)
The view platform in Eyjafjörður.
There is a lovely view platform opposite the ocean from Akureyri. Here you can see the whole Eyjafjordur fjord and the best view of Akureyri city. A highly recommended stop.
In the summer time there are always a lot of cruise ships and boats by Akureyri and sometimes one can see whales from here.
To get to the view point, which is by ring-road 1, you cross the bridge by Akureyri airport and drive up along ring-road 1. The sight-seing busses stop here, so it can get crowded, but it is so worth it as the view is amazing - especially on sunny days. It was very sunny when I last visited here, and my photos are too bright because of the sun shining right at us very early in the morning.
Grenivik is a village in the east part of Eyjafjörður. The inhabitants are 272.
The lovely church in Grenivik dates back to 1886.
As in all the towns in Iceland there is a museum here, Utgerdaminjasafnid in Grenivik. It stands by the ocean in a yellow house and shows artefacts and equipment of small boats in the last century.
The lovely museum of Laufàs is only 8 km away from Grenivik, closer to Akureyri.
Hauganes village lies next to Árskógsströnd from where the ferry to Hrísey leaves. It is a small village with less than 200 inhabitants. Again here life revolves around fishing.
My grandmother's sister lived here and I camped here while attending The Big Fish Day in Dalvík in August 2010. In July 2013 we stayed here for a week in my great-aunt´s old house.
Here one of the most gruesome battles of the Sturlunga age (in the 12th century) was fought when the Sturlunga clan, lead by Þórður kakali, fought the Ásbirninga clan, lead by Brandur Kolbeinsson.
I add this tip mainly as from Hauganes you can go whale-watching on a lovely wooden Whale-watcher boat during summer time. You can get a 20% discount from that trip in the Icelandic discount guide which you can get at the Information centers in Iceland. I add the e-mail and phone for the Whale-watching tour. The boat will sail on the beautiful Eyjafjörður bay.
Jóhann the Giant - Iceland´s tallest man.
The tallest Icelander that we know of was from Dalvík and there is a museum dedicated to him at Dalvík. His name was Jóhann Kristinn Pétursson (1913-1984), often called Jóhann Svarfdælingur or Jóhann risi (the giant). he was 2,25 m - 2,34 m tall.
Jóhann was born in Akureyri town, but was raised in Svarfaðardalur. By the time he was twenty he had become 2,25 m tall and weighed 163 kg. He was regarded the tallest man in the world until another taller man was "found" - as it were.
Jóhann came from a poor family and quickly outgrew all of his clothes. Due to his size all his clothes had to be custom made. He grew so fast that sometimes when he went to pick up his clothes from his tailor he had already outgrown them. His shoe size was no 62.
When he was 22 years old he went to Denmark and started working at the circus. He performed all over Europe and took part in the World´s Fair in 1937. In 1945 he returned back to Iceland where he travelled all around the country and showed films. He then moved to the USA in 1948 and worked in circuses until he retired.
In 1982 he moved back to Dalvík and died here in 1984 and was buried in the cemetery at Dalvík.
He didn´t get married, but had one daughter.
Jóhann´s things had to be custom made, f.ex. his bicycle, his car, his bed and his recliner, plus his accordion.
He played in a couple of movies - here is an interview taken in 1972 Jóhann risi 1972
The museum is located at the District Museum of Dalvík.
Opening hours: June 1st - September 1st. from 11:00-18:00. In winter time on Saturdays from 14:00-17:00.
Admission fee: ISK 700.
Dalvík - The District Museum.
There are several exhibitions at the District Museum Hvoll at Dalvík, f.ex. on Jóhann the Giant Svarfdælingur and the 3rd Icelandic President Dr. Kristján Eldjárn.
I have written a special tip on Jóhann the Giant Svarfdælingur, but this tip is on the District Museum and Dr. Kristján Eldjárn.
The exhibition is traditional, with old tools, furniture and household inventory from homes in Dalvík, Svarfaðardal and the neighbourhood. There was such great craftmanship at work here in Iceland. I know I am partial, but I love visiting district museums around Iceland. The carving in many of the things on display is amazing, such simple wooden things so beautifully carved, just lovely.
There is a children´s museum here as well, with old toys on display.
There is also a museum of natural history here, with more than 100 stuffed birds on display. And a polar bear from Greenland.
There was a big earthquake at Dalvík in 1934 - 6,2 on the Richter scale.
There is a special exhibition on our 3rd President, Dr. Kristján Eldjárn (06.12.1916 – 14.09.1982), who was the first President of Iceland that I can recall, but he became a president when I was 3 years old. He was the President of Iceland from 1968-1980. Dr. Kristján Eldjárn was born in Svarfaðardalur. Kristjánsstofa exhibition was opened at the museum in 2005 and Kristján´s family donated some of Kristján´s personal belongings to the museum.
Admission fee: ISK 700.
The museum is located at the District Museum of Dalvík.
Opening hours: June 1st - September 1st. from 11:00-18:00. In winter time on Saturdays from 14:00-17:00.
The World´s largest calendar?
In the tower by the Christmas House is probably "heimsins stærsta dagatal" or the World´s largest calendar.
It is so lovely visiting it. Inside the tower is painted in beautiful colours and there are different fairytale paintings. And numbered windows to open - just like on a Christmas calendar - but on a much larger scale.
The artwork was done by Sunna Björk Hreiðarsdóttir in 2003.
Don´t miss visiting the tower after visiting the Christmas House. I had visited the Christmas House so many times, but it wasn´t until in 2013 that I eventually walked up into the tower.
Opening hours: June-August from 10:00-21:00. September-December from 14:00-21:00 and January-May from 14:00-18:00.
Hafnarstraeti 67, Akureyri, 600, Iceland
Good for: Solo
Hofgabrekka is a very good hotel located abou 5 km far from the town of Vik and it is locateded in a...more
Hafnarstraeti 87 - 89, Akureyri, IS-602, Iceland
Good for: Families
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