Isafjordur: A buccolic city in the West Fjords

Icelandic Flag

Isafjordur, Iceland…a tiny tiny town.

4000 people, one post office, two gas stations, two bakeries. Yet, amazing to live in the fjords. Tall, unwavering, impressive mountains carved in zig-zags. Located near the Arctic circle (66.1N instead of 66.5N), it is good enough to be the Arctic.

If you are visiting Iceland or thinking about visiting Iceland, then check out the Iceland: A Trip Around the Ring Road Guide. Already going to Isafjordur? This is your guide then. =)

History of Isafjordur
Written in Icelandic as Ísafjörður, with some very cool nordic characters not seen in the Latin language system.
Ísafjörður is the largest town in the Westfjards (Vestfirðir) region. It was formed in the 9th century and became a major port city by the 16th century.

In 1786, the King of Denmark (Iceland was a Danish colony) granted Isafjordur municipal status. He also abolished the Danish trade monopoly.

From the mid 1800s to late 1900s, Isafjordur exploded in population and became the center of the fishing industry. It was the city’s golden era of prosperity. Iceland’s largest saltfish exporter, Ásgeirsverslun, hailed from the city. Motorized boats for fishing and freights enabled the town to expand into shrimp. Post World War II, the invention of quick-freezing created another golden era for Isafjordur. Hundreds of packing plants sprouted up in the city and every local was connected to the industry.

But Isafjordur’s fishing success would not last forever. A worldwide economic recession in the 1980s paralyzed the industry. But the Icelandic strength and will power would not allow the industry to perish, and it became leaner, smaller, and still competitive. The fishing industry changed its focus to a fleet of small boats rather than the big trawlers of the 1970s and early 1980s. High-tech industries and research, based on the knowledge and tradition of the fisheries developed, creating more opportunity for the town’s citizens.
Iceland's Independence from Denmark
And of course, the town is on the map with numerous tourist opportunities. Isafjordur also hosts a small university that has its strengths in the Icelandic Summer Course program and graduate studies programs. As I’m here studying there, I’ll give a review of the program soon. Check out beautiful photos of Isafjordur; they should convince anyone to visit.

Let’s face it, there are not many options in the city but there are still great spots.

Langi Mangi
Café, bar/pub in central Ísafjörður. Lunch menu, soup of the day, sandwiches, burgers, pitas. Wireless connection, live music. Licensed.
Open Mon-Wed: 11:00-23:00, Thur: 11:00-01:00, Fri: 11:00-03:00, Sat: 12:00-03:00, Sun: 13:00-23:00.
Web site: – e-mail:
Address: Adalstraeti 22, Isafjordur. Tel: (+354) 456 3022.


Located next to the Isafjordur Maritime Museum at the waterfront. The restaurant is owned by a quirky couple but they server amazing Icelandic fish dishes. The building is also one of the oldest in the city. Specialize in fresh catches of fish and fish soups.
Open daily during the summer 11:00 – 22:00.
Address: Nedstikaupstadur, Isafjordur. Tel: (+354) 456 4419.

Thai Koon
A Thai-restaurant next to the grocery store in the little mini-mall. Great price for a lot of food.
Hours: Mon-Sat: 11:30-21:00, Sun: 17:00-21:00
Address: Hafnarstraeti 9-13, Isafjordur. Tel: (+354) 456 0123


Restaurant in central Isafjordur Ísafjörður with American and Italian menu. Lunch buffet at 11:30-13:30
Open: Sun-Wed: 11:30-22:00, Thur-Sat: 11:30-00:00
Web site:
Address: Austurvegur 1, Isafjordur. Tel: (+354) 456 5001.

Has tasty cakes, pastries, pizzas, and soups.
Hours: weekdays 07:30-18:00. Closed Saturdays. Sundays 09:00-17:30.
Address: Hafnarstraeti 14, Isafjordur. Tel: (+354) 456 4770, (+354) 456 4771, fax: (+354) 456 5065

Gamla bakarid
One of Iceland’s most famous bakeries with tons of breads and pastries. You can even find bagels there.
Hours: weekdays 07:00-18:00, Saturdays 07:00-16:00.
Tel: (+354) 456 3226, Fax: (+354) 456 5026
Address: Adalstraeti 24, Isafjordur


A very “American fast food” kind of place. Pizzas, hamburgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, etc. Some groceries (ie. milk and bread) and DVD rentals are available. Oh, they also have plenty of candy (godis).
Hours: Everyday 09:00-23:30
Tel: (+354) 456 3166
Address: Hafnarstraeti 7, Isafjordur

Kaffi Edinborg

Brand new café and restaurant in the Edinborg culture house, where the Tourist Information centre is also located. Light meals all day every day, brunch on weekends.
Open: weekdays 11:00-01:00, weekends 11:00-03:00.
Address: Adalstraeti 7, Isafjordur. Tel: (+354) 456 4400.

Petrol station, fast food, groceries.
Open: work days: 07.30-23.30, weekends: 08.30-23.30.
Address: Hafnarstraeti 21, Isafjordur. Tel.: (+354) 456 3574

Isafjordur Hotels and Hostels

Sightseeing in Isafjordur

1 thought on “Isafjordur: A buccolic city in the West Fjords”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *