For international travelers, visiting Iceland usually involves arrival in the capital city Reykjavik. Whether arriving by air or on a cruise ship, Reykjavik is the undisputed tourism hub for Iceland.
But there’s one big exception, which is why the tiny settlement of Seydisfjordur (Seyðisfjörður in Icelandic) on a remote fjord in Eastern Iceland is flourishing.
Smyril Line operates the car and passenger ferry MS Norröna between Denmark and Iceland via the Faroe Islands on a weekly schedule from mid-March to mid-November.
Tourism growth in Seydisfjordur
While many people using the service are locals who will immediately set off home, others are tourists booked on to excursions or heading off to the more famous tourist sites in the southwest.
Seydisfjordur has also welcomed an increasing number of cruise ships in recent years, and with that growth has come new attractions and infrastructure.
For independent travelers, it’s worth taking some time to discover Seydisfjordur and its surroundings before heading off to the more famous sights in Iceland.
Things to do in Seydisfjordur
With a population of less than 1,000, your best plan is to simply wander the streets to take in the spectacular natural setting of Seydisfjordur, sandwiched between mountain and fjord. You’ll easily stumble upon all the points of interest within the town.
Blue church: The beautiful pastel blue exterior of Seydisfjordur church often provides wonderful photo opportunities against the lush green or snowy white mountain backdrop. As with many churches in the Nordic region the interior is rather plain, but catching one of the summer series of classical concerts is well worth the money.
Rainbow road: The blue church has become an even more popular photo spot thanks to the addition of this multicolored tiled pathway through the town. A symbol of support for the LGBTQ+ community and a demonstration of the town’s small but visible arts community, the rainbow path brightens up everyone’s day.
Norwegian architecture: Although there is archaeological evidence of earlier settlement during the Viking Age, Seydisfjordur wasn’t founded until the 19th century. That’s when Norwegian fishermen needed a settlement to support the booming herring industry. Many of the town’s wooden houses have their origins in this era, with some even brought over from Norway and reassembled in place.
Avalanche monument: If you visit at the height of summer an avalanche will be the last thing on your mind, but it’s something the people of Seydisfjordur keep in mind every winter. An avalanche in 1996 destroyed a local factory, from which twisted girders were used to create this striking monument.
Arts & crafts : You won’t find more than a handful of art galleries, but every resident seems to enjoy creative expression as evidenced by their houses and gardens. Support the local community by browsing and buying a souvenir from a local artist. Make some time to call in to the Gullabuid gift shop.
Waterfalls of Seydisfjordur
Iceland and waterfalls go hand-in-hand. Glaciers and volcanic landscapes combine to create some of the world’s most mesmerizing water features, each one unique in shape, size and sound.
Although not as famous as some of Iceland’s falls, the Seydisfjordur region is home to several waterfalls that are must-visits especially if you’re not traveling onward to other parts of Iceland.
Gufufoss: With its distinctive block shape and a misty base, Gufufoss is the most eye-catching of the several waterfalls upstream from Seydisfjordur.
You’ll find an unmarked parking area just a two-mile drive from the town, from which it’s a short walk along the river bank. Other waterfalls are within walking distance downstream.
Fardagafoss: Father afield, the Fardagafoss waterfall cascades into a rocky crevasse and then into a narrow gorge. It’s only accessible by hiking, but the reward is well worth it. The trailhead is on the main road to Egilsstadir, just before you reach the town.
Egilsstadir, the biggest town in East Iceland, has a handful of shops and services and an interesting heritage museum, but it’s best known for its nature in the surrounding area.
Introducing Smyril Line
The car and passenger ferry MS Norröna arrives in Seydisfjordur every week, with the day and duration of stay varying depending on the time of year. Operator Smyril Line sells straightforward ferry tickets or cruise-like package deals as roundtrips from Denmark including stops in the Faroe Islands.
The onboard experience is basic with limited entertainment, although the quality of dining options has increased in recent years. With air travel between the three destinations infrequent and expensive, the ferry is a wonderful slow travel option to experience the Nordic region.