Iceland is the most sparsely populated country in Europe with a population of only 332,529 and an area of 103,00 km2. So, one would hardly described it as a densely populated!
As you might be aware of, Iceland is notorious for its magical nature – and there is a lot of it! While we love travelling around Iceland and exploring all the natural wonders our small island has to offer we also love visiting the small towns and villages that can be found amidst all this nature. Most of the villages and towns in Iceland are located on the coastline as they got built around good fishing grounds and many of them still revolve around fishing. Fish has always been the lifeline of the Icelandic nation. It is hard to overstate its importance and its meaning for the culture and life of those living in these often isolated places. Each of the little towns and villages has its own personality and they are all charming in their own way, filled with history and heritage.
In the coming weeks, we are going to be taking a closer look at those towns and villages and get to know them a little better. We want to share that journey with you, our readers so join us at our fist stop: Ísafjörður.
A town shaped by fish
Ísafjörður is located in the Westfjords of Iceland on a spit of sand called Skutulsfjörður – a fjord that meets the waters of the larger Ísafjarðardjúp. It is the largest town in the Westfjords and has a population of around 2,600 people, compared to many Icelandic towns that is quite large!
Ísafjörður began growing in the 16th century when it became a trading post for foreign merchants but the town really started expanding in the mid 19th century. It’s growth can be traced back to the valuable fish as it was around this time that salt fish production started in Ísafjörður – around this time and in the early 20th century sundried salt fish was the most important export product of Iceland, and Ísafjörður was the saltfish capital of Iceland! Ísafjörður has a good natural harbour (a key factor for towns forming in Iceland in the 18th century.) and the town kept growing and developing over the years. The fishing industry is still very important to Ísafjörður but the town also has a lot more to offer.
Ísafjörður has always been known for its vibrant culture life and the town boasts of many interesting festivals worth checking out (we highly recommend Aldrei fór ég suður!). It is a beautiful town to visit – filled with old houses, surrounded by grand mountains and the Westfjords are splendid.
Scroll through our photos from Ísafjörður below and if you have ever been to Ísafjörður we would love to hear about it!