Ten most interesting towns and villages in Iceland
Updated: Dec 15, 2022
Iceland has approximately 70 towns and villages around the island. Some are tiny hamlets or just a cluster of houses and barely fit into the definition of a typical village. Most of the towns do not have a long history, as Iceland was an agricultural society for centuries. The first indication of towns traces their beginning to a trading post or a fishing post.
Of the 70 towns and villages, only a few can trace their history farther back than the 18th century. Although small, most of them were at some point defined as independent municipalities, and many have a shorter history and are relatively new from the historical aspect. Some of the towns have a fascinating history and are a joy to visit. Most of the towns and villages have embraced tourism, and all of them offer suitable accommodations and camping sites, while many offer fascinating museums, adventure tours, and a variety of special services. It would be a good idea to visit some of the towns and villages to learn about Icelanders and the struggle it took us to get where we are today. It is also intriguing for many to see the houses Icelanders live in and also the old houses they built decades and centuries ago. To get an overview of all the towns and villages in Iceland, you can go to the Towns link on this website.
My method of ranking the towns and villages
Now, how do I rank the 70 towns and villages as interesting for tourists who are visiting Iceland and are primarily curious about the natural wonders the country has to offer? To make a point and to base our list on some valid arguments, we have approximately 12 to 15 indicators to rank these towns and villages and to find out which of them are the most interesting. We measured them in terms of their distance from the natural wonders, placement in the landscape, maintenance of old houses and the neatness of the town, fascinating museums, the strength of the town’s economy, things to do, history, and if the town offers reasonable accommodation, campsites, restaurants, and tourist-oriented culture. We also looked at all the towns and villages except Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland, probably because Reykjavík is among some of the most exciting places around Iceland, a highly interesting place that would always be by far dominate such a list. We were only trying to figure out which towns and villages are the most interesting for tourists and those visiting Iceland.
While carefully examining all these factors and indicators and studying the history and economic status, I visited every town and village over two years. I also talked to people living in these villages, capturing every place in numerous photos. In addition, I wrote an article about all the towns and villages in Iceland that you can see here on my website. Therefore, if you would like to visit and learn about any town and village that did not make it to the list, you will find it here on our website.
The most interesting town in Iceland according to Hit Iceland is Húsavík in the northern region. It is a wonderful small town set by the shore at the root of a small mountain. It is one of the older towns in Iceland, and its origins can be traced both to commerce and fishing. Not far from Húsavík are some of the most spectacular natural wonders in Iceland – Jökulsárgljúfur with its mighty waterfalls, Ásbyrgi, lake Mývatn, Dimmuborgir, Námaskarð, Goðafoss waterfall – and easy access to the north-eastern part of the highland. Húsavík also offers some of the most spectacular whale watching tours in Iceland and is often referred to as the whale-watching capital of the world. Húsavík also has interesting museums, quality restaurants, wonderful accommodation, and one of the best camping sites in Iceland.
To read more, read our more detailed article on Húsavík.
Vestmannaeyjar or Westman Islands is a town located on a small island in the south of Iceland. The island is a natural wonder in itself. Therefore, when visiting the town, you are basically in a midst of a natural wonder. Most notably are the two volcanos at the edge of the town, towering over the community. It is also quite intimidating that without a warning, only a few decades ago, one of the volcanoes erupted with immense force, almost ruining the town. For anyone stepping on land from the ferry, you can almost feel the exotic vibe that is so characteristic of the island. In the town, you will find a variety of excellent services, exciting hiking trails, one of a kind museums, and fascinating history. Around the island Heimaey, you will also find other interesting islands, and a sea tour with a local tour guide is highly recommended.
To read more, read our more detailed article about Vestmannaeyjar.
Akureyri is one of the largest towns in Iceland outside the larger capital city area. It is one of the most beautiful towns in Iceland with a long history of trading activity, industrial ventures, and fishing. Akureyri has always been a culturally conscious community and has some of the most spectacular old houses in Iceland. It is one of the best places to visit if you plan to visit Iceland in winter and watch the northern lights, a town you can enjoy visiting both during summer and winter, offering a variety of services, accommodation, good restaurants, and exciting tours. Even walking down the streets and viewing all the old houses or taking a short hike by the shore and ending your walk in the botanical garden is pure joy. Akureyri is also located on the Ring Road and is a short distance from many natural wonders in the northern region of Iceland.
To learn more, read our more detailed article about Akureyri.
Located on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Stykkishólmur is one of the most charming small towns in Iceland. The old center by the harbor with all the well maintained and renovated houses is a pleasure. The small island in front of the town sheltering the harbor and the view of the many islands in Breiðafjörður fjord gives the town a spectacular surrounding. The town offers a variety of tours on the sea as well as spectacular natural wonders at the Snæfellsnes Peninsula like Snæfellsjökull glacier, Berserkjahraun lava, Kirkjufell, and Lóndrangar, to name a few. Service is among the best that any town or village around Iceland can offer and ranges from great accommodation, and a wonderful camping site to good restaurants.
To read more, go to our more detailed article about Stykkishólmur.
Although Westfjords peninsula offers a limited number of natural wonders compared to the rest of the country, it offers the most spectacular scenic drive in Iceland. Along the way are several small towns and villages worth visiting, and the most interesting is the town of Ísafjörður. This town is simply a visual treat from both historical and cultural aspects. It is one of the most important towns in Icelandic history, loaded with strong entrepreneurial, cultural, and political giants. It is located in a beautiful fjord Skutulsfjörður and offers many interesting scenic drives and tours in almost any direction. Ísafjörður also has one of the most original restaurants in Iceland, Tjöruhúsið.
To read more, go to our more detailed article about Ísafjörður.
The Reykjanes Peninsula has many interesting natural wonders. Grindavík town is in close proximity to many of those places as well as the hometown of the famous Blue Lagoon and has a volcano that erupted a few months ago at its doorsteps. It is a town with a strong economic foundation, as it is one of the strongest towns in the fishing industry in Iceland. Lately, the town has embraced tourism, and here you will find good restaurants, great accommodation, and the best camping site in Iceland. Grindavík is also a very neat and well-maintained town with some interesting old houses. The harbor area is very active and gives one of the best perspectives on the current fishing activity in Iceland, with many large and interesting fishing vessels contributing to the economy of Iceland.
To read more, go to our more detailed article about Grindavík.
Seyðisfjörður is surrounded by the most spectacular landscape of any town or village in Iceland. Placed at the bottom of a long and deep fjord with steep mountains and waterfalls, it is plain and simply stunning in any sense of the word. Seyðisfjörður also has a long history and has one of the most interesting and beautiful clusters of old houses found anywhere in Iceland. The town has not only embraced tourism but also its cultural status with impressive artistic activities in modern times. Seyðisfjörðu