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Take a detour from the Ring Road for a day in Husavik.
Husavik is a charming small town that’s best known as the whale watching capital of Iceland. We ventured there on a day trip while traveling between Lake Myvatn and Akureyri.
While whale watching tours are the main reason why many people visit Husavik, it’s worth spending more time in the town. We had some time to kill before our afternoon whale watching trip, and I was glad we explored Husavik beyond that excursion. Let me show you how to spend the perfect day there with this Husavik travel guide.
WALK AROUND HUSAVIK
I couldn’t write a Husavik travel guide without recommending to simply walk around. When I travel to new towns and cities, I love getting a good feel for them by exploring on foot. Husavik is no exception here. The village is not very large. You can easily walk around to see the main sights in a short amount of time.
The main hub of the town is centered around the port. We parked our car in front of the whale watching tour offices as we had booked an excursion for later that afternoon. From there, we admired the spectacular views of Skjalfandaflói Bay. The water was so still, save for the boats sailing in and out of the harbor. The snow-capped mountains loomed in the distance.
You’ll notice art relating to animals as you walk around town. As Husavik is the whale watching capital of Iceland, it’s only fitting that whale imagery is everywhere.
One building that you must see is the Húsavíkurkirkja (Husavik Church). It’s very close to the harbor, and it’s a beautiful landmark that you cannot miss. Húsavíkurkirkja is a white and green wooden building built in 1907, featuring a deep green steeple. Back when it first opened, it could seat all of the towns inhabitants (Husavik’s current population is around 2600 people). Though we did not venture inside, you can visit for free from 9am-11am and 3pm-5pm daily in June, July, and August.
Did you know that Husavik is the first place that Iceland’s first semi-permanent settlers arrived back in 870?
HUSAVIK WHALE MUSEUM
Speaking of whale imagery on buildings, this one is covered in whales…and for good reason. It’s the Hvalasafnið á Húsavík – Husavik Whale Museum!
The Husavik Whale Museum, founded in 1997, serves as an educational component to accompany whale watching trips from the town. It aims to provide a comprehensive background with intriguing information about cetaceans. The building itself is an abandoned slaughterhouse, re-purposed and designed as a museum. It’s now one of the most visited places in Husavik.
There are several whale skeletons to check out. Please note that no whales were killed for the museum – the bones of deceased whales are used for this display. Some of the whale skeletons are gigantic. In particular, there’s an enormous skeleton of a blue whale, a cetacean that frequents this region of Iceland. It really puts into perspective just how massive whales truly are. It’s nearly impossible to photograph the entire set of bones in one frame. You just have to see it with your own eyes.
There’s also an educational component for local school children at the Husavik Whale Museum. It’s called the Children’s Whale School, and it aims to educate children of all ages (from Kindergarden to University) about whales. Whales are such a vital aspect of living in the town, and it’s important that Husavik’s citizens grow up learning about these majestic creatures.
Children will visit the Whale Museum at least four times throughout their school years – in Kindergarden, 2nd grade, 5th grade, and 9th grade. There’s an exhibition at the museum devoted entirely to the art created by children attending the Children’s Whale School. You can see drawings made by second graders, small sculptures created by those in grade five, and even small works of art by children with special needs.
It’s very reassuring that the children of Husavik will grow up with a deep appreciation for whales and wildlife conservation. It must also be so exciting for them to see their art on display in a museum.
There’s also some short films about whales, and you can purchase books about them, too.
If you decide to check out a museum in town, make sure you pay a visit to the Husavik Whale Museum. It’s educational, fascinating, and fun!
Husavik Whale Museum
Hafnarstétt 1 , Husavik
June, July & August: 9am – 7pm daily
May & September: 10am – 5pm daily
Winter months: 10am – 4pm weekdays
It’s the main reason why we traveled to Husavik, and the most important component of any Husavik travel guide: the whale watching. As we demonstrated in our full review of the Iceland whale watching tour, we had an amazing day. While there are a few whale watching tour companies in town, we booked our excursion with North Sailing. The company is eco-friendly, kind and responsible to the wildlife, and has sustainable company practices.
We booked the tour called Whales, Puffins, and Sails. This four hour journey allowed us to view adorable puffins as we sailed past Puffin Island. We spotted so many whales, with some surfacing so close to our boat. This tour was one of the most memorable aspects of our Iceland trip. If you love animals and wildlife, it’s not to be missed.
While we didn’t dine in Husavik due to a lack of vegan options, we did stop for coffee. Good coffee is very easy to come by in Iceland. Everyone here seems to love drinking coffee.
You can stop for a coffee at Café Hvalbakur, located directly beneath the North Sailing ticket office. We actually went for coffee next door at Restaurant Gamli Baukur, a restaurant within a unique building constructed entirely out of driftwood found along the coastline of Husavik.
For vegan options, your best bet is to stop at the local Netto grocery store, right across the street from the North Sailing ticket office. There are some meals you can take to go. You’ll find lots of ingredients to prepare a small picnic, like vegan cheese and bread, granola bars, fruit, and vegan chocolate bars. We bought ingredients there to make dinner once we reached our cottage that night just outside of Akureyri, Ytri Vik Cottages.
Want to see more photos of Husavik? Check out our entire Husavik travel photo album. You can also purchase prints, housewares, and decorative pieces made from our photos directly from the website.
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