Ísafjörður is a beautiful little town in the northwest of Iceland. With a population of 2,600, it is the bustling metropolis of the Westfjords (Vestfirðir). I spent my first 3 weeks in Iceland in Ísafjörður for an Icelandic language course. Summer in the Westfjords was in incredible experience. Despite it’s tiny size, (the entire town is only a few streets wide), Ísafjörður has several bakeries, a handful of bar/cafes, a museum, a public swimming pool, a music school, and a culture center.
The Mountains. No matter where you looked, there they were. In the sunlight, they were surreal and inspiring. Sometimes they seemed to hold back waves of fog from filling up the valley. And one day, when I looked out of the window, the peaks were dusted with snow.
The water. Like the mountains, the deep, cold water of the fjord is all around you. On one side of the town are the pleasure boats and other small craft, and on the are are the huge fishing boats with a pragmatic beauty all their own. Since the town is so small, I recommend using google maps to explore it a bit.
The people of Ísafjörður that I met had all the kindness and warmth of a small town and all the culture and education of city dwellers. All the shop owners were happy to help us students practice our newly acquired Icelandic phrases. In fact, one cafe owner insisted that we try ordering in Icelandic since she knew we were students. I stayed in a tidy basement guest apartment with another American student, and at the end of my time there, the landlady invited us to have dinner with her family. Her son drove us home, and on the way, stopped to show us around his family’s newly renovated summer cabin. He had done all the work himself, and it was one of the most darling little homes I’ve ever seen.
Ísafjörður was the most peaceful (inhabited) place I have ever been. This quiet little town and the fresh air are so good for the soul. I hope to go back at least once before I leave Iceland, and it will always hold a special place in my heart.