Isafjordur

The oldest Icelandic house
A remarkable architectural heritage
Naustahvilft, the “troll’s seat”

Find Northern Europe Cruises

Isafjordur

Where history and legend unite

When your MSC cruise to northern Europe takes you to the north western point of Iceland, you will cast anchor at Isafjordur, a small town of ancient origins.
In Isafjordur you will find the oldest standing Icelandic house, built in 1743. In the periphery of Bolungarvík, the northernmost location in the western fjords, one can instead visit Ósvör, once a fisherman’s village and now an open air museum.

The past re-emerges also in the old town of Nedstikaupstadur, where Icelandic and Norwegian merchants first, and then British and German ones, would meet in the mid-15th century in the bay of Isafiord. Here, in the second half of the 18th century, Krambud (the shop) was built, that was converted in the 20th century into a private home; as well as Faktorshus (the farmers house); Tjoruhus (the tar house) and Turnhus (the tower house) used as warehouses and fish processing centres.

While on your MSC cruise to Northern Europe, if you want to get an idea of how Icelanders used to live in the past, try an excursion to Vigur, literally the “spear-shaped island”. Its waters host a great deal of sea lions who feed on marine birds such as the puffin, the black guillemot, the aggressive arctic tern (who can attack people if it feels threatened) and the common eider.

Another spectacle of nature is the Naustahvilft, the “troll’s seat”, a large depression shaped like a half moon in the flat mountains that surround the Isafjordur fjord. Legend has it that it was created by a troll caught by the sunlight sitting on the mountain with its feet in the water.

Whether you believe in the legend or more likely in a valley dug out by the ice during the last ice age, try this brief but intense excursion, it is certainly worth it.

Must see places in Isafjordur

  • Nedstikaupstadur

    Nedstikaupstadur

  • Hornstrandir

    Hornstrandir

  • Glacier Fjords

    Glacier Fjords

Discover our excursions

11 results found

  • CALM FJORD KAYAKING

    ACTIVE & ADVENTURE

    IFJ05

    The calm and secluded fjord setting of the Ísafjörður Djup, the last word of which literally means “deep”, offers a pristine environment for a few hours of sea-kayaking. Coupled with the rhythmic splashing of the paddles, the serene backdrop provided by Iceland’s verdant fjord landscape makes this almost meditative kayaking tour a perfect stress-busting experience. Stupendous views await you from a unique angle as you explore the great outdoors. Sports enthusiasts and bird watchers alike will delight in observing the local bird life at such close quarters and enjoy this opportunity to feel truly at one with the natural environment. Your leisurely kayaking tour ends with your return to the pier and your ship. Please note: this tour is not suitable for guests having walking difficulties or using a wheelchair. English guides only. Excursion available only during your cruise. Sighting of birds not guaranteed.
    • No guide available

    • Limited seats

    • Active excursions recommended only for guests in good physical health

      Difficulty Level
      Strenuous

    • Duration
      2 h

  • THE TROLL’S THRONE

    ACTIVE & ADVENTURE

    IFJ04

    Wild and rugged, uncompromising and mesmerizingly beautiful, geologically and volcanically active, a place of thermal springs, mountains, valleys, rivers and waterfalls: the incredible island of Iceland is all of these things. In addition, – as everybody surely knows – the island’s craggy mountainsides provide a comfortable home for the world’s remaining trolls, those formidable creatures of Norse mythology. According to a legend told by the locals of Ísafjörður, a huge troll once lived in the area and one day, he decided to go for a walk in the fjord. However, soon getting tired from all the exercise, the troll spotted a nice tall mountain high above the town that looked like the perfect spot to have a rest. However, when the thickset troll sat down, his incredible weight squashed part of the mountainside, leaving a large indentation that remains visible to this day: the so-called Troll’s Throne, or Naustahvilft to give the place its proper name. Situated only a few hundred metres up the mountain from the port, the Troll’s Throne is a popular hiking destination for tourists and locals alike. Your walking experience up to the bowl-like “throne”, which was actually formed by a glacier, will take you over ideal hiking terrain: a good mixture of grass, soil and sheep-trodden paths. Once at the top, you will be rewarded with wonderful views over the port and the picturesque fjord. Your return hike back down the mountain to your ship marks the end of this troll-themed tour. Please note: only English guides available. This tour is suitable only for guests with a high fitness level. Due to the substantial walking and hiking the tour entails, it is classified a grade 4 hike as it’s a total 1 km hike, ascending 225 metres and rather steep with uneven, rough ground.
    • Limited seats

    • Active excursions recommended only for guests in good physical health

      Difficulty Level
      Strenuous

    • Duration
      2 h

  • THE MANY FLAVOURS OF SUÐUREYRI

    CITY TOUR

    IFJ07

    This palate-pleasing tour will transport you not quite to somewhere close to foodie heaven at the delightful eco-village of Suðureyri – a hamlet with only several hundred inhabitants – where you’ll get to explore its many flavours. After the coach drops you off in Suðureyri, you’ll go on a guided walk around the tiny village, with plenty of stops to sample and savour the tasty local produce. But the village is not all about food, since it is also home to a savvy businessman who discovered an innovative use for fish waste and was crowned an honorary African chief for his efforts as well as the only place in the region to have sufficient geothermally heated water to provide every home with winter warmth and even fill the local – outdoor! – swimming pool. The ride back to the port and your ship then brings the tour to a close. Please note: limited number of guides in languages other than English. Should a tour guide for your language be unavailable, the tour will be in English only.
    • Long route by bus

    • Shooting videos and/or taking pictures is not allowed or subject to fee

    • Tasting included

    • Limited seats

    • Duration
      3 h

  • A JOURNEY TO MILK AND NATURE

    CULTURE AND HISTORY

    IFJ09

    This enjoyable outing begins with a scenic coach ride to the town of Bolungarvík, or Vík for short, via the Óshlíð tunnel that was built to replace one of Iceland’s most dangerous coastal roads. On arrival, you’ll first visit the Natural History Museum where numerous exhibits await you, including taxidermied specimens of a hooded seal, polar bear, seal, fox and mink. Next up is Handverk Drymla, a shop selling handcrafted items, after which you’ll head for the so-called Einarshús café, once the home of two local pioneer families. Built in 1902, the first of these families died as a result of disease, while the second family thrived. As a result, the café is dubbed the “house of sorrow and happiness”. After enjoying a cup of coffee or tea along with some homemade Icelandic cake, you’ll walk around the harbour to reach the local production facility of Arna Ltd., a young business specialised in making lactose-free dairy products. You’ll find out how the milk is processed and cheese is made, followed by a tasting session and then your return to the port. Please note: limited number of guides in languages other than English. Should a tour guide for your language be unavailable, the tour will be in English only. This tour is not suitable for guests with walking difficulties or using a wheelchair as it includes walking on uneven, muddy ground.
    • Long route by bus

    • Shooting videos and/or taking pictures is not allowed or subject to fee

    • Tasting included

    • Duration
      3 h

  • ARCTIC FOX CENTRE & AVALANCHES

    CULTURE AND HISTORY

    IFJ08

    This entertaining tour begins with a scenic coastal coach ride to reach the tiny, yet notable village of Súðavík, once a hub of the whaling industry, the site of several catastrophic avalanches in the mid-1990s and home to the marvellous Arctic Fox Centre, which you’ll visit. The Norwegian-built 19th-century part of Súðavík was largely destroyed by the natural disaster and the so-called “new town” was rebuilt in a safer spot at the foot of Mount Kofri. After visiting the timber village church, which was originally constructed in Hesteyri in 1899 and later relocated to Súðavík, you’ll move on to the Langeyri peninsula where two whaling stations once stood. While the buildings have long gone, there are a few whale bones that were recently salvaged from the bottom of the fjord. The route then takes you via the pretty inner fjord to reach the Arctic Fox Centre. Find out about Iceland’s only native terrestrial mammal at the research centre and museum, then enjoy a break at the cosy coffee shop, following which you’ll return to your ship. Please note: limited number of guides in languages other than English. Should a tour guide for your language be unavailable, the tour will be in English only. This tour is not suitable for guests with walking difficulties or using a wheelchair as it includes walking on uneven, muddy ground. Conservative attire recommended for visiting sites of religious importance.
    • Long route by bus

    • Shooting videos and/or taking pictures is not allowed or subject to fee

    • Tasting included

    • Duration
      3 h

  • THINGEYRI: OLD TRADITIONS AND VIKING CULTURE

    CULTURE AND HISTORY

    IFJ11

    This appealing half-day excursion first presents views of the beautiful Dýrafjörður en route to one of Westfjord’s oldest settlements, the small town of Thingeyri (or Þingeyri). You’ll then head for the town smithy to watch the blacksmith at work, take a look at the historical tools on display and find out about the workshop’s history. Next up is Gallery Koltra, a shop with locally crafted items and knitted goods, followed by the town’s special “Viking” area, where modern-day “Vikings” will do battle, dance and sing folk songs for your infotainment. Also included is a local speciality of sliced smoked lamb served on Icelandic flatbread, a much prized national delicacy. The final highlight then follows at the riding arena at Sandar, where a meet and greet with Icelandic horses awaits you. These hardy creatures, the only breed of horse in Iceland, are known for their two additional unique gaits, both of which will be demonstrated. Then you can get up close and personal with these gentle equines, take photos and then return to the coach for the return journey to your ship. Please note: limited number of guides in languages other than English. Should a tour guide for your language be unavailable, the tour will be in English only. This tour is not suitable for guests using a wheelchair as it includes walking on uneven, muddy ground.
    • Long route by bus

    • Shooting videos and/or taking pictures is not allowed or subject to fee

    • Shopping

    • Tasting included

    • Duration
      4 h

  • DYNJANDI WATERFALL

    NATURAL WONDERS

    IFJ12

    The first highlight on this super-scenic tour begins to unfold as soon as you leave the port on the coach: Iceland’s stunning landscape itself. The journey will take you overland across sharply ridged, mountainous terrain, revealing gorgeous views of small villages and farms that occupy narrow strips of habitable or arable land. You’ll be heading for the picturesque Arnarfjörður and the nearby Dynjandi Waterfall, the tour’s second and main highlight. You’ll have a chance to walk around this special spot, take photos and admire the series of cascades that thunder down around 100 m (330 ft.) of mountainside from a distance. Leaving the waterfall, the tour then continues through little fishing villages, past power plants and farms nestling amid spectacular scenery, all interlaced with plenty of photo stops to keep your camera finger busy on the way back to the port and your ship. Please note: limited number of guides in languages other than English. Should a tour guide for your language be unavailable, the tour will be in English only. This tour is not suitable for guests with walking difficulties or using a wheelchair as it includes walking on uneven, muddy ground.
    • Tasting included

    • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Easy

    • Duration
      6 h

  • GLACIER FJORDS & HESTEYRI BY BOAT

    NATURAL WONDERS

    IFJ03

    Leave the pier and board a boat to one of the most beautiful and remote areas of Iceland, the beaches of Hornstrandir. An hour-long cruise takes us to Hesteyri, the westernmost bay of the Glacier Fjords. With very limited lowland, this isolated spit of land is framed by steep cliffs and is set against a backdrop of two beautiful mountains. Until 1950s, Hesteyri only had a small and scattered community centered around a whaling station and a herring processing factory. By joining this tour, you will gain insight into the difficult lives of those living in this remote place and learn how these communities were obliged to leave when herring fisheries closed. Now a beautiful nature reserve, this is one of the wildest spots in Iceland and we can enjoy the area in all its glory during a walking tour before stopping for a light snack of Icelandic pancake, rye bread with smoked lamb and coffee. Please note: limited number of guides in languages other than English. Should a tour guide for your language be unavailable, the tour will be in English only. This tour is not recommended for guests having walking difficulties or using a wheelchair.
    • Snack included

    • Limited seats

    • Active excursions recommended only for guests in good physical health

      Difficulty Level
      Strenuous

    • Duration
      4:30 h

  • BOAT TRIP TO VIGUR ISLAND

    SCENIC ROUTE

    IFJ01

    The lovely island of Vigur is a green oasis nestling in the blue waters of the Isafjardardjup fjord. In spring, the island is a nesting place for countless birds and in the summer months puffins, arctic terns, black guillemots and eider ducks can be seen in large numbers. A 30-minute boat transfer will take us to Vigur where we will take a leisurely walk around the island to discover its natural beauty and unspoilt environment. The duck’s nests are carefully protected by collecting Eiderdown is still permitted during spring. Traditional farming methods are still practiced on the island and visitors can see Iceland’s only windmill, built in 1840 and used to grind wheat imported from Denmark. The timeless feel is enhanced by the collection of historic houses that date back to the last centuries: Viktoria House was erected in 1862 and a young priest in 1884, an ancestor of the family living in Vigur today, erected the second house. Before returning to Isafjordur we will see one of the smallest post offices in Europe and enjoy coffee and Icelandic cake. Please note: limited number of guides in languages other than English. Should a tour guide for your language be unavailable, the tour will be in English only. No guide during the boat trip; she will wait on the island. This tour is not suitable for guests with walking difficulties and using a wheelchair. The sighting of the birds not guaranteed.
    • Snack included

    • Limited seats

    • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Moderate

    • Duration
      3 h

  • ÍSAFJÖRÐUR FJORDS & FLOWERS

    SCENIC ROUTE

    IFJ10

    Take a break from the ship, board a coach and savour some of Iceland’s dramatic, craggy landscape en route to your first destination, the Skrúður Botanical Garden. Founded in 1909 by the reverend of a nearby parish, the garden’s aim was to prove that, despite its northern location, Iceland could support numerous plants and vegetables that others thought would fail to survive, never mind thrive. After enjoying a look around the garden, you’ll move on by coach again to Flateyri, a village founded in the mid-19th century around the shark fishing industry. You’ll be dropped off at a small church, typical of many in Iceland’s smaller towns, to listen to Icelandic music. A stroll down Flateyri’s high street then includes visits to the town’s old bookstore and a historical merchant’s home, where an exhibition of the town’s history awaits you. Next up is a chance to see how Icelandic handicrafts are made at a local workshop and enjoy a coffee or tea break along with homemade Icelandic cake (on request). Last up is your return journey to the ship. Please note: limited number of guides in languages other than English. Should a tour guide for your language be unavailable, the tour will be in English only. This tour is not suitable for guests with walking difficulties or using a wheelchair as it includes walking on uneven, muddy ground. Conservative attire recommended for visiting sites of religious importance.
    • Long route by bus

    • Shooting videos and/or taking pictures is not allowed or subject to fee

    • Tasting included

    • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Moderate

    • Duration
      3 h

  • LIFE & CULTURE IN ISAFJORDUR

    SOMETHING SPECIAL

    IFJ02

    The town of Isafjordur is the biggest settlement in the west fjords of Iceland and a key centre for trade and culture. The oldest part of the town, Nedstikaupstadur, features houses from the XVIII century that pay testament to Isafjordur’s former importance as one of the main trading centres in Iceland. Starting at the pier, drive into the centre of the town along a narrow coastal road passing the small town of Bolungarvik; here we will visit the church and “Osvor”, an old fisherman’s hut, restored in 1988. The village of Bolungarvik lies on a picturesque bay surrounded by steep mountains. The scenic drive to Isafjordur offers fantastic views of the mountains that surround the fjord. Our trip also takes us through the historic district of Isafjordur, to the Maritime Museum, located in one of the oldest houses of Iceland. Enjoy a typical Icelandic snack complete with schnapps and dried fish. Please note: limited number of guides in languages other than English. Should a tour guide for your language be unavailable, the tour will be in English only. Guests using a wheelchair can take part, but should be aware that there are some obstacles (steps) to reach Osvor Hut; other sites have ramps. They must be accompanied by a paying helper to provide assistance with getting on and off the coach and their wheelchairs must be collapsible/foldable since the coach has neither a ramp nor a lift. Guests using a wheelchair who would like to participate in this tour are requested to contact the Shore Excursions’ Desk promptly once they are on board so that arrangements can be made.
    • Snack included

    • Limited seats

    • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Easy

    • Duration
      3 h

The excursions in the programme are intended to provide MSC Guests with an idea of the different tours that can be arranged in each port of call; this programme is merely a guide and confirmation of each excursion and its description and prices will be made during your cruise. 
Shore excursions programs and itineraries may vary depending on local conditions and/or any unforeseen events in relation to the timing on the day of the tour.
 
Some excursions are very popular and therefore availability cannot always be guaranteed, it is advisable to book in advance to avoid disappointment. The guides are guaranteed in English. Only for South America cruises, the guides are guaranteed in Brazilian Portuguese. Narration in other languages depends on the availability of guides. Please note that the final language of the tour will be confirmed on board during the cruise.

Iceland

Fountains of lava amidst the ice
Fountains of lava amidst the ice

A vacation in Iceland is like discovering another world. Even if you’ve imagined it, this island will amaze you.


Not many people know that Reykjavík, the Icelandic capital, has an intense artistic and social life. Nor that the Icelandic nature is so luxuriant because temperatures in the summer are incredibly mild or that in the winter, when the skies are painted by the colours of the northern lights, it’s not as cold as one might think.

Iceland is bound to attract you with its pools of boiling mud, the incredible geysers, the glaciers and the waterfalls, and more. Try indulging in bird-watching at Lake Mývatn, or take an excursion to meet the whales, Iceland’s sea is one of the best places in the world for watching these big cetaceans.
If you’re attracted to ice, visit Jökulsárlón, the largest frozen lagoon of the country which forms where the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier meets the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. 


And if you intend to relax, you should know that there are more than 170 geothermal pools in the country, like the splendid and therapeutic Blue Lagoon, about 40 km from Reykjavík, a large pool fed by a spring that pours out water at a temperature of between 37 and 39 °C, rich in minerals and with therapeutic properties.