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Grímsey Island

Photo credit: brian.gratwicke / Foter / CC BY
Grímsey Island
  • (worth a trip)
  • 10+ km
  • Moderate
  • Average
  • full day
  • 3 3

Visit the adorable Grímsey and cross the Arctic Circle

As a rather frequent traveler I have always found going to islands as a particularly special experience. Due to their remoteness and rather difficult conditions for living, it is always exciting and very interesting to find out about how people have managed to live on islands long before modern vehicles and supply systems were introduced. When going to Iceland, there are many such smaller islands to be visited and Grímsey Island is perhaps my favorite one (thus far).


Grímsey is Northernmost inhabited Icelandic territory and it is located so far that the Arctic Circle crosses it. There are around 90 people living on Grímsey but as you can imagine, their lifestyles and conditions have changed throughout the time and alongside with economical and social changes. Such activities as fishing, farming and egg hunting used to be the main source of income for the locals living on Grímsey but now the traditional and simple methods have been substituted with more modern ones and modern style fishing and fish processing plays major role in Grímsey’s economy. Also, tourism industry is growing, allowing people to do many service-based jobs such as working for guesthouses, tour companies, cafes, campsites etc. providing everything a traveler could need when visiting Grímsey.


Speaking of sightseeing highlights to be visited on Grímsey, there are quite a few taking into account its relatively small size. Certainly visit the Church of Grímsey – a small, nevertheless locally important church which was originally built in 1867. Also surely stop-by at the borderline of Arctic Circle. The spot is marked by symbolic bridge and is located not too far from the airport terminal. While being there I was amused by the fact that not many people can tell that they have crossed the Arctic Circle and they tend to get overly proud about it but for people of Grímsey it is everyday norm.


Speaking of activities that can be done on Grímsey, the choice is also quite vast. Firstly, the island is perfect for those who like to do animal and bird watching. Birdlife on Grímsey is quite flourishing and you can easily spot plenty of birds during a short time. Some of the most beautiful and quite rare examples would be terns, puffins, snowbunting and Northern wheatear but the number of species to be seen there is way higher. If you happen to be a keen angler, you should know that there are many sea angling tours organized around the island. Biking and hiking are also very popular activities among tourists visiting Grímsey and in fact the weather there is not as rough for such leisure activities since generally speaking the climate on Grímsey could be described as mild. The reason for this is North Atlantic Current which brings warm water from the Gulf of Mexico. While visiting Grímsey, surely let your shyness behind and interact with the locals – they have plenty of good stories to tell not only from recent past but also from very distant history. Icelanders are wonderful story-tellers and they know their sagas (historical prose works from 10th/11th century unique to Iceland and other Norse countries), which means that from them you will get lot of interesting facts and information, definitely more than every tourism brochure provides.

How to get there

Grimsey can be reached both via sea or air. The ferry connects the mainland by the village Dalvík which is situated approx. 40 km north of Akureyri with Grímsey. The ferries are running 3 times per week - on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and one trip lasts 3 hours.

There is also an airport on Grimsey which means it can be easily reached by air as well. Norlandair is reliable company offering scheduled flights. During the summer season (from June till August) the flights are daily but in any other season they run only three times per week (Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays). All these flights leave from Akureyri airport.