Ten most interesting towns and villages in Iceland

  • Iceland has approximately 70 towns and villages around the island. This is our top 10 list.
    Iceland has approximately 70 towns and villages around the island. This is our top 10 list.
Nov 30 2016

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 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 an independent municipality, and many have a short 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 good accommodation and a camping site, and many offer interesting museums, adventure tours, and a variety of 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 our Towns and Villages link.

Our method of ranking

Now how do we rank the 70 towns and villages as interesting for tourists who are visiting Iceland and mostly 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, interesting museums, strength of the town’s economy, things to do, history, and if the town offers good accommodation, camp site, 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 interesting natural wonders around and inland in Iceland, a highly interesting place that would always 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 of each, we visited each and every town and village over a period of two years. We also talked to people living in these villages, capturing every place in numerous photos. In addition, we wrote an article about all the towns and villages in Iceland that you can see here on our 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.

1. Húsavík

Húsavík nr. one on top ten most interesting list of towns and villages in Iceland

Húsavík in the nothern region in Iceland

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 origin 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 an 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, good restaurants, wonderful accommodation, and one of the best camping sites in Iceland. To read more, read our more detailed article on Húsavík.

2. Vestmannaeyjar

Vestmannaeyjar Westman Islands town

Westman Islands - Vestmannaeyjar in Iceland

Vestmannaeyjar or Westman Islands is a town located on a small island on 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 kind of 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 museum, and a fascinating history. Around the island Heimaey, you will also find other interesting islands, and a seatour with a local tour guide is highly recommended. To read more, read our more detailed article about Vestmannaeyjar.

3. Akureyri

Akureyri in northern region of Iceland

Akureyrir is a beautiful town in the northern region in Iceland

Akureyri is the largest town 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 see 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 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 a pure joy. Akureyri is also located on ghe Ring Road and a short distance from many natural wonders in the northern region in Iceland. To learn more, read our more detailed article about Akureyri.

4. Stykkishólmur

Stykkishólmur town in Snæfellsnes Peninsula Iceland

Stykkishólmur town in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in Iceland

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 to the many islands in Breiðafjörður fjord gives the town a spectacular surrounding. The town offers a variety of tours and on the sea as well as to 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, a wonderful camping site to good restaurants. To read more, go to our more detailed article about Stykkishólmur.

5. Ísafjörður

Ísafjörður town in the Westfjords in Iceland

Ísafjörður town in the Westfjords in Iceland

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 a number of small towns and villages worth visiting, and the most interesting is the town Ísafjörður. This town is simply a treat from both historical and cultural aspects. It is one of the most important towns in the 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.

6. Grindavík

Grindavík town - Reykjanes Peninsula

Grindavík is the hometown of the Blue Lagoon

The Reykjanes Peninsula has many interesting natural wonders. Grindavík town is in good proximity to many of those places as well as the hometown of the famous Blue Lagoon. 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.

7. Seyðisfjörður

Seyðisfjörðr in Eastern Region in Iceland

Seyðisfjörður town in the eastern region in Iceland

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 one of the most interesting and beautiful clusters of old houses found anywhere in Iceland. The town has not only embraced tourism but has also enhanced its cultural status with impressive artistic activities in modern times. Seyðisfjörður also offers some of the best restaurants in eastern Iceland, great variety of accommodation, and a wonderful camping site. To learn more, read our more detailed article about Seyðisfjörður.

8. Hvammstangi

Hvammstangi village in Iceland

Hvammstangi village in northern region in Iceland

The small village Hvammstangi is a great location for some of the most stunning natural wonders in the western part of the northern region in Iceland. Places like Hvítserkur, Kolugljúfur, and Vatnsnes peninsula. It is located on a beautiful slope by fjord Miðfjörður with excellent quality restaurants, friendly accommodation, and one of the best camping sites in Iceland. Hvammstangi is a neat and clean small village and a joy to visit. To learn more, read our more detailed article about Hvammstangi.

9. Vík

Vik í Mýrdal village in sothern region in Iceland

Vík í Mýrdal is a small village in the southern region in Iceland

Vík is the smallest village on our list. Placed in a stunning landscape surrounded by some of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland, Vík is on the fast track of becoming a major service center for the tourist industry in the southern region of Iceland. For those traveling through the Ring Road, it is a logical place to stop after visiting some of the beautiful natural wonders between Reykjavík and Vík. The town has a long history and some interesting houses that local people have renovated. In addition, few places on the planet are placed in proximity to such enormous forces of nature as Vík. Not only is this small village placed by the shore at the edge of humongous forces created by severe weather and the Atlantic ocean but it is also under constant threat of a major eruption of the notorious volcano Katla. But astonishingly, despite all, it is a peaceful and wonderful little village. To read more, go to our more detailed article about Vík.

10. Vopnafjörður

Vopnafjörður village in eastern region in Iceland

Vopnafjörður village in eastern region in Iceland

The old trading place Vopnafjörður (The fjord of weapons) and fishing community is one of the delightful survivors in the town and village flora of Icelandic towns and villages. The village has survived most natural and man-made catastrophic events in recent history and is now a thriving fishing village with a strong economy. The village is located in a stunningly beautiful surrounding by the shore. It is not far from some of the greatest natural wonders in Jökulsárgljúfur canyon and is also a good starting point for those who like to drive through the Melrakkaslétta plain, one of the most isolated places in Iceland. It is a wonderful village with all the necessary services for tourists and has a small but good camping site. To read more, go to our more detailed article about Vopnafjörður.