The Ultimate Guide to Seyðisfjörður Skip to content
view over seyðisfjörður
Photo: Erik.

The Ultimate Guide to Seyðisfjörður

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Seyðisfjörður is a small town nestled in Iceland’s East Fjords. With a flourishing art scene and small town vibes, it’s a beautiful and cozy place to visit on a day trip. There’s also a lot of beautiful nature nearby, so for explorers who really want to get to know this beautiful part of East Iceland, there’s lots to discover!

How to get to Seyðisfjörður

Seyðisfjörður is a pretty remote village, so it can be a little tricky getting out there. That said, with all of the cultural offerings and the beautiful surroundings, it’s more than worth the effort!

Fly to Seyðisfjörður

Flying to Seyðisfjörður is a great option for people who plan on spending most of their time either there or in the neighbouring town of Egilsstaðir, the capital of East Iceland. Seyðisfjörður is a very small village, so it can be great to explore on foot.

The easiest way is to fly from Reykjavík Airport to Egilsstaðir and then drive to Seyðisfjörður. It’s possible to pick up a rental car at the Egilsstaðir airport, but there is also a regional bus that runs between the towns. Note that this bus is not a regular city bus, but a special rural route. It may have less regular hours, so it’s best to check its schedule online.

Domestic flights in Iceland tend to run about 200-300 USD/EUR per adult passenger, but prices will of course fluctuate. The flight from Reykjavík to Egilsstaðir takes just under an hour, and you also get a great view of some of the Icelandic highlands.

Driving to Seyðisfjörður

Driving to Seyðisfjörður is of course possible, and it can be a great option if you want to explore the rest of East Iceland as well. Many of the small towns in the East Fjords are charming and are well worth a day trip, so having a car in the East Fjords can give you much more freedom to explore.

Assuming you’re leaving from the capital area, it takes around eight and a half hours to drive to Seyðisfjörður. It’s nearly the same distance if you head north or south on Route 1, so it really just depends on which part of the country you’d like to see! While you technically could make the drive in one day, Icelandic mountain roads can be more demanding to drive than roads many travelers are familiar with. We recommend making the trip in at least two days, both to enjoy yourself and see more of Iceland, and also to stay safe by not driving while exhausted.

If you plan on driving to Seyðisfjörður, we really only recommend traveling during the summer. Even shoulder months such as May and October can be treacherous, and during the winter, the road over Fjarðarheiði, the mountain pass which separates Seyðisfjörður from the regional capital of Egilsstaðir, is closed more often than not. The road over Fjarðarheiði can be dangerous to drivers not used to driving in winter conditions in the mountains, so plan on visiting in the summer.

Taking the ferry to Seyðisfjörður

Though taking the ferry won’t be a practical option for most travelers, it is possible to take a ferry to Seyðisfjörður. This can be a charming and slower way of getting to Iceland, while also seeing the beautiful Faroe Islands along the way. 

seyðisfjörður ferry

The ferry, which is called the MS Norröna and is operated by Smyril Lines, runs from Hirtshals in northern Denmark to Seyðisfjörður, with a stop in Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands. This won’t suit all travelers, but many Europeans with campervans choose the ferry to be able to travel with their vehicle.

At the time of writing, tickets begin around $158/€146 for one adult with basic accommodations and no vehicle. The ferry sails weekly from Denmark to Iceland during the summer, but there is no sailing from the end of November to the middle of March. Read more here.

It’s worth noting that Seyðisfjörður is also an increasingly popular destination for cruise ship tourism. However, given the overall negative impact on the local community and environment, we have to recommend against this particular way of traveling to Seyðisfjörður. Read more about cruise ship tourism in Iceland.

seyðisfjörður cruise ship

Art and culture in Seyðisfjörður

Seyðisfjörður is one of those towns that probably has one of the highest artist-to-population ratios in the world. While everyone might have a day job, the average Seyðisfjörður resident is likely also a potter, a painter, photographer, or musician. One of the main reasons for this is that the town has historically been rather cosmopolitan. Situated in East Iceland, it’s where the Atlantic cable came to Iceland, and so it was a major point of contact with the outside world. The influential Swiss artist Dieter Roth also called Seyðisfjörður home for some time, and a popular artist festival, LungA, is also held here annually. 2024 will, unfortunately, be the last year for the festival.

Skaftfell Art Center

Skaftfell Art Center in Seyðisfjörður is the regional visual arts hub for East Iceland. Established in 1998 in honor of artist Dieter Roth, it operates in a historic building from 1907. Skaftfell, a non-profit organization, features exhibition spaces, an art library, meeting rooms, guest accommodations, and a bistro. It supports contemporary art internationally through artist residencies, exhibitions, workshops, talks, and collaborations with other art entities. Exhibitions are free and always interesting. Highly recommended!

“How’s It Going” Phone Booth

This little memorial probably isn’t why you came to Seyðisfjörður, but it’s worth checking out if you’re walking by! You might think it’s an old phone booth, but you definitely can’t make a call here. It’s a sculpture by Icelandic artist Guðjón Ketilsson, created in 2006 to commemorate the centennial of Iceland’s first international telegraph cable, which connected Iceland to Scotland and initiated the country’s telecommunications with the world. Inside the booth, a moss-covered plaque reads, “Hvernig gengur?” which translates to “How’s it going?” in English.

hvernig gengur seyðisfjörður

Geirahús

Ásgeir Jón Emilsson (1931-1999), known as Geiri, was a naive artist from Seyðisfjörður. A lively and charismatic figure, Geiri was self-taught and had a profound artistic drive, creating works from everyday materials like aluminum cans and cigarette packaging. His home, unchanged since his death, reflects his artistic spirit and is preserved by Skaftfell Art Center. Geiri, a former fisherman and fish plant worker, was known for his sincerity and compassion. His home, Geirahús, is now a museum showcasing his life and art, offering private tours in summer and closed during winter.

geirahús seyðisfjörður

Technical museum of East Iceland

The Technical Museum of East Iceland was established in 1984 as one of four specialized museums in Iceland’s Eastfjords. It later took on the additional role of a local heritage museum for the Seyðisfjörður area. The museum is currently closed due to significant damage caused by a mudslide in 2020.

Tvísöngur sound sculpture

Tvísöngur is a sound sculpture by German artist Lukas Kühne, situated on a mountainside above Seyðisfjörður. Made of concrete, it features five interconnected domes of varying sizes, each resonating with a specific tone from Icelandic five-tone harmony, acting as natural amplifiers. Opened on September 5, 2012, this piece of conceptual art is accessible to the public and offers a unique acoustic experience in a tranquil setting with stunning fjord views. Visitors can reach this unique artwork by walking a 15-20 minute gravel road starting from town.

tvísöngur sound sculpture

Iceland’s original Rainbow Road

Travelers to Reykjavík will no doubt have heard of Skólavörðustígur – the Instagram-famous “Rainbow Road.” Not everyone might know, however, that the original Icelandic Rainbow Road is actually in Seyðisfjörður! Local legend has it that a young man couldn’t make it to Reykjavík for the annual Pride Parade, and so his father had the road painted for him to celebrate in Seyðisfjörður. While you’re here, you may as well get a photo of Seyðisfjörður’s church as well – it’s probably one of the most-photographed churches in all of Iceland!

seyðisfjörður church

Hiking near Seyðisfjörður

In addition to the plentiful arts and culture in this small, idyllic town, Seyðisfjörður is also something of a hiker’s paradise, with a variety of trails for all skill and fitness levels. Here are some of our top recommendations for hiking around Seyðisfjörður, and be sure to check out our guide to hiking in Iceland for more general information on the weather, trails, what to wear, and more. Note: Google Maps isn’t the best for hiking trails. If you’re serious about hiking, you likely already know about Alltrails, but we think the app is well worth it for finding casual day hikes as well.

If you’re short on time

If you’re really short on time, the trail to Búðareyrarfoss takes literally minutes to walk, making it a favourite of cruise ship tourists (it also helps that the waterfall directly overlooks the harbour area). A swift 5-minute (and maybe not even that) walk up to the fall rewards you with a beautiful view of the town as well, so even if you’re not in a rush, there’s really no reason not to check out this scenic waterfall.

seyðisfjörður waterfall

If you have 2 hours

If you have a bit more time (and also want to see some creative architecture) then hiking up to Tvísöngur is a great little walk. The walk up to this sound sculpture doesn’t actually take very long – you can probably reach it in around 20 or 30 minutes from downtown Seyðisfjörður. However, once there, you can continue on the trail which runs along the plateau above town. This affords the day hiker a great view of the fjord, and there are several well-marked places to get off the path, so you can tailor this walk to your preferences.

If you want to spend the afternoon hiking

There are several day hikes near Seyðisfjörður as well, if you’re looking to stretch your legs but don’t quite have the gear or time for something more ambitious. One of our favourite hikes in the area is Vestdalsvatn, a beautiful mountain lake. 

vestdalur hike seyðisfjörður

This trail can either be done as a simple out-and-back, or else as a point-to-point, which will take you further down the road. This is a lovely area that features stunning views of the fjord, and it’s one of our favourite hikes in East Iceland. Expect to spend about 4 to 5 hours on this walk.

If you’re looking for a guided experience, there are many tours near Seyðisfjörður as well!

Where to eat in Seyðisfjörður

As a small town, Seyðisfjörður has relatively limited options for travelers. Still, there’s no reason to go hungry while exploring this wonderful town – indeed, it’s possible to eat quite well! Note that most restaurants in Seyðisfjörður are closed during the winter, so this information only applies to the high season in summer. 

Kaffi Lára

Kaffi Lára is a family-operated restaurant and bar situated by the lagoon in central Seyðisfjörður. Serving locally brewed beer and Icelandic grilled meats, alongside quality coffee and homemade cakes, it’s the perfect spot to mingle with locals, catch a football game, enjoy music from a local troubadour, or savor a delicious meal. Lunch offerings include salads and sandwiches and begin around ISK 3,200 [$23; €21]. Dinner offerings include burgers, ribs, and vegetarian offerings. Expect to spend ISK 3,500 [$25; €23] for a burger and upwards of ISK 4,000 [$29; €27] for a meat entree.

Nordic Restaurant

Come and enjoy eating freshly caught fish from the beautiful fjord and delicious grilled meat, salads, and colorful, tasty appetizers made from local ingredients. The kitchen is open for lunch from 12:00-15:00 and for dinner from 17:00. Table reservations are recommended. Brunch offerings include tasty Norwegian eggs benedict served with smoked salmon and a yummy chorizo open-faced sandwich. 

Norð Austur

If you’re looking for fresh sea food, Norð Austur is the place to go! Located right downtown, Norð Austur features locally caught fresh fish from the surrounding rivers and fjords. You can choose to order à la carte, or choose from a tasting menu. A popular set menu of sashimi and nigiri, with a total of 11 pieces of sushi, will cost you around ISK 5,500 [$39; €37]. We recommend booking ahead.

The Filling Station - Coop

The Seyðisfjörður Food Coop is a small family-run business offering breakfast and fresh-pressed juices made from organic fruits and vegetables, paired with freshly baked sourdough bread. They also sell fresh fruits and vegetables and offer subscription boxes for locals filled with seasonal, organic produce. Lunch offerings include chef’s choice selections, which often feature fresh fish with lots of healthy veggies. Prices are reasonable as well, but a warning – the Filling Station can have somewhat erratic opening hours.

seyðisfjörður food coop

Skaftfell Bistro

Underneath the Skaftell Art Center is Skaftfell Bistro, which serves satisfying meals, pizzas, flavorful coffee, delectable cakes and sweets, along with beer, wine, and other drinks. The Bistro, inspired by the late artist Dieter Roth, is part of the Dieter Roth Academy. It showcases his book works alongside other fascinating art books and book art (and also has free WiFi). A great pick-me-up after viewing some art at the exhibition space above the bistro!

Where to stay in Seyðisfjörður

Hostels in Seyðisfjörður

Luckily for budget travellers and backpackers, there are several hostels to pick from in Seyðisfjörður. Hafaldan has two locations, one by the harbour and one in the old hospital in town. Rates will of course vary, but a bunk for one adult currently goes for around €40 [$43]. Post Hostel is also a good option, where you can get a double or twin bed with a shared bathroom for €194 [$210]. Both hostels come with basic amenities, including a shared kitchen.

seyðisfjörður hostel

Camping in Seyðisfjörður

In the high summer, there’s really nothing like camping out in Icelandic nature. It doesn’t hurt that it can also be a cheaper option either! The campsite in Seyðisfjörður is centrally located, surrounded by trees and bushes, and includes a large RV parking area with bathroom access. Only tents or RVs are allowed for overnight stays. The campsite features a welcoming environment, with cooking facilities, a lounge, showers, toilets, laundry facilities, free internet, outdoor grills, and RV amenities. Expect to pay 2,000 ISK [$15; €13] per adult per night.

Hotels in Seyðisfjörður

For those looking for a more comfortable stay in Seyðisfjörður, there are plenty of hotels to choose from. For such a small town, there’s no lack of options here because of Seyðisfjörður’s popularity. There are many options, and prices will certainly vary depending on season and demand, but expect to spend at least around 200 euros or dollars on a room per night. We recommend booking early, as accommodations in this small town can fill up very quickly! 

Destinations near Seyðisfjörður

Vök Nature Baths

Vök Baths, opened in July 2019, features serene geothermal floating pools with infinity views on Lake Urriðavatn in East Iceland. Geothermal heat in the area was discovered when locals noticed unfrozen spots on the lake during winter, which were historically used for washing clothes and became the center of myths about a creature named Tuska. These ice-free patches, called “Vök” in Icelandic, now fill the warm, floating pools at Vök Baths. Guests can enjoy the unique experience of bathing in these geothermal spots, connecting with the surrounding nature. While Iceland is known for geothermal activity, geothermal activity is more scarce in the eastern region of the country, making Vök extra special. At the time of writing, admission is 6,990 ISK [$51; €47]. The facilities include the unique floating pool pods, a steam bath, cold mist tunnel, a bistro and bar, and of course a fresh Icelandic lake to take a dip in!

Egilsstaðir

The town of Egilsstaðir, population 2,500, is known as the capital of East Iceland. It might be humble by international standards, but there’s actually lots to do here if you’re visiting from Seyðisfjörður. One of our favourite places to visit in Egilsstaðir is the East Iceland Heritage Museum, which has interesting exhibits on the history of the area. It also has an exhibit on reindeer, which live only in East Iceland. Admission is 1,500 ISK [$11; €10] for adults.

seyðisfjörður reindeer

If you’re looking for even more nature around Egilsstaðir, the waterfall Hengifoss is well worth a visit! Although it appears high in the mountains, the hike to Hengifoss is easy. Standing at 128 meters, Hengifoss is the third highest waterfall in Iceland and is located in a great canyon. The cliffs feature red lines indicating different layers from volcanic eruptions. For added enjoyment, bring a water bottle and fill it from the incredibly fresh stream.

If visiting Seyðisfjörður has whetted your taste for the arts, you may want to check out Sláturhúsið Art Center. Located in Egilsstaðir, it focuses on promoting performing arts and other cultural activities, with a strong emphasis on educating children and youth. It participates in the annual BRAS cultural festival and hosts art exhibitions. Founded in 2005, it is a key institution for cultural policy implementation in the region. Most exhibits are free and open to the public.

The town of Egilsstaðir also has plenty of traditional options for dinner, but travellers looking for more of an experience may want to check out the restaurant at Skriðuklaustur! Skriðuklaustur is the site of an old Catholic monastery, which is now in ruins. The restaurant Klausturkaffi, located in a famous old house on the premises, offers two types of buffets from May through September: a lunch buffet and a coffee buffet. The coffee buffet, available in the afternoon, features a variety of treats including pies, buns, chocolate cakes, cheese, and crackers. The lunch buffet is just as enjoyable. It’s a great way to end your day of travelling around East Iceland!

There are also many tours of East Iceland that depart from Egilsstaðir, so it’s truly a traveler’s gateway to East Iceland!

Skálanes nature reserve

Closer to Seyðisfjörður is the Skálanes Nature Reserve, a unique area filled with bird life. Skálanes is an independent field center that hosts university students from around the world, focusing on research and education about Iceland’s natural and cultural environment. The center supports and encourages learning through various projects and studies conducted on-site. It provides a space for people to interact with nature, history, and each other, fostering idea development and exposure to new concepts. It has a sizeable colony of Eider ducks as well, whose down is harvested sustainably. Note that Skálanes Nature Reserve is open to visit, but it is located on private land. The trip out there can also be tricky (the road is rather rough and there’s at least one river crossing), so we recommend taking a tour instead of exploring it by yourself.

skálanes nature reserve

Nature, culture, and adventure

Nestled in a picturesque fjord in East Iceland, Seyðisfjörður is a charming town that offers visitors an enchanting blend of natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture. Surrounded by majestic mountains and cascading waterfalls, this quaint town boasts colorful wooden houses, a bustling arts scene, and a welcoming community. Explore the local galleries, enjoy the serene harbor views, and hike through stunning landscapes. Whether you’re soaking in the tranquil atmosphere or indulging in the town’s unique culinary delights, Seyðisfjörður promises an unforgettable Icelandic experience. Seyðisfjörður is where nature, culture, and adventure converge!

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