The village of Bolungarvík is located at the northwestern end of the Western fjords, AKA the Westfjords, and is the westernmost village of the famous Ísafjarðardjúp fjord.
The small town of Bolungarvík sits in an arena of massive peaks: Óshyrna (656 m) to the East, Ernir (696 m) to the South and Flatafjall (638 m) and Bolafjall (634 m) to the West. This can be problematic in winter as the valley is very exposed to avalanches on three sides.
When you arrive in Bolungarvík it is quickly obvious that this is a port where fishing is a central activity. The region is full of fish drying racks and you can spot a good number of them on the road from Bolungarvík to Ísafjörður.
This is one of the biggest cities in Iceland, counting 953 inhabitants in 2019. It was founded around the year 940 by a brother and a sister named Thuríður and Þjóðólfur, for some local history, and became an official town in 1947. It is one of the oldest fishing ports in all of Iceland.
The city is large enough to provide everything you could need for shopping, and all the services for local residents: schools, from kindergarten to middle school, a library, a sports center, a swimming pool, a large campsite and plenty of accommodation options.
Also the city is known for its top shelf museums, and Bolungarvík is the starting point for numerous hikes that offer some of the most beautiful vistas of the western fjords.
It is also from this harbour that you can take a boat to reach the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve.
Bolungarvík is pretty much isolated from the world, just dangling off the tip of the Ísafjarðardjúp fjord, with a single road leading there. For a long time you could only get there by boat and it was not until 1950 that an access road was built, however this road had a reputation for being quite dangerous. In the early 2000s a 5 km tunnel was built between Bolungarvík and Hnífsdalur, allowing visitors to get between the two with total peace of mind.
Bolungarvík is accessible via Road 61 along the Ísafjarðardjúp coastline, and only 20 km from Ísafjörður, the capital of the Westfjords.
The city is not served by public transport, so you'll need a car to get there. Quite difficut to access in winter due to weather conditions in the western fjords, so most tourists go there in summer.
Bolungarvík - Ósvör Museum
Bolungarvik is famous for two museums, and otherwise its staggering range of unique hikes and viewpoints.
This is a maritime museum that is a replica of a 19th century fishing town. The museum can be seen from the road, so it's not hard to find, and features a number of period artefacts and an authentic fishing boat.
The tour guide will describe and illustrate local fishing culture through the ages, decked out in traditional clothing for an entertaining and educational visit.
The museum is located at the eastern end of the city and is open on request during winter, and open almost all summer:
Unlike the Ósvör Museum, the Natural History Museum is right smack in the center of the city. You'll see a wide range of axidermied animals in all shapes and sizes, native to the region, such as seals, foxes, nearly 250 birds, and even a polar bear. While there are no polar bears in Iceland, this one arrived a few years ago travelling via iceberg all the way from Greenland, and you can even admire an impressive jawbone that once belonged to a mighty blue whale.
There are also mineral exhibits from the reputed collection of the Westfjords geologist Steinn Emilsson.
Note that you can purchase a combo ticket for the Ósvör and Natural History Museums for 1600 ISK per adult.
Bolungarvík - Panorama of Bolafjall - Gissur Steinarsson@Unspash
Bolafjall is undoubtedly the most popular tourist spot in Bolungarvík. The beautiful mountain in this area offers an extraordinary panoramic view of the Ísafjarðardjúp fjord and the horizon all the way to the Arctic. On a clear day, the 360° view is absolutely sensational.
Getting there is simple once you find the dirt road known as Road 630, which takes you the 8km from the city to the mountain and allows you to climb to the top. While some brave hikers cover this on foot, most prefer to drive, and a non-4x4 vehicle will do the trick. Keep in mind the track is only open in summer, however.
At the top there is an observatory behind which you will find an absolutely incredible view of the fjords. The landscape is in fact such a huge draw that in 2020 construction began to build a platform on the edge of the cliff to provide visitors with a commanding view of the Ísafjarðardjúp, expected to be finalized in 2022.
At the western end of Road 630 you will find Skálavík Cove. Uninhabited since 1960, all that's left is a magnificent beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in the country and a favourite of visiting families.
Being so remote, isolated at the northwestern tip of the fjords, Skálavík is an absolutely ideal place to observe the midnight sun in summer.