Iceland’s northernmost town, Siglufjörður (which now is a part of Fjallabyggð, along with Ólafsfjörður), is a historic fishing town whose fame and fortune has always been linked to the ebb and flow of the fishing industry. A tiny shark fishing village in 1900, Siglufjörður soon became one of the largest towns in Iceland and the undisputed capital of herring fishing in the Atlantic. Although the herring have disappeared, the town bears the distinct imprint of ‘The Herring Era’.
The harbour at Siglufjörður has long been considered one of the best in Iceland. As early as the Middle Ages, English and Dutch fishing and merchant ships favoured Siglufjörður as a convenient, sheltered base of operations.
During the 20th Century, Siglufjörður became the centre of Iceland’s flourishing commercial herring fishing industry and its harbour one of the largest and most important in the country. In the heyday of the herring fishery, Siglufjörður was a town filled with fish, jobs and money, a busy boomtown with a gold rush-like atmosphere that quickly earned the nicknames Klondike of the Atlantic, Fishermen’s Eldorado and Iceland’s Sodom. By mid-century, 500 boats were active in the local herring fishery. In times of bad weather, hundreds of fishing boats would seek refuge, tying to the docks or anchoring in the fjord to wait out the storm. There were so many docks in the harbour that you had to travel a kilometre and a half to get from the first one to the last. In fact, laid end-to-end Siglufjörður’s docks would have stretched well over six kilometres!
With the disappearance of the herring from Iceland’s waters by 1970, the old wooden docks were replaced by permanent concrete. Though considerably smaller than in the past, the modern harbour is still just as protected and just as close to the fishing grounds as always. Today, the harbour is frequented by large shrimp trawlers and small cod-fishing boats delivering their catch to local processors.
Since 2002 Siglufjörður has welcomed cruise ship passengers to visit this small town at the edge of North Iceland that is full of well kept history.
The Herring Era Museum is one of Iceland’s largest maritime and industrial museums.
It houses exhibitions in three buildings, describing herring fishing and showing how the ‘silver of the sea’ was processed.
The museum traces Iceland’s bumpy ride to prosperity after centuries of poverty — a venture that spanned much of the 20th century, and one in which herring played a leading role.
By walking through the museum’s three buildings one can easily sense the atmosphere of the old days as you chance upon a love letter, for example, a ball gown or a red lipstick, or a knife for gutting the herring.
Honoured with an Icelandic Museum Award (2000) and a European Micheletti Award (2004), this fascinating museum brings history to life for cruise passengers.
Local herring girls gut the fish and pack them in barrels while chatting, shouting, singing and flirting to recreate the atmosphere of the old times.
They sing and dance and offer guests the chance to join them in a dockside ball.
Guests can taste pickled, spiced and smoked herring on rye bread, washed down with a shot of Icelandic schnapps.
Hiking trails & birdwatching
Siglufjörður is an area of spectacular natural beauty.
The mountains and the fjords are awe-inspiring and the opportunities for outdoor activities and recreation are almost inexhaustible.
There are hiking trails for all levels of experience in the mountains and valleys surrounding Siglufjörður.
The most popular trails lead into neighbouring Héðinsfjörður, an uninhabited fjord of pristine and natural beauty.
The Folk Music Centre
The Folk Music Centre is located in Siglufjörður’s oldest house, the Madame House.
The Centre presents Icelandic folk music in an accessible and entertaining manner through video recordings of people old and young, from all parts of Iceland, singing, chanting and playing traditional instruments.
Visitors can take a crack at playing reproductions of an Icelandic fiddle and a langspil (a kind of bowed dulcimer), or just listen to the music while having coffee.
|Pilot||Available. Pilot meets vessel about 400 m from harbor|
|Tidal movement||1 m|
Maximum ship dimensions
|Air draft||No restrictions|
|Tugboats||Yes, small ones|
|Type of bottom||Sand, good holding ground|
|Minimum depth||25 m|
|Distance from anchorage to tender pier||400 m|
|Pilot channel||VHF channel 10|
|Emergency channel||VHF channel 10|
|Medical emergency||VHF channel 10 / 112|
|Shuttle services||Yes, Björn, +354 868 2150|
|Excursion buses||Iceland Travel / Atlantik|
|Taxis||Yes, Björn, +354 868 2150|
|Rental cars||Yes, by the pier|
|Terminal building for passengers||No|
|Tourist information||Yes, 300 m from the pier|
|Shopping||Yes, in town centre 300 m from the pier|
|Currency exchange||Arion bank, town centre (not open on weekends)|
|City centre||300 m|
|Airport||Domestic: 75 km|
|Visiting address||Port of Siglufjörður 580 Siglufirði|
|Contact person||Anita Elefsen|
|Mobile||+354 865 2036|