Grímsey Island – A Comprehensive Tour Guide

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Basic Information

  • Located up north in the Arctic Circle.
  • Population of around 100 people. 

Grímsey is a beautiful island situated off the north coast of Iceland. The stunning island stands afar and alone on the horizon. Grímsey can be truly called an arctic part of Iceland. It is a blue cliff that stands amidst the waters of the wide Arctic vicinity. Grímsey Island is spread over 5 square kilometers, located about 40 kilometers off the north coast. The highest point in Grimsey stretches approximately 105 meters. This stunning island is part of the Akureyri municipality. With a modest population of one hundred people, Grimsey Island will be a unique experience for tourists.

Grímsey Island

Life at Grimsey Island

Fishing is a major source of commerce on this picturesque island. The Grimsey fishermen farm the rich fishing banks all over the island. You can also see them using their small motorboats to venture further north in the Arctic Ocean. The renovated harbor and fertile fishing grounds adorn the island. When you visit Grimsey, you can witness the courageous stints of the fishermen as the boundless Arctic Ocean often turns wild. Sea storms and frost are a common thing with waves that can reach 15 meters high.

Along with the economy, the advent of tourism has also seen a rise in Grimsey. The island is well-equipped with modern facilities for tourists. There are several guesthouses and cafes where you can relax and enjoy the local food. Two guesthouses are there on the island, one of which is open throughout the year. For better connectivity, there is an airport that connects to Akureyri airport. A school and community center, along with a swimming pool, contribute to the development of the area. Privately owned village convenience store, Búðin sells a variety of goods and essentials.

What to see in Grimsey

The lush green island is blessed with enriched birdlife. Grimsey hosts various species of birds and that too in a large number. You will be surprised to know that at Grimsey, seabirds outnumber locals by around 10,000 to one. This is due to various reasons such as they have plenty of fishes to eat from the Arctic seas. The second reason could be the restrictions on hunting of the birds and the collection of eggs, during the previous half-century. Do carry your camera to capture beautiful scenes and mesmerizing birds.

The main attraction is the Atlantic Puffins that reside on the island. Most of the visitors come to Grimsey in the summer to see the Puffins. You will find no puffins here during winters. Black-Legged Kittiwakes, Auks, Thick-Billed Murre, Razorbills, and Northern Fulmar are included in the wide range of other species found on the island. If you are a birdwatcher, you should visit between May and September to see these colorful flying creatures capturing the skies.

Grímsey Island

The History of Grímsey

You can visit the small wooden church, of great historical importance, built on the island. The Catholic bishop of Iceland, Jón Ögmundsson, built an older church almost 900 years ago. Though it falls within the parish of Akureyri, this is a new church constructed in 1867. The church was renovated in 1932 and it shows a native, century-old imitation of a painting by Leonardo Da Vinci. Another interesting fact about the island is that it first appeared in writing around the year 1000 CE. This alone speaks volumes about the historical significance of this small island. Grímsey also features a popular monument- an eight-tonne sphere of stone, it marks the edge of the Arctic Circle. The thought behind the shape is to represent the rolling movements of the Arctic Circle. This is an out-of-the-box idea to witness as the monument is not fixed and moves along with its true location.

How to get to Grimsey Island

You can easily reach Grimsey Island through the ferry services that are functional three days a week, throughout the year. Regular flights run from Akureyri, thrice a week during winter and all through the week during summer.

Grímsey Island

Grímsey Island on a map

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