Hvammstangi: The Seal Capital of Iceland

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Basic Information

  • Perfect stop between the Westfjords and North Iceland. 
  • The seal capital of Iceland. 
  • Less than 1000 inhabitants. 

Located in northwest Iceland, between the bustling town of Akureyri and the Westfjords, Hvammstangi is a perfect spot if you are on a road trip around the Ring Road. This Icelandic town is thinly populated with less than 1000 inhabitants residing here. Popularly known as the seal capital of Iceland, it is endowed with a beautiful gorge and waterfall, and it’s an exquisite place to relax your senses. The town traces its history back to 1856, and roughly for a century, it used to be an important trading center. Visitors can find all the history of this beautiful town and its early settlers at the Trade Museum Bardusa. There is no place in Iceland more perfect than Hvammstangi to see how thousands of lazy seals sunbathe near its coasts.

northern lights in Hvammstangi

Seal Watching

Hvammstangi, although smaller in size, is blessed with an excellent harbor from which seal watching trips are organized. The seal colonies spend their days sunbathing or just playing around on the Vatnsnes Peninsula.  Along with the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, it is the best place for seal watching. One can learn all about the different seal species found around Iceland and their importance to people here at the Icelandic Seal Center. The center provides all the information regarding seal watching, sightseeing, and boat trips, and acts as a tour desk.

The Town

Just next to the Seal center, there is an excellent seafood restaurant, Sjavarborg, where visitors can enjoy the exquisite delicacies produced from fresh ocean catch. The restaurant also offers a wonderful view of the Miðfjörður fjord.

Visitors interested in handcrafted items and special souvenirs can make a stop at the museum Bardusa. Also being a crafts shop, the museum sells all kinds of locally-made handcrafted items. Hvammstangi has all the other facilities one can expect from a small town. From the supermarket, health center and swimming pool to the cliff-side campsite, there is everything one needs for an enjoyable stay. 

Hvammstangi in north Iceland

Kolugljufur Gorge

Just a few kilometers (22 km) away from Hvammstangi, the Kolugljufur Gorge is a wonderful sight to feast your eyes and see the brilliant waterfall located here. Although relatively lesser-known, Kolugljufur is a massive rocky canyon with a powerful river rushing through it. According to Icelandic folklore, Kolugljufur is named after the giantess Kola as she shaped the gorge while doing her daily chores.

Vatnsnes Peninsula

Easily accessible from Hvammstangi, the Vatnsnes Peninsula offers a wealth of natural landmarks to enjoy its surreal tranquillity. On the western coastline of the peninsula is a jagged rock structure of Ánastaðastapi. And on the eastern side is an extraordinary geological structure, Hvitserkur Troll Rock, the 15 m high basalt monolith standing on its own inside the ocean. Vatnsens with its natural beauties makes it a worthwhile destination for photographers and visitors alike.

Location, Stay and the best time to visit

Although the town has few hotels for a comfortable stay, they can’t beat the experience of staying in Hvammstangi Cottages. Each cottage is equipped with a kitchen, bathroom, and bunk beds. The summer season (May to August) is an ideal time to visit here. During summers, you can catch a glimpse of seal colonies and enjoy the serene and beautiful landscapes of Hvammstangi.

Hvammstangi is roughly a 176 km drive from the capital city of Reykjavík. The bus service is also available and it is the cheapest transport medium to reach the destination. we do recommend that you rent a car and go on a self driving tour to Hvammstangi so you will be able to explore all the beautiful attractions that will be on your way. 

seal in Hvammstangi

Hvammstangi on a map

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