Travel Update


Icelandic Horses

My Skagafjörður: Horses, Islands & Sunsets

By: Catharine
Last Updated: 17/01/2023

Þóra Björk Þórhallsdóttir spent her childhood playing alongside the stream that ran through town, fishing with her father in his small boat, and combing black sandy beaches for shells and beautiful stones, taking treasures for herself and leaving behind messages in bottles to be found by other seaside scavengers. These are the fond memories she's held on to from her earlier years in Skagafjörður. That, and horses.

After returning for a visit to Skagafjörður with her own young family, Þóra — who's been with Nordic Visitor for as long as anyone can remember — shared her suggestions of what visitors to this slice of Iceland's north should be sure not to miss.

The Horses

Skagafjörður is known in Iceland — and internationally by those with an affinity for the Icelandic horse — as the cradle of Icelandic horsemanship. It is the sole county in Iceland where the horse population outnumbers that of people, and is home to a lively annual horse roundup, wherein farmers, locals and visitors spend a weekend herding all the horses in from the mountains and surrounding area to their enclosures for the winter.

Icelandic horses in Iceland - Skagafjörður
The wonderfully unique Icelandic horse, by Lilja Hauksdóttir

Due to the proud equestrian heritage of the area, and the fact that many of the country's top breeders of the unique Icelandic horse reside in Skagafjörður, it is an ideal spot to enjoy some horseback riding. It also doesn't hurt that the view from horseback is going to be pretty spectacular in this particular part of the country.

The Islands

Iceland is a country of fjords. Much of its coastline is marked by long, narrow bays, but Skagafjörður is different. This fjord is dotted with three islands — Drangey, Lundey and Málmey — and the dramatic cape Þórðarhöfði, that make the view out to sea particularly lovely.

Puffins and other seabirds thrive on the islands of Skagafjörður
Puffins and other seabirds thrive on the islands of Skagafjörður

The islands are also a destination for bird lovers. The towering cliffs of Drangey are home to thriving colonies of seabirds, namely puffin, guillemot and auk; and the island acts as a sanctuary for ravens and falcons as well. Lundey (Puffin Island) is, as its name implies, home to colonies of wonderfully entertaining puffins, who dive clumsily into the sea searching for the catch of the day.

Though uninhabited, the islands in Skagafjörður are accessible by boat for visits or to circumnavigate and view from the sea.

The Sunsets

In addition to providing a home for native bird life, the islands of Skagafjörður also lend themselves to the breathtaking quality of the area's sunsets, adding dimension and depth to the horizon.

skagafjordur sunset 2
Sunset over Málmey, by Dagur Jónsson


Enough said.

The Beaches

Skagafjörður is a long ways from the golden sands of the Caribbean, but its beaches are still worth a visit. Thanks to the volcanic activity that abounds in Iceland, the sands of the beaches surrounding Skagafjörður are black, making for many a dramatic photograph.

The beaches are also a great place to take in the view of the islands and cape or, as Þóra did in her childhood, search for treasures washed ashore and send out messages in bottles.

Þóra's twin sons exploring the black sands of Skagafjörður
Þóra's twin sons exploring the black sands of Skagafjörður

There's a whole lot more to be seen and done in Skagafjörður, just ask one of Nordic Visitor's travel experts for some tips when planning your own Icelandic adventure.

Þóra Björk Þórhallsdóttir is the sales director at Nordic Visitor. She grew up in the town of Sauðárkrókur in Skagafjörður and now enjoys returning to the region with her family to share the treasures of the area with her own children.

This post is part of our “My Destination” series, in which we ask our staff to tell us about their favourite highlights from our Nordic destinations.

Post by: Catharine

Catharine Fulton is a journalist and travel writer. Though born and raised in Canada, she found herself stuck in the Nordic region since moving to Finland in 2007 to pursue her MA and then migrating to Reykjavík, Iceland in 2009, where she lives with her Icelandic husband and tries (albeit unsuccessfully) to master the Icelandic language.

More posts by Catharine

Getting there

We'd love to give you the same amazing travel experiences as you read about in our blog! To visit the destinations and attractions mentioned in this post - and to discover a few new highlights along the way - check out these recommended Nordic Visitor tours.