Information about Hrísey

 

In Eyjafordur in North Iceland there lies an island of around 200 people, called Hrisey, widely hailed as 'The Pearl of Eyjafjordur'. The beauty and tranquility of Hrisey, along with its interesting history and culture, the hospitality of the locals, rich birdlife and a fantastic view of the fjord and its mountains have made the island an essential stop for travelers.

History & Culture

Hrisey has been inhabited since the age of settlement and is mentioned as early as in Landnamabok and the Saga of Viga-Glumur. From early on there‘d be fishing and trade from the island and in the 19th century Norwegians and Swedes set up a herring salting factory there. The locals soon followed suit and developed their own herring industry, reaching its greatest hights between 1930 and 1950.

Overfishing in Icelandic waters led to a steep decline in the fishing industry in the 1960s, and the last fish freezing plant on Hrisey, owned by the Eyjafjordur Co-operative Society, closed in 1999. Today the locals mainly make their living through fishing and tourism.

Among the many beautiful houses in Hrisey is the house of Shark-Jorundur, built in 1885-6, which features an exhibition on shark hunting in Iceland, which reached its peak in the 19th century. This was an industry that was extremely hazardous and claimed many lives but could be highly profitable, as shark liver oil was used for street lighting until petrol took over. 

At the house of Alda Halldorsdottir, built in 1913, locals are setting up a regional museum. An old fishing station has been turned into a handworks gallery, Galleri Perla, showcasing women‘s handwork, such as knitting products, handmade candles, paintings, artefacts made from seashells, souvenirs and more. Nature lovers should also check out the birdhouse and the lighthouse, which offers a fantastic view of the area.

Nature

The island itself is around 7 km long and 2,5 km wide. It is rather flat, 110 meters above sea level at its highest. The island is comprised of basalt and its upper lair of moraine (unconslidated glacier debris, soil and rock) and it is well vegitated. Among the many plants found on the island are wooly willow, tea-leaved willow, common juniper and dwarf birch.

 There‘s geothermal heat and hot water supply on the island as well and at the seashore there‘s a pool with a heat of 60°C. It becomes submeged with sea water during flood.

As noted, the island is a haven for birds and more than 40 species may be found here. Most abundant are ptarmigans, but Hrisey also has the largest breeding colony of arctic terns in Europe and many types of moorland birds are prominent on the island as well.

Transport & Services

To reach the island, you‘ll need to take the ferry Saevar from the village Arskogssandur, on the west coast in Eyjafjordur. The ferry goes hourly in summertime and the journey takes around 20 minutes. A bus goes from Akureyri to the village. The drive takes around 30 minutes.

Hrisey offers good services, and along with the museums, gallery and lighthouse it has a bank, a restaurant, a shop and a post office, along with the aforrmentioned natural hot spring pool, ideal for a cozy bath. Good accommodation can be had at Hotel Brekka. Last but not least is the easy access to the stunning nature, ample opportunites for birdwatching and great walking trails around the island, where you can enjoy the peace and beauty of the Pearl of Eyjafjordur.

Lore

According to legend, it was here in the 18th century that the sorcerer Thorgeir Stefansson, 'Galdra-Geiri' conjured one of the most horrible and monstrous ghost in Iceland, Thorgeirsboli. It‘s said that the ghost was created by flaying a calf so it dragged its hide by its tail, and was given the elements of man, cat, dog, air, bird, mouse and two sea creatures, the monster was thus being able to take on all these forms. Other accounts claim that the monster came to be as the sorcerer placed a dog‘s leg inside the head of a flayed calf and recited evil poetry over it. The ghost was first conjured to haunt a woman who had spurned the sorcerer in love. It would then grow ever stronger and harder to contain and is said to have followed its creator‘s family for long after, not necessarily in their best interest either. Some believe Thorgeirsboli may still be out there somewhere, dragging his bloody hide behind him and giving out an earth-shattering and hellish moo...

Services near Hrísey

All services in 50km radius

Attractions nearby Hrísey

Eyjafjörður

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Grenivík

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Strýtur

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Svarfadardalur

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Laufás

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Hjalteyri

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Siglufjörður

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Skjálfandafljót

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Fnjóskadalur

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Drekagil

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Akureyri

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Akureyrarkirkja

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Hólar in Hjaltadalur

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Höfði

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Húsavík

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Öxnadalur

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Hofsós

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Goðafoss

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Drangey

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Tjörnes

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Tours near Hrísey

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North Iceland Tour to Hrisey

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Whale Watching from Hjalteyri

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