Iceland may not have won the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but the small country certainly captured the world’s attention during their first appearance in the tournament. First, they tied Argentina, a team many assumed would plow through Group D. Then they lost to a young Nigerian team. It created a nail-biter for their last game against the Croatian players who ultimately went to the finals. The score didn’t end in Iceland’s favor, but their Viking war chant created a lot of new fans.
And guests. The Scandinavian country, whose popularity was already soaring, is on even more wish lists now. Reykjavík, the little capital, will be inundated with first-time visitors. The Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon probably will be, too. So when you return, you’re finally going to head up north.
North Iceland, along the Greenland Sea, is famous for its outdoor adventure activities. Heli-skiing. Sea angling. Fjord hiking. Most people base themselves in Akureyri, the largest town in the Northeast Region. But you’re heading even farther north to the northernmost town in the country.
Siglufjörður, just 24 nautical miles south of the Arctic Circle, was once the herring capital of the world. In 1940, a road connected the isolated fishing village on the Tröllaskagi peninsula to the rest of the country for the first time. The herring industry and the population (up to 12,000 people) flourished. But only for a few decades. The herring disappeared in 1969. The economy crashed. Only 1,200 people stayed. Siglufjörður once again felt isolated. Then skiers arrived.
In 2008, a guide charted a helicopter for what became the first heli-ski trip in Iceland. The Héðinsfjarðargöng tunnels and new hotels, restaurants, and even a microbrewery followed. A former marina along the fjord is now the cozy Sigló Hótel. The window seats in its rooms overlook glacier-capped Holshyrna Mountain. Sunna, the rustic-chic restaurant, serves seafood chowder and fresh-off-the-boat fish. Plus the lobby bar, with its central fireplace, has Segull beer on tap.
Then there’s the outdoor, geothermally heated hot pot. It’s the perfect spot to watch the sun rise at 2:57 am. In case you’re wondering, sunset, at 11:42 pm, is almost 21 hours away. That gives you plenty of time to hike to hidden waterfalls, try to catch haddock from the Steini Vigg, visit the Herring Era Museum, eat hakari (fermented shark), and sample Brennivín (caraway-flavored schnapps) while the sun is still brightly shining overhead. Iceland for the win.