Fishing and Farming Fun
On the western side of Eyjafjörður fjord, between Akureyri and Dalvík in North Iceland, lies Árskógsströnd, a peaceful agricultural region. The grassy lowlands between the fjord and Sólarfjöll mountains are dotted with farms, and the fishing villages Hauganes and Árskógssandur are nestled down by the sea. The region has plenty to offer in terms of activities, recreation and culinary experiences.
Beer and Bacalao
In recent decades, Hauganes has been building a reputation for whale watching and today thousands of people go on tours with Whale Watching Hauganes every year. Included in the tour is sea angling where lucky tourists catch their dinner. Others can dine at the brand-new Baccalá Bar, serving fresh and salt fish from local bacalao producer Ektafiskur. The company also offers historical tours focusing on the fisheries saga of Iceland.
From neighboring village Árskógssandur there’s a ferry connection to Hrísey, Iceland’s second-largest inhabited island. The ride there only takes 15 minutes and Hrísey is well worth the trip, although Árskógssandur should not be overlooked. In 2006, Iceland’s first micro-brewery, Bruggsmiðjan, was established in the village. Its beer Kaldi quickly became popular and the original Pilsner is now the highest-selling bottled beer in Iceland. People are welcome to drop by; Bruggsmiðjan offers tours and beer tastings every weekday from 11 am to 3 pm.
Réttir and Recreation
The region’s church at Stærri-Árskógur is the traditional idyllic countryside church, white with a red roof. A gravel road lies past the vicarage and into the Þorvaldsdalur valley. It used to be inhabited but the last farm in the valley was abandoned in the 1960s. The remains of the turf houses can still be seen. Now popular for outdoor recreation—the valley is ideal for hiking and horseback riding—a 25-km (15.5-mile) race is held in there every year in early July. Horseback riding is offered by Sport Tours from the farm Kálfsskinn.
Þorvaldsdalur and the surrounding mountains serve as summer pasture for sheep and horses. In the autumn, farmers round up their livestock and drive them into a pen for "réttir". The spectacle—farmers dragging their sheep by the horns into their designated compartment of the pen—attracts people from surrounding communities and even further afield. In Iceland, "réttir" is as authentic as a countryside festival can get with coffee and cakes on offer during the day, and often singing and dancing in the evening.