Grimsey island and the arctic circle
When you visit Iceland, you’ve already come to the country with the most northerly capital city in the world.
But if you’re looking even further beyond the horizon, then you should head for the tiny island of Grímsey, the most northerly of all the inhabited places in the Land of Fire and Ice, where you can get your passport stamped inside the Arctic Circle, where the Midnight Sun never sets in the summer and where the Northern Lights dance on mesmerising winter nights.
Just forty kilometres off the north coast of Iceland, easily reached by ferry or plane, and only five kilometres square, Grímsey is home to a hundred or so hardy Icelanders, visited yearly by a million seabirds who come to join them to fish the rich Arctic waters, warmed by the North Atlantic Current.
Grímsey is a bird-watchers paradise, with enormous colonies of endearing puffins, auks, Arctic terns, kittiwakes, razorbills and fulmars, perching on the steep-sided basalt-columned cliffs that girdle all but the southern shores, or nestling down in the low grasslands, safe in the knowledge there are no natural predators for them to fear here.
Sandvík provides a home and a harbour for the majority of the islanders, where their fishing boats are berthed and where the mainland ferry docks too.
The island is a dream location for hikers too, with well-marked paths lining routes through the rich marshlands and grassy banks homing the bird colonies, with great whale-watching spots to be found as well.
Make sure to find the time to visit Grímsey’s church, originally built in 1867 from driftwood.
Be sure to visit Grímsey soon though – the Arctic Circle is slowly but surely moving northwards, marked by the famous Arctic Circle Monument, a gigantic stone sphere now located on the northern tip of the island.
Don’t miss it!