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Frequently Asked Questions

About Fjord Tours in Iceland

Iceland's coastline is largely defined by deep and mountainous fjords. Departing from different locations around the country, this quality selection of fjord tours presents you with the opportunity to intimately explore some of the countries most iconic and dramatic natural features.

1. What is a fjord?

Created by glacial erosion, a fjord is a long and narrow inlet of land with cliffs or mountains on each side. If the inlet's mouth is broader than its length, it is considered a bay or a cove, not a fjord.

2. Which fjords are best for whale watching?

In southwest Iceland, whale watching tours set out from Reykjavík city harbour and out to Faxaflói bay. In West Iceland, tours depart from Grundafjörður fjord on Snæfellsnes peninsula. In North Iceland, tours depart from the towns Akureyri and Húsavík, out to Eyjafjörður fjord and Skjálfandi bay. Húsavík is widely considered to be Europe's whale watching capital.

3. Which fjords are best for puffin spotting?

Migrating puffins build their nests in rocky cliffs by the sea, and their habitats are not limited to Iceland’s fjords. Optimal locations for puffin spotting include Mt. Látrabjarg at the westernmost point of the Westfjords, Ingólfshöfði cape on the South Coast, the islands Dyrhólaey and Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands) and Borgarfjörður fjord in the Eastfjords.

4. What are the Westfjords?

The Westfjords are an administrative district in Iceland, covering a vast peninsula which boasts dozens of mountainous fjords. The Westfjords include Iceland’s northwestern-most point which faces the east coast of Greenland. Because of the lack of lowland areas, the Westfjords are sparsely populated, relative to their grand size, and are only home to approximately 7,400 inhabitants.

5. What are the Eastfjords?

The Eastfjords are a large region in East Iceland, which consists of a dozen fjords. The area is home to around 15,300 people, and the largest town is Egilsstaðir.

6. Why aren't there any fjords in South Iceland?

Due to glacial outbursts over the past 10,000 years, sediments deposited by meltwater outwash, at the terminus of a glacier, formed vast outwash plains or “sandar” on Iceland’s South Coast. Underneath the soil, there rests the vast lava field Þjórsárhraun. The edges of the lava field reach several hundred metres offshore, thereby protecting the lowland from the invasion of the sea, resulting in the shoreline’s smooth appearance.

7. How did Iceland's fjords come into existence?

During the last ice age, enormous glaciers carved out Iceland's eastern and western coastlines, creating valleys and fjords. Volcanic activity under the glaciers stacked up mountains and ridges, and during periods of warmth, the lava flowed over. When the glaciers melted, the land rose quickly, and the top part of the soil became lighter. This process led to creating the alpine landscape of the Eastfjords and the Westfjords.

8. How many fjords are there in Iceland?

There are 109 fjords in Iceland.

9. Why are there so many towns by Icelandic fjords?

There are multiple reasons for this. One is that since Iceland's Highlands are all but uninhabitable, most people choose to live by the seaside; another is that fjords provide ideal spots to build harbours because the mountains and cliffs on each side provide wind-shelter and mild waters.

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