Surrounded by layered, flat top mountains, Bíldudalur is an attractive fishing village settled on the fjord, Arnarfjörður. This fjord-side location is responsible for the village’s envious reputation as “the good weather capital” of the Westfjords, and is a well tread spot for hikers, skiers and deep sea anglers.
Despite it’s diminutive population size today (around 200 inhabitants), the development of Bíldudalur was once prospering, making it an important commercial hub for the Westfjords region. Following the cessation of the Danish Trade Monopoly in 1786, Ólafur Thorlacius made his reputation as one of Iceland’s most respected businessmen in the town, buying and selling merchandise, drying fish and running his own fishing fleet. At the beginning of the 19th century, Thorlacius had successfully turned the village into a base for his large commercial operation, a reality that continued with his successor, Pétur J. Thorsteinnsson, lasting until 1924.
As with many coastal villages in Iceland, the fishing quotas of the 20th Century began to hurt Bíldudalur’s primary industry and put a stop to any further large-scale urban development. The economy, however, managed to successfully diversify. Thankfully, Arnarfjörður is positively teeming with Lithothamnion Tophiforme, red algae which, when processed, becomes seaweed-derived Hafkalk, a natural supplement. Today, the village’s primary industries are shrimp farming, tourism and Hafkalk mineral processing.
Culture and music have thrived for years in Bíldudalur. In the past, the folk music festival, Baunagrasið, has seen musicians from across Iceland join for evening performances, workshops and courses. There is also an exhibition, “Melodies of the Past”, found in the basement of Jón Kr. Ólafsson, former vocalist for the 1960s Icelandic band, Facon. Inside, there is a wide array of LPs, instruments, posters and other fascinating objects from Icelandic music memorabilia.
There is also the Icelandic Sea Monster Museum, where guests can enjoy electronic displays delving into the myth and folklore of these fantastical creatures. It might seem a little superstitious, but there are over 200 stories of locals coming across strange creatures slithering from Arnarfjörður. There is a large gallery of cryptozoological illustrations on display which might bring closer insight into these alleged run-ins.
Around 45 minutes northerly drive from Bíldudalur is an epic series of waterfalls called Dynjandi, otherwise referred to as Fjallfoss. The waterfalls, collectively, have a height of over 100m. This area is particularly scenic for amateur photographers, who can snapshot the waterfall cascading from over the lip of the mountains all the way down to Arnarfjörður below.