Westfjords Heritage Museum Travel Guide
The Westfjords Heritage Museum, called Byggðasafn Vestfjarða in Icelandic, is a museum in Isafjordur offering insights into the local fishing industry.
Travelers can select a Westfjords tour starting from Isafjordur and explore the town and museum before or after their trip. Self-drive tours offer customization and flexibility, so travelers could easily include a visit to the Westfjords Heritage Museum on this 10-day summer self-drive tour to Iceland’s remote Northwest or this off-the-beaten-track summer self-drive tour.
The Westfjords Heritage Museum is also called the Maritime Museum, the Westfjords History Museum, and the Vestfjordur Museum. Vestfjörður is the Icelandic name for the Westfjords. Tourists can visit the museum to learn about local fisheries and fishers' lives through exhibits highlighting this region's maritime history and culture.
Photo by Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by David Stanley No edits made
About the Westfjords Heritage Museum
The first idea for a maritime museum came from a ship engineer named Bardur G. Tomasson in 1939. It started with restoring an old boat model, leading to the museum's founding in 1941. The Westfjords Heritage Museum opened in its current location on the Isafjordur harbor on Fisherman’s Day in 1988.
The Westfjords Heritage museum is in Nedstikaupstadur, an important historical site and a former trading location for fish and other goods. Visitors will feel like they’ve stepped into a quaint village rich in history when they see the museum and surrounding buildings.
Nedstikaupstadur is home to the country’s oldest cluster of houses, dating back to the second half of the 18th century. These four houses are a source of pride for the locals and are one of Isafjordur’s top attractions.
The museum is housed in a beautifully restored building and will not disappoint those looking for a taste of culture and history.
Westfjords Heritage Museum Exhibits
The Westfjords Heritage Museum is dedicated to preserving boats to make them seaworthy. As part of this project, they have restored around 15 boats of various sizes, each with its unique story.
The museum features a variety of artifacts, including a ship and fishing equipment. Interestingly, the museum is also home to an extensive and growing accordion collection, many of which famous Icelandic musicians owned. Visitors can see whichever of the museum’s 190 accordions are currently on display.
The Westfjords Heritage Museum has permanent and temporary exhibits displayed over three levels. Visitors will learn about the local fishing industry and its development over time. During summer, you can also enjoy watching a local theater group reenacting daily life during the early 19th century.
How to Get to the Westfjords Heritage Museum
The Westfjords Heritage Museum is in Isafjordur, the Westfjord’s largest settlement. You’ll find the museum in the harbor area, just 218 yards (200 meters) from the port of Isafjordur.
Isafjordur is on Route 61, 279 miles (449 kilometers) north of Reykjavik. Take the Ring Road north from Reykjavik and turn left onto Road 60 just after Bifrost. Follow this road north through the Westfjords, and turn left onto Road 61, which will take you into Isafjordur.
Attractions Near the Westfjords Heritage Museum
Among the collection of historical buildings at Nedstikaupstadur, you’ll find Tjoruhusid, a top-rated seafood restaurant. Take time to enjoy a delicious all-you-can-eat buffet, including a range of dishes from exceptional fish soups to start, to fish mains and sides of buttery potatoes and fresh salad. Make a booking to ensure your place in this not-to-be-missed restaurant.
The Westfjords is a superb, off-the-beaten-track destination that’s ripe for exploration. Some top Westfjords attractions include the Dynjandi waterfall, the Latrabjarg cliffs, and Raudisandur red-sand beach.
Travelers can visit the Osvor Maritime Museum, 7.8 miles (12.6 kilometers) from the Westfjords Heritage Museum, and the Arctic Fox Centre, 13.3 miles (21.5 kilometers) away.