The small town of Husavik sits on the northern coast of Iceland, few dozen kilometers off the Ring Road, the 832-mile-long road that encircles the country. Only around 2,500 people make their home here, and they are easily outnumbered – particularly in the summer months of June and July – by the tens of thousands of whales found in the bay. More than 23 species of whales can be found in Husavik’s Skjálfandi Bay, including minke whales, orcas, sperm whales, and humpback whales, as well as white beaconed dolphins and harbor porpoises, making Husavik one of the best places in the world for whale watching.
Most of Husavik’s action is on the water, and though there’s plenty more to see just outside of town, including the Myvatn Nature Baths (the north’s answer to the Blue Lagoon), Godafoss Waterfall, and a few of Iceland’s ubiquitous volcanoes, the town itself is a pretty sleepy one, with only a handful of rooms per rent and limited options for dining. And nightlife? Good luck with that. If you’re visiting in September, the best nightlife you could hope for will be the Northern Lights dancing above. If you want nightlife, you’re better off staying in Akureryi, Iceland’s second-largest city, which is located about an hour southwest of Husavik.
However, if you’d rather relax and enjoy the spectacular view of Skjálfandi Bay, the mossy green coastline that tumbles down into it, and the neon blue glaciers on the mountains on the other side, you should stay in Husavik. Specifically, you should stay at Kaldbaks-Kot cottages.
The 18 cottages are actually located a short walk (about 15 minutes on foot or 2-3 minutes by car) from the center of Husavik. Scattered on a hillside overlooking the bay, they’re surrounded by landscaping that makes them feel private despite the small space they share; in fact, I only saw another guest once in my three-night stay. Instead of other guests, my view was predominantly of the small pond just in front of the drop-off to the bay, with mountains rising up from the water to the west.
The grounds are what make Kaldbaks-Kot so spectacular, but the cabin interiors aren’t lacking either. Each self-catering cottage has a bathroom with shower, wifi, TV, radio, geothermal heat, private deck with grill and patio chairs, and a small kitchen with a microwave, stovetop, toaster, coffee maker, fridge, dishes, and utensils. Guests can chose from small one-bedroom cottages ideal for two, larger ones with sleeping attics, or family-sized cabins that rage from two to five bedrooms. For single travelers or those on a tight budget, there’s also a mini-cabin option with shared bathroom facilities and no kitchen. Also on the grounds are two outdoor jacuzzi tubs that offer one more way to enjoy the views.
The cabins, made of Estonian wood, are comfortable and clean, with hardwood floors, freshly laundered bedding, and basic but homey furnishings like wooden chairs and tables, lace curtains, and plush sofas. Only fragrance-free and hypo-allergenic cleaning supplies are used throughout – a nice complement to the area’s renowned fresh air.
One bedroom cabins range from 95-135 euros per night – a good hotel deal in Iceland – with the cheapest rates offered in May and September and the highest in July and August, during peak season. An additional 5% discount is offered for stays of three nights or more. The cottages are not open during winter.
If you go, be sure to stock up on supplies in Reykjavik or at the large Bonus grocery store in Akureyri (there’s also a small market in Husavik) to take advantage of the self-catering aspect of the cottages. Fix up a meal, crack a beer, and head to your cabin’s porch, keeping an eye out for the whales that make their home in the bay, and wait for the sun to set over the mountains across the water. In a country full of beautiful natural spots, Kaldbak-Kots in Husavik may offer one of the very best vantage points to appreciate Iceland’s gorgeous scenery. It would never be called fancy or luxurious, but it remains my most memorable stay in the country and my pick for the best accommodation option in northern Iceland.