Puffin Paradise, or something more?

Borgarfjörður eystri is small village in the northeast of Iceland, a bit of an anomaly in more ways than one, it has a quite lively feel for a village of less than 100.

Beyond the stark door mountain, lies a mystical place with such a variety of landscapes, it feels like something out of a dream. Home to the puffins, the most photogenic turf house, stóruð and countless hiking and biking routes, there's still much to be discovered in this vast space.

The puffins alone draw around 40,000 visitors a year to Borgarfjörður, they arrive in April and leave all together - almost as if on cue - in mid August. They reside on a hill in the harbor, and usually return to the same nest year after year, with their lifelong partner. If you stop by the harbor and share photos make sure to use the hashtag “ #puffinmarina ”

A curious bird spotted in the harbor. Photo taken by Cat Beck.

A curious bird spotted in the harbor. Photo taken by Cat Beck.

As with many places in Iceland, the Elves are very present and alive here. In fact the Queen Elf of Iceland, Borghildur, chose Borgarfjörður as her home. On a clear day, a trip to the top of Álfaborg will make you understand why. Álfaborg itself is an anomaly, while the rest of the fjord was eroded away by a glacier, this place remained. A special vantage point that can only be described as magical.  The townspeople's superstitions are easily seen with a restaurant named Álfacafé (elf cafe), and a hotel named Álfheimar (home of elves).

The locals are also famous in their own right. The locals claim the common phrase "Já Sæll" originated here, and named a restaurant in the community center accordingly. The famous icelandic painter Kjarval spent a lot of his childhood here, and his works can be found all over town, even in the church. The townspeople are also incredibly vocal and active in larger issues. As when the government failed to pave the mountain pass, they banded together and laid down the first meter themselves, prompting the government to quickly follow suit and begin the process. When the local store closed, they banded together to form a new one, a co-op of sorts. A decision was made to not offer plastic bags, making it one the first stores in Iceland to go plastic bag free! Be prepared to bring your own reusable one. They recently had a mural painted by Elín Elísabet that has been drawing increased attention around Iceland.

The Puffin Wall by Elín Elísabet

The Puffin Wall by Elín Elísabet

While the puffins may be the reason some travellers visit, there is something undeniably magical about the past, the present and the future of this little village that shouldn't be ignored. The community, as with many others have become more environmentally conscious-they recently attracted nationwide attention regarding their plan to reduce the carbon emissions due to the disposal of organic waste.

Highly recommend taking in the sights of the town behind handlebars, it’s the green way to explore!

Lindsey Lee