Hrisey, Iceland (Cruise-by) cruises

Located in the tranquil waters of Eyjafjordur in the north of Iceland, the tiny island of Hrisey brings beautiful scenery, lots of wildlife, and interesting an history and culture to ponder. 

At just 8 kilometres squared in size, it could be considered quite remarkable that Hrisey is in fact Iceland’s second largest island, after Heimaey. Home to fewer than 200 residents, Hrisey is most known for its rich birdlife and Viking history.

The island its quite flat, at only 361 feet above sea level at its highest, but its vast green plains make for a pretty vision - especially against the mountainous backdrop of Iceland’s mainland behind.

Top landmarks and sights in Hrisey.  

As you sail past Hrisey, you’ll see a diverse coastline made up of jagged edges and softer stone beaches. Take endless photos of the landscape, including the many white buildings, all perfectly trimmed with their colourful roofs, that line the shore.

Hrisey is a known location for bird watching in Iceland. Over 40 different species can be spotted in the skies overhead and on the ground, and you’ll likely see ptarmigans, moorland birds, and arctic terns, for the latter of which Hrisey boasts the largest breeding colony in Europe. If bird watching isn’t for you, perhaps keep your eyes on the waters that surround Hrisey. Eyjafjordur presents an excellent opportunity for whale-watching, so stay on the look out for humpbacks, orcas, and blue whales, as well as porpoises and dolphins.

On the island itself there are several landmarks that illustrate Hrisey’s trade history. Fishing has long been an integral source of income for its people, and today an old fishing station serves as a gallery, exhibiting local handicrafts. From your ship, you may spot another important building, the house of Shark-Jorunder. Built in 1885/6, this now museum explains the history of shark hunting in Iceland, which was a dangerous but lucrative business in the 19th century.

Things to do in Hrisey.

As your ship glides along the gentle waters of Eyjafjordur, past the mountainous landscape of the mainland and the more serene countryside of Hrisey, you’ll likely want to capture every second and every vista. So, keep your phones or cameras at the ready, taking photos or videos that you can look at long after your voyage has ended.  Whether you’re most excited about sighting whales and dolphins, you’re interested in the varied rock formations of Hrisey’s shoreline, or you want to spot as many different bird species as possible, this part of the world will not disappoint.

You could always enjoy this cruise-by experience by simply taking time out. Find a space to call your own on board, either on deck, on your balcony, or perhaps your favourite corner in one of the many lounges. From here you can gaze out at the view, whiling away the hours chatting with loved ones, maybe sipping on a hot chocolate - or something equally as warming – savouring a slower pace of life. Should you want to learn a little more about your location, perhaps head to the library and find a book or two on Iceland, and find out more about its history, wildlife, and geological significance.

Hrisey culture and history.

While passing Hrisey, if you have an interest in Icelandic and indeed Nordic history, you may find yourself wondering about the island’s past. Hrisey is mentioned in two ancient Icelandic texts, Landnámabók – which translates to the ‘Book of Settlements’ – and the Saga of Víga-Glúms. The Landnámabók dates back to the 13th century and writes that the early Viking settlers made Hrisey their home, with Steinólfur Mały being the very first inhabitant of the island.

Due to its optimal location in Eyjafjordur, fishing has long been an important source of trade for the islanders. In the 19th century, a herring salting factory was built on Hrisey by Swedish and Norwegian businessmen, and soon after locals followed suit in the same sector. The herring industry proved lucrative for all and reached its height between 1930-1950.

Top tips for Hrisey.


Hrisey, like the wider Eyjafjordur region, sees generally cold temperatures and a fair amount of rain and snow. The warmest temperatures you can expect happen in the summer months of June to September, but it only reaches highs of around 8 degrees Celsius. The winter months of November to April, on the other hand, average roughly 2 degrees Celsius. March is the coldest month of the year, with an average of 0 degrees Celsius.

When it comes to packing, good advice is to bring layers and a waterproof so that you’re always prepared for cold temperatures out on deck, and the potential of rain. Should you want to avoid rain, your best chances are during the dryer months of mid-April to August.