Windswept Vigur Island

Known for its avian population far out numbering the human residence, Vigur Island is a true slice of Icelandic resourcefulness. In the face of harsh winds and a trying environment, 200 years ago three families established farms on Vigur, only a half hour boat ride from the mainland. One family remains, descended from the original inhabitants and welcomes visitors with open arms to this picturesque Icelandic settlement.

Vigur Island is situated northwest off the coast of Iceland and is a fascinating stop on a Hurtigruten voyage around the Land of Ice and Fire. Vigur means spear and it is on this small spear shaped island that visitors can see a huge variety of birds, including the adorable puffin.

Bird watchers paradise

As well as the comical puffins, Vigur is also home to eider ducks, guillemots, Arctic terns, snow buntings, pied wagtails, meadow pipits and (although rarely seen on a short stay) white tailed eagles and gyrfalcons. Arctic terns are notoriously aggressive and territorial so all visitors are recommended to carry a large stick. When the terns undoubtedly spot you, they are attracted to the highest point, so holding a stick above your head will keep you in good stead.

The territoriality of the terns actually works the the advantage of the residents, as the terns protect the eider ducks, from which the expensive eiderdown can then be harvested. There is even a 200 year old wall built from when the families first arrived to protect the breeding ground of the ducks from predators.

Quaint buildings

Although the buildings are few and far between, the original homes of the three farming families have been beautifully restored and can be visited now. Viktoria House in particular shows a great insight into traditional Icelandic decorations. A circa 1840 windmill, the only one in Iceland at one stage and now the only old mill surviving, is a must see and was in use to grind Danish grain until 1917.

Perhaps most impressive is the eight oar row boat that is 200 years old and is still used on occasion to transport sheep to and from the mainland, or for fishing!

Vigur Island gives visitors a chance to see wonderful birdlife, hike among the green knolls and admire the mainland's stunning coast from afar.