Greinasafni: Icelandic Times
Básar Guesthouse in Grímsey: Where Everybody Know Your Name

For those used to living in metropolitan areas or even small towns a visit to Grímsey will surely change the way you feel about your neighbours. Grímsey is a tiny island of only two square miles, located 25 miles north of Iceland and has a population of less than a hundred. The small population makes sure that everyone has to share the community‘s responsibilities and that everyone knows everybody.

For example one inhabitant, Ragnhildur Hjaltadottir, shares the duties of being the manager of local guesthouse Básar, operator of a small banking branch in Grímsey, airport manager and chairwoman for the local women’s club. “In order to live happily in such a tight knit community you have to be 100% content with yourself and be generous to the community. We have an extremely active social life and there is really no other  alternative than to take part in it. We tend to celebrate every occasion we can think of and most people I know from the mainland tell me that the social life here is much more energetic. For example our community centre is sometimes even booked the whole week through and when it’s someone’s birthday the whole island is invited,” says Ragnhildur.

Activities in Grímsey are plentiful. You have the option of going sea angling, which can be arranged for in Básar. You can spend the day bird watching as the island hosts various species of birds. If in doubt where the best spot is simply ask the locals who will gladly point the out for you. Then of course you can just explore the entire island by foot; see the church, chat with the fishermen at the pier (not all of them speak English though, but they’ll welcome you anyway) or drop by at the community centre and see if there is a bingo game or a lottery going on.

Ragnhildur says island visitors are uniformly welcomed to the island and commonly offered to join in on whatever events the locals are celebrating. “We like to think of this environment as more personal than in many crowded populations. For example I never leave my guests unattended and I often take guests staying at Básar for a drive around the island and introduce them to our daily lives” says Ragnhildur.

Básar offers 18 beds in eight different rooms, either made up or for sleeping bags. Breakfast is on offer, as well as full meals if requested. The guesthouse is located next to the Arctic Circle and you only have to take three steps outside the guesthouse to cross it. From June 12th until August 20th flights depart for Grímsey daily at 13:00 in Akureyri. Prior to that time flights depart three times a week. A ferry also departs three times a week (Mon, Wed, Fri) from Dalvík at 9:00.

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