Isafjordur, Iceland

Like most Icelandic towns, this one on the northwest coast was started by fisherman and whalers. The name means ice-fjord. It is a perfect place from which to explore the cultural and economic staples of Iceland. An excursion to Sudavik reveals a town started by whalers and nearly destroyed by an avalanche in 1995, now rebuilt out of the path of further slides. Its lovely church was donated by whalers, as well. The own also holds a center for the study of the indigenous arctic foxes. The Maritime Museum in Isafjordur illustrates the lifestyles of the early inhabitants, including many implements of their trades, and also a wall of accordions, one of the few forms of entertainment on bygone days. Another option is a boat ride to nearby Vigur island, a nesting site for many species of seabirds, including eider ducks, whose down is yet another example of local economy based on the surrounding seas.