Þistilfjörður is a lush green farming district marked by shallow valleys in between low, rolling hills. Down through these valleys flow several bountiful salmon rivers such as Hafralónsá, Hölkná, Sandá og Svalbarðsá. The bay and the region derive their name from Ketill Þistill, the first settler in the area.
Þistilfjörður is renowned for its traditional sheep farming and has several prominent sheep farms congregated in the lower valleys and towards the coastline. Among them is the historic farm and church site Svalbarð which is also the location for the district school. The farm Ytra-Áland offers accommodations and tourists services.
A 4WD track runs up onto the heaths from the farm Laxárdalur. From this track lie several interesting hikes which take you across charming mores with lush fauna, murmuring streams and waterfalls. Off the old road across Öxarfjarðarheiði heath, a hiking trail marked with cairns leads onto Óttar mountain. Rauðanes point is a nature pearl not to be missed.
Langanes peninsula stretches nearly 40 km north east into the ocean, ending in the narrow point Fontur. Until the mid 20th century nearly all of Langanes was inhabited. Gradually, however, the farms in the outlying part of the peninsula have been deserted and the settlement has moved to Þórshöfn and vicinity. Life in Þórshöfn moves in rhythm with the tides. Here you will find all basic services and a great place to stay a while and explore the surroundings. Be sure to try the local Ocean Quahog at the restaurant.
Just north of Þórshöfn is Sauðanes farm and former church site, historically one of the most saught after vicarage in Iceland. The old vicar’s house at Sauðanes is one of the oldest stone buildings in Iceland and is part of the National Museum’s building collection. It now houses a museum and visitor center.
Langanes is a veritable outdoor paradise teeming with birdlife, great for nature study and hiking as well as some tangible history. A trip to the outlying peninsula is an unforgettable adventure, passing remnants of ancient farms and more recently deserted buildings like Skoruvík. Below Skoruvík cliffs is Stórikarl rock column, one of Iceland’s largest gannet colonies. Way out on the eastern shore stood village Skálar from 1910-1946. The entire Langanes route can be traversed by car by cautious driving, although inquiries should be made before setting off. A splendid view of Langanes and surroundings may be enjoyed from Heiðarfjall mountain.
Gunnólfsvíkurfjall mountain is an imposing landmark, rising majestically straight from the shoreline up to 719 m. The view from the top is fantastic and in good visibility you can see as far south as Mount Herðurbreið and Dyngjufjöll mountains in the central highlands.
East of Langanes is Bakkaflói bay and the district Langanesströnd. The tiny village of Bakkafjörður is all about fish. The old village pier has been replaced by a quaint harbour. It is delightful to visit and take time to absorb the atmosphere of the small fishing community, where tranquility and bustle merge into one timeless experience.