Income is derived from tourism and fishing, as well as retail and small industry. Until recently, Húsavík was the export harbour for silica that was extracted from nearby lake Mývatn.
According to the Landnámabók ("Book of Settlement"), Húsavík was the first place in Iceland to be settled by a Norse man. The Swedish Viking Garðar Svavarsson stayed there for one winter around 870 A.D. When he left the island in spring of 870, after a winter's stay, he left behind a man named Nattfari and two slaves, a man and a woman, and they established a farm here. The name of the town means "bay of houses", probably referring to Garðar's homestead, which may have been the only houses then in Iceland.
Húsavík has become a centre of whale watching in Iceland due to whales of different species that frequently enter the bay. The Húsavík Whale Museum is located in the downtown by the harbour.
In town there is also a civic museum about culture and biology. Among other things, it shows a stuffed polar bear (arrived in Grimsey in 1969) and ancient boats.
Húsavík is also home to The Exploration Museum, a museum about the history of human exploration. A monument honoring the Apollo astronauts that trained around Húsavík during the 1960s is located outside the museum.
The region of Mývatn, with its interesting geology and diverse animal life, is nearby. Jökulsárgljúfur National Park with the horseshoe-shaped canyon Ásbyrgi and the waterfalls Dettifoss, Hafragilsfoss and Selfoss is also not far from the town.
ÍF Völsungur is the local football club. They last played in Iceland's top tier in the 1988 season.
Húsavík experiences midnight sun from 11 June until 29 June.
Although Húsavík doesn't experience polar night in December solstice, the shortest daylight hours in Húsavík are 2 hours 45 minutes, from 11:45 UTC until 14:30 UTC on 21 December.