Remote and rugged, the Westfjords region is home to dozens of trails, from easy strolls to challenging climbs. Routes will take you through grassy valleys, mountain passes, and all of the natural wonders that Iceland is known for. The trails, while gorgeous, can be tricky and steep, so be sure you have the right hiking equipment or better yet, go with a guide. Choose any of these six great day hikes, and you’ll quickly be rewarded by some of the most unspoiled terrain Iceland has to offer.
Kubbi: Fjords, Peaks, and Valleys
The out-and-back hike on the Kubbi trail affords spectacular views of mountains, cascades and Isafjordur harbor. Drive along the southern edge of Isafjordur fjord, to where the dirt road ends near the river. Cross the bridge, and follow the tracks up the mountain. The trail will emerge slowly after the first 0.5 miles or so, and continue to reach the summit for a rewarding panorama of the town and its surroundings. Duration: 2-3 hours
Haukadalur Loop: A Walk Through History
If you love history, you’ll love Haukadalur. This valley is the main setting for the famous Gisla Saga, and it’s believed that the hero of the that saga, Gisli, lived here and the remains of his homestead are still visible at Gislaholl. Look to the ancient ruins below Kolturshorn, where Audbjorg the Witch of Gisla Saga is said to have lived at her homestead of Annmarkastadir. From here you can cross the Thvera creek, and see Lake Seftjorn, where people used to play ice hockey even in the middle ages. Look out for Haukadalsbotn, a resting area for French boats who once fished off the west coast of Iceland, and for its cemetery for French sailors. Duration: 3-4 hours
Tjaldanes Valley: Visit an Extinct Volcano
In Arnarfjordur, head to the farms Audkula and Tjaldanes, which will take you to the berry-filled Tjaldanes Valley and its namesake volcano. This extinct volcano is among the oldest in Iceland, notable for its rhyolite screes and olive-colored rock called gabbro. The scree and steep paths makes this path one best for excellent weather. If you have time and a steady step, head into Gongudalsskard pass and walk down into Gongudalur. From there, you have a choice of heading down into Kirkjubolsdalur and along the road to Kirkjubol, or to follow the more difficult Troll Roads to Hofsrett, an ancient sheepfold made from rocks. Duration: 5-6 hours
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Seljalandsdalur Ski Area to Hnífsdalur Village
If you hike westward from Isafjordur down the valley, cross the ridge of the Seljalandsdalur ski area, the path will take you to the small village of Hnífsdalur. Wander past lakes, streams and mossy hills to the base of the Þjófatindar Peaks, where you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous views of Isafjordur and the bay. From Hnífsdalur you can hike 4km / 2.4mi back into Isafjordur or arrange for a pickup. Duration: 4 hours
Hornstrandir Nature Preserve
Just north of Isafjordur across the fjord lies Hornstrandir Nature Preserve, a remote wilderness just waiting to be discovered. With sheer cliffs, weathered ruins, and cliffs teeming with seabirds, Hornstrandir is a natural playground for hikers and campers. Abandoned by all but occasional summer vacationers decades ago, the lonely terrain is a perfect place to get away from it all. Be sure to bring your own gear and tent, as the ferry only comes once a day. Or join a small tour and sleep at the Doctor’s House, a small lodge open only in the summer. Look out for the Arctic foxes while you’re there! Duration: 6 hours, or extended to a multi-day trek
Svalvogar Circle: Hike & Bike with Mountain Views
The Svalvogar Circle is a popular hiking and biking route notable for its challenging mountain passes and stunning views of backcountry roads. Start from Isafjordur to Dyrafjordur, then continue onto a rock face road that was carved out of the cliff by locals with a 70-horsepower bulldozer. The path takes you past abandoned farms, the “Westfjord Alps,” and onward the narrow Hrafnseyrarheidi heath road from Arnarfjordur all the way back to Isafjordur. Duration: 6-8 hours