Enjoy the best of Western Iceland and the Westfjords on this 10-day summer adventure. Escape the crowds of the South Coast and Golden Circle area at their peak, when accommodations can be hard to secure. Instead, discover more remote areas of the country, while still experiencing the magnificence of this stunning country. Visit black-sand beaches and fishing towns in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula,  incredible cliffs in Patreksfjörður, delicious, fresh seafood in Isafjordur, plenty of scenic hikes in the remote Westfjords, and more.

Highlights

  • See black-sand beaches, cliffs, and lava fields in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula
  • Picnic at a waterfall, visit a nature reserve, and eat fresh seafood in Isafjordur
  • Discover the incredible eight-fjord system on the drive toward Drangsnes
  • Explore the remote Westfjords, from scenic hikes to geothermal soaks
  • Go sightseeing and enjoy the bustling dining and nightlife in Reykjavík

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival, Glymur Falls, Borgarnes, & Drive to Snæfellsnes Peninsula Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Day 2 Snaefellsnes Peninsula - Black-Sand Beaches & Fishing Towns Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Day 3 Ferry From Snaefellsnes Peninsula to the Westfjords Patreksfjörður
Day 4 Hike the Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs & Rauðasandur Beach Patreksfjörður
Day 5 Picnic at Dynjandi Waterfall & Explore Isafjordur Isafjordur
Day 6 Day Trip to the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve Isafjordur
Day 7 Eastern Westfjords - Isafjordur to Holmavík Holmavik
Day 8 Visit Djúpavík & Explore Remote Westfjords Holmavik
Day 9 Drive From Holmavík Back to Reykjavík Reykjavik
Day 10 Visit the Reykjanes Peninsula & Depart From Reykjavík  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival, Glymur Falls hike, visit Borgarnes, and drive to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Glymur Falls
Glymur Falls

Welcome to Iceland! Upon arrival at Keflavík International Airport, pick up your rental car. Then, head north to experience West Iceland and the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. On your drive north, you can take a detour for an optional hike to Glymur Falls, one of Iceland's tallest waterfalls. The hike is 2-3 hours, depending on how far you go. You can also choose to embark on this hike on the drive back from the Snæfellsnes Peninsula (more details on that day).

En route, stop in Borgarnes on the water, where you can learn more about the Settlement Age of Iceland at the Settlement Center, or walk along the path down by the shore. 

Then, arrive in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, which is sometimes referred to as “Little Iceland,” because you can find a little bit of everything that Iceland has to offer here: amazing basalt columns, tiny fishing villages, coastal cliff walks past arches and other rock formations, lava fields and caves, volcanic craters, black-sand beaches, waterfalls, and more.

Some of these destinations allow for longer hikes. They are all mostly flat, but the ground can be uneven in places. Walk as far as you feel comfortable; you will find yourself impressed by the natural scenery venturing just from the parking lot to the trail. 

Your first stop is at the Gerðuberg basalt cliffs, where unique basalt columns rise from the earth. Park the car and walk around to explore and get a closer look. Next, walk through the start of the moss-covered Budhahraun lava fields on the coast.

Then, walk along the cliffside paths at Arnarstapi to view unique cliff shapes, lava formations, and arches in the rocks. In Hellnar, stop at the small Fjöruhúsið café near the water to enjoy delicious fish soup and the view.

Spend the night in the Hellnar and Arnarstapi area. Depending on your arrival time, you can continue further west to some of the sights listed for tomorrow, as they are in close proximity.

Day 2: Snaefellsnes Peninsula - Black-sand beaches and fishing towns

Lóndrangar
Lóndrangar

If you did not do so yesterday, begin your day with a walk along the cliffside paths at Arnarstapi, and a visit to Fjöruhúsið café. Follow the trail all the way between Arnarstapi and Hellnar, starting from either side. 

Next, visit the large Lóndrangar lava formations, which you can view from afar, or walk 15 minutes to see up-close. A little further along the road is the peninsula’s Visitor Center, where you can learn more about the volcanic system and the area.

Then, take a stroll along Djúpalónssandur, a black-sand beach with debris from a shipwreck—the rusted remains along the black sand make for a beautiful photo opportunity. Here, find four stones of different sizes, which were once used by sea captains to test the strength of sailors interested in joining their crews. While facing the water, look for a small trail along the right-side cliffs to follow for 15-20 minutes until you reach Dritvík cove, once the site of a major fishing operation. 

As you near the westernmost point of the peninsula, look for signs for Saxhóll crater. It's worth a quick stop to walk up the stairs that take you to the top of the crater, which has nice views of the surrounding area. 

Continue your drive around the other side of the peninsula and end your day with a visit to Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall, with Kirkjufell mountain in the background—one of Iceland's most photographed peaks.

Spend the night in Grundarfjörður, near the mountain and waterfall, or continue to the larger town of Stykkishólmur. On the way, stop at a shark museum and taste some hákarl, or fermented shark. Or, enjoy dinner at one of the following restaurants:

  • Bjargarsteinn mathus in Grundarfjörður
  • Sjávarpakkhúsið in Stykkishólmur
  • Narfeyrarstofa in Stykkishólmur

Day 3: Ferry from the Snaefellsnes Peninsula to the Westfjords

Stykkishólmur Harbour
Stykkishólmur Harbour

Finish exploring the Snaefellsnes Peninsula with a drive into the Berserkjahraun Lava Fields. Then, head to Stykkishólmur to enjoy some fresh mussels by the harbor and a tour of the Volcano Museum.

Next, catch a 3-hour ferry north to the Westfjords. Note that departure times vary, and are limited in the winter season, but you can also drive about 3.25 hours instead, instead. 

Spend the night around Patreksfjörður. If you have some time, start exploring some of the nearby sights listed tomorrow.

Day 4: Hike the Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs and visit Rauðasandur Beach

Hike along the Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs
Hike along the Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs

Drive to the southwest tip of the Westfjords, and start your day with a hike along the edge at the Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs, with incredible views over the waters below.  Note that the ride is very bumpy for the last leg, as you drive over gravel roads with many potholes. Take it slow and easy. It may take longer than your GPS app estimates, but most find the scenery and seclusion well worth it. The trail leading up from the parking lot follows the edge of the cliff for as long as you wish to hike. 

Next, take a detour to Rauðasandur Red Sand Beach, which stretches as far as the eye can see. Much of this drive is on gravel roads. As you head north, stop at the Gardar BA 64 Shipwreck, beached on side of the road. Park the car and walk around the ship. There are some informational signs nearby, as well.

Enjoy the rest of your day and evening in Patreksfjordur at your leisure.

Day 5: Picnic at Dynjandi Waterfall and explore Isafjordur

Dynjandi Waterfall
Dynjandi Waterfall

You may want to pick up some picnic supplies today, as many stops won't be near much else until you arrive in Isafjordur.

Take Route 62 to Route 60 and head to Dynjandi Waterfall. The drive up to the ridge has some switchbacks and is quite bumpy in places. As you reach the top, access incredible views in both directions, and for the whole drive down to the fjord near the falls. Park the car and walk around the several waterfalls below the massive Dynjandi Waterfall. This is a great spot for a picnic in the beautiful fjord setting.

Finish your drive through Iceland’s longest tunnel, arriving in Isafjordur to enjoy one the best fish meals in the country at the award-winning Tjoruhusid (well worth it after a long day). While in town, make sure to visit the Isafjordur Maritime Museum, and join a cultural and historical walking tour.

For breakfast, consider the below: 

  • Bræðraborg Café
  • Husid
  • Gamla Bakaríið (bakery)

For lunch and dinner, in addition to Tjoruhusid, you can dine at the following:

  • Restaurant Við Pollinn
  • Café Edinborg
  • Husid (café/bar/coffee shop; open late)

Day 6: Day trip to the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

Hike along the cliffs at Hornstrandir
Hike along the cliffs at Hornstrandir

Today, pay a visit to Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, a place of untouched beauty and wildlife. The sheer basalt mountains stretch from the sea to the sky, divided by deep fjords, secluded alcoves, and valleys.

At the coastline, the relentless power of the ocean has molded towering sea cliffs, which are richly populated by native birds. Many of the alcoves and scurries off the coast are home to an abundance of seals, too.

Inland, the remaining glaciers of the last Ice Age have crafted ancient mountain passes and lakes into the rugged peninsula, and there the Arctic foxes wandering throughout its natural environment.

Following your exploration of the reserve, return to Isafjordur, and enjoy more fresh seafood for dinner in town. 

Day 7: Eastern Westfjords - Isafjordur to Holmavík

A view looking down on Isafjordur from the Troll's Seat hike
A view looking down on Isafjordur from the Troll's Seat hike

The drive from Isafjordur is about 3 hours today to Drangsnes and is incredibly scenic as you curve around the fjords. 

Eight fjords make up the Ísafjarðardjúp fjord system, which separates this area from Hornstrandir to the north. This section between Isafjordur and Holmavík in the Westfjords can be a bit divisive for drivers—some love the scenic drive around the many fjords, while others find it frustrating to drive for a couple hours to not travel too far from where they started.

There are a few worthwhile stops along the drive to stretch the legs and get out of the car to better-appreciate the landscapes.

Just 20 minutes from the Isafjordur harbor, arrive in the nearby town of Súðavík, home of the Arctic Fox Center. This nonprofit research center and the exhibit will teach you all about the Arctic fox. Here, learn all you ever wanted to know about Iceland's first land mammal, as well as enjoying historically themed interactions with the local people of Iceland. Stop to see the orphaned foxes in the pen outside, and then grab a light meal of soup, bread, and cakes.

A bit south of the town, at the bottom of Álftafjörður, locate the start of a short hike to thundering Valagil Falls.

As you drive along Hestfjörður and Skötufjörður (about 1 hour from Sudavik), keep an eye out for the small fishing town of Hvítanes, where you can often find many harbor seals resting on the rocks near the shore. This is a nice place to stop and stretch your legs after an hour of driving the curvy fjord roads.

On the tip of the small peninsula between Reykjarfjörður and Seydisfjordur Fjord, spot the small Saltverk Salt Factory. The owners can offer you a brief tour of the factory and tell you about the history of the traditional method, which is created using geothermal steam. Take the unique opportunity to purchase some of the famous salt, either for yourself or as a gift. 

This also one of your last opportunities to look back at Ísafjarðardjúp before crossing to the eastern side of the region.  

After a 30-minute drive overland, you will arrive on the eastern side of the region near the town of Holmavik, home to the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft. Take a tour into 17th-century Iceland and explore the world of witchcraft, sorcery, and the supernatural. The 30-minute audio guide will teach you about the traditions and history of the craft and its prominence in old tales and the sagas. About 20 minutes north along the coast, you will find the Sorcerer's Cottage, which makes up the second part of the museum.

Following the long day, relax and enjoy the night in Holmavík at your leisure.

Day 8: Visit Djúpavík and explore the remote Westfjords

Hótel Djúpavík (Photo courtesy of Hótel Djúpavík)
Hótel Djúpavík (Photo courtesy of Hótel Djúpavík)

Continue along the eastern coast of the Westfjords to the old fishing town of Djúpavík (meaning deep harbor).

Here, explore some of the most remote areas in the Westfjords. Head out on one or a few hikes in the area. Or, you can take a tour of the old herring factory, and spend the night at Hótel Djúpavík in the old factory's lodging, which has been converted into a hotel.

About 30 minutes north of the town, stop at a remote, geothermal pool at Krossneslaug, just above the coastline. You are in for an incredible view while you relax in the natural waters.

After your soak, drive back to Holmavik to spend the night (if you choose not to stay in the old herring factory lodging).

Day 9: Drive from Holmavík back to Reykjavík

Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavik
Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavik

If you did not do so on your way to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, visit the Settlement Center in Borgarnes, and then go for a hike at Glymur Falls.

Next, make a stop at Hraunfossar (“Lava Falls”) and Barnafoss ("Children's Waterfall"), regarded as some of the most unique and spectacular waterfalls in Iceland, where clear, subterranean water seeps through the lava fields, pouring out of the rocks, creating Hraunfossar.

Finish the day in Reykjavík. Walk through compact downtown to check out the unique street art scene. Head to the water for the Sun Voyager Sculpture and the Harpa Concert Hall, with its unique, glass architecture. Visit Hallgrímskirkja, a church on the hill, and take the elevator to the top of the tower for a great view of the city below and panoramic views of the area.

You can also join a whale watching tour from Reykjavík Harbour, and snack on a world-famous hot dog at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur.

For delicious lunch and dinner recommendations, consider the below:

  • Messinn
  • Sea Barron
  • Kol Restaurant
  • The Coocoo's Nest
  • Kaffivagninn (lunch only)
  • Café Loki

If you are interested in checking out Reykjavík’s nightlife scene, visit the following bars:

  • Craft Cocktails
  • Mikkeller & Friends
  • Skúli Craft Bar
  • KEX Hostel Bar (live music on weekends)

Day 10: Visit the Reykjanes Peninsula and depart from Reykjavík

Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon

Spend your last day exploring more of Reykjavík. Stop by the Blue Lagoon on your drive to the airport, where you can enjoy one, last geothermal soak before you fly home.

If you have more time, visit some of the highlights around the Reykjanes Peninsula. The following places are often missed by travelers quickly traveling between Reykjavik and KEF airport for departure. With a bit more time, you can explore lava fields, geothermal areas, lighthouses, and small fishing towns.

These places are listed east to west, as you drive from Reykjavik to KEF clockwise around the peninsula:

  • Krýsuvík geothermal area: While you can walk around the area near the parking lot in as little as 5 minutes, take your time to see the steam vents and hot pools up close. Look up at the multicolored hills surrounding the area. There’s a short, steep trail up the hill, which offers great views on a clear day.
  • Gunnuhver hot springs and geothermal area: Here, find a couple of bubbling and steaming mud pools. Gunnuhver is named after a female ghost who was said to be trapped in the hot springs more than 400 years ago. Temperatures are extremely hot, so stick to the walkways and viewing areas. While here, continue about 5 minutes to the cliffs to stop at Reykjanesviti lighthouse with beautiful views of Iceland from atop a hill.
  • Bridge Between Continents (Europe Miðlína): This area is a great symbol of Icelandic geology. The Reykjanes Peninsula is on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which pulls apart a few centimeters every year. You can cross the bridge between the continental plates while you’re here, and look down at the gap below.
  • Garður Lighthouse: About 15 minutes north of KEF, you will arrive at two lighthouses—one on the coast (older and not as stable), and a second a bit further inland. This scenic area can be a nice area to walk around and stretch your legs before boarding your return flight home.

Map

Map of Best of West Iceland & Scenic Westfjords - 10 Days
Map of Best of West Iceland & Scenic Westfjords - 10 Days