Escape the crowds of the south to experience Iceland’s most dramatic landscapes, where tiny fishing villages sit along calm fjords below towering flat mountain tops.

The Westfjords may very well be the most memorable part of your Icelandic trip. Hike along jagged cliffs high above the ocean where tens of thousands of birds nest. Picnic near Dynjandi falls, an incredible waterfall with several smaller cascades flowing below. Enjoy some peace a quiet in Isafjordur the largest town in the Westfjords where you can kayak calm waters, hike to incredible views, or sail to a nature preserve for some of the most remote hiking in the country.

The Westfjords are worthy of a trip in itself, but can also be added onto a larger itinerary:

  • Take a detour from the ring road (a longer scenic drive weaving around all of the fjords in the region)
  • Take the Ferry north from Snaefellsnes Peninsula, stopping at Flatey Island
  • Fly in and out of Isafjordur from Reykjavik’s domestic airport

The experiences below are listed in order if you were to drive around the Westfjords starting in the southwest then driving clockwise around the fjords to the north and then east.

Grettislaug Hot Pools

If you’re driving from the ring road or up from the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, be sure to stop at the hot pools at Reykir. Here you will find 2 man-made pools made of large stones, built above natural hot springs. This is a perfect place to take a break before continuing further into the fjords.

Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs

Trail along the edge of the Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs (photo by Chris McCarty)

The Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs are one of the most spectacular places in the Westfjords, even in all of Iceland. This remote area is home to tens of thousands of birds who nest in the cliffs where their eggs are protected from predators. Different species tend to nest at different heights of the cliffs.

Park your car and set out along the 14km / 8mi path along the cliff edge. Hike as far or as short as you like, and be careful when looking over the edge (lay town to distribute your weird, as the ground is a bit soft in areas). From the trail, you will have spectacular views looking over the cliff edges and seeing the rest of the peninsula in the distance.

Near the start of the hike be sure to check out Bjargtangar lighthouse at the westernmost point of Europe.

Breiðavík golden beach

View from above the Breiðavík golden beach (photo by Chris McCarty)

On your drive back from Látrabjarg consider a stop and a picnic at Breiðavík, a long golden sand beach (which is rare for Iceland, as most beaches are black).  

Rauðasandur red sand beach

Looking down over the Rauðasandur red sand beach (photo by Chris McCarty)

For a look at a rare red-sand beach, drive about 15-20 minutes off the main road towards Rauðasandur where you can enjoy the beautiful cliffs that act as a backdrop behind a wooden church along a vast red-sand beach.

A short distance before you reach route 62, you will see the beached...

Gardar BA 64 Ship

Gardar Ba 64 Ship, Iceland's oldest steel ship (photo by Chris McCarty)

This boat is Iceland’s oldest steel ship, built in 1912 as a whaling and herring fishing boat. It was beached here in 1981 and has become a popular spot for photographers looking to snap pictures of something other than the beautiful natural scenery. The boat is just the road, take a few minutes to walk around and take a look.

Patreksfjordur

Patreksfjordur (named after St. Patrick) is a good overnight option in the southern Westfjords if you spend your day at the Látrabjarg cliffs and beaches south of here. If you’re looking to relax, jump in the new swimming pool or drive a bit further to natural hot pools.

The 30-minute section on Route 60 between Flókalundur and Dynjandi falls offers some great scenery, make sure to pay attention to the road as you drive to…

Dynjandi Falls

Powerful waters of Dynjandi Falls (photo by Chris McCarty)

The most dramatic waterfall in the region, Dynjandi is a wide waterfall leading into several smaller waterfalls and cascades below, all in the perfect setting in the mouth of a fjord. Follow the small path to each of the waterfalls and take your time appreciating each of them. If you’re up for more of a hike, follow the trail leading to the top. While here, consider a picnic at the tables while you enjoy the atmosphere before continuing further north.

Drive through the long tunnel below the mountain. There’s a turn off inside the tunnel, but you should continue straight until you arrive on the other side at...

Ísafjörður

View looking down on Isafjordur in the Westfjords (photo by Chris McCarty)

Isafjordur in the northern of the Westfjords deserves a couple days of your time and makes for a great base for exploring the region. The small town has several high-quality restaurants and bakeries, including a world-renowned fish restaurant serving all-you-can-eat fish dinner, which recently was named one of the top fish restaurants in the world.

Spend your days kayaking around the calm fjord or along the coastline, take a ship to Hornstrandir Nature Preserve to hike in one of the most remote areas of the country, or hike up the table-top mountains to the “troll seat”, a ridge where you can look down over 2 fjords, or to great views looking down on Isafjordur. In winter you can enjoy a variety of snow sports such as downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, or snowshoeing.

Hornstrandir Nature Preserve

A hiker takes a break in Hornstrandir Nature Preserve, Westfjords (photo by Borea Adventures)

If you’re looking for remote Iceland that very few other people have experienced, this is it. North of Isafjordur is the remote nature preserve of Hornstrandir, no longer inhabited year round. The only access is by foot or boat where you can enjoy the scenery and wildlife to yourself.  Hike for a day or join multi-day treks camping or staying in huts, or join a multi-day kayak trip along the coast and stopping for hikes along the way.

Krossneslaug Pool and Árneshreppur

A bit off the main route , you will find the tiny town of Árneshreppur in the northwest part of the Westfjords, where you can hike or just relax away from it all. Nearby you will find the krossneslaug pool, a small pool built by farmers in 1954. It’s right next to the ocean where you can relax in the warm water supplied from nearby hot springs while admiring the great views.

Holmavik Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft

As you leave the Westfjords and head back to the ring road consider a stop in Holmavik at the Museum of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It’s a little quirky and fairly small, but can be a good way to break up the longer drive out of the Westfjords.

Map

Map of Best Sights of the Westfjords: 2-4 day Driving Tour
Map of Best Sights of the Westfjords: 2-4 day Driving Tour

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Recent Trip Reviews

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10-12 day driving tour of iceland, Iceland - Sep 2 - Sep 13, 2017

Traveler: Lee W. - Local specialist: Halldor Bjarkason

The trip was close to perfect. Great choices on destinations and activities. One day was overplanned: it would have been too much to get off the ferry at 17:30 in Brjanslaekur, then drive to the cliffs of Latrabjarg, then drive back to Patreksfjordur. So we skipped Latrabjarg.
It was fun to stumble on the Wild Westfjords office in Isafjordur and meet Halldor, Preeti, and the kids. The next day we got to spend a good bit of time with the family. We drove up above town to a ski area to... read more

The trip was close to perfect. Great choices on destinations and activities. One day was overplanned: it would have been too much to get off the ferry at 17:30 in Brjanslaekur, then drive to the cliffs of Latrabjarg, then drive back to Patreksfjordur. So we skipped Latrabjarg.
It was fun to stumble on the Wild Westfjords office in Isafjordur and meet Halldor, Preeti, and the kids. The next day we got to spend a good bit of time with the family. We drove up above town to a ski area to take a lovely hike. When we got back to the car, it had a flat tire (our second of the trip). When we were having trouble getting the tire off, I called the office. Halldor and family actually drove up to help us, made an appointment at a garage to get a new tire, and arranged for a reimbursement from Enterprise. We felt very well cared for.