This unique self-drive tour travels through Iceland's beautiful west coast and Westfjords region where few travelers roam. Starting in Reykjavik, you'll drive to the volcanic Snaefellsnes Peninsula before taking a car ferry to some of the most dramatic landscapes in Iceland. Here you'll hike the jagged cliffs at Londrangar, visit black, gold, and red sand beaches, and see the powerful Dynjandi Waterfall. End the trip in Isafjordur—a great base for activities in Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, accessible only by boat and trail.

Highlights

  • Spend your first night in Reykjavik with time to experience culture and restaurants
  • Avoid the crowds as you explore the Snaefellsnes Peninsula area at your own pace
  • Hike along the jagged cliffs at Londrangar and search for puffin colonies
  • Paddle along some of Iceland's crystal clear water with a guided kayak trip

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Reykjavik, Explore Downtown Reykjavik
Day 2 North to Glymur Falls & Snaefellsnes Peninsula Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Day 3 Ferry From Snaefellsnes Peninsula to the Westfjords Patreksfjörður
Day 4 Southern Westfjords: Látrabjarg & Dynjandi Isafjordur
Day 5 Isafjordur or Hornstrandir Hiking Isafjordur
Day 6 Isafjordur to Reykjavik, Departure Reykjavik

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Reykjavik, Explore Downtown 

Hit the streets of Iceland's walkable capital

Welcome to Iceland! Upon arrival at Keflavík International Airport, you'll pick up your rental car and drive 30 minutes into Reykjavik. Since many international flights land in the early morning hours, you'll likely want to start your adventure with some breakfast. You'll find cafes and restaurants that open early in the city center. 

From here, you'll have the rest of the day to explore the world’s most northerly capital city. 

Things to do in Reykjavik: 

  • Walk through Reykjavik’s compact downtown area and check out the unique street art scene.
  • Head to the waterfront for the Sun Voyager Sculpture and Harpa Concert Hall with its cool glass architecture.
  • Visit Hallgrimskirkja Church on the hill; take the elevator to the tower for a great overview of the city below and panoramic views of the area.
  • To escape inclement weather, you may consider visiting a few museums such as the Northern Lights Center, the Saga Museum, the Marine Museum, or the Whales of Iceland Exhibition. You can also join a whale watching tour from the Reykjavik harbor, and snack on a world-famous hot dog at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur.

In the evening, enjoy a variety of top-tier fish restaurants and Reykjavik’s nightlife. 

Day 2: Reykjavik to Snaefellsnes Peninsula

The photogenic Kirkjufell mountain

After breakfast in Reykjavik, you'll drive north of the city and stop in Borgarnes for a walk along the path near the water. While here you can learn more about the Settlement age of Iceland at the Settlement Center, or just grab a snack before your next stop.

From here, head to Glymur Falls and take a 2-hour round-trip hike along the narrow canyon up to the top of Iceland's tallest waterfall for great photo ops 

When you arrive in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, you'll notice why it is sometimes referred to as “little Iceland”, because here you can find a little bit of everything that Iceland has to offer: basalt columns, tiny fishing villages, coastal walks, lava fields, volcanic craters, black sand beaches, waterfalls, and more. 

Your first stop will be the Gerðuberg Basalt Cliffs, where strange basalt columns rise up out of the earth. Park the car and explore the area getting a closer look. Next, walk through the start of the Budhahraun lava fields on the coast, covered in moss.

Next, you can walk along the cliff-side paths at Arnarstapi for dramatic cliffs, lava formations, and arches in the rocks. You can actually walk all the way to Hellnar and stop for lunch at the small Fjöruhúsið cafe near the water to taste their delicious fish soup.

Another option is to drive to the huge Londrangar lava formations and walk around. A little further along the road is the Visitor Center for the peninsula where you can learn more about the volcanic system and the area.

Also, take a stroll along Djúpalónssandur black sand beach with debris from a shipwreck. Here you will find four stones of different sizes used by sea captains to test the strength of people wanting to join their crew. While facing the water, take the small trail on the right-side cliffs until you reach another small cove, once the site of a major fishing operation. 

As you near the westernmost point of the peninsula, look for signs for Saxholl crater. It's worth a quick stop to walk up the stairs that take you to the top with 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). Follow the short path to the other side of the waterfall for the iconic photo.

Spend the night in Grundarfjordur near the mountain and waterfall or continue to the larger town of Stykkishólmur. On the way, you can stop at Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum and taste some Hakarl, or fermented shark.

Day 3: Ferry From Snaefellsnes Peninsula to the Westfjords

Enjoy water views while traveling to the Westfjords

Today, you may have time to finish exploring the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. From here, you'll make a drive into the Berserkjahraun Lava Fields before you drive to Stykkishólmur where you'll catch a 3-hour ferry north to the Westfjords. Keep in mind that departure times vary and are limited during the winter season, but you can also make the 3.25-hour drive instead.

While in Stykkishólmur, consider a stop by the Volcano Museum and enjoy some fresh mussels for lunch by the harbor. 

When you arrive in the Westfjords, spend the night near the town of Patreksfjörður.

Day 4: Southern Westfjords: Látrabjarg & Dynjandi

Have lunch by this stunning waterfall

Before heading out for today's adventures, you may want to pick up picnic supplies since there won't have many options until you arrive in Isafjordur

First, you'll 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.

On your drive back towards Patreksfjordur, consider another 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 and walk around the ship.

Now you'll 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, you will have 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 in the late afternoon. While in town, visit the Isafjordur Maritime Museum, join a cultural and historical walking tour of the town, or eat all the fish you ever wanted at Tjoruhusid, named the best seafood in Europe a few years back.

Day 5: Isafjordur & Hornstrandir

Look for puffin colonies in the Westfjords

Today, you'll wake up in Isafjordur—the heart of the Westfjords and the region’s largest town. This is a great home base and a pleasant town for a stroll. 

Some options for how to spend your day:

  • Hike up the sides of the mountains in Isafjordur to see the fjords below.
  • Take a boat ride and hiking tour of Hornstrandir Natural Preserve (see below for more info), one of the most remote and scenic areas of Iceland. 
  • Take a kayaking trip in the calm fjord or paddle all the way to Vigur Island to see exotic birds and sea life.
  • Rent mountain bikes and cycle around the avalanche barrier of Ísafjördur. There's an off-road tour (beginner tracks, too) in the Icelandic "forest" over avalanche walls. 
  • Go horseback riding through the lush Sandá Valley where you can experience the Icelandic countryside and get views of the "Westfjords Alps".

Hornstrandir Nature Preserve: This is a place of magnificent untouched beauty and wildlife. The sheer basalt mountains stretch from the sea to the sky chaotically divided by deep fjords, secluded alcoves, and valleys. At the coastline, the relentless power of the ocean has molded towering sea cliffs, richly populated by birds. Many of the alcoves and scurries off the coast are home to an abundance of seals. Inland the crawling glaciers of the last ice age have hewn ancient mountain passes and lakes into the rugged peninsula and there the arctic fox wanders in its natural environment.

Day 6: Isafjordur to Reykjavik, Departure

Sunset in the Westfjords

It's time to say farewell to Iceland! Depending on what time your departure is, you can either catch a domestic flight from the airport in Isafjordur, or drive back (about 5-6 hours) to Reykjavik. 

With more time, consider spending a few more days to explore the area. The section between Isafjordur and Holmavik in the Westfjords can be a bit divisive for drivers: some love the scenic drive around the many fjords, others find it frustrating to drive for a couple hours to not travel too far from where you started.

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

  • Arctic Fox Center: After 20 minutes from the Isafjordur harbor, you’ll arrive in the nearby town of Súðavík, home of the Arctic Fox Center. This non-profit research center and the exhibit will teach you everything you wanted to know about Iceland's first land mammal, as well as historical interactions with people of Iceland. You will find two orphaned foxes in the pen outside, or you can stop for a light meal in the café where you will find soup, bread, and cakes.

  • Valagil Falls: A bit south of the town, at the bottom of Álftafjörður, you will find the start of a short hike to thundering Valagil Falls.

  • Seal Colony near Hvítanes: As you drive along Hestfjörður and Skötufjörður (about an 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 makes a nice place to stop and stretch your legs after an hour of driving the curvy fjord roads.

  • Saltverk Salt Factory: On the tip of the small peninsula between Reykjarfjörður and Seydisfjordur Fjord you will find a small 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. 

  • Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft Museum (Holmavik): 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. 

Map

Map of Iceland West Coast Road Trip - 6 Days
Map of Iceland West Coast Road Trip - 6 Days