Ísafjörður (Isafjordur) is the largest town in Iceland's beautiful Westfjords, making it a perfect jumping off point for day trips around the region. The town itself, surrounded by dramatic scenery, also has a lot to offer in the way of historical value and opportunities to get out into nature.

Located in the Westfjords of Iceland, Isafjordur is one of the most remote towns in the country. In the winter, the snowfall and winding roads make the region nearly inaccessible, but in the summer, the midnight sun turns this area into a magical place. The deep blue fjords, snow capped mountains and sweeping vistas of the ocean make this a gorgeous destination. Spend your time in town or stay in Isafjordur and check out guided sightseeing day tours, horseback riding, hikes or biking trips while you're there.

Getting There

Isafjordur is accessible by car from the east on Road 61 or the south via Road 60 or Vestfjardarvegur, by bus, or by two daily flights from Reykjavik.

Downtown Isafjordur

A town of 2,600 residents, Isafjordur has many attractions with a short walking distance. The town is full of 19th-century wooden houses, such as the Westfjords Maritime Museum and the Edinborg Cultural Center. "The Old Hospital" is another cultural center with a library, archives, art collection and various exhibitions. Pick up some sweets at the Gamla Bakaríid, the old bakery where croissants and kringla - a traditional horseshoe-shaped donut with caraway seeds - are made freshly daily. 

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Hiking, Biking, and Kayaking

There are a plethora of hiking and biking trails from Isafjordur. You have the choice of hugging the coastline and riding from town to town, or to use the more challenging valley trails. We always recommend a guide for hikes and mountain biking, as the weather conditions and routes in the Westfjords can be unpredictable if you aren’t familiar with the terrain. Rent a mountain bike for a half- or full-day tour around town, or join a guide to test your skills of the challenging Svalvogar Circuit. Hike up to Kaldbakur, the highest mountain in the Westfjords, or make your way around to the Svalvogar Peninsula in a Jeep or mountain bike. Kimkim offers private tours to both Kaldbakur and Svalvogar, which you can do as a combo tour (Jeep + hiking) in only 9-10 hours.

With so many bays, inlets and fjords, there seems to be no end to gorgeous kayak routes in the Northern Atlantic. Ride around the calm bay of Isafjordur or kayak around impressive Mt. Oshlid. Visit Vigur Island to relax with harbor seals and birdlife. You can also paddle out to the island of Æðey and Snæfjallaströnd Beach for beautiful views of the water and shoreline. 

Wildlife & Festivals

There are Icelandic horse farms even in the Westfjords, and a visit can easily be arranged at the Tourist Information Office. You'll be schooled in the basics of horsemanship and familiarized with the unique gait of the Icelandic horse before riding for 1-2.5 hours into Engidalur Valley. 

Seabirds love the Westfjords, flocking to its shores in the summer to breed. The closest birdwatching colony is on Vigur, an island in the Isafjordur Bay. You might see masses of puffins, razorbills, guillemots and fulmars. You can rent a kayak out to their lonely island, which is also home to Iceland's only windmill and the smallest post office in Europe. 

Periodically throughout the year, the town erupts into music festivals and sporting matches. The music festival Aldrei fór ég sudur livens up the dark springtime, and in August head to nearby Bolungarvik for the Swamp Soccer European Championships.

Day Trips from Isafjordur

There are a few small towns of note within driving distance from the Westfjords. Drive west to learn about old local heritage at the blacksmith in Thingeyri and the fish factory in FlateyriWhile you're there, stop by Simbahöllin in Thingeyri, a Danish-style café that serves the best waffles in Iceland. Delivered piping hot with a dollop of freshly whipped cream and birch liqueur. There's also homemade soup, free wifi, and cozy views of the harbor. 

To the east, stop by Sudavik to see the Arctic Fox Center and find out more about these shy creatures in the north. At the Maritime Museum in Bolungarvik, learn about fishing life in the 19th century, which sustained the lifestyle and economy of the Westfjords - and see a real dried polar bear. In Bildudalur, the Icelandic Sea Monster Museum gives a fun interactive introduction to sea monsters in local folk culture.  

Additionally, ferries to the remote natural wonder of Hornstrandir National Park run daily from the port. Be sure to book with one of our guides well in advance as tours frequently sell out. We always recommend going with a guide to hike the natural reserve, as the local rescue squad spends many of their days retrieving folks who have ventured into the wilderness on their own.

Where to Stay

There are a healthy handful of guesthouses and hotels in Isafjordur, like Hotel Isafjordur Torg on Silfurtorg Square, whose slick Scandinavian rooms were voted a favorite by readers of Lonely Planet. If you want to stay in a nearby fishing village, check out Hotel Edda, a low-key, summer-only hotel just eight minutes from Westfjords Heritage Museum. This historic hotel has been serving travelers and locals in the remote Westfjords since 1961.