“I want to see a little bit of history. I'd love to see some Viking-age structures. I also want to take in Iceland's natural beauty. First and foremost, that's what I'd like to see.
Anything that makes Iceland stand out geographically/geologically. I'm an outdoorsman, and I don't mind enduring some physical exertion to see something breathtaking. I'd like perhaps a day to see what the modern culture is like, and to try the local cuisine. I'm also a food and cooking addict, and I love learning about the history and cuisine of different cultures.
- David C.”
Chris McCarty, a local specialist from Iceland, helped this traveler put together a customized itinerary.
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Trip planning highlights
Best of the West: Snaefellsnes Peninsula and Westfjords
Summary of the trip planning conversation
Hi David, welcome to kimkim! Thank you for contacting us to help you with your travel plans to Iceland this summer. The summer is peak season, which means that some areas like the south coast and Golden Circle can be quite crowded, and hotel availability is very limited.
Instead, I would recommend that you spend your time in the west and north of the country, where you can still see many great places but with only a fraction of the people. I will attach a few initial ideas to give you an idea of what is possible in those areas.
Both of these routes will take you through beautiful areas and many small villages as well. The 7-day trip to the Westfjords will be the more remote of the two, but both will be away from the crowds of the south and each has their perks.
Hi, Chris. Thanks for these starters. My tickets are now booked, so I know that I'll be landing at Keflavik on the morning of 8/12, and departing on the morning of 8/20. Given that information, do you think I'll be able to make the 7-day itinerary to the Westfjords work comfortably? Right now, that's the direction that I'm leaning in.
With 8 full days, you should be able to do that itinerary. Are there any day trips that you want to do in the Westfjords such as hiking in Hornstrandir or kayaking? If so we can plan for 2 nights in Isafjordur.
Regarding nights 2-3, if I was to stay in Grundarfjordur or Stykkisholmur, would my itinerary remain the same, or are there different things that I should see in those places? I don't mind a bit of driving (~2 hours round trip). If there are any exceptional hotel values in the north, I would entertain those options.
Hi David, I added an extra night in Isafjordur so that you have more time to explore that part of the Westfjords (Isafjordur is a great base). This pushed back the other couple of days so that they aligned with your departure on 8/20.
Finally, for the second to last night, Djupavik is about 80 min detour along the coast in quite a remote area. It can be very scenic, but also means more driving that day (4 hours from Isafjordur compared with 2.5hours from Isafjordur to Holmavik). Holmavik to KEF airport is 3.5 hours the next day (or 5 from Djupavik). Or, another option is North Star Hotel Staðarflöt which is also listed, which is right on the route but closer to Reykjavik. It's a little over 4 hours from Isafjordur that day, and 2.5 to Reykjavik (and if you like that last day, you can take a detour to Hvammstangi to see the seal colony and seal center).
Regarding day 7: Djupavik does bear a lot of appeal. It looks scenic and secluded and seems like it offers some good kayaking opportunities. I think that's my first choice. I'll splurge for the SUV, as it sounds like it would be quite the chore to access Djupavik in an economy car. Manual is fine.
Hi David, it's not possible to drive to Hornstrandir, the only option to get there is by boat. That said, I think you will find that there are several sections of the road (in particular out to the látrabjarg cliffs, where it would be nice to have something prepared to handle uneven ground.