While it has some of the most stunning natural landscape, it is often overlooked by tourists because of its difficulty to reach and travel through. Here are some tips.
Visiting the Westjords in Iceland can be difficult and time consuming, but it also contains much of the beautiful remote scenery that Iceland is famous for. Quite different from the more cosmopolitan Reykjavik, the area is full of local color and a history that goes back to the 9th century, when it was first visited by the Viking Flóki Vilgerðarson.
Ways to Reach the Westfjords
The Ferry Baldur departs from Stykkishólmur and arrives at Brjánslækur about three hours later. Brjánslækur is a good gateway to the rest of the Westfjords as one can drive west to the Látrabjarg cliffs (the Western-most point in Europe) or travel North to Ísafjörður, or even do both.
Air Iceland – www.airiceland.is/ – has daily flights to and from Ísafjörður and Reykjavik year-round, with a reduced number of flights in the winter.
Route One (the “Ring Road”) continues around Iceland in a circle from Reykjavik, and is a nice paved highway. After traveling north for a while on the Ring Road, one must take Route 60 to go into the Westfjords.
There are very few towns, and certainly not many towns that have more than basic necessities in the Westfjords. But the most exciting things to see are definitely the natural wonders. Here are a few highlights.
The Látrabjarg Peninsula. During the summer months there is a lot of wildlife to see – puffins (the most famous inhabitants of Iceland) live here by the thousands. Other unique birds, like fulmars, can be seen here. There is also a trail that follows along the cliffs to Rauðisandur, a remote and beautiful beach. It’s a 20km but fantastic hike.
Dynjandi Waterfall. Another difficult to reach place but no less worth seeing. Continuing north from Látrabjarg on Rte 60, one will notice it off the side of the road. There are a few smaller waterfalls as well, and Dynjandi towers above them. It is nowhere near as large as Gullfoss, Iceland’s most famous waterfall, but it is as beautiful on a smaller scale.
Rte 60. If one has time for very slow driving, it is worth taking a couple days to drive through the fjords. The driving is not very good, as the roads are all but gravel, but the road goes over the tops of mountains overlooking fjords, and through the desolate Glama moors.
The most populated town in the Westfjords is called Ísafjörður, and while it only has about 3000 inhabitants, after passing through the tiny hamlets and endless unpopulated areas, it seems like a city in comparison. It is a beautiful town that is known for its fishing history. A local and informative museum here that focuses on fishing and naval artifacts and tools is the Westfjords Maritime Museum. There are also plenty of places to stay and eat, from camping to hotels and restaurants, cafes, and bakeries. It is also a good place to stay to hike through the surrounding area.