Íslenska
Íslenska

Places to See & Activities to Do 
. . . when you visit Isafjordur on Iceland's Westfjords

Looking like an enormous claw stretching out to sea, the Westfjords are known for enormous sea cliffs, some rising to a height of over 400 meters, long, narrow fjords, and peacefully exhilarating nature in its purest form. A slender strip of land about 8 km wide connects the southeastern corner of the Westfjords with the rest of Iceland.

This part of Iceland is geographically rugged. It's a place where survival has always been uncertain, which explains the Westfjords' sparse population. Fishing villages have grown and prospered in the fjords closest to the rich fishing grounds, while many other areas are virtually untouched.

The entire region comprises only about 8% of Iceland's land mass, while its ruggedly beautiful and meandering shoreline makes up about 35% of the country’s coast. The northwest tip of the Westfjords is Hornstrandir, a now uninhabited 600-km2 wilderness reserve of inspired natural beauty and undisturbed wildlife where nature lives in peace with itself.

For holiday travellers planning to visit Westfjords, Iceland and looking for something special, something unique, these enormous natural spaces of incredible landscapes and seascapes will heighten the senses. It is truly a privilege to experience such splendor.

And the locals are nice, too!  

ACTIVITIES  

Leisure Activities 

Horseback trips long & short, golf, hiking, birding, sailing, whale watching, snowmobiling, yachting, bicycling, ocean kayaking, mountain climbing, hunting, freshwater angling, deep-sea fishing, skiing, boating, white-water rafting, swimming in thermal water (there are more pools of natural hot water in the Westfjords than in any other part of Iceland), and much more.

Festivals & Events 

The people of the Westfjords have long been known for being hard workers in a difficult environment, and for enjoying a good time in-between. Some of the annual festivals and events in the region are Family Weekend at Suðureyri, Harbor Festival at Drangsnes, Djúpavík Festival, Westfjords Feasts of Nations, Seamen’s Day at Patreksfjörður, Act Alone Theatre Festival, Ísafjörður Ski Week, “I Never Went South” Rock Festival, and others.

Museums 

Museums and galleries give a special insight into the life and times of the Westfjords, for example Ísafjörður Culture House, Ósvör Fishing Station in Bolungarvík, International Doll Museum in Flateyri, Natural History Museum in Bolungarvík, Snjáfjallasetur Heritage Centre in Dalbær Snæfjallaströnd, Jón Sigurdsson Museum at Hrafnseyri, Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft in Hólmavík, Sheep Farming Museum near Hólmavík, Westfjords District Museum in Isafjordur, and many more.

Eating local food

Some of Iceland's richest fishing grounds are just off the Westfjords. Fresh fish and shellfish are long-time favorites on menus. Mountain free-range lamb is another must-try food when traveling the Westfjords. This is local food served in restaurants, cafés and bistros in calm and peaceful surroundings, some with views that inspire.

Golf 

There are six 9-hole golf courses in the West Fjord Region: three in Ísafjörður County, two in Barðaströnd County and one in Strandir. All interesting courses, all located in great settings. 

Arctic Fox 

There is no place in Iceland better suited for observing the Arctic fox than the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. This species of fox has lived in harmony with man and nature for centuries. It has grown accustomed to people and is not afraid to walk curiously around camping sites.

Birding 

The Westfjords are blessed with incredibly rich wildlife, including many bird species, some rare. The best places to observe seabirds are in Latrabjarg and Hornstrandir. The best chances to glimpse a sea eagle are in Barðaströnd and Reykhólar. The Westfjords are considered a birding paradise because there is easy access to many of their nesting sites throughout the nesting season.

PLACES 

Aðalvík  

A sense of the way things were, remnants of a time when the bay of Aðalvik on Hornsstrandir Nature Reserve was still inhabited. Nature has reclaimed this beautiful area.

Brjánslækur  

The Baldur ferry travels to and from Brjánslækur on the southern coast of the Westfjords via Flatey Island and Stykkishólmur.

Djúpavík  

A narrow cove in the Strandir area. While ruins of an abandoned herring factory give the site an eerie feeling, walking around the grounds of this once thriving community provides a valuable perspective into the perennial struggle to live in harmony with nature.

Dynjandi Falls 

The largest waterfall in the Westfjords. Situated in Arnarfjörður Fjord, Dynjandi is thought by many to be most beautiful waterfall in Iceland.

Flatey Island 

Once a prosperous trading hub and fishing center on Breiðafjörður Bay, Flatey is now a summer paradise. The beautifully restored and painted old houses dot the osland´s only road. The Baldur Ferry sails regularly from Stykkishólmur to Bránslækur on the Westfjords with a short stop at Flatey Island.

Grímsey  

An island off the coast of Strandir in the northeast. It is called Bird Island by locals as puffins and other seabirds nest there in the tens of thousands.

Grunnavík  

Situated at the opening of Jökulfjörður Fjord, Grunnavík is in perfect harmony with its summer visitors. Abandoned in 1962, today there are a few summer houses in the area and a camping ground.

Haukadalur 

Haukadalur Valley was the settings of Gisla Saga, one of the most famous of the Icelandic Sagas. Exploring this area puts the story into perspective.

Hesteyri 

An abandoned village. By the middle of the 20th century, the villagers at Hesteyri felt they could no longer live without telephones, electricity and roads. In 1952, they made a communal decision to move away, to end an outdated lifestyle, and the village was abandoned. Nature has reclaimed this area, which today is a paradise for summer travelers.

Hornbjarg 

A magnificent sea cliff in the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. Nesting area to millions of seabirds.

Hornstrandir Nature Reserve 

This uninhabited, nature paradise covers the Hornstrandir region, and parts of Jökulfjörð Fjord, Grunnavíkurhreppur district. A popular hiking and camping area, this enormous reserve is only accessible on foot or by boat. It is truly a place where travelers walk in awe of nature‘s incredible depth and balance, where travelers intuit being part of something very special.

Kaldalón  

A 5-km-long fjord stretching from Ísafjörður Bay. A glacier tongue from Drangajokull, the only glacier in the Westfjords, descends down the valley and into a lagoon, hence its name “Kalda-lón” (Cold-lagoon). 

Krossaneslaug Pool 

This unique shoreline swimming pool is situated just a few meters from the ocean. The view out to sea is extraordinary.

Látrabjarg 

Rising 440 meters out of the sea, Látrabjarg is the largest seabird cliff in the North Atlantic. Millions of seabirds nest in this westernmost point of Iceland each spring. Home to the world´s largest Razorbill colony, this sheer cliff wall is 14 km long. Seals are often seen sunning themselves on the rocks below.

Mt. Bolafjall 

A mountain adjacent to the town of Bólungarvík that delivers on a promise of extraordinary bird's-eye views over several fjords. Accessible by road.

Rauðisandur  

A large sandy cove close to Latrabjarg. The white sands glow in the midnight sun, giving it the red aura and its name, Red Sand. There is excellent wild camping in the area.

Selárdalur Valley  

This is the last in the series of beautifully rugged fjords and valleys in the southern part of the Westfjords. Famous for an extraordinary museum of outdoor works of art by the farmer, Samúel Jónsson, who lived there.

Vatnsfjörður Nature Reserve  

The landscapes of this 20,000-hectare reserve, which were shaped and molded by Ice Age glaciers, are rich in wildlife. Approximately 80% of the area is rough and barren, while the lowlands are mostly covered with shrubs.

Vigur 

A small island about 30 minutes by boat from Isafjordur. Still inhabited by a few people, the island is a paradise for birding as there is easy access to numerous species. Farmyard coffeehouse.