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West Fjords Iceland Road Trip Guide & Itinerary

West Fjords Iceland Road Trip Guide & Itinerary

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Wild, unspoilt, and remote, the West Fjords of Iceland will impress you with spectacular fjords, circuitous coastlines, rugged mountainous regions and secluded villages.

Only one out of five visitors to Iceland venture into the desolate West Fjords region annually. Sparsely populated and infrequently visited, those looking for an off the beaten path adventure will surely find it in the West Fjords.

West Fjords, Iceland

Driving the pass along Route 61

Initially our Iceland road trip itinerary did not even include the West Fjords. However, during our 12 day road trip around Iceland we started to casually entertain the idea of venturing into the West Fjords. After gathering information from our Lonely Planet Iceland book nightly after dinner, we slowly changed our minds and decided to drive 741km through the West Fjords in two days. 

Find everything you need to know about driving the West Fjords, Iceland. Which attractions to visit, what to see, activities and tours you can participate in, where to stay, tips on how to driving in the West Fjords, and what to pack for Iceland.

Day 1

We left Blönduós early in the morning and headed West along Route 1 or the Ring road. If you have limited time but are eager to explore the West Fjords, try to sleep as close to the peninsula as possible the night before.

Our journey North into the West Fjords began on Route 68 following the Western coastline of  Hrútafjörður.

Piles of drift wood can be seen stacked and bundled near the road. Camper vans and overnight cars wild camping were parked in plain sight with its passengers still sleeping soundly in the quiet, dry morning.

Öxarárfoss waterfall in Þingvellir National Park, Iceland

Sheep grazing near Kollafjardarneskirkja

Kollafjardarneskirkja

The red pointy spire of Kollafjardarneskirkja by the water’s edge caught our eye from the road. After a quick deliberation, we descended down the dirt path leading to the church to get a closer look. The century old church (ca.1909) is the oldest standing stone building in the Strandasýsla county of the West Fjords. The graveyard in front of the church hosts simple grass mounds. Some graves have Icelandic names inscribed in a tombstone or cross while others have no names assigned to them at all.

Öxarárfoss waterfall in Þingvellir National Park, Iceland

Sheep grazing near Kollafjardarneskirkja

Öxarárfoss waterfall in Þingvellir National Park, Iceland

Grass mound graves

Return to Route 61 and drive over the inland pass to Ísafjarðardjúp. Approximately 27km West of Holmavik along Route 61 you will come across a lonely turf house. If you can find a safe spot to pull over you can freely take a closer look at the structure.

Seal Sightings

If you didn’t spot seals from your whale sighting trip in Husavik, then you may still have another chance in the West Fjords. From the drive along Rte 68 North to Hólmavík we sighted a colony of seals lounging on rocks close to the shore. 

Seals in the West Fjords, Iceland

Flexible seals

Hólmavík

Located in the county of Strandir, the small town of Holmavik has a storied past involving witchcraft and sorcery. In the 17th century twenty Icelanders were burned at the stake for practicing sorcery. Today you can learn more about the witch hunts and trials along with the history of sorcery and witchcraft at the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchraft. If you are drawn to macabre history this museum may be of interest to you.

The Church of Hólmavík situated on a hill can be seen easily from anywhere in town and would be a great vantage point to photograph the town from. On your way out of Hólmavík spot the cute, bright yellow lighthouse set on a hill. 

If you want to stay a night in the Northeastern region of the Westfjords you might have more luck find in Hólmavík than Drangsnes.

Hólmavík church, West Fjords Iceland

Hólmavík church overlooking the town

Drangsnes

If you’ve come from Blönduós or further East, you definitely deserve a break. From Rte 61 travel West onto Rte 643 then Rte 645 to visit the the remote village of Drangsnes. Re-energize with a dip in the hot pots in Drangsnes. These free (donations optional) geothermal fed jacuzzis are nestled into the sea wall near the road. Enjoy with the warm embrace of the water as the oceanic breeze whips through your hair. East across Greenland Sea take in views of Grímsey island and Northern Iceland. Drangsnes has a few guesthouses and would be a great place to stay a night before continuing on your West Fjords journey if you can get a room. Check sleeping options here.

Jacuzzi hot pots at Drangsnes in West Fjords, Iceland

Jacuzzi hot pots at Drangsnes

Return to Route 61 and drive over the inland pass to Ísafjarðardjúp. Approximately 27km West of Holmavik along Route 61 you will come across a lonely turf house. If you can find a safe spot to pull over you can freely take a closer look at the structure.

Öxarárfoss waterfall in Þingvellir National Park, Iceland

Driving the pass along Route 61

West Fjords, Iceland

Turf house near Hólmavík

Arriving at the first fjord of Ísafjarðardjúp we parked at a small dock to take in the views. The biggest draw of the Westfjords are the stunning fjords themselves so expect to stop often to admire the landscape.

Ísafjarðardjúp West Fjords, Iceland

Ísafjarðardjúp Fjord

West Fjords, Iceland

Driving along the Fjord coastline

Drangajökull Glacier

As you drive along Rte 61 make sure to turn into the pull offs by the side of the road to admire Drangajökull, the only glacier found in the Westfjords. Its position in the West Fjords overlooking Ísafjarðardjúp makes it the most Northern glacier of Iceland and the only glacier situated below 1000 m above sea level. For a closer look, take Route 635 branching from Rte 61 until you reach the glacier valley. Thrill seekers can take a superjeep adventure on the the glacier itself.

Drangajökull glacier in West Fjords Iceland

Drangajökull glacier

Vatnsfjörður Nature Reserve

Take the road signed Route 633 Vatnsfjardarnes to visit Vatnsfjörður Nature Reserve. By the water there is a wooden shed [MAP] with a turf roof and stone sides. Inside the shed we found fish heads separated from their bodies and hung to dry.

Turf shed at Vatnsfjörður in West Fjords Iceland

Turf shed at Vatnsfjörður

Driving fish in a turf shed at Vatnsfjörður in West Fjords Iceland

Drying fish inside the turf shed

The closest accomodation options by Vatnsfjörður are Hotel/Hostel/Campground Reykjanes to the East and Heydalur Guesthouse & Campground to the West. Next time we intend to stay at Heydalur so that we can take advantage of their hotspots (natural and man-made) and greenhouse swimming pool!

Litlibær

Litlibær cafe and museum [MAP] is situated on a hillside on the Western side of Skagafjörður. A local Icelandic woman serves waffles, coffee, and tee on the main floor while the floor above houses a small and free museum. This small historic turf farm used to house two families and slept twenty people within its four walls. If you’re feeling tired from driving get your caffeine fix with the full coffee carafe that they leave on the table.

Approximately 1km from Litlibær, park at the benches at the pull off to the left and cross the road. The Hvítanes seal colony are often found sunning or relaxing on the rocks by the shore.

Litlibær Cafe and museum in West Fjords Iceland

Approaching Litlibær

Litlibær museum cafe in West Fjords Iceland

Dining room decorated with a taxidermied Arctic Fox

Eyrarkirkja

Situated on the West side of Seyðisfjörður on a slender peninsula is the simple wooden church, Eyrarkirkja [MAP]. A solitary house lies adjacent to the church and graveyard. It doesn’t seem that anyone lives in the house anymore and the church likely only sees visitors like us. Still we were happy to break the silence and pay this lonely church a quick visit.

Eyrarkirkja in West Fjords Iceland

Eyrarkirkja

Súðavík

The Arctic Fox Center in Súðavík is a museum and reserach center dedicated to the Arctic fox, Iceland’s only indigenous land mammal. You can learn more about the history, habitat and characteristics of these elusive, hardy creatures inside. Two resident Arctic foxes live on site as well. Súðavík also has a gas station, café, camping, and guesthouses.

Arctic Fox Center in Súðavík West Fjords Iceland

Arctic Fox Center

Isafjörður

Arrive in Isafjörður, the most populous town in the West Fjords. After driving through the lonely fjords Isafjörður feels alive with people.

Walk along the harbour on Suðurgata street passing 18th and 19th century wooden buildings capped with tin roofs.
The Westfjords Folk Museum, Isafjörður’s main attraction, celebrates the town’s maritime history in a black 18th century wooden warehouse building. The University Centre Of The Westfjords is located in Isafjörður and offers higher education distance learning to West Fjord residents.

Town of Isafjörður in West Fjords Iceland

Approaching Isafjörður

The Westfjords Folk Museum in Isafjörður,West Fjords Iceland

The Westfjords Folk Museum

Isafjordur is a great base to explore the West Fjords from for a few days. You can easily find West Fjords tours for
sea angling, kayaking, hiking, day trips to Dynjandi or Látrabjarg, Rauðasandur, and Hnjótur Heritage Museum among others. If you are extremely keen to see the West Fjords but are limited on time it is possible to combine a return plane flight from Reykjavik with a jeep tour.

There are two grocery stores, the Nettó and Samkaup Úrval, and a liquor store, Vinbúðin, in town. For cheaper groceries the Bónus supermarket is next to Vestfjarðarvegur, the road that connects to the Ísafjörður–Suðureyri–Flateyri Tunnel.

West Fjords Accommodation

Staying in Isafjörður provides easy access to a variety of restaurants and hotels. There are less accommodation options in the West Fjords compared to the the regions around the Ring Road (Rte 1). As a result, accommodation in smaller towns, villages and farmsteads are quickly filled in summer. 

It is advisable to book accommodation in advance rather than just showing up and inquiring about vacancy. If that is the case you may end up in Isafjörður sooner than you expect!

Budget

Tungudalur Campground – This lovely campsite near Isafjörður offers a sheltered kitchen and clean bathrooms and showers. Check prices for camping here.

Isafjörður Hostel – Clean and well maintained hostel in town. They have a cozy common room and well equipped kitchen.

Check prices on: Booking.com | HotelsCombined 

Mid-Range

Gentle Space Guesthouse– Bright, spacious living spaces, private garden and bbq for guests and reasonable prices. Excellent value for money accommodation within Isafjordur.

Check prices on: Booking.com | HotelsCombined

Luxury

Hotel Isafjördur – Isafjördur, with an in house bar and restaurant. Opt for a room with panoramic views of Skutulsfjörður and the surrounding mountains.

Check prices on: Booking.com | HotelsCombined

AirBnB

AirBnB is a good option for those looking to stay with locals. If you’re new to Airbnb you can sign up with a new account at Airbnb and get a $30EURO or $35USD discount on your first stay!

Planning a Trip To Iceland?

We never leave home without emergency medical cover and trip protection. We use travel insurance from World Nomads for short trips abroad. From personal experience we’ve seen how much money foreign hospitals cost and are not willing to take the chance to go without insurance. Better to have it and use it if the time comes than not to have it and be unable to recover any money back.

Day 2

Ísafjörður–Suðureyri–Flateyri Tunnel

The Ísafjörður–Suðureyri–Flateyri Tunnel is a mountain tunnel network connecting Ísafjörður to fishing villages Suðureyri to the Northwest and Flateyri further West.

Inside the tunnel system, there are two lanes at both entry ends however this soon tapers off into one lane. Numerous pull-outs facilitate the flow of oncoming traffic.  There is an intersection in the middle of the tunnel connecting Ísafjörður to Flateyri which gives vehicles a third option, driving to Suðureyri. 

Ísafjörður–Suðureyri–Flateyri Tunnel in West Fjords Iceland

Ísafjörður–Suðureyri–Flateyri Tunnel

Hrafnseyri Museum

Our luck with the weather finally ran out and our second last day in Iceland was forecasted to be wet and windy. The poor weather conditions and low visibility meant that the beautiful fjords and towering mountains around us were obscured from sight.

Driving the narrow dirt and gravel road over the mountain pass between Þingeyri to Hrafnseyri was an unpleasant experience in the less than desirable weather. After arriving at the bottom of the pass at Hrafnseyri we took a quick breather and wandered around the turf houses that are part of the Jon Sigurdsson Museum [MAP] and the church beside it.

Hrafnseyri Museum in West Fjords Iceland

Turf houses at Hrafnseyri Museum

Icelandic Horses

The small but hardy Icelandic horses that graze in the pastures below towering mountains perk their ears as we walk towards them. Curiously they amble over and allow us to touch them. Their long flowing manes dance in the wind but their legs stay solidly on the ground. These beautiful animals are used to the harsh and unforgiving Icelandic weather, which is not something we could say! 

Icelandiceandic horses in West Fjords Iceland

Tough but beautiful Icelandic horses

Dynjandi Waterfall

The largest and most awe-inspiring waterfall in the West Fjords is the Dynjandi Waterfall [MAP]. As we hugged the coast of the North Atlantic Ocean heading East on Route 60, or Vestfjarðavegur, we could already see 100 metre high Dynjandi from a distance and we knew we were in for a treat.

Ascending from the car park you will pass delightful but smaller waterfalls but it’s well worth the effort to hike up to the base of Dynjandi itself. The waterfall is mesmerizing to watch as the water tumbles over the mountain side and crashes in front of you. Don’t forget to turn around and enjoy the view of the fjord as well. 

Camping is only possible for cyclists at Dynjandi. If you want to sleep nearby Dynjandi, check out Hótel Flókalundur to the South or Hótel Sandafell to the North.

Dynjandi Waterfall in West Fjords Iceland

Majestic Dynjandi Waterfall

View of the fjord from Dynjandi Waterfall in West Fjords Iceland

Ominous weather in the West Fjords

Reykjafjarðarlaug swimming pool and hot spring

From Dynjandi parking lot drive 23km along Rte 60 then travel West on Route 63 to Reykjafjörður. Take a dip in  the Reykjafjarðarlaug swimming pool [MAP] and recharge your spirits and health in the natural geothermal fed hot springs nearby. Though the hot pot remains toasty warm all year, the pool is too cold to swim in outside of the summer months. 

If you would like to stay the night somewhere close check out the Harbour Inn Guesthouse in Bíldudalur. Main attractions in town include their lovely Bíldudalur Church and the Icelandic Sea Monster Museum.

Reykjafjarðarlaug and hot spring West Fjords Iceland

Reykjafjarðarlaug natural hot spring

Reykjafjarðarlaug swimming pool in West Fjords Iceland

Reykjafjarðarlaug swimming pool

Garðar BA 64

The Garðar BA 64 [MAP] is an abandoned Norwegian whaling and fishing vessel that has been left to decay in Skápadalur Valley since 1981. Built in 1912, this is the oldest steel ship found in Iceland. To get here drive East on Route 62 along the Patreksfjörður fjord then turn onto gravel Route 612 and drive for three kilometers around the mouth of fjord to find the beached hulking ruins.

If you choose to venture further West along Route 612 be aware that the road is a narrow dirt and gravel path and may not be advisable to travel on in poor weather conditions. Some stretches of the road allow only one lane of traffic to drive along comfortably and cliff railings are not consistently present.

Garðar BA 64 in West Fjords Iceland

Garðar BA 64

Road 612 to Hnjóti and Látrabjarg bird cliffs in West Fjords Iceland

The road to Hnjóti and Látrabjarg bird cliffs

Hnjótur Plane Museum

The Douglas C-117D plane, a United States Navy plane, rests in a field by a barn. In 2004 after US air base in Keflavik closed the plane was transported overland through the Westfjords to its new home in Hnjóti at the Egils Ólafsson Museum or Hnjótur Plane Museum [MAP].

Douglas C-117D plane in West Fjords Iceland

Douglas C-117D plane

If you continue North along Rte 612 to the Látrabjarg bird cliffs, the best spot for bird watching in the Westfjords. Large numbers of sea birds and puffins are spotted in the summer months. Had the weather been less foul we would have attempted to go but there was no point in making the drive if we couldn’t see anything. Read more about the Látrabjarg bird cliffs here. 

If you have more time than we did you can drive East from the museum to stay at the family owned Hotel Latrabjarg. Alternatively head West towards the bird cliffs and stay at Guesthouse & Campground Breiðavík, walking distance from golden sand Breiðavík beach and 12km to Latrabjarg.

Birkimelur swimming pool and hot spring

The Birkimelur swimming pool and hot pot is 40km East of Patreksfjörður, Iceland or 21km West of Flókalundur [MAP]. On a beautiful summer’s day we can imagine that the swimming pool would be a delight to swim in before warming dip in the hot pot. 

However, our cloudy day concealed the surrounding mountains around the bay and the Snæfellsnes peninsula across the North Atlantic Ocean. We dipped our toes in the hot pot, found it to be lukewarm, and promptly returned to our warm rental vehicle.  Simply poor timing as it lookd like the caretakers hadn’t refreshed the water. Guesthouses are available in the village of Birkimelur on the other side of the road.

Birkimelur hot spring

Birkimelur hot spring

Route 62 in the Westfjords Iceland

Driving East on along Road 62

Hellulaug Hot Pot

The final hot pot of the day was Hellulaug [MAP], located 450m East of Flókalundur on the beach facing the Vatnsfjörður fjord.

Set against a rock outcrop and enclosed by stacked rocks, this natural hot pot is wonderfully warm and conviently close to the ocean if you want to cool off.

When we arrived the hot pot was full of people but by the time we changed into our swimming outfits in the car all but two visitors had left and there was ample space for all of us.

The thing to look out for though is that organisms from the soil and grass above the hot pot are occasionally found boiled and floating in the water. Accommodation in the area include the Hótel Flókalundur and Flókalundi Campground.

Hellulaug Hot Pot in West Fjords Iceland

Hellulaug Hot Pot

After Hellulaug we continued East along Rte. 60 sliding along the coastline of fjords and ascending and descending mountain passes. We enjoyed the views from our car and were saddened to be leaving and joining the masses back on the Ring Road.

Turf shed on Vatnsfjörður in West Fjords Iceland

The Westfjords Folk Museum

Turf shed on Vatnsfjörður in West Fjords Iceland

The Westfjords Folk Museum

At the gravel spit bridge we reached the end of our journey in the West Fjords region of Iceland! Although we made it in and out of the West Fjords in 2 days we would not recommend it for everyone. We suggest a minimum of four days to travel through the West Fjords region thus giving you ample time to explore without rushing.

Turf shed on Vatnsfjörður in West Fjords Iceland

The Westfjords Folk Museum

Turf shed on Vatnsfjörður in West Fjords Iceland

The Westfjords Folk Museum

Driving The West Fjords

Turf shed on Vatnsfjörður in West Fjords Iceland

The Westfjords Folk Museum

Distances

Though distances on a map may not seem that long, consider that the roads in the West Fjords often follow the sinuous pattern of the fjord coastlines. This will inevitably lengthen your driving time. It is important that you fill up regularly between towns

Fuel

Gas is approximately 2USD per litre while diesel is slightly cheaper, about 10cents USD less per litre. Fuel has to be imported onto the island so prices will naturally be higher. Make sure to gas up often because towns are few and far in between.

West Fjords Road Conditions

The roads in the West Fjords are both paved to unpaved dirt and gravel roads. Some have long (and seemingly never-ending) stretches of pot-hole ridden dirt sections or gravel roads that make the journey considerably more bumpier and slow-going. The narrow mountain roads that ascend and descend mountain passes throughout the West Fjords are not exempt from poor road conditions. It is possible to drive through the West Fjords with a 2WD but a 4WD or jeep would be even better!

Turf shed on Vatnsfjörður in West Fjords Iceland

The Westfjords Folk Museum

Sheep Conditions

Free roaming sheep may be close to or on the road. Approach with caution and give them a warning honk if they do not move. In the Fall farmers gather their sheep to be moved inside for the winter. They may block traffic temporarily to get the sheep safely the road.
Turf shed on Vatnsfjörður in West Fjords Iceland

The Westfjords Folk Museum

West Fjords Weather

Low hanging fog or mist will affect visibility when driving. Rain and clouds are typical in the West Fjords so enjoy any sunny or clear days you have to the fullest. You may also encounter strong winds so it is important to hold on to your door when entering or exiting your vehicle. Check West Fjords weather forecasts at Vedur.

Turf shed on Vatnsfjörður in West Fjords Iceland

The Westfjords Folk Museum

Dress Appropriately

Your motto for Iceland should be to always stay dry and warm! The weather in Iceland can change quickly and unexpectedly so don’t rely only on the weather forecast. Be prepared for every season!

We recommend waterproof jackets and boots, quick drying pants, warm layers to take on and off depending on the weather. Shop our favourite Iceland travel essentials to keep you warm, dry and comfortable all day!

Additional Resources

The Lonely Planet Iceland book travelled with us the entire time we were in Iceland. We found it to be a comprehensive and useful book for both pre-planning our trip to Iceland and during the journey itself.  2015 Edition

We also own a Iceland National Geographic Adventure Map. At night during our spare time we would ink in the roads we’d driven on our road trip in Iceland!

Another excellent book to pick up is the Frommer’s Easy Guide to Iceland, a great resource for hiking and outdoor adventures.

Finally, if you’re interested in garnering a better understanding of contemporary Iceland, pick up a copy of Alda Sigmundsdottir’s entertaining and readable The Little Book of Tourists in Iceland.

We hope you found this self drive guide through the West Fjords interesting and useful! Share with friends or pin it for later!
Wild, unspoilt, and remote, the West Fjords of Iceland will impress you with spectacular fjords, circuitous coastlines, rugged mountainous regions and secluded villages. Find everything you need to know about driving the West Fjords, Iceland. Which attractions to visit, what to see, activities and tours you can participate in, where to stay, tips on how to driving in the West Fjords, what to pack for Iceland. #roadtrip #iceland #westfjords #horses #waterfalls #fjords #nature #itinerary #guide

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Would you venture into the West Fjords? What are you most interested in seeing?

                                       &

Or have you had the misfortune of travelling in terrible weather and if so how did you make the most of it? Let us know in the comments below!

This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. Absolutely gorgeous places and amazing photos. I especially loved the swimming pool in the middle of nowhere. 🙂 I must visit these one day. Thank you for sharing!

  2. This is a really nice itinerary well written and explained. I hope to be able too visit Iceland some time in my life.

  3. Love your guide! I went to Iceland a few years ago but haven’t visited the West Fjords. Definitely want to go back!
    xoxo
    Annie

  4. Wow. I have never thought about visiting Iceland. This has changed my mind! The pictures are beautiful.

  5. wow! i felt like i was right there with you! i love the hot springs and being able to see some sheep and seals.

  6. Oh my that waterfall is breathtaking. Love all the pictures. I have never been to Iceland but it does look like a place to visit.

  7. I like that you have different price points for people of all different budgets. I would love to visit Iceland someday. Maybe there is a way to do it inexpensively.

  8. Gorgeous! I want to go now. I think that 741 miles was well worth it! The sights that you got to see over the 2 days were pretty impressive.

  9. There are so many words in this post that I cannot read and even so I love everything about it. I would love to visit Iceland.

  10. You are so lucky to visit these places with unique beauty! Looks like a place is a kid’s story book, and that’s cute street art 🙂

  11. Such beautiful views! I’d like to catch some seals in action. It would be interesting to make the most out of a trip like this. Glad you were able to enjoy all these views.

  12. I really need to keep this in mind! we’re planning an iceland road trip for summer 2020

  13. I am hoping to go to Iceland this summer and you have convinced me to add the West Fjords to my itinerary. I love how empty the roads are and how stunning the views are as well. I am a new driver so those roads would be perfect for me to practice.

  14. This place is absolutely breathtaking! It’s full of history! This will be in my bucket list! Thanks for sharing all the details!

  15. You wasted no time in seeing all these amazing places. Love the photos, I’d love to see this place in person one day.

  16. This trip looks amazing! Adding to my bucket list ASAP

  17. Looks like an amazing trip! We are going this summer so I will bookmark this as a little guide – thanks!

  18. Wow what a trip! It looks absolutely beautiful and Iceland has always been somewhere I want to visit. The waterfall is spectacular.

  19. Iceland has been on my list for a while now. This guide makes the road trip part of it easier. I’d be all about those jacuzzis!

  20. Amazing article. It’s like having my very own list of things and places to without doing the research. Thanks I will bookmark it for my travels.

  21. Oh wow! What an interesting adventure. Never knew Iceland is this intriguing. Thanks for sharing!

  22. It looks amazing!! Iceland is on top of my bucketlist ever since. I would love to visit the country If I have a chance

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