Welcome to our third edition of ‘Explore the Regions’ blog series! This time we will explore West Iceland and discover all the region has to offer with the help of Kristján Guðmundsson, Director of West Iceland Marketing Office. He will tell us about 'must see' and his favorite places but few areas in Iceland offer a wide variety of natural beauty as West Iceland does.
The region is one of the country’s most geologically diverse areas with a unique landscape of spectacular mountains, beautiful fjords, historic villages, colorful birdlife and mystical glaciers. Moreover, the region was voted by Lonely Planet as one of top region for 2016 due to the perfect combination of stunning landscape, unique regional culture and friendly locals. So we highly recommend a visit to West Iceland this winter to explore and discover all it has to offer - it is simply magical!
Photo: Lonely Planet Best Travel 2016
So Kristján, tell us about yourself:
“I am 28 years old born and raised in Hvanneyri village in West Iceland. I moved away to study tourism at Hólar University in North of Iceland but I always planned to move back home as I can’t imagine living anywhere else. My favorite time is when I am hiking through remote areas but there are so many beautiful places in West Iceland to discover and explore”.
What are the most popular places to visit in West Iceland?
Into the Glacier
The ice tunnel is the largest man-made ice cave, located high on Langajökull glacier, Europe‘s second largest glacier. The tunnel stretches 2,624ft into Langajökull glacier and is nearly 1000ft below surface at it deepest point. This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to explore the glacier from the inside!
Photo: Into the Glacier
Glymur is Iceland’s tallest waterfall. The path up the waterfalls includes a fantastic hiking path that should only be attempted by those not daunted by heights or challenging hikes.
Kirkjufell is a beautifully shaped and a symmetric, free standing mountain. It is Iceland’s most photographed mountain but it starred in the film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. In the area is Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall from where you get a great view of the mountain.
Breiðafjörður Bay's bird colonies and many islands (around 3,000 islands, islets and skerries) are lovely to explore on a boat tour of the islands
Snæfellsjökull National Park
The beautiful gem of the western Peninsula and the undisputedly main attraction of the National Park is the Snæfellsjökull glacier.
Photo: Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Deildartunguhver is Europe's most powerful hotspring. The place is also unique for being the only place where the hard fern grows in Iceland.
The Lava Field Waterfall
Hraunfossar waterfalls that flow out of a moss covered lava field into a series of waterfalls and into the white river Hvítá.
What are your personal favorite places to visit or things to do in West Iceland, where fewer tourists go?
- To hike up to Glymur, the highest waterfall in Iceland.
- The view from Svalþúfa, a section of a crater that erupted under the sea, to Lóndrangar cliffs, a volcanic plug.
- Visiting the artist Páll in Húsafell, exploring his work is a unique experience.
- And of course my home town Hvanneyri, the old part of the village is really beautiful.
If you need ideas for other region about what to explore and our experts’ favorite places – check out our previous blogs about South Iceland and East Iceland.