West Iceland: Top 10 Experiences



West Iceland: Top 10 Experiences

03.04.2017 | Lella Erludóttir

West Iceland is one of Iceland’s most geologically diverse regions and an area where culture, nature, and history complement each other, creating a unique experience. West Iceland offers beautiful valleys, fjords, craters, glaciers, caves, and volcanoes but is also where most of the Icelandic Sagas took place.

Here is our list of top ten experiences in West Iceland everyone should add to their bucket list.

1. Explore a Glacier from the inside!

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Visit a unique and man-made ice tunnel in Langjökull glacier, one of Iceland’s largest and most spectacular glaciers. This exhilarating glacial adventure takes you on an unforgettable journey to the heart of the glacier where you will find walls of blue ice and witness 2500 years of ice sculpted by the hand of nature. There are multiple tours offered for you to journey into the glacier, starting from either Reykjavík or Húsafell.

2. Hike the Adventurous Path to Glymur Waterfall

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Glymur is the second tallest waterfall in Iceland, cascading 198 m into a deep and gorgeous canyon. It is located in Botnsdalur Valley in Hvalfjörður, within a 2-hour drive from Reykjavik. The waterfall is easily accessible for those who seek thrill and adventure but- it does require some hiking, and is not for those with fear of heights. Expect to spend 3-4 hours hiking the spectacular path leading to the waterfall. If you are up for the hike, Glymur promises to delight.

3. Admire the Mysterious Snæfellsjökull Glacier

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Snæfellsjökull glacier. Photo by Anjali Kiggal.

 
Snæfellsjökull glacier is one of the best-known glaciers in the world, a 700,000-year-old stratovolcano towering some 1446 m above sea level. Many believe it marks the entrance to the centre of the Earth while others consider it to be an enormous source of energy. The glacier has been attributed with various mysterious powers and there is no shortage of legends, folklore, miracles and mystique surrounding it. The view from the glacier is beyond amazing and something worth experience on one of the many tours offered onto the glacier on super jeeps, snowcats, snowmobiles, or by foot.

4. Absorb the unique beauty of Hraunfossar Lava Falls

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Hraunfossar Lava Falls is a stunning series of small waterfalls streaming over a distance of about 900 meters out of the lava. Together they form a beautiful outpouring, woven like a delicate lace within the creases of the lava. A stone throw away you will find another fascinating waterfall called Barnafoss running through a narrow, rocky gorge. Somehow overlooked by visitors, these wonders ought to be on every tourist’s to-do-list.

5. Snap the Perfect Photo at Kirkjufell Mountain

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In recent years Kirkjufell has become the most photographed mountain in Iceland. Add to it the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall and you have a sure winner. No wonder people like to take pictures here as Kirkjufell is so picturesque and each view presents a different silhouette. There is something special about the shape, location and colours of the Kirkjufell mountain: green in summer, orange in winter, white with snow, with the northern lights dancing around it, at sunrise, at sunset… the list goes on. This beautiful landmark is surrounded by beaches and lovely hiking trails but hiking the mountain itself is not for everyone because of its steep sides and there is some scrambling involved.

6. Discover the Deep Underground in Vatnshellir Lava Tube

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Vatnshellir Lava Tube is 8000-year-old, wide and very long, reaching over 200 meters. Go on a journey 35 meters below the surface and explore the impressive lava cave.The darkness of the cave is an unique and unforgettable experience as the total darkness of the cave will block out all sound and heighten your sense of smell. Guided tours are offered every day, all year

7. Enjoy Local Art at Akranes Lighthouse

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The Akranesviti lighthouse is a great stop for those visiting West Iceland. Entrance is free and the surrounding area is beautiful. You can go up to the observation deck to enjoy the spectacular view and engage in a quick chat with the sweetest lighthouse keeper who is eager to welcome visitors. The lighthouse is frequently used as a showcase for interesting art exhibitions and concerts alike which make your visit extra special.

8. Experience Earth's Power at Deildartunguhver Hot Spring

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Deildartunguhver is Europe's most powerful hot spring measured by the volume of water produced.  It provides the staggering amount of 180 litres of 97°C water a second. It is, in fact, water from Deildartunguhver that is uses to heat both Borgarnes (34 kilometres away) and Akranes (64 km).  Water from this bubbling hot spring is also used for heating the greenhouses in the surrounding area and during summer local farmers often set um stalls where visitors can purchase delicious organic produce. The seemingly endless boiling water and steam are otherworldly and the smell of sulphur just adds to the unique experience.

9. Get to Know the Famous Snorri Sturluson at Reykholt

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Reykholt is one of Iceland’s main historic sites, a cultural centre past and present. It was home to Snorri Sturluson, a famous medieval historian, politician, and chieftain who settled in Reykholt in 1206 and was killed there in 1241. Snorri's best-known works are Heimskringla, an account of the Norwegian kings from the 10thcentury to the 12th century and the Prose-Edda, one of the most influential of all myths and legends, inspiring diverse modern works, from Wagner’s Ring Cycle to Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. In Reykholt you will find Snorrastofa, a cultural- and medieval centre, founded in memory of Snorri Sturluson. Here you will also find Snorralaug pool, a beautiful little hot spring thought to have been used by locals for bathing since the 12thcentury.

10. Step Back in Time at the Eiríksstaðir Viking Farm

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Eiríksstaðir is another of one of Iceland’s most important historical sites. Excavations in this area revealed remains of a longhouse said to be the homestead of the notorious Viking, Erik the Red, discoverer and namer of Greenland. It is thus also the birthplace of his equally famous son, Leif the Lucky, discoverer of America. A full-scale replica of the longhouse was built in 1999, allowing you to step back to the Viking Era and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and scents of Erik's farm. Here modern day Vikings demonstrate the lifestyle of 1000 years ago, sharing their crafts and knowledge. Eiríksstaðir is truly an interesting place and a visit there is truly recommended.

If you found this article helpful you might also like our guide to our favourite activities in West Iceland and the best places to stay in the region. 

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