If you dream of spending your time in Iceland surrounded by some of the country’s most stunning and untouched nature, the Westfjords is the region for you! This region is full of captivating fjords, hot springs to relax in, waterfalls to discover, and so much more. The Westfjords is the perfect place to enjoy slow travel, the stunning nature alone will have you slowing down so you can take in the beauty at each stop.
The example three-day itinerary below is going to fulfill all of your Iceland nature wishlist dreams as you visit some of Iceland’s most magical landscapes. You may not have the Westfjords on your Iceland agenda yet, but after seeing the possibilities of how to spend three days in this remote region you will quickly add it to your trip!
How to Reach the Westfjords
The Westfjords is one of the more remote regions of Iceland, which means two things. One, nature is raw and untouched making it truly a nature wonderland. And two, it can take a bit of time to reach this region, but trust us it will be worth the drive.
There are several options to reach the Westfjords so you can choose which way would be the best fit for your group. These options all are under the assumption that you will be traveling to the Westfjords from Reykjavik.
By Plane: the quickest way to reach the Westfjords is by taking a plane out of the domestic airport in Reykjavik. There are three airports in the Westfjords that you can choose to fly into and the flights take around 40-50 minutes depending on the airport you decide to travel to.
By Bus: if you are not planning on renting a car while in Iceland you can still experience this stunning region thanks to bus connections that are available year-round. There are changes in the routes depending on the time of year so be sure to check for the updated schedule for the season you are traveling in.
By Car: who doesn’t love a good Iceland road trip? And a road trip to the Westfjords is one of the most memorable routes you can take! The drive to reach this region from Reykjavik is around 4 hours and there are a variety of routes you can take depending on the location you are staying in the Westfjords as your “home base”. The added bonus of a road trip to the Westfjords, you will be able to explore all over the region with your car.
By Ferry: if you are looking to reduce the amount of time in the car but are still interested in having a car to get around once in the Westfjords, taking the ferry is a great option! The ferry operates between Stykkishólmur in the Snaefellsnes peninsula up to Brjánslækur in the Westfjords. The ferry takes around 2.5 hours giving you a nice break from driving to relax and enjoy the ocean and mountain views. Taking the ferry is also a good choice for those planning to travel up to the Westfjords from Snaefellsnes.
Where to Stay
One thing that may surprise you, the Westfjords is a pretty large region! Unlike West Iceland, there are not as many central locations to stay where you can easily access all parts of the region in shorter daily drives. Instead, there are different parts of the region to base yourself on depending on the types of activities you are hoping to enjoy.
The below accommodation ideas are located in different parts of the Westfjords but are in central locations to explore the highlights in those areas. Don’t worry though, you won’t miss anything by choosing to have one accommodation while in the Westfjords, just make sure to think about the activities you see yourself enjoying the most so you can spend less time in the car and more time enjoying the majestic nature of this region.
Here are a few accommodations options to check out for your time in the Westfjords:
● Heydalur - if spending time out hiking in nature is at the top of your list the accommodations at Heydalur will be the perfect location for you. Located in the northern part of the region this area is known for its unspoiled nature. You will be spending your days hiking in some dazzling scenery, this region is an outdoor enthusiast's dream playground! Be sure to take a swim in the accommodations Instafamous pool in a greenhouse.
● Gemlufall by Thingeyri - a great option for those traveling with a larger group, this cozy timber house is tucked into the Dýrafjörður fjord giving you ocean and mountain views to enjoy. The guesthouse is in a great location for those wanting to explore several areas of this region as this fjord is in the heart of the region making it conveniently located to explore the north or south part of the Westfjords.
● Holt Inn Country Hotel - this family-run country hotel is a unique accommodation option to check out. Once a primary school built in the 1950s, recent renovations have turned the building into a hotel well suited for your time in the Westfjords. Surrounded by beautiful nature the hotel is centrally located to reach some of the region's most famous spots such as Dynjandi waterfall and the town of Ísafjörður.
A three-day itinerary for exploring the Westfjords
Regardless of where you plan to stay while in the Westfjords you will travel there from the lower fjord of the region, which is a great place to start exploring the area. The lower fjord is packed full of natural treasures, think hot springs, a red sand beach, and the seaside cliffs that millions of birds, including the adorable puffins, call home. This day will give you a memorable introduction to the magical Westfjords.
For the sake of these three days, we will assume your accommodation is in the middle part of the region. Note that the days/activities can be moved around based on where you end up staying in the region, this is just an example.
As you enter the region one of the first stops you will come to is Hellulaug hot spring. This hot spring is the epitome of a real Icelandic hot spring experience! Tucked into a rocky wall right on the beach a soak in this hot spring comes with an awesome view of the ocean and Vatnsfjörður fjord.
Taking in the Midnight sun or sunrise in this hot spring is a truly magical experience! One thing to note, there are no changing areas in this hot spring, the only thing surrounding you in this area is untouched nature so be prepared to strip down behind some rocks to get into your bathing suit.
After you finish this memorable swim you may want to grab lunch at Hotel Flokalundur which is located right near Hellulaug. There aren’t many options in this area for food so this could be a good place to refuel before continuing on with your adventure.
The afternoon will take you in and out of the lower fjords of the region visiting some diverse nature along the way. The roads are often gravel and can be steep at times as you go up and down the mountainside along the fjords.Keep this in mind and take your time on your drive, the surrounding scenery will make the long drives go by fast.
About an hour from Hellulaug you will arrive at the next stop of the day, Rauðasandur beach. Stretching over 10 km long this beach is a unique one in Iceland due to the vibrant red and golden color of the sand. A stop at this beach will make you feel like you are in the Mediterranean instead of an Icelandic beach!
One thing to keep in mind, the color of the sand does change depending on when you visit. For example, if you visit at high tide you won’t be able to see much of the sandy beach, or if you are there on a cloudy day the colors may not be as vibrant. The ideal time to visit Rauðasandur for optimal viewing of the red and gold colors is on a sunny day during low tide. You can check out tide times here to help plan your visit.
Bonus tip, before leaving this stunner of a beach enjoy a stop at Franska kaffihúsið for some treats right on the beach. They are known for their waffles and french chocolate cake! They are only open during the summer months so if visiting outside of this period make sure to bring your own snacks for a treat on the beach.
The next stop of the day is the famous Látrabjarg cliffside. This is the westernmost point in Iceland and Europe and is famous for the birdlife that calls Látrabjarg home. Dream of seeing the adorable Iceland puffin? Látrabjarg is the place you want to visit as it is home to one of the largest puffin colonies in Iceland.
Be prepared, the road to reach Látrabjarg is a gravel road and can at times be quite bumpy and curvy. Give yourself plenty of time to reach this area, it will be worth it for a unique adventure. Once you have arrived at Látrabjarg there is a path that will take you near the cliffside giving you stunning views of the rock formations and ocean. There are certain areas you can get a bit closer to the edge to view puffins and other birdlife but do so with caution. An insider tip, lay down on your stomach to get a view over the edge, this way you are not trying to tiptoe closer and closer to the rocky cliffside and have more stability. Don’t hang yourself over the rocks though, keep your whole body landside, we promise you will still get some great viewings of the birdlife from this vantage point.
With a total population of around 600 inhabitants, Patreksfjörður is the largest town in the southern part of the Westfjords. Its location makes it a great place to stay to reach many of the activities and sights of the area. Whether you are planning on staying in Patreksfjörður or not, it may be one of the last large towns you pass through on this day making it a good place to grab dinner.
Here is a list of dining options you may want to check out in Patreksfjörður:
● Stúkuhusid - open during the summer months, stop here for simple but delicious food and a great view over the fjord.
● Fjall og fjara - located in Fosshotel this restaurant is a bit fancier and is known to have a really good breakfast.
● FLAK - a self-described cultural-oriented pub and seafood restaurant, stop in for the delicious fish dishes and stay for the live music.
If your group is looking for one more evening activity to fit in before calling it a day check out the local pool in Patreksfjörður. This pool has some of the best views overlooking the fjord. Start your day in a hot spring overlooking a fjord, end your day in a local pool overlooking a fjord, a full-circle Icelandic swimming experience.
Spend your second day in the Westfjords enjoying some of the best the region has to offer. This day will have you exploring magical fjords, taking in breathtaking waterfalls, hiking for some views over the charming towns in this region, and enjoying some delicious meals. Get ready for a memorable day!
The first part of the day will keep you busy with a group tour option, fjord exploring, a museum visit, and a stop at one of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls.
Whale Watching Tour - this 1.5-2 hour adventure takes you out into Arnarfjordur fjord for your chance to see whales out in action. The fjord backdrops what is nicknamed the “Westfjord Alps” so you know the tour will include some gorgeous landscape views. This is a great activity to add to your day for those traveling in a smaller group as the tour size is kept small to give you a more personal experience.
Reykjarfjörður - one of the most scenic fjords in the region (okay they are all beautiful!) is Reykjarfjörður. While driving along this fjord you will be treated to stunning views across the ocean and of the mountains lining the shoreline. Keep a lookout for waterfalls trickling down along the roadside and charming cabins perfect for a photo stop.
Reykjafjarðarlaug - located just off the road in Reykjarfjörður is a swimming spot that has both hot springs and a geothermal swimming pool. The geothermal swimming pool has been under construction so it may not be open during your visit, but the real gem is the natural hot spring you will find just a short distance past the pool. These hot springs are surrounded by rocks that create a cozy little pool to relax in. The water can get quite hot here so be sure to test the temperature before hopping in.
Hrafnseyri - the birthplace of the famous Jón Sigurðsson, the leader of the Icelandic independence movement who pushed for Iceland’s independence from Denmark. If you enjoy learning about Icelandic history check out the Museum of Jón Sigurðsson to learn more.
Dynjandi Waterfall - cascading down from a height of 100 meters, Dynjandi is the largest waterfall in the Westfjords. But that’s not all. There are five more waterfalls surrounding Dynjandi making it a waterfall paradise! Be sure to follow the path to the top to get up close to Dynjandi as you view the other five waterfalls along the way. It will be an unforgettable experience getting to stand in front of a waterfall of that size and watch the power of the water crashing down.
Lunch in Þingeyri - this town is your quintessential charming small Icelandic town that deserves a visit. For lunch head to Simbahöllin Cafe, a cafe that is only open during the summer months and is famous for its delicious Belgian waffles so be sure to grab one for dessert!
Afternoon in Ísafjörður
After lunch make the last driving stretch of the day up to the capital of the Westfjords, Ísafjörður. With a population of just under 3,000, this old town is known for its dramatic landscapes and rich culture. Fun fact, you can find the oldest house that is still standing in Iceland here which was built in 1734. Around the town, you will also find wooden houses with tin roofs that were built by fishing merchants. At the Westfjords Heritage Museum, you can check out exhibits on the town’s maritime history such as viewing the collection of old boats.
Here are a few other ideas of activities to do in Ísafjörður:
Stroll through Ísafjörður old town - stroll around the downtown area and try to spot the many interesting buildings in the area. From the oldest standing house in Iceland to the old hospital and photography museum, there is a lot of unique architecture to take in. Add in some stops at local shops and cafes and you have the perfect afternoon of exploring.
Visit the harbor - located just a five-minute walk from downtown is the port of Ísafjörður. The fishing industry is a key part of the local life and economy, while visiting this area you will likely see fishermen bringing in their small boats full of the day’s catch. If you are looking to add some adventure to the day you can join kayaking tours from the harbor as well.
Go for a hike - there are several hiking trails in the area for you to choose from. Make a stop at the tourism information center to get advice on the best trail for your group and to learn about open trails as weather can be unpredictable. Below are a few ideas of trail options in the area.
● Naustahvilft - known as the troll's seat, this hike is located near the Ísafjörður airport and is a short but challenging hike with beautiful views over the town.
● Bolungarvík - about 18 minutes away from Ísafjörður here you will find multiple trail options to choose from.
● Stigahlíð - a hike not too far away from Ísafjörður, this trail will take you along the seaside.
Before heading back to your accommodation be sure to enjoy a dinner at the famous Tjöruhúsið. Arguably the best fish restaurant in the country, Tjöruhúsið is located in one of the oldest buildings in Iceland and is famous for its fish buffet. They only serve fresh fish from that day’s catch so there is no menu to speak of, but all of their dishes in the buffet are absolutely delicious. The charm of dining inside the old wooden building will only add to your dining experience. Be sure to call ahead for reservations as they can book up fast during the summer months.
For your last full day in the Westfjords, you are going to head to the northern part of the region, a remote area that is packed with untouched nature full of beauty. This part of the Westfjords can be best described as a nature lovers' playground with birdlife all around, plenty of Icelandic horses roaming about, and endless attractions for the whole family to enjoy.
As you make your way to Heydalur Valley enjoy the scenic drive as you weave in and out of the fjords. This day will be a good mix of outdoor exploring, activities, and relaxation. Below are some ideas of activities to fill your morning with.
Arctic Fox Center - as you make your way north make a stop at the Arctic Fox Center and learn more about the only native mammal in Iceland.
Horseback Riding Tour - start your time off in Heydalur with a horseback riding tour that will take you exploring this gorgeous fjord. There are a few options to choose from ranging from short tours to a 5-6 hour tour. These tours are a great way to explore parts of the region that you otherwise may miss! The adorable travel buddy is an added bonus.
Kayaking Tour - if you prefer to explore by sea, a kayaking tour in Heydalur is the activity for you. This tour will have you paddling around the fjord Mjóifjörður with views of the glacier Drangajökull. Keep an eye out for the diverse seabirds flying around and the seal colony that calls this fjord home.
Heydalur is the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic lunch. Bring some “nesti”, packed lunch as the Icelanders would say, and enjoy a meal with nothing but nature surrounding you. The peacefulness of the valley will make for the perfect dining companion.
Spend the afternoon exploring the hiking trails in Heydalur valley, an area with many hiking trails to enjoy you are sure to find something for the whole group.
● Heydalur - this trail takes around 3.5 hours round trip and will have you hiking down the mountains into the Heydalur valley. This hike will have you walking along slopes and ridges taking in one of the oldest parts of Iceland from a geological point of view.
● Trail to Ausuvatn - this hike will take you up the mountain to the lake Ausuvatn. If going for a steep climb is not ideal you can also walk around the trail that takes you along the fjord amidst some breathtaking nature.
These two trails are just examples of hikes in the area, there are many more paths to choose from such as one that will take you along the river, through a canyon, and past waterfalls. The locals managing the area of Heydalur have some great insight into trails best suited to your interest so be sure to ask.
After a busy day of exploring all over the valley, it is time to relax in one of the several hot springs in the area. Below are three different hot spring options to choose from, all unique in their own way.
● Heydalur Geothermal Hot Pool: located a ten-minute walk from the Heydalur restaurant, this hot pool is about as natural as they come.
● Heydalur Hotpool: located at the Heydalur guesthouse, this is a man-made hot pool filled with lovely geothermal waters.
● Heydalur Indoor Pool: this isn’t your usual indoor pool, this is a pool inside a greenhouse!
End your time in the Heydalur valley with dinner at Heydalur Restaurant. The restaurant is inside an old barn that has been reconstructed into a dining hall. Prepared by two locals in the area using only local ingredients you will be in for a treat with this fresh homemade meal!
Now that you have come to the end of your third day in the Westfjords you may be spending the next day driving either to the north or south. In case you are looking for a few more stops to add in the Westfjords as you say goodbye to the region, here are some locations to visit up in the northern part of the fjords as you drive out of the region.
Drangsnes - located an hour and a half from Heydalur is the fishing town of Drangsnes. This town has a lot to offer visitors, you can easily spend a good part of your day here. Below are activities and locations to visit in Drangsnes.
● Visit the Museum of Sorcery and Witchcraft for a fun stop add a visit to this museum to learn more about how the people in the 17th century lived, and the stories of how they turned to sorcery during this time.
● Go hiking: a few trail ideas to check out:
○ Bæjarfell: an easier hike that takes you up the mountain overlooking Drangsnes with some amazing views over the region.
○ Pyttasundshæðir: a mouthful to say, this trail starts in Drangsnes harbor and takes you to Pyttasundshæðir, from there you can either turn around and go back to Drangsnes or continue on to Bjarnarfjörður before heading back down to Drangsnes.
● Visit the Herring Factory: opened in 1935, the herring factory was the biggest in Iceland. For further information about the history of this factory and the area, as well as for something not many people get to visit, check out this factory!
● Go swimming at the Drangsnes hot pools: definitely one stop you don’t want to miss, these hot pools are located right on the shoreline
Hólmavík - 30 minutes from Drangsnes is Hólmavík, the largest town in this region. Enjoy spending the afternoon doing a few hikes in this region before you say goodbye to the Westfjords. Two hiking trails to check out this afternoon are:
● Kálfanesborgir - this is a short hike that you can do while in town. The trail starts at the campground and takes you up a small hill. From the top, you can get great views over Grimsey Island.
● Þiðriksvallavatn Lake - this hike is a bit longer, taking approx 4 hours if you do the entire loop, and takes you around Þiðriksvallavatn lake and a hydropower plant. If you want to make this hike shorter you can do just a part of the trail before turning back around.
The beauty of the Westfjords is certain to keep you busy on your visit. Interested in spending more time in the Westfjords? We have some great self-drive tour options that will have you visiting all the above locations and more. You can find our self-drive tour options here.
Hey Iceland is your local Icelandic travel agent. We offer personalised self-drive tours and a network of accommodations around the country.