The Westfjords of Iceland are not on the program of most Iceland tours, although there are fantastic nature highlights, great sights and an originality like nowhere else in Iceland. The reason is that the Westfjords of Iceland are very remote and you usually can’t fit them into a normal road trip. Many people go to the Westfjords only on their second or third visit to Iceland and then spend a week or even two weeks there. We didn’t have that much time and therefore wanted to spend only two or three days on the Westfjords.
For a long time we had thought about whether we should include this “detour” in our Iceland itinerary and whether it was worth visiting the Westfjords only for a few days. In the end, we were glad to have taken on the extra kilometers. The Westfjords are some of the most beautiful landscapes to explore in Iceland.
What you can experience on the Westfjords of Iceland and if a 3 day round trip is enough to see all the sights and highlights of the Westfjords we tell you in our travel report about our Westfjords itinerary.
The Westfjords of Iceland
The name alone made us curious. Westfjords, that sounds more like Norway than Iceland, but what actually awaited us there, we had not seen coming. The Westfjords are as we had imagined or at least wished for all of Iceland. Here everything is very pristine, quiet, untouristy. The Westfjords are totally isolated, you can’t get there easily. And that is also good.
We saw so many wonderful animals in the Westfjords like humpback whales, puffins, arctic foxes, Icelandic whooper swans and of course many many sheep. Especially to see puffins many people go especially to the Westfjords, because there is a particularly large colony here in the summer. But more about that later.
In the Westfjords of Iceland there are not many roads. Roughly speaking, there is actually only one road that leads around the numerous fjords (plus some side roads, of course). So it’s quite surprising that you meet super few other cars here. Only about every half hour you drive through a small town, which then also consists of only a handful of houses. Otherwise, there is a lot of nature, many animals and a lot of sea to see.
Most roads in the Westfjords are paved and can be driven super, only some sections are not paved and rather to be described as gravel roads.
It feels like Iceland 20 years ago, Iceland the way it used to be everywhere before the tourist numbers exploded and definitely the way it should be today. This is one of the main reasons why we took the Westfjords so much to our hearts, because this is how we had imagined the other parts of Iceland to be. But in the end, our dream of Iceland came true in the Westfjords: simply nature and us!
You are almost alone with the pristine nature here, be it on hikes, on the endless serpentine lines you draw around the fjords or on the search for cute puffins at the cliffs of Latrabjarg.
That’s why the Westfjords are our scenic highlight of Iceland and a definite insider tip for Iceland.
Why is it called actually Westfjords?
When you hear the term Westfjords, one thing becomes very clear. There are fjords here, as we knew them before only from Norway. And there are a lot of them. You can already see that when you look at the area on Google Maps. All the time, the roads zigzag back and forth and you always see each fjord from two sides.
A fjord, by the way, is an inland, elongated bay and is otherwise very common in Norway or even Scotland.
In Iceland, however, there are other fjords besides the Westfjords, e.g. the Eastfjords in the east of the island, and there are also fjords in northern Iceland, which are known mainly because of the whale watching tours that are often conducted there. However, the West Fjords are the most famous, pristine and beautiful fjords in Iceland.
3 Days Itinerary through the Westfjords of Iceland
Most would probably advise to plan 1 or better even 2 weeks in the Westfjords. But we didn’t have that much time and thought, this has to be faster. And so we did a little more kilometers per day and put together a great itinerary for 3 days Westfjords on which we planned the best highlights and most beautiful sights of the Westfjords.
In this travelogue you can read our trip day by day, if you want more details about all the highlights of the Westfjords, then read the following blog post:
Westfjords Itinerary: Day 1/3
We drove clockwise through the Westfjords, starting in the small town of Reykhólahreppur in the south of the Westfjords. There we stayed in the really nice located Reykhólar Hostel* and started in the morning towards the west. We didn’t have much planned for the day, but just drove along and let ourselves drift and be captivated by the surrounding landscape.
The whole time we drove directly along the coast and always had phenomenal views of the sea and the mountains. We also stopped frequently along the way to take photos or just to admire the area.
There is always a hidden waterfall here, a great stretch of coastline there or an interesting animal on the side of the road where you really want to stop. You really can’t get enough of it here. Also, the area here is completely different from what you see in the rest of Iceland. The landscape here is rougher and more pristine and you meet few other tourists on his trip.
Hellulaug Hot Pot
Our first real sight of the day we reached after almost 2 hours or 150km, the Hellulaug Hot Pot. This is located directly next to the road and yet is not visible. We had the pool to ourselves and enjoyed the warm water and the great view of the sea.
After the relaxing bath in the hot pot we drove further over spectacular coastal roads towards Látrabjarg, our destination for today. Shortly before, however, Sabrina discovered a bumpy dirt road that ran next to a rushing stream. Our thirst for adventure made us take this little detour. We drove the slope until it was really no longer going.
A sign unmistakably pointed out that from here on the road was only passable for real off-road vehicles. But that was no problem for us, because we could walk the last few meters. Well protected behind dense bushes a great multilevel waterfall revealed itself, which we could marvel at from close range.
We drove further west and reached the cliffs of Látrabjarg around 5 pm. There we immediately went in search of the famous Puffins (Puffins), which were not long in coming. We saw one right at the beginning of the hiking trail and many more just 500 meters further along the cliff.
After spending about 2 hours at the site we drove back along the gravel road and made a short stop at the shipwreck BA 64. Shortly before our accommodation we stopped at a sandy beach, which could have been in the Caribbean. Fine yellow sand on a kilometer-long beach section and the turquoise blue sea would have invited to swim, if it had not been a little too cold.
Around 8 pm we arrived at our accommodation, the guesthouse Bjarkaholt just behind the village Hagi. With this we drove back a little to the east, but unfortunately there were no hotels in the deep west of the Westfjords.
Directly in front of our accommodation there was a hot pot, but we couldn’t explore it because of our exhaustion.
Route info | Itinerary Westfjords Day 1:
- Start: Reykhólahreppur
- Destination: Guesthouse Bjarkaholt (close to Látrabjarg)
- Driving distance: approx. 300 km
- hours on the road: approx. 10h
- visited highlights: beautiful fjords, Puffins, Hellulaug Hot Pot
- You should stay here on the last day if you are going around the Westfjords counterclockwise or on the arrival day if you arrived from the south the day before.
- Extremely large kitchen and cozy common area
- Completely secluded on a dead end road overlooking the fjord
- The perfect introduction to the Westfjords
- You should stay here in the evening if you go clockwise around the Westfjords like we did.
- The guesthouse looks much better than on the photos on the internet, because it was recently completely renovated.
- There is a fully equipped kitchen and a free hot pot right across the street
- The rooms are also super comfortable
Westfjords Itinerary: Day 2/3
On day 2, we drove back west from the hotel, but instead of turning left towards Látrabjarg, we took road 62 north.
Reykjafjarðarlaug Hot Pot
We knew that today would be completely rainy, so we knew that most of the time we would sit in the car and drive. But when we passed another hot pot, we couldn’t resist getting into the warm water of the hot pot and enjoying the view of the fjord despite the rain and really icy wind.
The Reykjafjarðarlaug Hot Pot consists of an almost swimming pool sized artificial pool with changing room and a small natural pool in about 50 meters distance. All for free and in the middle of nature.
A crazy feeling to lie in about 40 degrees warm water while the wind and drops of rain the size of a marble whip around your head. And so Sabrina did not last too long in the water. I relaxed but still determined 30 minutes in the natural pool and dared me only then back out into the cold.
On the further way to the north, the visibility became worse and worse and on the mountain passes, some of which were 500 meters high, you often couldn’t see 50 meters away. We were still very positive from the previous day full of sun, but still we saw the one or the other photo spot, where we would have unpacked the camera and Sabrina’s photo dress too gladly. But not every day can be so perfect.
Shortly before our second accommodation in the Westfjords we passed the most beautiful and impressive waterfall of the Westfjords (and in my opinion one of the most impressive in Iceland), the Dynjandi. You can get quite close to the waterfall and then stand almost directly under the thundering water masses. Very impressive despite the still bad weather. Here there was also a toilet facility and a large parking lot, everything again Iceland-typically completely free.
A few kilometers further on, we once again drove past a very beautiful waterfall, which was only a few meters off the road. But there was, also typical Iceland, no possibility to stop or even to park. And so we had to amuse ourselves by driving slowly for a short time, looking admiringly out of the car window and then driving on.
The single lane tunnel
Shortly before our destination for the day, we had another very special car experience. We drove through a long and dark tunnel, which, despite its length, suddenly became a single lane. Oncoming traffic then has to swerve into stopping bays cut into the rock every few hundred meters. Thank God we were on the lane that didn’t have to swerve.
For Sabrina, who was driving at the time, nevertheless a very grueling experience! After all, if the oncoming traffic swerves into a lay-by too late, then you’re standing there and someone has to put the car in reverse.
After this excitement, we reached our accommodation in the late afternoon in the small fishing town of Sudavik.
The place doesn’t give much except the great view of the fjord, so we just rested from the long drive and were soon in our beds. Since our room – despite very small windows – didn’t have proper blackout curtains, we had to wear our sleeping masks for the first time on our trip to be able to sleep despite the midnight sun.
Unfortunately, we can’t recommend our accommodation (the Sudavik Guesthouse*) to you, we just didn’t feel comfortable. Everything looked too used and loveless. We have therefore chosen another nice hotel in the nearby town of Ísafjörður for our hotel recommendation.
Route info | Itinerary Westfjords Day 2:
- Start: Guesthouse Bjarkaholt (close to Látrabjarg)
- Destination: Sudavik
- Driving distance: about 190 km
- hours on the road: about 7h
- visited highlights: Dynjandi Waterfall, Reykjafjarðarlaug Hot Pot
- not visited highlights: Sandafell Mountain, Bolafjall viewpoint
Accomodation tip: Hotel Isafjordur
- Large rooms with TV and Wi-Fi
- Free breakfast buffet
- Double room with private bathroom
Westfjords Itinerary: Day 3/3
The next day we left the accommodation quite early and set out to circle fjord after fjord of the rest of the Westfjords.
Our first destination was the hike to the Valagil waterfall just behind Sudavik. We parked our car at the official parking lot and started walking. Since the parking lot was otherwise empty, we were happy that we would probably be all alone on the hike.
We walked over moss-covered paths, crossed small streams and marveled again and again at the high mountains surrounding us. We always had a distant waterfall safely in sight. Only shortly before reaching our destination did we realize that this was not the Valagil waterfall at all and that we would probably not reach this much more distant waterfall.
The Valagil was hidden in a crevice on the right and revealed itself only a few hundred meters before the finish. From more than a hundred meters the water plunges down here. But the waterfall is not necessarily the highlight here, but rather the hike through the lonely valley in beautiful nature.
It takes about 30 minutes to get to the waterfall. We needed about 2 hours for the complete way there and back (including many photo spots).
Thanks to a tip from our hostess from last night, we watch the water of the fjords all the time during the journey to look for whales.not so easy with so much water.
Suddenly, at some distance almost on the other side of the fjord, I saw strange movements in the water. It looked like a sport boat making big waves, but it couldn’t be anything like that. Through the camera we could pretty much see that it had to be a big whale. We were very suddenly very excited!
I quickly unpacked my drone and headed towards the whale. Meanwhile, Sabrina tried to keep an eye on the whale in the camera lens, which was not so easy.
When the drone reached its destination, the whale was first no longer visible, but after a few moments he reappeared and made directly in front of the camera eye of my drone even the typical whale move: jump vertically up out of the water and land with a loud splash back on the water surface. Really a mega cool experience!
Snow fields in the river
On our way through the Westfjords we passed a river with a small waterfall and meters of ice and snow. Without further ado we parked our car directly on the road – because there is never a shoulder in Iceland – and walked down to the water.
To get to the big chunk of ice, we still had to cross the water. I threw some big stones into the water so that we could get across on dry feet.
On the other side, we then climbed the almost 4-meter-high ice boulder and were pleased as punch about the great view. The river was making its way straight through the big chunk of ice we were standing on.
On the way down into the valley, the melt water from the many snow chunks collected in larger pools, and then flowed together into the valley in a large river.
Dragsnes Hot Pot
At the end of the northern Westfjords we turned again briefly on the road 645 to get to the small village Drangsnes. There should be another hot pot, which we wanted to visit. But in the end we didn’t go swimming there, because the pools are located directly at the road and there is no possibility to change clothes. If you don’t mind all that, you can find 3 pools with different warm water and a view to the sea.
Arrived again at the ring road, we drove about 1h further north and moved in Hunavatn a magical hut in the middle of a farm with a huge window with nature view to the horizon. In the evening even a few sheep passed directly in front of our window. A crowning conclusion of 3 days Westfjords.
Route info | Itinerary Westfjords Day 3:
- Destination: Hunavatn (Ringroad)
- Driving distance: approx. 350 km
- hours on the road: approx. 12 h
- visited highlights: Humpback whale, Valagil waterfall
- not visited highlights: Drangajökull glacier, Krossnes swimming pool
- You have here a whole cottage just for you
- Through a huge window you look into the nature to the horizon
- You have your own kitchen and a big bathroom
- The cabin is located in the middle of a farm a bit away from the Westfjords
Accomodation tip #2: Malarhorn Guesthouse
- Accommodation directly in Drangsnes. So you do not have a long drive anymore
- Large double room with private bathroom
- Delicious breakfast buffet
- Location directly by the sea
Westfjords in only 2 days?
In our opinion, it is also possible to visit the highlights and sights of the Westfjords in only 2 days. For this, only the southern part of the Westfjords should be planned on your itinerary, because this is in our opinion the most beautiful.
So from our 3 day itinerary described above you should only do the southern part between Króksfjarðarnes and Látrabjarg. The best way is the same way there and back. This should be manageable in 2 days, even if it is quite a lot of driving.
In less than two days, however, we do not think it makes sense to visit the Westfjords on a round trip. The distances are too far for that.
Westfjords of Iceland | What should you know before?
If you are already curious about the Westfjords, you should get some travel tips from us. There are some things that are different in the Westfjords than in the rest of Iceland. We hope our tips will help you prepare for your trip to the Westfjords.
How do I get there?
The Westfjords of Iceland are left out by most visitors to Iceland, partly because they are relatively far away from a normal round trip around the Ring Road of Iceland. You have to drive several hours to get from the Ring Road to the Westfjords. Coming from the south, you can either turn off the ring road shortly after Haugar onto road 60 and then get to the Westfjords via Króksfjarðarnes. If you were on the Snæfellsnes peninsula before, as we were, then you will come directly via road 60 and experience one of the most beautiful and lonely roads in Iceland.
If you are coming from Northern Iceland, then you don’t have to go that far, because near Staður the ring road 1 meets the road 68 and brings you quite fast to the beautiful Westfjords.
Arrival by plane
There are also several airports in the Westfjords that are served by Reykjavik. This is a possibility for people with more money than time to experience the Westfjords on a short Icelandic round trip. For example, Icelandair flies to the small airport Ísafjörður twice a day from Reykjavik Airport (RVK).
Be careful, this does not mean the big international airport, but the smaller domestic airport in Reykjavik.
Driving in the Westfjords of Iceland
Like almost everywhere in Iceland, there is almost nowhere to stop in the Westfjords. There are always beautiful waterfalls, great landscapes and photo spots where you want to stop. But quite often it is simply not possible. Parking bays are rather rare, and a shoulder to stop actually never.
This is a pity, because often you want to have a closer look at something or take a picture in peace, but you just can’t stop. Sometimes we stopped directly on the road to quickly take a photo, because there was no other way.
Most of the roads on the Westfjords are paved just like the ring road. But there are also sections that can be described as gravel roads (unpaved roads), such as the last stretch to the cliffs of Látrabjarg. But these stretches should be easy to drive even with normal cars (i.e. no SUVs or SUVs).
Driving in the Westfjords is generally very lonely and relaxed, because you rarely meet other cars and even more rarely other people. However, the roads in the Westfjords are rather long, because the road always winds from fjord to fjord and there is never a direct way from A to B. So it actually always takes longer than you think.
So it actually always takes longer than you think, but that’s not bad at all, because the routes in the Westfjords are beautiful.
Gas stations & supermarkets in the Westfjords of Iceland
On many blogs you can read that you should refuel as often as you can in the Westfjords. Because there are supposed to be damn few gas stations here. We can not confirm this 100%, but still we advise to take every gas station. Because there is e.g. on the whole distance from the peninsula Snæfellsnes to the southern beginning of the Westfjords only one gas station, and this with a distance of over 150 km. And this one gas station is not even listed on Google Maps.
So we would also advise to always have as full a tank as possible, so you don’t get stuck anywhere.
For supermarkets the same is true. There are only very few and they have very short opening hours. So it is advisable to do the bulk shopping before your trip to the Westfjords, so you don’t have to suffer from food shortages on the spot. Restaurants are also few, but since almost every accommodation also offers a kitchen to cook yourself, it is important to have a sufficient supply of food with you.
Do I need an 4x4 vehicle in the Westfjords of Iceland?
We were on the road with our Dacia Duster and such a normal SUV is always enough. Even a normal rental car without all-wheel drive (2wd) is sufficient for the Westfjords. You don’t need an off-road vehicle like a Landrover or a Toyota Hilux in the Westfjords.
What you should pay attention to when choosing a rental car in Iceland, you will learn in our rental car guide for Iceland.
Cell phone reception in the Westfjords of Iceland
Cell phone reception in all of Iceland is much better than in many rural areas of Germany. We were always surprised where you have 4G everywhere in Iceland. This is also true for the Westfjords. In most areas you have good to very good cell phone reception. Only in some places or remote fjords you have for a short time only Edge or very rarely no reception.
The best time to travel to the Westfjords of Iceland
The Westfjords are definitely not a region for winter. Because then this otherwise beautiful area can be very unforgiving. Then you would certainly need a car with four-wheel drive and still not be sure to get through everywhere.
The best months to visit the Westfjords are the summer months from June to October. Here you should have no problems to get through everywhere and also benefit from the warmest temperatures.
Do you also want to go to the Westfjords of Iceland and still have questions? Then post them in the comments!