What to See and Do
When people ask what they should see and do in the Westfjords, the simplest answer is simply “the Westfjords”. Every turn brings something new. Every fjord is its own little world. Every mountain competes for your attention.
Even the least remarkable parts of the Westfjords glow with natural beauty, begging to be explored – and the most remarkable parts of the Westfjords are too numerous to list here.
The Westfjords region is home to Látrabjarg; the westernmost point in Europe, and one of the continent’s most remarkable seabird breeding cliffs.
The Dynjandi waterfall, in the Arnarfjörður protected area, is notIceland’s fastest, tallest, widest or loudest cascade – but it might just be the country’s most beautiful. Also by the shores of Arnarfjörður, Hrafnseyri is a reconstructed turf farm and museum in honour of national independence hero, Jón Sigurðsson, who was born there.
The Hornstrandir nature reserve is a peninsula accessible only by boat or by foot and inhabited only by Arctic foxes, seals, birds and the occasional hiker.Paradise.
Rauðasandur is one ofIceland’s few large golden beaches, while Vigur island is one of the country’s few eider duck hotels and home to the smallest post office in Europe (apparently).
These are just a few highlights of the wild and surprising Westfjords. A few highlights among hundreds.
Day trips to the various museums, galleries and nearby natural wonders are quite enjoyable and relatively inexpensive. There is something to be found for everyone!
Do you want to go bird watching in Iceland? The Westfjords offer some of the best bird watching sites there are. The unique Látrabjarg cliff is one of the best places in Iceland to photograph puffins. Other popular bird watching sites include Reykhólar, Vigur, Grímsey island in Steingrímsfjörður and Hornstrandir nature reserve.
Kayaking is an exhilarating experience, the Westfjords have sheltered fjords and are for that reason excellent for sea kayaking.
There is a good variety of museums all over the Westfjords so everybody should find something they like.
The cliffs of all cliffs, Látrabjarg, are home to birds in unfathomable numbers. This westernmost point of Iceland (and Europe if Greenland and the Azores are not counted) is really a line of several cliffs, 14 kilometres long and up to 441 m high. And it's as steep as it gets, dizzyingly so. Safe from foxes, the birds are fearless, and provide stunning photographic opportunities from close range. Bird photography for dummies, you might say. The puffins are particularly tame and are the ones frequenting the grassy, higher part of the cliffs. But look out, the edges are fragile and loose and the fall is high.
Látrabjarg is thus deservedly the most visited tourist attraction in the Westfjords. The cliffs are easily accessible by car and when you're there, a walk along the cliffs awaits. The whirling sensation will not fade, and neither will the memories.
Rauðasandur (Red Sand) is precisely that: a beach with endless red sand. Well, not endless but 10 km is a lot. The magnificent hues of the sand differ with daylight and weather, and the beach is the biggest pearl in a string of coves with sand ranging in colours from white through yellow through red to black, and in coarseness from very fine to sole-hurting chips of seashells. Just pure sand enlivened by countless seabirds and seals, an oasis with unique tranquility. Forget everything, except maybe getting the perfect shot of the ever-changing hues of yellow, orange and red.
Here's just pure sand and unique tranquillity. You might want to step out of the car, get the camera out and start walking on the seemingly endless beach.
If no, why not enjoy a cup of coffee in the French café and look at the spectacular view were Snæfellsjökull glacier in Sæfellsnes peninsula imperiousl rivets your attention in the background.
Hólmavík is the largest town in the Strandir region, an area with an exciting and tragic history of witchcraft, witch-hunting and sorcery. Inhabitants in the countryside surrounding Hólmavík live mostly on sheep farming, while economic activity in town revolves around the fisheries and the service sector.
The Museum of Sorcery & Witchcraft takes visitors on a tour into the mystical world of the supernatural. The history of witch-hunting in 17th century Iceland is presented at the exhibition as well as various aspects of magic from more recent sources. A second part of the exhibition is in Bjarnarfjörður, 30 kilometres from Hólmavík. Next to Hólmavík there is also the Sheep Farming Museum, an entertaining exhibition dedicated to the Icelandic sheep and sheep farming.
Visitors will find all basic amenities, and more, in Hólmavík. Accommodation of various kind, a camping ground, restaurants, a newly built swimming pool and a good Tourist Information Center that serves the hole area. A golf course and a horse rental can be found just outside the town.
Hólmavík is reacheble from Reykjavík by bus two to four days per week, depending on seasons. There are also two to three busses per week between Hólmavík and Ísafjörður.
Patreksfjörður is the biggest town in the southern part of the Westfjords, with a population of around 660. Early in the 20th century, Patreksfjörður was a pioneering force in Iceland's fishing industry, initiating trawler fishing. Still today the chief occupation is commercial fishing and fish processing. Other industries, like fish farming and services are also increasingly important.
Tourism has been on the rise in Patreksfjörður, not surprisingly, as the village has gems like Látrabjarg cliffs, Rauðasandur beach and Dynjandi waterfall within its reach. Patreksfjörður has a new, absolutely gorgeous outdoor swimming pool, and if you prefer natural hot pots you will find them within an easy driving distance from the town. In Patreksfjörður you can enjoy hotels or guesthouses, restaurants and various tours. You can reach Patreksfjörður by flight six days per week via Bíldudalur (fly-bus takes you to Patreksfjörður), or by a bus from Reykjavík to Stykkisholmur, then the ferry Baldur to Brjánslækur and a bus from there to Patreksfjörður. If you drive on your own during winter, please remember to get updates on weather and road conditions.