Recommendations from the locals
Video from the Westfjords of Iceland
We have a selection of videos from the Westfjords in order for you to get a little insight into everything from everyday life in a little seaside villages, to some of our more thrilling experiences like standing on the edge of one of the largest bird cliffs in Europe.
Adventure for Groups
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.
Ísafjörður is the largest town in the Westfjords peninsula, with some 2600 inhabitants. It is an ancient church site and a trading post since at least the 16th century, although a real town did not start to form until after mid-19th century. The growth of the town was triggered by salt fish production, and ever since then the fishing industry has been vital for the community. Other industries, such as tourism and the service sector have grown in recent years and decades.
In Ísafjörður you will find a hospital, schools ranging from kindergartens to a small university, and branches from various government organizations. For the tourist, Ísafjörður has a range of accommodation, restaurants and recreation for all budgets and tastes. A golf course, hiking- and biking trails, horse riding, bird watching, skiing and kayaking are all within an easy reach. Ferries to Hornstrandir Nature Reserve depart from Ísafjörður daily during the summer months. In Ísafjörður you will find the regional tourist information office for the Westfjords.
Ísafjörður hosts some of the most celebrated festivals in Iceland, including the music festival "Aldrei fór ég suður", the Runners' Festival, the mud-soccer European Championships, Act alone theatre festival and "Við Djúpið" classical music festival.
It is easy to reach Ísafjörður either by car, by bus or by using the two daily flights from Reykjavík. If you travel by car during winter, remember to get updates on weather and road conditions.
The streets of Isafjordur are generally covered with snow in the winter. Distances are short and the town is flat. No need for a car when you have a kicksled.
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!
This territory of the Arctic fox has been uninhabited since the 1950s. As isolated as it was then, it attracts the casual half-day visitors and serious gore-tex hikers alike. Its main attractions are three. First, the bird cliffs surrounding the bay of Hornvík, are a magnet of gigantic proportions. On the eastern side of the bay the cliff reaches a height of more than 500 metres, and the birds are teeming. Second, as there is no infrastructure and the tourists few in relation to the sheer size of the area, the sense of remoteness is strong. You can hike days on end without seeing a single person. The nature is pure and the tranquillity unmatched. Third, dwas the area is a haven for the Arctic fox (think hunting-ban and bird-packed cliffs), the chances of spotting one are high.
Most tours, especially day tours, depart from Ísafjörður. Hikers wanting to go on their own can also take boats from Norðurfjörður.
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.