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Highlights

Arctic Fox

The Arctic fox is the only truly native land mammal in Iceland. It got stranded on the island after the last Ice Age and lived on birds, bird eggs, berries, seaweed and all sorts of other stuff. Over the millennia the Icelandic Arctic fox has become genetically unique: the Vulpes lagopus fuliginosus subspecies. They are white in winter and grey in summer. The Hornstrandir nature reserve in the Westfjords is the only place in Iceland where the Arctic fox is completely protected from hunting; which means they are a common sight and unusually tame.

Dynjandi

Simply enthralling; The Westfjords' favourite front-page model for decades, and is never short of breathtaking. The biggest and widest part of the waterfall is the one that gets all the attention and the photos, even though there are impressive, albeit smaller, waterfalls further down the river.
To enjoy, follow this simple step-by-step manual. 1. Stop your car at the parking lot. 2. Walk all the way up to the biggest part of the waterfall, it takes about 15 minutes. 3. Take a deep breath and enjoy 4. Whenever ready, go back down to the car. 5. Tick off this article and continue working through the check-list.

Flatey island

Breiðafjörður is the second biggest fjord in Iceland as it stretches 70 km where it is widest. Where the fjord gets more shallow there are almost uncountable number of islands but if we would have to guess a number, they would be around 2800. Many of those islands were inhabited few decades ago but now almost all are uninhabited. Flatey is the one exception. Flatey is the biggest of the islands in Breiðafjörður. It also is the only island in Breiðafjörður where inhabitants live the whole year round. The inhabitants count as many as 6 persons but during summertime the population multiplies. Many of the other islands in Breiðafjörður used to be inhabited not so long ago like Hvallátur, Svefneyjar and Akureyjar. All the islands have one thing in common. They are all made by the force of glaciers in the ice age. The islands are mostly flat and the geological layers are similar to the ones on the Westfjords. In most of the islands there are many plants and the birdlife is diverse with puffin, eider and black guillemot being the kings of the fjord along with the White-tailed-Eagle. The history tells us that the people that lived in Breiðafjörður never had to deal with shortage of food because of the plentyful gifts of nature such as birds, fish and shells. When there were bad conditions and food shortage was common in Iceland, people fled to Breiðafjörður bay where there was plenty of food for everyone.

Hornstrandir

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 are 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, as 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 Bolungarvík and Norðurfjörður.

Látrabjarg

One of Europes biggest bird cliffs, a home to birds in unfathomable numbers. This westernmost point of Iceland 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.

Natural pools

Among the hidden gems of the Westfjords are the natural hot pools that can be found even in most remote places. This might sound like a cliché, but the pools are truly a well kept secret, taken for granted, or even forgotten by locals. An explanation could be that the Westfjords are not generally considered a "hot spot" in Icelandic geology, so the geothermal activity is not as visible as it is in the north or the south of the country. Therefore it is surprising to find that nowhere in Iceland are there more natural bathing pools than in the Westfjords, the reason being that the water is of perfect temperature straight from the ground.

Some of the pools are situated right on the shoreline, with amazing views towards the sea, creating a unique experience to be enjoyed all year round.

Rauðisandur

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.

Vigur

Puffins, eiders, guillemoths and arctic terns are this island's magnets, and they are all abundant. Indeed, as the puffins, which nest in burrows, have dug through much of the island's soil, travellers have to follow a certain path to avoid falling into one. This small bird, by some dubbed the penguin of the north, is a clumsy flier but impresses visitors by artfully stacking its beak full of sand eel or small fish, carrying it home to its hungry chicks. Being the opposite of the hospitable humans that live on the island, the Arctic terns fight to keep intruders away. Luckily, a stick held above the head does the trick. Eiders and humans share a mutual beneficence; eiders get protecion by nesting in close vicinity of the people, who collect the precious down from the eider nests. One of the every day event is when locals feed a group of orphan eider chicks. In Vigur you find the smallest post office in Iceland, as well as the only windmill and beautifully renewed houses. Since an end was put to milk production on Vigur island, the inhabitants spend much of the winter preparing the eider down, collected over the summer, for export.

To get to Vigur, there is a daily boat tour from Ísafjörður.

Westfjords of Iceland

Towns & Villages

The sparsely populated Westfjords region is home to more towns and villages than you might imagine – and each has its own unique atmosphere and attractions.
Get to know more about them here. 

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Map Bolungarvík Hnífsdalur Suðureyri Flateyri Ísafjörður Súðavík Þingeyri Bíldudalur Tálknafjörður Patreksfjörður Hólmavík Drangsnes Reykhólar Borðeyri Djúpavík Norðurfjörður Norðurfjörður