The Westfjords is one of the most remote regions, but it’s also one of the most beautiful. If you’re planning a trip to the island, you can’t afford to skip out on the Westfjords of Iceland. In this article, we take a deep dive into the Westfjords and reveal what makes this region so magical.
So, before you book your flight and start heading out, here are some of the things you should know and when visiting the Westfjords of Iceland.
The Westfjords of Iceland Weather
Visiting the Westfjords of Iceland can be fairly seasonal based on the Icelandic weather. This is due to many of the roads and routes not being paved in the area and weather conditions making it inaccessible. You will also find many of these roads/routes completely closed during winter.
So if the Westfjords of Iceland is the aim of your trip, we suggest planning your trip during the summer or shoulder months. On the downside, October generally tends to be one of the wettest months in Iceland, though.
The winter months in Iceland are December to March, with January usually being the coldest. The average temperature in this month is of about 1 degree Celsius. As we explained earlier, these might not be the best options when it comes to visiting the Western Fjords of Iceland.
The summer months in Iceland are June to September, with August generally being the hottest month of the year. It boasts an average of about 12 degrees Celsius.
If you want to opt for a shoulder month that doesn’t have the summer overcrowding and peak season prices, we’d suggest the month of May. It is known to be a fairly sunny month with the least precipitation. It also still offers visitors temperatures between 2 and 12 degrees Celsius.
As Sidenote: The Iceland Weather Impacts Attractions & Activities
Just keep in mind that the seasons will also have an impact on some of the legendary phenomenons one can experience in Iceland.
The summer months can have daylight hours of up to 24 hours. So, those who have “experiencing an Icelandic midnight sun” on their to-do list will be able to tick that off. But those who have the Northern Lights on their Iceland bucket list will have to wait ‘till the extreme daylight hours give way to the darkness. That usually begins at the end of September.
Traveling to the Westfjords
As we have already touched on, traveling to and within the Westfjords of Iceland will be heavily impacted by the season and the weather. All you need to do is keep an eye on the Iceland weather conditions and the Iceland road conditions. But there is also another hurdle to overcome.
Due to the remoteness of the Westfjords region in Iceland, you cannot expect the same level of public transport available as you would in the capital of Reykjavík, for example. That means that if you are planning to properly explore the Westfjords area, you will need to rent your own vehicle.
And if you do, you will need to discuss your Westfjords Iceland itinerary with your rental agent. Many of the Westfjords roads and routes are only accessible by 4x4.
Driving All the Way
Our opinion will always be that the best way to explore the Westfjords of Iceland is via your own transport and road tripping the Westfjords Way. Just give yourself enough time, though. We recommend a stay of 2 weeks+, so you can take your time and have adequate time to stop at all the attractions along the way.
If you want to save some driving in the Westfjords of Iceland time, you can also opt to take the car ferry to the Westfjords of Iceland between Stykkihólmur and Brjánslækur. This will also add a little adventure to your road trip itinerary!
To properly plan out your road trip route and itinerary, check out this handy Westfjords Iceland map.
Take a Flight First
If driving for most of your day is not really your thing, you can also opt to take a flight. A flight from Reykjavík to the Westfjords takes between 40-50 minutes. You can also choose between flights landing at Isafjördur, Gjögur, or Bildadalur.
Just keep in mind what we said about the remoteness; if this is your preferred way to get there, you will still have to rent a vehicle once you’ve landed. Otherwise, you will have to be fairly content sticking to the town you landed in, with limited day outings via booked tours.
Start Your Trip With a Bus Ride
You can take a bus to the Westfjords which is probably one of the most affordable ways to get there. Now, you need to double-check the bus times, as the bus schedule changes based on seasons. You will also still be left with the same issue of being semi “stuck” on arrival.
Best Place to Stay in the Westfjords of Iceland
Wondering where to stay in the Westfjords of Iceland once you’ve arrived or started your road trip route? Well, here are a few hotels in the Westfjords of Iceland along with a few other places to consider:
What to See in the Westfjords of Iceland
As one of the most untouched and beautiful regions of Iceland, it’s no surprise that the Westfjords of Iceland has several attractions up its sleeve. Here are a few sights that are not to be missed:
The Dynjandi Waterfall
This powerful waterfall cascading over tiers of cliffs 100 meters high truly resembles the largest (and loudest) wedding cake you’ve ever seen.
This attraction is just off the main route. If you actually take the short hike (it’ll only take you about 15 minutes) to the falls, you’ll also pass other smaller waterfalls on your way. We highly recommend that you add this stop to your Westfjords Iceland itinerary.
Quick tip! We always advise that someone is in the photographs you take of the falls to truly appreciate the magnitude of its scale.
The Puffins are definitely the Westfjord’s pride and joy when it comes to wildlife. In fact, this westernmost point of Iceland boasts the biggest Puffin population in the world when it’s breeding time (May to August).
Each year, over 1 million Puffins flock (pun intended) to the Westfjords. If you want to see some heart-stopping scenes, you need to stop by Latrabjarg cliffs at the end of the breeding season. That's when, what seems to be too small Pufflings, hurl themselves off the cliffs and into the ocean for the very first time.
Raudisandur aka The Red Sand Beach
Whenever people mention the beaches in Iceland, it’s usually about the black sand beaches. But did you know that there is a beautifully secluded and remote red sand beach that you can take walks on that feels so endless that it may lead you into tomorrow? This is a definite must-see (and must-walk) whenever visiting the Westfjords of Iceland.
Ironically, you need to leave an island to visit this island. Or rather islands. Flatey is actually a cluster of 40 small islands. However, Flatey Island is the only inhabited island between the 39 uninhabited islands in the Westfjords surrounding it.
Many enjoy going to Flatey to stroll its streets of colorful houses. Avid bird-watchers can’t wait to go spot some migratory species when in season. Walking the island streets shouldn’t take you too long, as the entire island is only two kilometers long and one kilometer wide.
What to Do in the Westfjords of Iceland
For a scarcely populated region, the Westfjords in Iceland sure has a lot of things that one can do. Whether you’re a generally active person, an adrenaline junkie, or someone who just enjoys some culture – you will find all this and more in the Westfjords of Iceland. Here are a few ideas to add to your Westfjords Iceland itinerary:
Take a Hike in the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in the Westfjords of Iceland
Hiking in Iceland is incredibly popular – especially hiking in the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. That is because it’s such an incredibly beautiful area, and you’ll find a myriad of hiking trail options all over the reserve.
You don’t need to be a fitness guru to take on these trails, either. Trails range in difficulty and experience levels, and you can also opt for a trail that takes only a couple of hours or even spans multiple days.
Go Bikepacking Through The Westfjords of Iceland
A new craze has hit the region. If you’re not that into driving, you can now go cycling the Westfjords of Iceland. Since the Westfjords Way is a gravel and tarmac road that goes around in a loop, many are opting to be a part of a cycling tour group. That gives a whole new meaning to the word road trip.
Take a Dip in Krossneslaug
Krossnesslaug is a geothermal pool in the Strandir region of the Westfjords of Iceland. And keeping in theme to, well, most things in the Westfjords, it’s pretty remote. But that’s what makes this such a unique experience. Taking a dip in what feels like a random hot pool with breathtaking views of the ocean might just be one of the most relaxing experiences of your life.
And if you’re lucky, you might actually see a whale breaching or dolphins and seals playing in the water. The ocean, not your geothermal pool, of course. Just double-check your calendar before driving all the way there because Krossneslaug is only open from mid-May to the end of August.
Stroll through Isafjördur
As the biggest town in the Westfjords of Iceland, Isafjördur can be perceived as an unofficial capital. Many who want to explore the Westfjords actually use the city as a base. But that’s not the only thing this town is good for. Visitors can look forward to cycling, kayaking, and even golfing!
And if you’re an architecture fan, you’re going to love the houses that date back to the 18th century. The town is also well-known for its cultural events and festivals, so keep your eyes out. If you’re lucky, you might be able to attend one of these cultural events.
Hit the Museums
A country such as Iceland is rife with legends, folklore, and rich history. That's specially true in the almost uninhabited Westfjords region of Iceland. That is why you will find so many museums all around the island. But you’ll have to look far and wide to find a more interesting museum than the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft.
Here you will learn everything about some of the old practices of the island. And, if you have the stomach for it, even see the magical pants made out of a man’s skin. But before you start screaming foul play, the owner of said skin gave his full permission for his legs to be turned into this macabre clothing item before his death.
Visit a Factory (Kinda)
As with the museums, you might want to save this activity for the days you just want to relax and spend indoors. The Factory is always a treat to visit, and it’s rarely what people expect.
Reykjarfjördur was once a town reliant on its Herring fishing, and the factory was the town’s processing plant. Needless to say, those days are long gone, yet, what is still known as The Factory remains. But the only thing that’s coming out of it these days is art. Yes, today The Factory is one of the most cutting-edge art galleries in the Westfjords of Iceland.
Ready, Get Set, Book!
The Westfjords of Iceland will probably always be a bit of an enigma due to its remoteness and seclusion. But for a mostly uninhabited region, the Westfjords of Iceland has more than enough attractions to keep visitors busy and in awe.
If you intend to take us up on our recommendation of exploring the Westfjords region in Iceland via your own transport, don’t forget to book your Iceland rental car. Especially if you’re visiting the island in the summer.
And don’t forget to have that chat with your rental agent regarding your route. Just to ensure that you are not left stranded next to a Westfjords road because you metaphorically pitched up with a knife to a gunfight.
But whichever vehicle you opt for and wherever you choose to stay or whatever you choose to do in the Westfjords of Iceland, we can guarantee that it will be an experience that you will never forget. Hope to see you in the Westfjords region of Iceland soon!