Top 10 experiences in the Westfjords
Most people focus on the Iceland Ring Road and overlook the incredible Westfjords. These are less crowded and more off the beaten track. With the top 10 experiences in the Westfjords you can find an impression of what to expect when you do take the time to explore the Westfjords.
Puffins are a must see when you visit Iceland. These birds are just so beautiful and funny. You can see them in multiple locations but best place to spot them closeby is Latrabjarg. To reach this cliff you’ll need to follow the road 612 for a long time. It’s quite a distance, but the reward will be big! You will need to come back via the same route.
When you reach the car parking at the end, you can go straight to the sea or take left and follow the cliffs for a couple of kilometers. Here you can spot a couple of millions of birds, however, the puffins are near the car park, so you could safe yourself the walk up and along the cliffs if you are here only for the puffins. Some birds dare to come close to the top of the cliff and there you can really spot them from closeby. For them is quite safe, because if there would be some danger from people, they can just let them fall and fly away 🙂
2. Hot pots
In entire Iceland you can find hot pots or hot springs and some nice ones can be found in the Westfjords. There are so many of them that we decided to focus on the nicest ones in our opinion.
In order to reach this natural heated swimmingpool you have to take the 643 gravel road and you’ll need to come back via the same road. While getting there you will pass the small village Djupavik and it’s old Herring Factory. Many websites describe this as a very nice experience, but honestly, this particular pool is quite a hassle to swim in natural heated water. There is also a hot pot next to the swimming pool. The accommodation is recently renewed and we found brand new changing rooms with showers. There is a sign to donate some money to help to maintain the property. So if you would be in a hurry I’m not sure that this hot spring is worth the effort of getting here. You can probably do it with a regular car, but we were happy to have our 4×4 campervan.
Not that far from Dynjandi you will find this swimmingpool just next to the road 63. In our opinion this is the same experience as Krossneslaug with way less effort. The changing rooms are a little older but it’s was still all clean. There are 2 pool right next to each other with different temperaturs and you can easily get from the one in the other. The most clear water was really nicely warm. As a bonus you can also access the river next to it and even go sit it that heated river which is like a mini Reykjalandur. If you pass here I strongly recommend to take a swim. The views around this area are stunning.
Not far from the intersection of road 62 with 60 you can find the hot pot Hellulaug. Directly near the road, a small parking and right next to the sea. We were lucky to be there early in the morning and have the hot pot for ourselves. The weather was awesome, temperature just perfect and the views magnificient. This hot pot is a must do when you are in the area.
3. Off the beaten track
As said, while most people focus on the Iceland Golden Circle and many do the Iceland Ring Road, most skip the Westfjords. Although it has gain more and more attention lately, it’s still far from touristic. Often we drove for over an hour without seeing anybody else. We were often alone at the stops we made. The landscape is very rough and the views around the fjords are magnificient. You need to be lucky with the weather and it is very hard to predict. The fact that you are alone, drive on gravel roads strengthness the experience of travelling in a marvellous nature.
One of the most impressive waterfalls of Iceland which can be found in the Westfjords, in Arnarfjordur. The waterfall is 100 meters heigh and at the top it starts with a width of 30 meters to end at the bottom with a width of 60 meters. The most impressive views are when you hike up and stand below the waterfall. We were lucky to be alone to observe it’s greatness. Below Dynjandi there are five other waterfalls: Haifoss, Udafoss, Gongufoss, Hundafoss and Baejarfoss. With great weather this was certainly one of the top experiences in the Westfjords.
5. Marvellous views
This hidden gem has soo much to offer. During our road trip we stopped frequently in between our main destinations because we spotted yet another incredible view. It was a good choice to come this early in the season as the snow made everything even more beautiful in our opinion. Although they are not present in the top experiences in the Westfjords, they are still worth it and a little impression can be found below.
Make sure to check the bonus movies at the bottom of this page to get a good impression of the fjords.
At one of the fjords we were enjoying all the different colours of blue of the sky in combination with the sea and the mountains still covered with snow when we spotted some whales. They were with 3 of them and every couple of minutes they came to surface and the blew water. Although we could quite nicely observe the scenery it was too far to make proper movies with our mobile phones. At these rare moments a more advanced camera would be beneficial. We enjoyed this moment for quite some time before continuing our journey. So when you are around these areas you might scan the sea for a free whale show.
I don’t think the Westfjords will be come a famous summer destination for beach lovers but still they have quite some nice ones. Certainly the ones with the black sand makes them special in our opinion. Add some blue sky, sun and snow and you have a unique experience. To reach the Minnibakki beach we strongly recommend a 4×4 as I’m not sure that regular cars would make it. There are some real rough parts in the road as well as some steep parts. As the weather was that great and there was no wind, you could really lie on the beach and catch some sun.
At regular intervals you will be able to spot some impressive cliffs in the Westfjords. At a single place there is a glass platform, but for the rest there is nothing to hold you back from falling from the cliffs. So if you are on top, make sure to keep some distance and stay safe. In some occasions we did spot some other people doing crazy things to take that ultimate selfie. I hope it won’t be their last.
In Isafjordur, the biggest city of the Westfjords you can find the restaurant Tjöruhúsið which is famous so you might want to make a reservation before heading there. Parking is available in front of the restaurant.
The interior has something of a stubn you can find in a Austrian ski resort. It’s very cosy and vibrant atmosphere. The special thing is that they have big common tables so you will sit with other people that you don’t know. Unless you are in a group, then you can get a private table.
It’s a family run business with a funny cook who makes the introduction on how things will go. With plenty of pleasant remarks he explains in both Islandic and English. It starts with a fish soup and then a buffet with warm vegetables and plenty of different delicious fish.
It’s an all you can eat buffet and as it’s so good, you will leave the restaurant with a full tummy. You might want to try to avoid going back for a second plate of soup and save some space for the fish which comes right after. When you are done eating there is free coffee, tea and cookies, but we were too full to even think about those. The restaurant is reasonable priced for such a quality.