The Northern Lights are one of the most spectacular shows and can frequently be seen in Akureyri and surroundings from September to mid-April on clear nights.
Why chase the crowds when the wonders of Iceland can be marvelled in a quieter setting? Step away from the hustle and bustle and enjoy the top sights and attractions in the south-western part of Iceland, without all the traffic, in a smaller bus and with a smaller group (max 16). This peaceful excursion takes place in the afternoon and lasts into the evening and allows plenty of time to explore all the wonders encountered.
Make this a romantic tour for two, or bring family and friends. Either way, you are sure to have an experience that will be forever cherished. This is truly the best time of day to enjoy the magic of Iceland!
The south part of the Westfjords is a region with breathtaking landscapes and friendly communities. Many of the most famous natural attractions of the Westfjords are located in the south, such as Látrabjarg cliff, Rauðisandur, and Dynjandi Waterfall. There are four main villages in the region, Bíldudalur, Tálknafjörður, Petreksfjörður og Reykhólar - all tiny villages with few inhabitants, yet each of them has its own charm and stunning surroundings.
Bíldudalur is a beautiful little village that is known for the best summer weather in the Westfjords. Due to its location, the sea breeze rarely reaches the town, making it an excellent place to relax on sunny days. You can visit two museums in the village: The Icelandic Sea Monster Museum, offering an action-packed multimedia display of the local tales of sea monsters, and Melodies of the Past, a peculiar music museum exhibiting Icelandic musical memorabilia.
Tálknafjörður is a friendly village in the southern part of the Westfjords.In the northern part of the fjord, hot water springs from the earth. This pure energy is used for fish farming and heating the swimming pool. The geothermal activity also creates a few natural hot pools located just outside the village. Various hiking trails can be found on either side of the fjord, many of them old riding paths, used to cross the surrounding mountains and heaths. Sea fishing is popular here!
Patreksfjörður is the biggest town in the southern region of Westfjords and is located in a fjord bearing the same name. The fjord got its name from its first settler, whose spiritual guide was St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. In an interesting coincidence, it was in this fjord that the first potatoes were cultivated in Iceland during the 18th century. Patreksfjörður’s main attraction is its spectacularly located open-air swimming pool, perched high above the fjord at the western edge of the tiny town centre. There is also a hospital, bank, post office, and pharmacy, restaurants, cafés, craft galleries and gift shops. Just a few km outside town is an excellent golf course as well as many challenging hiking trails.
Reykhólar is a small and peaceful community with stunning natural views with over a dozen fjords overlooking Breiðafjörður Bay. Bird watchers will love the rich wildlife in the area. It is rich in history, culture and has a new exhibition you can visit, dedicated to the various natural jewels in Breiðafjörður and their use by farmers and fishermen. The traditional wooden boats built and used in Breiðafjörður Bat are also displayed here. In Grund, near Reykhólar, you can also see antique tractors and in Seljanes there is a collection of vintage cars.
Most of the villages in the north part of Westfjords are part of the Ísafjarðarbær area - including Ísafjörður, Hnífsdalur, Suðureyri, Flateyri and Þingeyri. It came to exist when six municipalities merged because of the Westfjord tunnel opening between Ísafjörður, Flateyri, and Suðureyri. The tunnel made the connection between the towns and villages much easier and the plan was to make the area a combined commercial area where the inhabitants could live in one town and work in another. The other villages in the north part of Westfjords are Súðavík and Bolungarvík.
Ísafjörður is the largest town in the Westfjords in Iceland, with a population of almost 3000 people. The town is very old in Icelandic historical terms, and there are many examples of interesting architecture in Ísafjörður than in any other town in Iceland. Fortunately, people in Ísafjörður have taken greater and greater interest in renovating the old houses. Ísafjörður has a range of accommodations, great restaurants, and fun things to do for everyone. There is a golf course, hiking- and biking trails, horseback riding, bird watching, skiing, and kayaking. Ferries to Hornstrandir Nature Reserve depart from Ísafjörður daily during the summer months.
Ísafjörður also 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,the Act Alone Theatre Festival, and the “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.
Hnífsdalur is a small village between Ísafjörður and Bolungarvík, located in a valley of the same name. The mouth of Hnífsdalur valley is marked by the Búðarhyrna and Bakkahyrna mountains, each named after farms that are nearby. Between Hnífsdalur valley and Ísafjörður valley lies the mountain Eyrarfjall. No actual services can be found in this quiet village, but it is a great place for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Multiple hiking trails can be found in the valley and surrounding mountains, both moderate and challenging. Hnífsdalur is easily reached by bus, with multiple departures from Ísafjörður every weekday.
This typical Icelandic fishing village is located in a narrow fjord surrounded by steep mountains. It is and only began to form in the early 20th century. Before that time, the fjord was almost completely isolated during wintertime and the only access to neighbouring farms and villages was by sea or walking trails. Recently, villagers seized the opportunity of combining the fishing tradition with tourism, and every summer hundreds of sea fishermen from Europe visit and try their luck at catching cod and halibut out in the fjord. Those who prefer more fish-friendly activities can feed the cod in the lagoon just outside the village. The village offers accommodation and has a small restaurant, a gas station and a small store.
Fishing has always been vital for the villages, and in Flateyri the tradition of being on the water has turned into a very popular destination for deep sea fishing and kayaking. Across the fjord you will find a white, sandy beach to relax on in the warmer weather. Although the sea might be colder for bathing than most people prefer, the sand is great for building sand castles. This beach is actually the venue for an annual sand castle competition that attracts hundreds of people every year, children and adults alike. The old village bookshop has been turned into a museum where visitors can learn about the history of Flateyri while buying second hand books and visiting the old merchant’s home. An international doll museum and the very interesting Nonsense Museum can also be found here.
Þingeyri village in Dýrafjörður fjord is located 50 km from Ísafjordur. Many people consider Dýrafjordur the most beautiful fjord in the whole of Westfjords. Majestic mountains often referred as the “Westfjord’s Alps,” surround the village. One point of interests in the village is the oldest functioning mechanic workshop in Iceland, established in 1913. Kaldbakur, the highest mountain in the Westfjords, is close to Þingeyri, and makes a beautiful backdrop for the village. Hiking to the top is relatively easy – even for inexperienced hikers. Services in Thingeyri include a swimming pool, a very scenic golf course, a great restaurant, café, post office, a bank and accommodation.
Súðavík is a small, charming, and friendly village 20 kilometres from Ísafjörður. Since a devastating 400 meter avalanche devastated the village, it has been divided into two parts, the old and the new. The new village was rebuilt by its residents at a location safe from avalanches, and the old part is kept intact as a summer resort for travellers. The family garden Raggagarður, is a playground in the heart of the old town where the whole family can spend time together. Another great attraction in Súðavík is The Arctic Fox Centre - an exhibition and research centre focusing on the only native terrestrial mammal in Iceland, the Arctic fox. In addition, the village is an excellent place for hiking and a local guide is available for neighbouring routes. Súðavík has two restaurants, a café, nice and quiet camping place, grocery shop, gas station, post office and bank service.
This village has been a fishing port since settlement and for centuries Bolungarvík was one of the largest fishing stations in Iceland. Because of this one of the most popular tourist attractions in Bolungarvík is the Ósvör museum, a fascinating replica of an old fishing outpost. The museum curator greets visitors wearing a costume similar to the one Icelandic sailors wore in the 19th century. There’s also a natural history museum that hosts an extensive bird and mammal collection including a polar bear. It is also a popular activity to hike to the top of Bolafjall Mountain to see the stunning panoramic views. There is a road all the way to the top to service the radar station up there but is only accessible during summer. Amenities in the village include a gas station, shops as well as an indoor swimming pool and a golf course.
The region of Strandir (which translates to ‘the coasts’) was one of the most remote areas in Iceland, known for the inhabitants’ knowledge of magic and as a refuge for criminals. The landscape of Strandir is far from uniform, the low hills of Hrútafjörður in the south gradually change to 700 m high mountains rising straight from the coast in the north. The town Hólmavík and Drangsnes village are the most heavily populated areas; around 400 people live in Hólmavík and barely 100 live in Drangsnes.
Árneshreppur is the least populated area in Iceland with only 53 inhabitants with the main villages being Djúpavík and Norðurfjörður. Despite this, it stretches over a wide area, covering 780 square kilometres. This vast area has no public transport so you’ll need to rent a car to visit. If the weather is good and you have a car, the drive is full of famous sites to see as travelling along road 643 through the Árneshreppur municipality is one of the most scenic drives in Iceland. Besides the breathtaking nature, you are bound to be captivated by the tiny settlements that greet you on the way. You can also catch the ferry from another tiny village, Norðurfjörður. There, you will find guesthouses, a museum, a campsite, a small grocery store and a café. Just outside the village, you will find the renowned Krossneslaug, one of the most popular geothermal pools in the Westfjords area.
Drangsnes is a fishing village, conveniently located near the fishing grounds, it thrives in its minimalistic ways. In fact, the man who runs the local restaurant and one of the guesthouses is a fisherman himself. He also runs the boat tours to Grímsey. Grímsey island, supposedly formed by a giant trying to dig the Westfjords away from the rest of Iceland, is the biggest attraction in Drangsnes. The boat ride is only 10 minutes across and boasts a rich bird life of puffins, fulmars and an interesting side story on foxes. Drangsnes has a new swimming pool of top notch quality, however, one of the main attraction of the town is the small hot pools at the shore. It’s the best way to blend in with the locals and enjoy the excellent views the pools offer.
Hólmavík is a small village located in Steingrímsfjörður on the east coastline of the West Fjords. It is the largest town in the Strandir region. Inhabitants in the countryside surrounding Hólmavík live mostly on sheep farming, while economic activity in town revolves around the fisheries and the service sector although tourism is also growing as more and more visitors are interesting in travelling to Strandir and the most isolated places in West Fjords.
The village is not old, the first settlement was in the late 19th century and developed around a small trading post. In the second decade of the 20th century, only eight houses has formed a cluster. It wasn’t really until the 40’s and 50’s that Hólmavík began to develop into a village. It was mainly fishing and fish processing that built the village’s economy, like most Icelandic villages on the coastline. Traditionally Hólmavík has from that time been big in prawn and prawn processing.
The area has an exciting, yet tragic history of witchcraft, witch-hunting and sorcery. The Museum of Sorcery & Witchcraft takes visitors on atour 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.
Next to Hólmavík there is also the Sheep Farming Museum, an entertaining thing to do dedicated to the Icelandic sheep and sheep farming culture popular in the area and in the country. Hólmavík has all necessary services and facilities including a sports centre, camping, great restaurants, a lovely café, a swimming pool, a golf course, and a great tourist information centre.