11 reasons to visit Iceland's remarkable west coast
Conveniently located only a short distance from Keflavík airport, West Iceland also has much to offer visitors, whether it be a trip deep into an old volcanic crater or a day of fly fishing, West Iceland has it all.
1. Hraunfossar waterfalls
Although not very high, Hraunfossar is a very impressive 900 metre (2952 ft) long strand of cascades that pour into the magnificent Hvítá river.
The waterfalls were formed by rivulets streaming out of the Hallmundarhraun lava field and are a popular subject for avid nature photographers.
Where: 17 km east of Reykholt
2. Breiðafjörður bay and archipelago
Breiðarfjörður is a large but shallow bay, about 50 km wide and 125 km long, dotted with about 3,000 islands and skerries. The northern tip of the bay formed about 15 million years ago, whereas the southern part is much, much younger. Only a handful of the islands are currently inhabited all year around.
Guests can visit many of the islands, Flatey and Hrappsey being the most popular. What makes Hrappsey and its neighbour, Purkey, unique is that inclusions of anorthosite up to a size of 30,000 are found on them. Anorthosite is a common rock type found on the Moon.
3. Mt Baula
Mt. Baula is a cone-shaped mountain located close to Bifröst. It‘s classified as a "batholith," which is a mass of rock that‘s been thrust up to the surface from deep within the earth. Situated next to Baula are the picturesque craters of Grábrók and Litla-Baula (Little-Baula), a smaller cone-shaped mountain.
Where: 5 km north of Bifröst
4. Lóndrangar rocks
Lóndrangar are basalt rock formations that protrude from the oceanfront at Snæfellsnes peninsula. The rocks are remnants from a larger volcanic crater which has disappeared due to erosion. The taller rock stands at 75 metres (246 ft).
Where: 10 km from Hellnar
5. Vatnshellir cave
Vatnshellir is a massive lava cave which was opened to the public in 2011. It is believed the cave was created during an eruption around 6,000-8,000 years ago. The cave is divided into two sections: the upper section has unique lava formations of lava that cover the sides of the cave, the lower part is accessible by a long and narrow staircase, taking guests deep underground to a place which was hidden from the outside world until recently.
Where: Snæfellsnes National Park
6. Snæfellsjökull glacier
The majestic Snæfellsjökull glacier is a 700,000-year-old stratovolcano made famous in Jules Verne’s novel Journey to the Centre of the Earth.
Snæfellsjökull is located on Snæfellsnes peninsula and is the only large central volcano in that part of Iceland.
It is part of the wonderful Snæfellsjökull National Park which was established in 2001.
Various organised tours are offered onto the glacier, such as hikes, snowmobile tours and ski tours.
Where: Snæfellsnes National Park
7. Langjökull ice cave
The 500 metre (1,640 feet) long Langjökull ice cave grants visitors unique insights into the impact global warming has on the environment. The cave has become a popular tourist attraction and feature exhibitions, and a chapel, ideal for those who wish to marry deep inside Iceland’s second largest ice cap.
Where: Langjökull glacier
8. The Settlement Centre in Borgarfjörður
The Settlement Centre offers guests a good overview of the Viking settlement in Borgarnes and on Egilssaga, the tale of infamous Viking and poet Egill Skallagrímsson. The centre also includes a wonderful, little gift shop and a lovely restaurant.
Where: Brákarbraut 13 – 15
9. Fly fishing in Norðurá river
The beautiful Nordurá river is one of Iceland's better known salmon rivers. It has an average catch rate of over 2.000 salmon annually and is extremely diverse.
The salmon season in Iceland usually begins in June and extends into mid-September. The prime time for salmon fishing generally ranges from mid-July and until mid-August, which is also the most expensive time to fish.
Where: 90 km north of Reykjavík
10. Whale watching in Kolgrafafjörður fjord
Kolgrafafjörður became a household name in Iceland after an estimated 50.000 tonnes of dead herring washed ashore the fjord in 2012 and 2013. The herring brought with them herds and herds of orcas, making the small fishing village of Grundarfjörður an ideal whale watching spot.
Láki tours will bring guests on organised whale watching trips around the bay.
11. Bjargarsteinn restaurant
Family run restaurant Bjargarsteinn is located in Grundarfjörður. The bistro‘s menu includes seasonal dishes that are bound to be a delicious treat for all food connoisseurs. During the day, they’ll serve coffee, cakes, and light courses, but in the evenings there will be generous portions of quality food made from good, local ingredients. Children can enjoy the same menu as their parents, but in smaller portions.
The restaurant also boasts a fantastic outdoor space, complete with an open-air dining area that has an incredible view over the town’s landmark mountain, Mt. Kirkjufell, as well as a humble shed where the owner‘s dry fish (harðfiskur) and smoke meat.
Where: Sólvellir 15, Grundarfjörður
Ask the Expert
Do I need to leave a tip in Iceland?
Report: Nine exemptions granted this year allowing foreign nationals to acquire Icelandic property
Report: Former conservative city councilman under investigation for tax fraud, money laundering
Rental car takes a dip in boiling blue lagoon after American couple forgets to put it in park
Photos: Reykjavík fire department rescues cat from tree
Photos: Two destinations in South Iceland on CNN's Ultimate List of Scenic Splendor
Coast guard assist a humpback whale, remove pieces of fishing net and net floats from its tail fin
Yesterday's earthquake swarms not connected: No signs of imminent volcanic activity
Millions in Nazi gold believed to lie hidden off Iceland's shores
Quick primer on Bárðarbunga, Iceland's most powerful volcano
Follow Iceland Mag
Join our weekly hand curated newsletter to have all the latest news from Iceland sent to you
Don't worry, we won't spam you. Promise!
Third murder this year: Two men arrested yesterday evening. Woman dead after violent attack
Worst whale hunting season in more than a decade: Only 17 whales killed this year
More details in Hagamelur murder case. Suspects in their 20s, 30s. Victim was in her 40s
12 reasons you should visit Iceland during the off-season
Two travellers arrested in Keflavík for smoking on board airplanes
US Neo-nazis believe their "meme magic" caused the collapse of the Icelandic coalition government
Cuteness overload: A video of a litter of Arctic fox pups explore the world for the first time
Watch a selection of the most amazing Hollywood movie scenes shot in Iceland
Magical beauty of Icelandic landscapes captured in this award winning time-lapse video
Superb short film featuring breathtaking drone footage shot along the Ring Road One
Video: The stunning beauty of the Diamond Beach and other wonders of South Iceland