11 reasons you need to visit the southern part of the Westfjords
The Westfjords have often been dubbed the most rugged and remote part of Iceland. The area is very mountainous and its coastline is dotted with deep fjords and stunning beaches.
1. Ísafjörður village
Ísafjörður is the capital of the Westfjords and, although it’s only a small town with a population of 3.600 people, it offers a vast range of cultural events all year round, including the family-friendly music festival Aldrei fór ég suður.
One of Iceland’s best seafood restaurants is located by the town’s harbour. Tjöruhúsið restaurant is located in one of the oldest houses in Ísafjörður, which is now part of the town’s maritime museum. The restaurant serves fresh, high quality seafood and is renowned for its quirky, laid-back atmosphere.
2. Dynjandi waterfall
Dynjandi has a cumulative height of 100 metres (330 ft) and its width spreads to over 60 metres (197 ft) at its bottom. Bellow the massive main waterfall is a series of five smaller rapids. The waterfall’s name, Dynjandi, means ‘thundering’, and you’ll understand why it got that name when you pay it a visit.
Just like Seljalandsfoss in South Iceland, visitors are able to walk behind Dynjandi’s cascade and really take in its beauty from all angels.
3. Bíldudalur village
Tucked away between mountains that shelter it from the winds, the tiny village of Bíldudalur is one of most picturesque towns in the Westfjords. It’s also home of the Sea Monster Museum and the location of Bildalia, Iceland’s first and only Steampunk festival.
Where: Arnarfjörður fjord
4. Selárdalur and Selárdalskirkja
Selárdalur farm and museum is like a fairy tale land, located at the far end of Arnarfjörður fjord. Farmer and artist Samúel Jónsson from Selárdalur, often named ‘The Artist with the Child’s Heart’ built the unique Selárdalskirkja church on his land in the 1950’s to house an altarpiece he had painted and gifted the original Selárdalskirkja to commemorate the church’s 200th anniversary. Church officials turned down the gift as the church already had an altarpiece. Dotted around the farm are a number of unique statues created by Samúel.
5. Skjaldborg documentary festival in Patreksfjörður
The Skjaldborg film festival takes place in the quaint, little village of Patreksfjörður during Pentecost weekend each year. The festival attracts a colourful crowd of people to town, which is one of the reasons it is such a memorable fair. Named after the local film theatre, the festival showcases Icelandic documentaries by newcomers and veterans alike. The main event is the Audience Choice Awards for best documentary.
6. Rauðisandur beach
Rauðisandur beach is one of Iceland’s most romantic spots. The beautiful white sand, the vast, roaring ocean, the towering mountains in the distance: Pure bliss. A small café is located on the beach, open only during the summer, where one can stop for a romantic lunch after taking in the breath-taking scenery and unique tranquillity of the place.
Where: 20 minute-drive west of Flókalundur
7. Látrabjarg cliffs
Located at the westernmost point of Iceland and standing 441 meters high, you will be exposed to a series of unbelievable views and interesting wildlife.
The towering cliffs are home to a vast number of birds, including puffins, northern gannets, and guillemots, making them the ideal spot for bird watching. Please note, the edge of the cliff is continually eroding and plunging into the sea below. Stay safe and do not venture too close to the edge.
8. Reykjarfjörður geothermal pool
The rustic geothermal pool found tucked away in the scenic Reykjarfjörður fjord is a popular pit stop among travellers. A small wooden structure located next to the pool serves as changing facilities for guests. Admittance is free but please, treat the pool and its surroundings with respect and do not leave any rubbish in the area.
Where: Reykjarfjörður, Arnarfjörður fjord
9. Svalvogar route
The Svalvogar route is a 49-kilometre long (30 miles) circular track running along the coastline between Dýrafjörður and Arnarfjörður fjords. Starting and ending in the pretty village of Þingeyri, it brings you around the headland and past Mt Kaldbakur (note, the trek should not be attempted during high tide). Locals have dubbed the track the “Dream Road” as it’s believed to be one of the most beautiful and scenic routes in the country.
10. Horse ride in Dýrafjörður
One of the best ways to enjoy Icelandic nature is on horseback. Tour operator Vesturferðir offers horse riding trips around Dýrafjörður fjord for people of all ages and abilities. The slow-paced tour allows guests to really take in the gorgeous scenery surrounding Dýrafjörður.
Where: Sandar, Dýrafjörður
11. Pollurinn Tálknafjörður
‘Pollurinn’, or the Pond, is another geothermal pool located just outside the village of Tálknafjörður. In fact, Pollurinn is not one pool, but rather three pools of different depths and temperatures, the warmest being around 46 degrees Celsius (115 Fahrenheit). Changing facilities and showers are located next to the pools. Admission is free of charge. Again, make sure you tidy up after your visit.
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