Westfjords in northwest part of Iceland is a remote and peaceful place with tons of different outdoor and indoor activities.

You can drive around in about 3 days, but if you are looking for the real West fjords experience, I recommend staying at least 4-6 days. 
 
People in Westfjords are living in harmony with the nature 
Life in the West fjords is slow. Most of the people live in small towns, the biggest one, Ísafjörður, (about 2600 inhabitants), and in farms and they know each other, and they care about each other.
Life here back in time was really challenging. They made a living out of fishing and farming, and for the half of the year they were totally isolated from one another by the snow and bad weather.
Today the situation is a bit different, they have pavement on most of the roads and tunnels to connect the towns, but the old times left their mark on the behavior of the locals. They still know how to live in harmony with nature, they are proud of their way of living, and they are happy to give you an introduction if you are open to it. So why not take your time here and taste the life of a fisherman?
 
 
How to get to the Westfjords?
Getting here is easy, you can take a plane from Reykjavik to Ísafjörður, but for getting around you will need a car.
Korpudalur HI Hostel is a great base for your exploration of the western part of the peninsula. The hostel is an old farm building and the owner, Páll, is one of those people who knows the area as the back of his hand. There is no question about the Westfjords for which he doesn’t have an answer to, or at least I couldn’t come up with one.
 
Wake up in the morning, enjoy the home-made Rhubarb or Blueberry jam for breakfast at the hostel, and check the weather forecast. This is important! Now, that you know when the weather will be nice during the days you are going to spend here, let’s plan a bit.
 
Day 1 - Dynjandi Waterfall - Þingeyri - Kaldbakur Mountain - Haukadalur Valley
A must see when visiting the Westfjords is Dynjandi waterfall. This set of seven waterfalls is the most spectacular in the region. The queen of the place is the highest, Dynandi waterfall, her name means Thunderous. You will have no doubt why, when you will stand in front of her. The walk from the parking is easily doable for everybody with a reasonable level of fitness. The path is well-marked and there is a possibility to sit down at every waterfall to take a better look. The walk itself takes about 15 minutes, but we spent there more than an hour and it was an hour well spent. 
 
 
On the way back, you can stop in the village Þingeyri to have lunch. After a short siesta you can either rent a bike, saddle one of the famous Icelandic horses and explore the dramatic landscape of the fjord Dýrafjörður, or just tie the string of your boots and hike the highest mountain of the Westfjords, Kaldbakur (998 m). The trail begins from the road to the west of Þingeyri. You must park at the entrance of the valley and cross it by foot, the trail becomes steeper after the first hour. For those interested in Icelandic sagas:  Haukadalur, the valley, is also the setting for the saga of Gísli, the outlaw. There is a Icelandic movie about his story, titled: Outlaw: The Saga of Gísli.
If you still have time (and energy) you could take a walk in the oldest Botanical Garden of Iceland, Skrúður. The botanical garden was opened in 1909 for the students of Núpur school. It was renovated by volunteers in 1992 and nowadays stays as a memorial to itself, also as a perfect example of successful horticulture in northern climate. 
 
 
Day 2 - Be inspired by the culture of Westfjords
After an very active yesterday, we thought it would be a good thing to have a day to feed your mind with the culture of the Westfjords. Flateyri is a great place to start as there you find three interesting museums. The Old Bookstore is a little, cozy house filled with old, second-hand and new books both in Icelandic and English. One part of the house is a store, the other one is a living museum, the house of the merchant. The next stop could be The Nonsense Museum, which is a collection of random, different things like police hats, cigarette packages and teaspoons from all over the word. It offers an opportunity for the locals to exhibit their own collections, whatever would that be. The third one is the International Doll Museum, which was founded 15 years ago and since then it has been growing every year. You can also purchase there local crafts and dolls.
On your way back to Korpudalur, Café Sól is a great option for a light lunch. This is a small café, run by a local grandma. At first we thought we were lost, but then the owner came out to welcome us. I never had a meal prepared with so much love in a café before. 
 
For the afternoon you can rent a kayak and paddle in the shadows of the mountains and appreciate the calmness of the fjord. In the evening, if the sun is still up, challenge yourself with one of the hikes in the valley of Korpa or Hesta river. These hikes are not long, and your effort is compensated with a unique view of the fjord and the surrounding mountains. Finding your way on a map has never been easier, you just have to turn on the GPS of your phone, scan the QR code and start walking. Just make sure you don’t take anything else than pictures and you don’t leave anything but your problems behind. You can always ask Páll for recommendations but choose the trip together for your fitness level. Hey, and don’t forget to sign the guestbook at the top.
 
 
 
Day 3 - Ísafjörður Town - Bolungarvík - Bolafjall Mountain
It’s time to visit Ísafjörður! This lovely town, also called the Capital of the Westfjords, has a lot to offer. To start with, take a walk in the old town area to get the vibe of the city. The next stop could be the largest of all harbours located in the Westfjords region and the harbour has for centuries been the largest fishing village in the area. Close by you will find the Westfjords Martime- and Heritage museum. The building of the museum is a renovated one from the 18th century, and focuses mainly on fish and fishing industry, which was vital for Icelanders since the settlement. It is a proud holder of the “Best Icelandic Museum Award”, since 2008.
 
 
With the same ticket you can enter the unique Old Blacksmith´s workshop in Þingeyri. This museum was one of the firsts of its kind, and it is still operating in it´s original shape, as a living museum.
 
 
Gamla Bakaríið, the old bakery,  is a really great spot for a light lunch and also to connect with locals. This bakery was opened in 1871 and since then it is one of the best places for a tea, coffee, and to taste Snúður, the traditional Icelandic fluffy cinnamon roll.
 
 
In the afternoon you can head to Bolungarvík to check out the Ósvör Maritime Museum. I know, why would I pay and visit two maritime museums in one single day? Even though both are about fishing, you will notice the difference when you arrive. The visitors are welcomed by the curator, who is wearing a skin suit, similar to the old Icelandic sailors´ outfit and will show everybody around, making sure they will understand a bit about the fishing tradition and lifestyle. You can also see an old turf house both from inside and outside.
 
If you are more interested in the wildlife of the area the Natural History Museum is for you. Here you can find stuffed polar bears, seals, minks, foxes and much more. To catch a beautiful sunset, you can drive up to the top on Bolafjall Mountain. The rumors say that in nice weather you can even see Greenland. This might not be true, but you will get a breathtaking view of Hornstrandir Nature Reserve and the fjords around you.
 
 
The importance of slowing down and relaxing when travelling
There are so many things to see and do in the West fjords, but the most important thing you can do is to relax and enjoy. Learn from the locals and how great is to slow down and leave the rush of the big western cities behind. If you drive carefully and take your time on the road, you might get lucky enough to see whales and dolphins playing in the fjords. Also, if you continue your trip towards the town of Hólmavík, make sure you stop at Skötufjörður fjord for seal watching and at the Arctic Fox Center in Súdavík village to meet their two rescured arctic foxes. 
 
 

 

Eszter Mátyás is a student from Romania, who visited Iceland once and then decided to move here.

She is a nature lover and a travel blogger, passionate about hiking, photography and  outdoor activities.