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Iceland Mag

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The Westfjords: A limitless supply of space and quiet

By Staff

  • Beautiful spot Hornstrandir Nature Reserve is Iceland’s most secluded national park and is located on the peninsula’s northern tip. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

Despite yesterday’s report that international tourists feel there are too many tourists visiting Iceland’s most popular spots, the remote Westfjords are still largely off the beaten track, as journalist Christopher Bagley discovered when he visited the area last summer.

“Westfjords, whose fierce arctic storms and rough gravel roads keep it largely inaccessible, attracts both rich adventurers and creative types,” Christopher says. Adding that it’s the region’s “limitless supply of two increasingly rare commodities—space and quiet—that lures” visitors.

Read more: 11 reasons to visit the remote and wondrous Westfjords

Christopher mentions eight destinations in his piece: Galtarviti lighthouse, Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, Arnarfjörður fjord, the villages of Ísafjörður, Bíldudalur and Stykkishólmur, Flatey island and Drápsker.

Galtarviti lighthouse is located in Súgandafjörður fjord and is only reached by foot, sea or snowmobile. “Basically, there’s no easy way to get to the lighthouse,” owner Ólafur Jónasson explains.

Hornstrandir

Hornstrandir nature reserve. Photo/Pjetur

Hornstrandir Nature Reserve is Iceland’s most secluded national park and is located on the peninsula’s northern tip. The region was abandoned in the 50’s and now it’s only inhabitants are the Arctic fox, mice and birds. The area is only accessible by boat or on foot.

Christopher also talks about the beautiful Arnarfjörður fjörd and the small village of Bíldudalur, home to the country’s first and only annual steam punk festival.

Read more: Sea monsters and Steampunk

Ísafjörður, Gamli bærinn, hús

An old house in Ísafjörður's cetre. Photo/Pjetur Sigurðsson

The fishing village of Ísafjörður is the region’s capital and largest town. Recently the town has become known for its annual music festival, Aldrei fór ég suður (I never went south), managed by musician Múgison.

Christopher also talks about Flatey island, Drápsker and Stykkishólmur in Breiðafjörður bay. Technically, Breiðafjörður is not part of the Westfjords, but a ferry service runs between the village of Stykkishólmur and Brjánslækur, located on the peninsula’s southern part, and therefore connects the west coast to the Westfjords.

Flatey, Breiðafjörður, Vesturland

Flatey island in Breiðafjörður bay. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

Flatey is a beautiful island in Breiðafjörður and not too far away from it lies the island Ytra-Drápsker, home to Drápskerjahverir hot spring. The spring is almost “entirely underwater—except at low tide, when its 140F geothermal waters mix with the ocean’s frigid currents, making the temperature just right for bathing.” 

Read moreAmazing views you cannot tear yourself away from

The Westfjords is an area rich with history, wildlife, unspoilt nature and spine-tingling views. What more, it’s still largely off the beaten track – as becomes evident when the journalist runs into a Dutch hiker who had trekked around the Hornstrandir area for a week without encountering another human being. 

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