Westfjords of Iceland – magical, remote and rugged

Gardar ship rusts away in the Westfjords of Iceland
The forlorn ship, Gardar, rusts away in the Westfjords of Iceland.

Westfjords of Iceland is a magical region. It is a little tough to describe it, but even if the Westfjords are a region of Iceland, I always feel that I am abroad when I visit it. Well, maybe it would be better to say that the Westfjords are, of course, Iceland, but the Westfjords are even more so. The remoteness and the ruggedness of the Westfjords seem to have shaped the people who live there. My wife says that when she sings in the Westfjords, an audience of 50 feels like an audience of 100. Each personality is so big that one person from the Westfjords equals two ‘regular’ people. People had to be tough to survive the long dark winters of the Westfjords. And make as much as they could make the most of the short summers in preparation for said long winters.

Subscribe to my free and exclusive newsletter for discount codes that will give you savings on 150 Iceland tours and travel services.

Subscribe to the Stuck in Iceland newsletter
Receive exclusive promo codes for tours, car rental, camper van rental, and outdoor clothing rental. Get occasional updates about new content. I will never give your data to a third party without consent.

Thank you
Jon Heidar, Editor of Stuck in Iceland Travel Magazine

Loved by Loney Planet

The Westfjords received a much-deserved accolade by Lonely Planet when it was chosen as the best region to visit in 2022.

Hotels in the Westfjords

See the map below and start exploring hotels in the Westfjords.


Westfjords of Iceland have a remarkable pull

For the traveler, the rugged beauty of the Westfjords is their main attraction. I have visited the Westfjords a few times, and the region has an incredible pull. I think you should discover it on your own. Below are a few noteworthy destinations in no particular order that I have visited, and I hope you will too.

The Dynjandi waterfall in the Westfjords of Iceland.
The Dynjandi waterfall in the Westfjords of Iceland.

The majestic Dynjandi Waterfall

Dynjandi waterfall is right up there with all the other classic Icelandic waterfalls, like Dettifoss waterfall, Aldeyjarfoss in the north, and Skógafoss, SeljalandsfossGljúfrabúi, and Gullfoss waterfall in the south.

Snæfjallaströnd in the Westfjords of Iceland.
Snæfjallaströnd in the Westfjords of Iceland.

The remote snæfjallaströnd

Snæfjallaströnd is a region that few people visit. However, the serenity there and the beauty are quite something.

Puffins at the island of Grímsey
This is why I call Grímsey puffin island.

The puffin island of Grímsey

Want to see puffins? Well, Grímsey is an island teeming with them.

Puffin lands at Látrabjarg cliffs in the Westfjords of Iceland.
Puffin lands at Látrabjarg cliffs in the Westfjords of Iceland.

The puffin cliffs of Látrabjarg

The epic cliffs at Látrabjarg are just massive. And yes, there are loads of puffins there too.

Boat at Vigur Island.
Boat at Vigur Island.

This ship in the Westfjords of Iceland is a lot cooler than the plane-wreck at Sólheimasandur

In Skápadalur, this photogenic ship is just rusting away on the beach. Forget the plane at Sólheimasandur and check it out.

The art gallery at Selárdalur valley

Imagine being an old hermit at the edge of the world. And then building a church, a house, a lion fountain, a temple, and lots of statues just for yourself. You can see the result of just this at Selárdalur valley.

The lion fountain at Selárdalur.
Yes, I really like the lion fountain at Selárdalur valley

The island of Vigur, the place of zen and angry birds

The island of Vigur has for a long time been a center for the harvesting of eiderdown, the ultimate luxury good. It is full of highly aggressive arctic terns that help to protect the all-important money-making eider ducks. If you are up for a nice boat trip to this beautiful island, you will have great moments of zen and beauty. When you venture out for a walk around the island, you will be “greeted” by angry arctic terns that hate you and will try to peck you to death. They are not too bright, though, so just put a stick above your head.  This way, you will avoid most of the pecking. You will continue to be at risk for their “bombardment,” though. So yes, I do recommend taking this trip.

Mural at Dokkan Brewery

The town of Ísafjörður in the Westfjords of Iceland has Iceland’s best beer and restaurant

Ísafjörður town is not only charming. It also has fantastic local beer made by the Dokkan Brewery. I had not tasted their beers before I went to Ísafjörður in the summer of 2021. I was only going to have one or two but let’s say it went a little bit beyond that and who could blame me. The café Heimabyggð is also great, I highly recommend it. Ísafjörður town also has Iceland’s best restaurant, Tjöruhúsið.

The legendary restaurant Tjöruhúsið in Ísafjörður, Iceland.
The legendary restaurant Tjöruhúsið in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

This restaurant has a buffet of just incredible fish dishes. It is honest to god hearty food, local fish fried with tons of butter. You need to book a table there well in advance, and you should make sure you go in there hungry. The buffet is the gourmet’s Everest; my Apple watch reported on my dinner there as it would report on a good workout. So come prepared and enjoy the best meal in Iceland.

The best café in Iceland is found in the Westfjords of Iceland

Steinshús is a small museum dedicated to Iceland’s beloved poets, the perpetually poor, skinny, polio-stricken, hungry, and melancholy communist outsider Steinn Steinar. But it is also Iceland’s best café. It is just weird, it is right in the middle of nowhere, and we just found this café by coincidence. But man, those cakes are to die for. Steinn Steinar never had anything like those calorie bombs. His poetry would not have been so good if he had ever had that luxury.

The sorcerer madness

The Westfjords have had their share of tough times. It was at the epicenter of the bizarre and horrific sorcerer-madness in the 17th century. During this time, people were burnt alive for trumped-up charges for sorcery. If somebody went mad, if livestock perished in lousy weather, or if somebody got lucky in some way, people would often suspect sorcery was to blame. Some poor person would be then be burned for alleged witchcraft.

Breaking free from servitude

There are many charming little fishing villages in the Westfjords, but Iceland’s towns and hamlets are a pretty recent phenomenon. Until the late 19th century, Iceland was a stagnant and poor agrarian society where landless people were strictly forbidden to strike out of their own. This system finally broke apart at the turn of the last century, and people could finally live where they pleased. Naturally, they gravitated towards the coast where you could make good money fishing. And then people could also marry whomever they wanted, and no farmer ruled over them. I think it was incredibly liberating for young women who had it pretty bad in the “old Iceland.”. How the country would have developed if not for this oppressive system of indentured servitude from the late middle ages onwards is the “what if” of Icelandic history.

From heyday to a crisis, to a fishing scandal in Namibia

One could argue that the heyday of the Westfjords was in the seventies and early eighties of the last century. The was a time when Icelanders were fishing with powerful trawlers without set quotas set by the government. People worked hard in the fishing industry and often made good money. However, the freewheeling fishing gave way to fishing quotas which saved Iceland’s fishing stocks from annihilation. The fishing towns of the Westfjords lost out when a new breed of savvy and ruthless new fishing barons from outside of the region bought up both fishing quota and the large trawlers. The Namibia fish-rot scandal is the latest escapade that some of these fishing barons are involved in.

Avalanches strike

An avalanche struck the town of Súðavík in January 1995, killing fourteen people. Twenty people died in October the same year in an avalanche that engulfed the village of Flateyri. But the people of Westfjords are resilient, and the region has recovered somewhat from those shocks. You will get a warm welcome.

Travel stories and articles about the Westfjords of Iceland

Celebrate the good life at Hvammsvík Hot Springs

One of Iceland’s most precious resources is its geothermal water. In many places, it either bubbles out of the ground or is accessible by drilling a hole. This is amazing for our country. We can heat most of our houses with hot water, greatly enriching…

Dating in Iceland: A unique blend of tradition and modernity

In a world where dating landscapes vary dramatically from one country to another, Iceland stands out with its distinctive approach to romance and relationships. Known for its breathtaking landscapes and liberal society, Iceland offers a unique experience for those navigating the dating scene. Unlike many…

Advice on how to have the best road trip in Iceland

My latest partner, KONVIN Car Rental, stands out with its new car offering, emphasis on cleanliness, and excellent service.  From compact hybrids to rugged camper vans, their vehicles ensure that every traveler finds the perfect match for the best road trip in Iceland. The Managing…

Whale Watching Akureyri brings you close to the giants of the sea

Few people can claim more experience in the Icelandic travel industry than Sara Sigmundsdóttir. As a teenager, she started working in the family business, the whale-watching company Elding. Fast-forward to today, Sara is running Elding’s sister company, Whale Watching Akureyri, and has a captain’s license. It…

Slow travel in the Westfjords – discover this incredible region

The Westfjords region is a stark, beautiful, untamed, serene region. This northwestern peninsula has dramatic fjords, steep mountains, and an unbeatable coastline. It offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life like no other place. Seals, Arctic foxes, birds, and whales are…

Dagný Björg of Hidden Iceland talks eco-friendly traveling in Iceland

Hidden Iceland is one of the highest-rated Icelandic companies on Trip Advisor. They have over 1.240 reviews, most of which are five stars. The company is also dedicated to and is a pioneer in eco-friendly traveling in Iceland. In short, they are a great example…

Go Whale Watching from Árskógssandur with a 15% discount

Experience whale watching with a high chance of spotting humpback whales from the charming village of Árskógssandur, just a 30-minute ride from Akureyri. This picturesque location is renowned for its stunning scenery and is home to Iceland’s first microbrewery and the famous Beer Baths. Sign…

Exploring Thorsmork in winter is something else

It is safe to say that Thorsmork, the forest of Thor, has a special place in the hearts of all Icelanders. Travelers mostly experience it in the summertime, but exploring Thorsmork in winter is something else. I have often visited Thorsmork in the summer, but…

Explore Snæfellsnes peninsula which is Iceland in miniature

The Snæfellsnes Peninsula, located on Iceland’s western coast, extends 55 miles into the Atlantic Ocean, offering a breathtaking array of natural landscapes. Known as “Iceland in miniature,” it encapsulates the essence of Icelandic scenery and culture, featuring a glacier-capped volcano, diverse lava fields, striking basalt…

The wonders of the Icelandic highlands are yours to experience with Midgard

My latest partners are Midgard Adventure and Midgard Base Camp. They operate in the village of Hvolsvollur on the south coast of Iceland. At the helm of this family-run tour company is Hildur Kristjánsdottir. Her passion for the wonders of the Icelandic highlands and sustainable…