A Fjord Further: Exploring Iceland’s West Coast

With temperatures dropping, you may already be thinking of cooler climes for your winter travels. Blessed with stunning landscapes, incredible natural fortitude, and sights that must be seen to be believed, Iceland is surely the coolest of the cool. And while everyone else is harping on about its capital, Reykjavik, you might well want to turn your attentions a little further off the beaten path to a region that is just waiting to be uncovered.

Head west into the wilderness and you’ll soon hit Iceland’s fjord country, a place in which solitude and nature play in perfect harmony. With nothing but you, the horizon line, and sweeping vistas of land and sea, Iceland’s Westfjords are practically made for a road trip, whether you’re traveling solo or with your best and beloved. 

To discover the very best of the western stretches, start your Icelandic tour off in Skálavík, the northwest village that boasts a total population of zero residents ­— permanent residents, that is. Don’t let the solitude put you off, however; the place is filled with a smattering of holiday homes and a decent set of nature trails. Located well off the beaten path, this village will truly give you the lay of the western land, helping you readjust to all of that quiet. Drink it in.

After you’ve got your fill of the place, try heading south to experience a different landscape altogether. Traveling by car is the only way to go in this vast space, so make sure you pick your wheels with care. Warm inside your vehicle, you can gaze at the rugged terrain that surrounds the road from Skálavík down to Dynjandi. Isolated and vast, the land is unlike anything you might have seen before, showing you the raw power of Icelandic nature. The ninety-minute drive will take you directly to Dynjandi’s waterfall, Fjallfoss, a sight that deserves to be seen up close. The largest waterfall in the region, Fjallfoss boasts one of the most spectacular views once you get to the top, no matter which way you’re facing.

Of course, there is a great deal to be done outside of your car, and despite the relative lack of tourist hubs, the Westfjords boast plenty of outdoors activities. While things like kayaking, cycling, and hiking might be well worth a shot, the area’s thermal baths are simply a must visit. Places like Hellulaug, Pollurinn, and Reykjafjarðarlaug come with their own ocean views, giving you plenty of space in which to sit back, relax, and admire the surroundings. Who needs the Blue Lagoon? 

The sheer wildness of the landscape, however, means that even the best laid plans can go awry. When planning a road trip in the Westfjords, prepare for the unprepared; the weather can change with the flip of a switch, putting that well-planned expedition thoroughly to bed.

In this part of the world, mother nature reigns supreme, and she might simply put you in your place. It’s not a bad thing. Seeing the world in this way is a truly eye opening experience, and while your trip might come with a few surprises, it’s guaranteed to be unforgettable.

Hannah Lamarque
Hannah is a freelance writer and copy editor living in Europe. She writes about travel, art, design and culture and loves discovering hidden places in the cities that she visits.