Planning a self-drive trip to one of the remotest parts of Iceland? This 3 day Westfjords itinerary will help you decide what to see and where to stay. We’ve also included some tips for driving in Iceland, to help you on your journey.
Want to experience Iceland at its most raw and remote?
Then you need to plan a trip to the Westfjords.
This rugged peninsula in northwest Iceland is a 200km (124 miles) drive from Reykjavík – yet receives nowhere near as much foot traffic as other parts of the country.
People are deterred by its remoteness and the notorious gravel roads.
However – don’t let this put you off visiting this part of the country.
Unlike other parts of Iceland, you can drive around and not see another living soul for hours.
Eerie, sure. But also rather fantastic.
I’ve been to Iceland a bunch of times and it remains my of my fondest travel memories of Iceland and pretty much anywhere else in the world.
This 3 day Westfords itinerary will help you plan an epic road trip – one you’ll look back on with fond memories, for years to come.
Keep in mind that driving in this country is quite different to anywhere else in the world. Here is a guide for driving in Iceland, well worth reading before you take to the road.
Your 3 day Westfjords Iceland itinerary
Here is a loose itinerary you can play around with. You can mix up the days, do as much or as little as you like.
This is what you’ll find in this particular 3 day Westfjords itinerary:
- Day 1: Reykjavík to Patreksfjörður
- Day 2: Patreksfjörður to Ísafjörður
- Day 3: Ísafjörður to Reykjavík
The Westfjords: Some need-know information
- Ísafjörður, the region’s biggest town, translates to ‘ice fjord’ (both of which are in abundance in this part of the country)
- A third of Iceland’s coast line is in the Westfjords
- If you’re lucky, you can catch the Northern Lights all year round… we saw them in August
- During December and January, the mountains either side of the fjord in Ísafjörður prevent the sun from shining on the town for WEEKS. Bleak. Its reappearance is celebrated with sólarkaffi (sun coffee) and pancakes on 25 January.
Getting to the Westfjords: should you drive or fly?
While this itinerary is centred around a self-drive road trip to the Westfjords, it is possible to fly to Ísafjörður.
Icelandair service the route from Reykjavík to Ísafjörður. It’s around a 40 minute trip, generally from the capital’s domestic airport.
It’s certainly advisable to travel via this method in the winter months. Driving by car around Iceland in this season can be quite difficult.
However, a Westfjords road trip is beyond scenic and a lot of fun. If possible, I recommend forgoing a flight to take the drive up to this region of Iceland.
Three days is an adequate amount of time to immerse yourself in this part of the country. Although, if you wish to go for longer – by all means, do!
If you do fly to Ísafjörður, you are also limited by what you can see. There are a few tours you can take from the town or from Reykjavík, to experience some of what the Westfjords have to offer.
When is the best time to visit the Westfjords?
The best time to visit the Westfjords is during summer (mid-June to the beginning of August), particularly when the Midnight Sun covers this part of Iceland in almost constant daylight.
However, don’t discount a trip in late summer/early autumn. This is when I first went to this part of the country.
Visitors drop off in both autumn and spring, so it’s a good time to explore the region.
Plus, being this far north, it’s possible to see the Northern Lights at this time of the year. I did – they were faint, but there and absolutely breathtaking.
Should you visit the Westfjords in winter? The place does turn into a bit of a winter wonderland (with little daylight), but there’s skiing in Isafjördur. Your chances of seeing the Northern Lights also strongly increase.
However, I wouldn’t recommend self-driving around the region in winter, due to harsh conditions and road closures.
Where to hire a car
I hired a car with the company Sadcars.
I’ve heard mixed reviews of them since, but in all honesty, they were fine. The car we were given was an older model, but it was up to the task and to be honest, I felt a little less bad about driving it over gravel roads, than I would have in a newer model.
Alternatively, you can use Rentalcars.com to find a ride.
One consideration is to make sure you hire a car that is right for you. If you can’t drive manual, then ensure you get an automatic.
If you can drive manual like me, but you’re used to driving on the left, it’s probably best to get an auto. The shift to driving shift on the right may be too much for your brain to handle – especially on some questionable roads.
Make sure you keep an eye on petrol/gas levels. If you see a service station – fill up!
It won’t hurt to pack some snacks before you begin your Westfjords road trip. And bring plenty of water.
How long should you spend in the Westfjords of Iceland?
It depends on how much time you have to play with, of course.
3 days is enough time to drive around the Westfjords region and take in its top attractions. 5 days will allow you to fully immerse yourself in the region – you’ll be able to do some hiking to boot, if the weather is working in your favour.
Day One – Reykjavík to Patreksfjörður
Distance: 392 kilometres (233 miles).
All right, let’s get started on our 3 day Westfjords Iceland itinerary!
Your first day will see you drive from Reykjavík (assuming that’s where you’re coming from) to the town of Patreksfjörður.
This is the biggest town in the southern part of the Westfjords, with a population of around 660.
It’s close to some lovely natural sights and has a stunning outdoor swimming pool.
It’s around a six hour drive from Reykjavík to Patreksfjörður. Note that the roads follow the fjords, so they tend to be quite twisty.
If you’re not quite up to that kind of driving, you can opt to jump on a ferry instead.
To do this, you drive your car onto the ferry at Stykkisholmur and head on to Brjanslaekur. It’s around a 2.5 hour journey.
You then take the 62 for around 45 minutes to Patreksfjörður.
A fun and sustainable way to travel!
Things to see & do on the way
Let’s explore what you can pop into your Westfjords itinerary on this leg of the journey.
Visit the Snæfellsnes Peninsula
The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is located on the journey between Reykjavík to Patreksfjörður. If you have the time, you can make a stop here.
This long peninsula ends in a volcano, with a glacier on top of it. Fun fact, Jules Verne used the volcano as the entrance to the Earth’s core in his book ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’.
On this peninsula you’ll find Snaefellsjokull National Park. There’s plenty of amazing landscapes and points of interest to see here alone.
This Westfjords itinerary is not the place for a detailed guide to Snæfellsnes Peninsula, but it’s definitely worth considering, if you have the time.
Check out the Látrabjarg cliffs
Love birds? Get to these cliffs, stat.
This is an excellent place to see puffins in the summer months.
It’s easy to reach by car and you can walk along the cliff when you get there.
Obviously take care and do not go near the edge.
Visit Rauðasandur beach
Iceland is known for its black sand beaches, but now it’s time for something completely different – the red sand of Rauðasandur Beach (which is literally what it translates to).
It’s 10 kilometres long and offers up magnificent hues of sand, which change with the light and weather.
Plus, you can see the Snæfellsjökull glacier in Sæfellsnes Peninsula from here. So, if you don’t make it to the peninsula on your way to the Westfjords, you can at least wave at it from across the ocean.
This is a small waterfall located on Patreksfjörður’s fjord.
Take a dip in Patreksfjörður’s swimming pool
Nothing beats fjordside swimming!
This outdoor pool is open all year round.
You can also choose to stop at the Laugarnes swimming pool, just off the 62. Donations are accepted, which help maintain the pool.
Snap a photo at Gardar BA 64
You’ll find this in the nearby Skápadalur Valley.
It’s a steel ship (the oldest in Iceland) that’s run aground and sits on the shoreline. The perfect prop for photos.
Where to stay in Patreksfjörður
There isn’t heaps of accommodation in this town, but it’s not a bad place to base yourself for the night.
Day Two – Patreksfjörður to Ísafjörður
Distance: 147 kilometres (91 miles).
It’s not very far to the town of Bíldudalur from Patreksfjörður, so fortunately you can fit a lot in.
You’ll find Bíldudalur right by the fjord Arnarfjörður. Being somewhat protected by this, it’s known as the ‘good weather capital of the Westfjords’.
It’s around a 2.5 hour drive between Patreksfjörður and Ísafjörður. There’s plenty of places to stop and stretch your legs along the way.
Things to see & do on the way to Patreksfjörður
Here are some things you can pop into your Westfjords itinerary, that are in and around Bíldudalur.
Check out Melodies of the Past
Bíldudalur is known for its musical history.
Jón Kr. Ólafsson, former vocalist for the 1960s Icelandic band, Facon has put together an exhibition called ‘Melodies of the Past’, which includes all sorts of Icelandic music memorbilia – LPs, instruments, posters and more.
Fantastically, all this can be found in the basement of his home.
Visit the Icelandic Sea Monster Museum
Iceland has some fantastic museums in general and the Icelandic Sea Monster Museum is probably one of the best.
Legend tells that a number of sea monsters have been spotted around Arnarfjörður and this museum is dedicated to them.
These tales are brought to life in the museum. It’s a must-do when visiting Bíldudalur.
Take a tour of The Old Blacksmith Shop
This shop has been in Bíldudalur since 1895 and gives a depiction of how life was, when the town was a fishing village.
It’s open during specific hours in the summer months. You can also request a guided tour outside of opening hours.
Grab a burger at Vegamot
Need to fuel up?
This unassuming shop contained the best pork burger I have ever had in my life.
There is something about the burgers in Iceland in general. They’re top notch.
See Foss & the A-house
Fossfjörður is the westernmost of the Southern Fjords (Suðurfirðir), considered part of Arnarfjörður.
Here, you’ll find a waterfall called Foss (which means waterfall in Icelandic, funnily enough.
There’s also a very picturesque building known as the A-house – abandoned by the water, its beguiling shape makes it popular among travellers and photographers.
Drop into the Museum of Jon Sigurdsson
If history and museums are your thing, then head to Hrafnseyri to see one which celebrates the work of Jon Sigurdsson.
He was the leader of the 19th century Independence Movement, which helped Iceland gain its independence from the Danish Government.
The museum has an onsite cafe, perfect for refreshments.
Relax at Reykjafjardarlaug pool
What would a Westfjords road trip be without a dip in some hot springs?
You’ll see this large swimming pool from the main road. There’s also a more rustic, natural looking pool above it.
The water is kept warm year round.
Where to stay in Bíldudalur
Spending more than 3 days in the Westfjords? Then it’s worth staying the night in Bíldudalur.
Harbour Inn is a reasonably priced guesthouse in town.
If you’re camping during your self-drive road trip to the Westfjords, you can set up tent by the sea at Bíldudalur Camping Ground.
Alternatively, continue on to your next destination – Ísafjörður.
Book into Mánagisting Guesthouse, which is in town and close to everything.
I stayed in a small hostel in the mountains, Ísafjörður Hostel. It’s a middle-of-nowhere-type situation and eerily beautiful.
Things to see & do on the way to Ísafjörður
Once you’ve had your fill of Bíldudalur, you can continue on to Ísafjörður.
It’s a two hour drive between the two towns.
Marvel at Dynjandi waterfall
Dynjandi means ‘thunderous’ and when you get close to this gigantic waterfall, you’ll understand why.
The largest falls of its kind in the Westfjords cascades 100 metres down a rockface. It’s actually made up of seven individual waterfalls.
You can view it at the top, after hiking 200 metres up the cliffside.
Make a stop in Flateyri
This is a small but historic town, with a few unique museums, such as the Doll Museum, Nonsense Museum and a town museum, which is also a bookstore. Yay for books.
Day 3: Ísafjörður to Reykjavík
Distance: 454 kilometres (282 miles).
If you’ve planned a 3 day Westfjords itinerary, then this sadly is your last day in the region.
However, there’s still a few things to see around Ísafjörður and on the journey back to Reykjavík, if that’s where you’re heading.
Ísafjörður itself is the largest town in the region and the hub of the Westfords. It has a population of around 2600.
You enter Ísafjörður via a 5.4 kilometres long tunnel. There’s only room for a car at a time, but if you see oncoming traffic, you pull over the an alcove in the wall, until the road is clear.
Heading south, there’s more driving, along road 61 – it’s pretty twisty until you get to Hólmavík, then things ease down quite a bit.
Things to see & do on the way
Here’s a few points of interest, or places to stretch your legs.
Check out the Westfjords Heritage Museum
This museum is dedicated to the area’s maritime history.
It’s open daily from June to September and ‘on agreement’ in winter.
Marvel at Hornstrandir
If you’ve got the time, take a tour to or hike around this very remote tip of the Westfjords, which has been uninhabited since the 1950s.
There’s amazing bird cliffs around the bay of Hornvík. It’s also Arctic fox territory, so the chances of spotting one are pretty high.
Tours depart from Ísafjörður. Experienced hikers can take boats from Bolungarvík and Norðurfjörður. See my list of books about walking for more inspiration.
Gaze out at Naustahvilft or hike to the top
These are the flat-topped mountains which surrounded the fjord in Ísafjörður, known also by its nickname ‘the troll seat’.
As the story goes, a troll was hurrying home before the morning sun turned her to stone. She made good time, but was pretty wiped, she sat and rested her aching feet in the fjord – her backside flattening the mountain.
You can climb to the top – it’s short but challenging – and contemplate this story there, if you fancy.
Spend Easter in Ísafjörður
Every Easter, a music festival is held in Ísafjörður. It’s called Aldrei fór ég suður (I never went south), a bit of a dig at Reykjavík, but all in good fun – I hope!
It runs from Thursday to Sunday of the Easter week and coincides with the annual Skiweek.
Winter sports and music – sounds like fun to me!
Visit the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft in Hólmavík
You can stop in the town of Hólmavík to stretch your legs in this museum, on your way back south (or onwards east, if that’s where you’re heading).
It’s a super creepy museum, dedicated to the history of sorcery in Iceland.
One standout feature is a replica of necropants from the 17th century. Necropants are made from the flayed skin of a course, essentially from the nether regions, down. Yuck!
Concluding your 3 day Westfjords itinerary
As you can see, there’s plenty to do on a Westfjords road trip.
You really do need more than 3 days to do this remote region of Iceland service,, but if you’re short on time, you’ll definitely get to some of what’s on this list.
Even just the drive itself is delightful – around fjords and some of the most beautiful and unique landscapes in the world.
Enjoy your Westfjords road trip!
Have you been to the Westfjords of Iceland? If not, is it somewhere you’d like to go? If remote and rugged Nordic countries and territories are your jam, check out my guide to the Faroe Islands and these very cool things to do in Svalbard.