After being in Iceland for about a week already now, it was time for the last leg of our trip starting from the Westfjords to west Iceland and finally, the inescapable, Blue Lagoon. They say you should have plenty of time to be able to fully enjoy the Westfjords. We had only two days for the region. We had heard so much about the least populated, least visited by travelers, remote and rugged, adventurous terrain that we couldn’t afford to miss it. So we decided to do only two parts- Strandir coast on the east and Latrabjarg cliffs on the west.
Weaving along the eastern coast of westfjords, Strandir coast is probably one of the remotest areas (remote because of lack of infrastructure, extreme weather conditions and limited accessibility) we have ever been to. With a population of only about 800, the natural beauty in the area is sublime. We started our journey early in the morning to reach Hólmavik as soon as possible; it was a two hour ride from our place of stay. The drive north of Hólmavik was what we were looking forward to so after a quick stop at the Hólmavik tourist information centre and fueling up our car (important since there are very few gas stations), we set off for the adventure!
We were amazed by the spectacular scenery. Even though the road was rough and rugged, the isolated, untouched, landscape was just breathtaking. Now that we think about it, the potholed road just added to our experience ;) With rolling hills on one side and sea waves hitting the shore on the other, birds perching in the middle of the road and flapping their wings as you drive, the meandering road simply ends at the edge of a vast wilderness. Midway through, we took a lunch break in the small town of Djúpavík, where we stumbled upon this wreck of an old ship. The contrast of this rusty old ship standing tall against the background of snow capped mountain catches the attention of every passer-by. Post lunch we continued our drive till Norðurfjörður, a tiny fishing village and then further to Krossneslaug, a geothermal pool at the end of this drive. What else could we ask for! This is probably the most rewarding drives we have done but also the most difficult. The unpaved road was extremely difficult to maneuver our car on plus the weather was harsh; when we went it was awfully windy and rainy. But honestly, the entire route dotted with rugged fjords, roaring waterfalls, small icelandic huts and the moss covered coast peppered with driftwood, makes up for it.
Látrabjarg cliffs and Rauðasandur
Next day, we were up and ready to see some puffins! Plan for the day was to explore Látrabjarg cliffs and see Rauðasandur, a stunning red sand beach, on the way back. As we approached the parking lot near Látrabjarg, we could see a modest lighthouse marking the westernmost point in Iceland. We walked up a slope to the wonder world of Látrabjarg cliffs. We hiked along the perimeter for quite some distance before finding a perfect spot to sit and gaze endlessly at the unique puffins. The vertical face of these cliffs are home to unbelievable number of birds including puffins. The jagged edges of the cliff remind you that you are standing at the edge of the world. The feeling in itself is very overwhelming. There is a lot to see, explore and do in the Westfjords. Although we wished we could stay longer, we decided to come back in another trip!
After a mind-blowing adventure in Westfords, we drove south, towards western part of Iceland. We stayed at a charming little cottage at Dalahyttur lodge. Our lovely host, Guðrun recommended Erpsstaðir dairy farm. If you’re thinking you will skip this, you will miss out on lip-smacking home-made ice cream :P We ventured into Snaefellsnes peninsula which turned out to be a pleasant surprise before ending our trip. Known for its local sagas, the region has a lot to offer- from harbor towns to gorgeous lighthouses to moss covered lava fields. Most of the attractions in the peninsula is connected by route 54, which is further looped by route 574. We started our journey along this route with Stykisshólmur.
After being in remote areas for days, Stykkishólmur seemed like a city bustling with people and full of life! The colorful boats in the harbor and a green cliff topped with a perfect red lighthouse is a delightful surprise if you’ve been on the road for 10 days.
It is easy to see why this is the photographed mountain in Iceland. With a stunning waterfall in foreground, its even more impressive.
A dose of architecture in the middle of nature, this church in the small town of Ólafsvík is made entirely of triangular pieces.
Snæfellsjökull National Park
The Snæfellsjökull national park has a unique, moss-covered, rocky landscape. They say it takes decades or centuries for the moss to cover the soil and our footprints can be seen for many years if we are not careful where you step. There are about 600 types of moss in Iceland. How cool is that!
Snæfellsjökull glacier lies within the national park and the glacier-cap can be seen from all the vantage points. We drove in the barren landscape to see Svörtuloft lighthouse. The road is extremely rocky but the orange lighthouse and surrounding view makes up for it.
Up next, we stopped at the volcanic crater, Saxholl. The climb up was not as difficult as some of the others, thanks to the metal staircase. This was one of the places which wasn’t on our list but we just took the right turn to get to it.
Driving along route 574, we spotted another lighthouse near Londrangar cliffs. While walking towards the lighthouse, we saw a small zip line that many people were having fun with. The walk along the water is really nice and the view to the cliffs is beautiful. After walking along the cliff for sometime and while we clicking some pictures of the lighthouse, we saw the owner accessing the lighthouse. He asked us if we we would like to go up to the top of lighthouse. We joined him to climb all the way up and saw some amazing views.
The last stop for the day was the small fishing village, Hellnar. While exploring the village, we came upon this quaint little church sitting atop a hill and overlooking the ocean. The setting of the church with the peaceful surrounding is just perfect. If you’re fascinated by old churches, then the Hellnar church is a must-see.
It was time to call it a day and drive towards Reykjavik. Our trip was coming to an end. Driving along route 1, we reached Reykjavik late in the evening. Agenda for the next day was to catch a flight back home. We had just one more thing planned before we did that-the Blue Lagoon! The airport is just a 30 minute drive from the geothermal spa. After all the tedious hikes, going through horrible smell at the geysers and the stormy, windy weather, it was a foolproof idea to relax and pamper ourselves at this gem of a place before heading home. The warm blue water was so relaxing and beautiful at the same time. Keep some time to walk around the area and explore more of the gorgeous surroundings.
We hope we have given you enough inspiration for visiting the Westfjords and Snaefellsnes peninsula. These beautiful places have stayed with us till date and we long to go back there some day again. Would you go to the Westfjords and Snaefellsnes peninsula? Have you been there already? How was your experience? Let us know in the comments!