Oops I did it again: An unnecessarily epic road trip around the Westfjords

A while ago, years ago actually, the boyfriend and I did a very quick whirlwind trip to the Westfjords that in hindsight was maybe just a little bit too rushed. We were not trying to break any records, we just kept driving to see what we would happen upon next and before we knew it we had driven all over the Westfjords and the Snæfellsnes peninsula in four very short days.

Westfjords 1 Westfjords 4 Westfjords 16 Westfjords 5

On Sunday we went out for some dinner and beers and halfway through beer number two I somehow had convinced the boyfriend that going camping the next morning was a really good idea. Before we had time to think about it  I had even called Ásta to see if we could switch some days around to give us more days on the road. I checked the weather forecast and the best weather was supposed to be on the southern part of the Westfjords. “Right!, I thought to myself, “Patreksfjörður it is!

Without really discussing it further the boyfriend, the princess and I drove out of Reykjavík the next morning with the car full of camping equipment and marshmallows to make smores. For the princess. Of course. I even found out later on the trip that I had forgotten to pack extra clothing for myself (I remembered extra underwear and socks though – phew) so I was stuck wearing the same dress the whole three days we were on the road. So next time someone asks me what they need to pack for their road trip around the Westfjords my answer will be: One yellow summer dress and a lopapeysa.

Westfjords 13

Westfjords 11 Westfjords 8

Our original plan had been to stay in Patreksfjörður and then drive out to Látrabjarg and even Dynjandi waterfall. Somehow that changed somewhere between Brjánslækur and Patreksfjörður when we decided to drive out to Rauðasandur and Látrabjarg on that day, even though we had been in the car for five or six hours at that point, The boyfriend figured since we were there already we should move over to Ísafjörður the next day and drive on the paved roads back to Reykjavík. What he forgot to take into consideration with this plan of his (even though I gently tried to remind him) was the fact that the biggest part of the roads between Bíldudalur and Ísafjörður are all but paved. With the additional drive to Selárdalur we basically spent the whole second day in the car. Our last day we spent driving from Ísafjörður to Reykjavík which again took us more or less the whole day.

Westfjords 7 Westfjords 6

Below you can see a map of the route we drove. All 1200 kilometers which is just insane. The princess was contemplating emancipation at one point during the trip just to escape the car for a few minutes.

A few things I’d like to share about this rather epic Westfjord road trip

  • Three days is NOT enough time for this road trip. As you can see it is doable if you just want to drive to see as much as possible but I cannot recommend this and I will not be doing this again this way. That’s what I said after the last time too though so I should probably listen more to my own advice.
  • Camping is a really great way to travel around Iceland IF you can handle the cold. I can’t handle it very well but I was OK on this trip because the weather was pretty mild. I slept in my Cintamani Merino Wool set, in woolen socks and with a Buff on my head. I also took my down duvet from home which I paired with my sleeping bag. The boyfriend and the princess did not even wear socks. They are more hardcore than I am. Maybe I should be called the princess.
  • The campsite in Patreksfjörður was kind of terrible (really difficult to get the pegs down and such) but the facilities there were really good. Probably better for campers than tents. It’s also quite small. In Ísafjörður there are three campsites and while the one in Tungudalur was really busy the one next to Hótel Edda, where we stayed, was really calm and nice.
  • The swimming pool in Patreksfjörður is really nice and it was possible to catch the morning sun there quite early.
  • The roads in the Westfjords are pretty bad. A big part of it is unpaved and then there’s quite a lot of mountain passes that you have to  go through that are quite intimidating if you are not used to that sort of thing. They are not so terrible that it should stop you from going but it’s good to keep this in mind as you will be driving much slower than you probably anticipated, adding to the already long days.
  • It’s probably better to drive a jeep or a car that is a little bit higher on some of the roads.
  • I heard from someone that lives close to Látrabjarg at some point that the best time to visit the cliff is in the evening. You will see more birds at that time.
  • The drive to Samúel Jónson’s art museum in Selárdalur is in many ways more interesting than the museum itself. The drive is only 25 kilometers but it took us a full hour to drive there and back. I’m happy we went there because it’s one of those places I’ve always wanted to visit but don’t expect something super grand. The drive was amazingly beautiful.
  • There’s a lot of wildlife in the Westfjords. Látrabjarg is known for it’s diverse bird life. We also saw a cute little arctic fox pup at the Arctic Fox Center and as we were driving back to Reykjavík we both saw seals and whales just hanging out by the road.
  • The Westfjords are GORGEOUS. Full stop.

I really hope that I will at some point find time to really enjoy the Westfjords like they were intended to be experienced. There’s a lot of natural pools, museums, hikes and different things worth checking out that we simply didn’t have time for. What a pity. Next time.

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13 thoughts on “Oops I did it again: An unnecessarily epic road trip around the Westfjords”

  1. Carol Sanders-Reed says:

    It is good to hear what not to do. I have about 3 days for the westfjords, so will need to pick and choose only some parts. Where is the map? Great photos — I love the one with the feet!
    Thanks for all your posts on Iceland!

    1. mm Auður says:

      The map is right there in the post – it’s an embedded Google Maps map, maybe you need to change browsers if you don’t see it?

  2. lisa rhein says:

    Takk fyrir for the lovely photos and report! Last time I was in Iceland, I had one overnight, barely 24 hours. NEXT time, I hope I can arrange a tour with you or your company (by then, it may have expanded some more :-)). In the meantime I will resume learning Icelandic. So I look forward to more of your posts for photos, stories, advice, and language tips.

  3. Tim McCool says:

    Hey! Finding your blog super useful to help plan an upcoming trip to Iceland. We are going to be traveling in mid-September and read that the Samuel Jonsson Museum is only “open” during the summer. But aren’t the sculptures out in the open air? Would it be a problem to visit during Sept? Thanks!

    1. mm Auður says:

      There’s no one there so I don’t understand why it would be closed. The road out there is pretty terrible though so maybe that’s why they say it’s only open in summer. I can’t imagine this road being serviced in winter and even in great conditions like we had (sun and lovely weather) the drive was kind of rough.

  4. Sassenach (Belgium) says:

    What a lot of nice pictures! The Westfjords are gorgeous! I just don’t understand how you did it in only a few days! It took me 2 days already to drive from Budadalur to Isafjordur…
    May I recommend a very nice coffeeshop in Thingeyri? I visited them, these people are from Belgium and Danmark. You will find a warm welcome and you can eat a snack, or tastefull Belgian waffles 😉 with home made rubarber jam, you can rent a mountainbike and do trips in the mountains, (guided or not), …
    I made a wonderful trip on horseback during 3 hours, in that GREAT landscape, oh man, I ‘ll never forget.
    Well if I’m allowed? this coffeeshop’s name is Simbahöllin café in Thingeyri.
    Wouter and Jenna, greetings from “the schoolteacher” 😉
    (Delete my post if needed, but I just want to add some advice when people visit the Westfjords)

    Oh yessss. .. it’s a very long long road… and passes 😉 I did in bad weather conditions, in the evening…(no 4×4) but afterwards… it was MAGIC! Don’t let it stop you!

  5. Sassenach (Belgium) says:

    And in Flateyri is a FREE campsite (cold water sinks, but no showers, no electricity) behind the fuel station, but for 1 noght it was okay, and very quite. There’s also the avalanche-memorial to visit: information, the big avalanche “walls” and tunnel, the monuments, … You feel sooo small in nature, when you read and see this.

    1. Sassenach (Belgium) says:

      “night” and “quiet” (of course)

  6. Yang says:

    hi, really glad to find your blog. I like your objective information. I plan to visit in iceland in Jan/Feb 2017 for 12 full days self drive with 4×4. Would you recommend the whole ring road tour (are north and east as interesting as the south west?) or only the lower half of it (to enjoy it more at easy pace. If the whether is bad, we can only stay in this region I suppose). If the whether condition permits, would you recommend to add west fjord to the route?

    1. mm Auður says:

      You can do the whole ring road in 12 days but I would not recommend you add the westfjords.

  7. Crystal Latimer says:

    Hi Audur, I greatly enjoy your website. I visited Iceland in Jan, 2016 for a quick escorted trip and loved it. I am planning on returning next year to drive the entire ring road with a friend on our own (including the westfjords) staying at B & Bs. We are thinking about ten days to do it right. Do you think May would be a good time? We want to miss the summer tourists but we would still have the advantage of very long days. Or would you recommend we wait until June? Also, could we get away with using just an economy sized rental?
    Thanks for your help/advice.

    1. mm Auður says:

      It depends completely on the year whether May is good or not for a ring trip. It’s the sunniest month of the year but it can also snow and rain and sometimes everything looks very yellow still at the end of it. This year, they think, things will get greener sooner.

      10 days is a little short for the whole ring road and the Westfjords. It’s going to be hectic! A 2WD is going to be fine most likely but for a long trip like that I always recommend you don’t book the smallest size (also depends on your size and amount of luggage and such).

      1. Crystal Latimer says:

        Since we have already visited Reykjavik and Akureyri, I think we can make it in 10 days. A few of the days will be grueling, but it will be worth it to see so much of your beautiful county. We have our flights and overnight stays booked (three horse farms and a sheep farm among them along with a couple of hostels), and I am now working on booking our car. I agree we shouldn’t get the smallest car as we will be spending a fair amount of time in it. I would like to use Budget through your website, but I can’t seem to get the search engine to work when putting any dates in after New Year’s (we are traveling late May into June). I have emailed Budget directly without much success. Is it safe to wait until later this year to book a car? I would hate to miss out on the size of car of our preference or have to pay a higher rate for booking closer to our travel dates. Suggestions?

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