West Iceland and Westfjords Self-Drive Itinerary

West Iceland and Westfjords Self-Drive Itinerary

If you’re wondering what there is to see and do in West Iceland and the Westfjords, you’ve come to the right place. This sample itinerary for campervans is the perfect way to take in the sights of these two regions without the hassle of planning. It’s also an ideal starting point for those who want to create their own itinerary but aren’t sure of where to start.

See map at the end of this itinerary

Day 1: Reykjavík to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Start off your trip by of course picking up your campervan from Go Campers – you’re going to need it. Stock up on the essential groceries and drive north out of the city. On the way to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, you’ll drive underneath Hvalfjörður in a tunnel and across another fjord via a bridge before arriving at Borganes. History buffs should make their way to the Settlement Centre here, the single most informative exhibit on the Icelandic Sagas in the country. They also do a great buffet lunch at their restaurant upstairs.

From Borganes, you’ll be leaving the ring road and instead taking route 54 towards the peninsula. Your first stop should be the Landbrotalaug Hot Spring, barely big enough for two people but still a great hot pot. Further along the road are the Gerðuberg Cliffs, hexagonal basalt columns jutting up along a hillside north of the road. Seals often laze about on the rocks at the Ytri Tunga Beach, about halfway along the peninsula.

For the first night on the peninsula, there are two options nearby. You can backtrack towards the Traðir Campsite (15 May–30 September), included on the camping card. This expansive paddock is by the sea in a beautiful location. There is a small house with a couple of toilets and a shower (which costs 400ISK extra), and outdoor sinks. The other option is to continue towards the Langaholt Guesthouse, who offer cheap camping in a paddock out the back of their house. There are no showers here, only toilets and a couple of sinks, but without the camping card, this is the cheaper option.

Want to spend a bit more time on the peninsula? Don’t miss our guide on the 15 best things to do on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula here!

Day 2: Snæfellsjökull National Park

Get an early start because it’s time to visit one of Iceland’s three national parks, the Snæfellsjökull National Park, and there are a few stops along the way. The first is the beautiful Búðakirkja, a small wooden church painted black. This dramatic spot is popular for photographers, and more recently visitors have made this the location of their weddings. Next up is the Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge, and an optional stop at the village of Arnarstapi, where there’s a beautiful coastal hike to Hellnar and back (1-hour round trip).

First stop in the National Park are the Londrangar Cliffs, giant sea stacks jutting up from the ocean off the coast. Further along, a detour takes you out to Djúpalónssandur black sand beach, where the remains of a ship scattered about the sand. From here you can also choose to hike over to another beach, Dritvík. This was the largest seasonal fishing station in Iceland from the 16th century until the mid-19th century. Now, it’s all but deserted save a few interested tourists. If you have the time, make a quick stop to climb to the top of Saxhóll Crater, but if not, continue towards Kirkjufell Mountain. This is by far one of the popular spots in all Iceland, but don’t let that put you off. Ever since Iceland’s discovery this cone-shaped mountain has attracted photographers, and even featured as a shooting location in the TV series Game of Thrones.

Read: Game of Thrones Shooting Locations in Iceland

For your second night camping, we recommend staying in Grundarfjörður. This small fishing town enjoys some of the best scenery in the entire country, with mountains on one side and a gorgeous harbour on the other. There are bathrooms and a few sinks, but you can shower next door at the swimming pool.

Day 3: Hot Pots and the Westfjords

Get your bathing suit ready, because it’s time to visit some Icelandic hot springs.  Along the route to the Westfjords you’ll pass some great naturally occurring hot springs and relaxing in the hot water is the perfect introduction to this region.

Along the way, a great little detour is into the cute fishing town of Stykkishólmur. Filled with colourful buildings from the 19th century, it’s a picturesque place. From here you can also take the ferry over to the Westfjords, skipping out on a large chunk of driving time.

The first hot pot is Guðrúnarlaug, about 1 hour and 40 minutes’ drive from Stykkishólmur. This is the heart of Viking territory in Iceland, and where the majority of the Laxdæla Saga took place. Afterwards, you’ll enter the Westfjords and start slowly driving up and down the big fjords along its southern edge. Before the small hotel at Fkalundur is another great hot pot, Hellulaug. Situated at the edge of the fjord, it’s a peaceful place to take a dip. If it’s crowded, 15 minutes’ around the corner is Birkimelur Swimming Pool, which features a man-made swimming pool and a more natural hot pot down by the water’s edge.

From here, you can either continue the 40 minutes to the campsite at Patreksfjörður, or double back and spend the night at Fkalundur.

Day 4: Látrabjarg – Iceland’s Westernmost Point

The drive out to Látrabjarg is a bumpy affair, but worth the effort. During the summer, this is a great spot in the country to watch puffins up close, and outside of those months, it’s an amazing and dramatic setting. This is Iceland’s westernmost point, the jagged cliffs falling a hundred metres down into a seething ocean below.

It’s also recommended to take the road over the mountain pass towards Rauðisandur Beach. This stretch of golden sand could be mistaken for the Spanish coast on a sunny day, and you’ll often see whales, dolphins and seals in the water. Afterwards, drive back into town and head over to the small town of Tálknafjörður. Past the town is where you’ll find the lovely hot pot Pollurinn, the perfect spot to watch the sun set for a few hours in the evening. For the campsite, head over the mountains towards the Bíldudalur Campsite.

Day 5: Dynjandi and Ísafjörður

Start off early to make the 1 hour and 15-minute drive to the epic waterfall of Dynjandi. This is the crowning jewel of the Westfjords, the broad sheet of water tumbling down over a set of cliffs that resemble a giant set of stairs. The trail from the car park up to the falls will lead you past several smaller cascades, all demanding attention. Once at the top, you can stand at the base of Dynjandi, getting soaked in the spray. The view over the entire fjord isn’t half bad either.

Next up, continue the bumpy drive into the next fjord into Thingeyri, and then up and over to Flateyri. In this little town is a gem of a store, the Flateyri Bookstore. Touted as the oldest store in Iceland, this wood-lined shop has been at this location since 1919. Now run by the great grandson of the store’s founder, it has turned into a great second-hand book shop that sells books by weight (1,000ISK per kg). The adjoining apartment where the owners used to live has been preserved, filled with photos, old antiques and charming furniture.

Over into the next fjord is where you will find Ísafjörður, the height of civilisation in the Westfjords. The capital of the region has a population of around 2,500 people, and has plenty of great restaurants, a handful of bars, and even a brewery to keep you entertained for the evening. The campsite is a bit removed from the town, but in a beautiful location. There’s a forest covering the slope of the nearby mountain, with a waterfall crashing down into a river that splits the site into two sides.

Day 6: Explorations into the Valleys

The northern end of the Westfjords is marked by long fjords, the road dipping in and out along the coastline. Visiting the Arctic Fox Centre in Súðavík is worthwhile, but other than that, there’s not a lot of big stops.

We recommend driving to the base of the fjords, parking your campervan and going for aimless hikes into the valleys. The trails always will reveal some surprises, be it a hidden waterfall or gorgeous view. If you’re after more hot pots, drive down to Heydalur Farm, a hotel that allows visitors to use their onsite hot spring. Around the bend is another gorgeous hot pot Hörgshlíðarlaug.

Finish off the Westfjords with the drive to Hólmavík, and your campsite for the evening. Showers at the sports centre next door.

Day 7: The Strandir Coast

Waking up in Hólmavík, it’s time to go for a drive up the Strandir Coast. This is one of the more remote areas of Iceland, with the road eventually ending before you come to the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. Those who venture up here come to hike into the uninhabited part of the Westfjords, or to visit the amazing hot pools along the way.

On the water’s edge at the small settlement of Drangsnes there are a few hot pots, providing amazing views out across to the peninsula. The road continues north, leading you past valleys filled with hundreds of summer wildflowers, long open valleys with tiny specks of farmhouses nestled against the hills, and great views of the glacier Drangajökull.  At the end of the road, you’ll find Krossneslaug Swimming Pool, a fantastic way to end this little road trip into what many people think is Iceland’s most ‘Arctic’ area.

Drive all the way back again, aiming for the campsite at Borðeyri, a lovely and small hamlet on the edge of the fjord.

Day 8: Into the Heart of Iceland

From Borðeyri, you’re going to drive straight to Deildartunguhver, the most powerful hot spring in Europe. There’s no swimming here, but it’s still impressive to see; 180 litres of water bubbles out every second, at a temperature of 97 degrees Celsius. Further along is Hraunfossar, a beautiful waterfall that tumbles out from beneath a lava field into a rushing river.

Further along is Húsafell, a lovely summer camping getaway for many Icelanders. We recommend staying here the night (the campsite is huge, well equipped and a lot of fun on weekends) and doing a few hiking trails in the area. The hotel on site has information about the best trails.

Day 9: Hvalfjörður and Glymur Waterfall

Spend the morning taking it easy as you drive closer to Reykjavík, taking a few back roads into Hvalfjörður. Here you can spend a good half day climbing towards the waterfall Glymur, one of the tallest falls in Iceland. The hike along the way is very scenic; you’ll cross a river on a log, clamber up and down steep hills, and trek along the edge of a deep gorge filled with green moss, grey slate rock and wheeling birds. The hike should be completed by trekking past the waterfall and wading through the river to the bank on the opposite side, before following the trail down the other side of the valley back towards the trailhead and your campervan.

Camping for the night could be in Reykjavík; but we also recommend staying at the Thorisstaðir Campsite back over the hill. It’s another popular location for locals to escape on a weekend and is a lovely spot to spend one last night in the countryside.

Day 10: Recharge in Reykjavík

No one should leave Iceland without spending a day or two in the colourful capital city. Relax and unwind in the coffee shops, treat yourself to a great meal and hunt down some happy hours at the bars. The Reykjavík Campsite is a lively place, and the perfect spot to end your campervan trip in Iceland.

 

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