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.
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.
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.
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.