West Fjords

In the whole Westfjord region you will find around 12 villages.  To visit all of them you need to drive a kind of circle, the Westfjord drive. If you also want to visit the tiny village Djúpavík at Strandir you need to take the Strandir road trip.  Since most of the West Fjords is a large plateau, in an uninhabitable altitude, all of the towns and villages are located on the shore.  The location of the towns and villages is also, because of the enormously fertile fishing grounds in the fjords, out by the shore. All of the towns and villages have convenient accommodation, a camping site, a gas station, a convenience store, a restaurant or a café, a swimming pool and some form of recreational activity, museums, and tours.  In the Westfjords, you will also find some of the most spectacular landscape in Iceland.  High and steep mountains that tower above you when driving the circle on the shoreline. 

  • Bíldudalur is a small village in the West Fjords in Iceland
    Amazingly, in the second half of the 18th century, this tiny village was the home and center of operation for Iceland’s most prominent entrepreneur, Ólafur Thorlacius. Soon after the notorious Danish–Icelandic Trade Monopoly was abolished; Ólafur purchased all its assets and expanded his operation beyond anything comparable in Iceland at that time. Ólafur exported fish to Spain in his vessels from Bíldudalur and owned decked vessels when most people only had rowing boats. Quite interestingly, Ólafur found opportunities in a remote place that most people connected with hardship and difficulties, to build one of the largest operations of its time, and accumulate wealth.  In his lifetime, he...
  • Bolungarvík is a small town in the West Fjords in Iceland
    The mention of Bolungarvík in the Icelandic Book of Settlement is both interesting and unusual.  It was a woman, Þuríður sundafyllir, not a man or a famous Viking, that settled in Bolungarvík around one thousand years ago.  From that time up to the second half of the nineteenth century, most of the inhabitants lived on farms in the two valleys so beautifully placed in between the three mountains that are characteristic for Bolungarvík.  Bolungarvík is one of the older fishing stations in Iceland Fishing has always been important because of the short distance to rich fishing grounds.  For centuries, Bolungarvík was one of the largest fishing station in Iceland, with houses scattered...
  • Djúpavík is a tiny deserted village in the West Fjords in Iceland
    Djúpavík used to be one of the busiest villages in Iceland,  but only for a very short period. Located at the Reykjarjförður on the east coast of the Westfjords, it was never an ideal site for a village or a town, but it was worth the try.  The story goes back to 1917 when an entrepreneur named Elís Stefánsson decided to build a herring factory in Djúpavík. The timing was, of course, all wrong with the Great War raging in Europe, followed by economic depression. The whole enterprise went bust in 1919. Though Elias's creditors tried to take over the business, it really was one dead duck and abandoned during the 1920s. Big things in a small setup This failure didn't prevent the resettlement...
  • Flateyri is a small village in the West Fjords in Iceland
    Contrary to most small villages on the coastline in Iceland, Flateyri started as a trading post, not as a fishing farm.  At the end of the 18th century, the store at the nearby village of Þingeyri started an annex in Önundarfjörður. The store post soon developed into fishing and fish processing parallel to the commercial activity.  On the second half of the 19th-century shark catching was lucrative and entrepreneurs at Flateyri participated in that venture.  Later a Norwegian investor settled in the small village and started a relatively large whaling operation.   So there were more ventures than just pure cod catching to sustain the next meal in the 19th century.  Even new enterprises from...
  • Hólmavík is a small village in the West Fjords in Iceland
    Hólmavík is a small village located in Steingrímsfjörður on the east coastline of the West Fjords. For those who are interested in traveling the Strandir, which is a common name for the east coast of the West Fjords, it is quite convenient to start the trip at Hólmavík and begin the trip to places like Norðurfjörður or Ingólfsfjörður early in the morning.  The road on Strandir is one of few that you must travel back and forth, but not a ring road, as the main Ring Road and the circle you can travel around the West Fjords. An old village that developed late Hólmavík is not an old village. The first settlement was in the late 19th century and developed around a small trading post. In the...
  • Ísafjörður is the largest and a center town in the West Fjords in Iceland
    Ísafjörður is the center town of the West Fjords in Iceland. It is also the largest town in the Westfjords, with a 2016 population of 3.623 people. Like many of the towns and villages around the coastline in Iceland, Ísafjörður was mentioned in the Book of Settlement; that, of course, is huge in Iceland. However, from the time of early settlement until the 16th century, there wasn’t much activity in the area, at least not in any historical sense. It wasn't until the second half of the 16th century when merchants started trading that Ísafjörður became the largest trading post in the Westfjords. Ísafjörður is a significant part of Iceland's history The town maintained this status during and...
  • Patreksfjörður is a small village in the West Fjords in Iceland
    Patreksfjörður is a place mentioned in The Book of Settlements.  It is an ancient place and has been around since the 9th century but didn't grow into a village until the late 18th century and the beginning of the 20th century.  Because of the fishing grounds nearby, the fishing farms developed into a trading point when foreign and local entrepreneurs became interested in the fish and the fish products. It is common in small towns and villages around Iceland to trace their beginning and existence to rich fishing grounds right by the shore.  Other factors that mattered in their growth are the development of boats and vessels throughout history and also laws and regulations that define "who...
  • Reykhólar is a tiny village in the West Fjords in Iceland
    Although almost hidden and rarely mentioned anywhere today, Reykhólar has quite a unique place in Iceland’s history.  For centuries, the farm Reykhólar was considered one of the most valuable estates in the country. Not only because it was an excellent farmland, but also because it owned hundreds of islands in the large fjord, Breiðafjörður, islands that added huge value to the farm.  Accordingly many chiefs and wealthy families lived at Reykhólar and owned the farm throughout Iceland’s history, some of them even with a bigger ego than the estate itself.  The small village is placed in a wonderful surroundings with spectacular landscape. A tiny community struggling to provide basic...
  • Súðavík is a small village in the West Fjords in Iceland
    Unlike most towns and villages around the coast in Iceland, Súðavík was always more of an agricultural area.  Throughout the centuries until the late 19th century the area consisted mostly of farms and in the middle of that century it had 21 farms, and small estates and no cluster of houses were visible.  But then again, land for agriculture is limited in the West Fjords, and fishing grounds were rich in many other places where fishing towns developed.  But the village Súðavík, like many other towns and villages around the shoreline in Iceland, started to form a village when Norwegian entrepreneurs started a whaling venture and built a whaling station around 1890. The tragedy of the 1995...
  • Suðureyrir is a small village in the West Fjords in Iceland
    The tiny village of Súgandarfjörður is located in a narrow fjord surrounded by steep mountains.  Suðureyri is a relatively new village as it didn’t exist as a village at the beginning of the 20th century, and is thus new in historical terms.   Before that time, the inhabitable area in Súgandafjörður consisted of a few agricultural farms with access to good fishing grounds, scattered throughout the lowland of the fjord. The fjord has limited reference to the Sagas from the early settlement. Up until the last decade of the 19th century, the fjord was almost isolated during the wintertime and the only access by sea or walking trails to neighboring farms and villages. In the first decades of...
  • Tálknafjörður is a small village in the West Fjords in Iceland
    Tálknafjörður is a relatively new village in historical terms.  There is limited history before the town started to grow in the 20th century.  It is a typical tiny village that came to exist and developed because of easily accessible fishing grounds right outside the coast and good natural conditions for a harbor.  In the late forties, a harbor was built and paved the way for a fish processing plant that was constructed in the fifties. So from early on everything evolved around fish and fishing.  Most of the residents worked in the fishing industry and had their livelihood from service related to that industry. Tálknafjörður is still a separate municipal Today most of the residents still...
  • Þingeyri is a small village in the West Fjords in Iceland
    Þingeyri is a small village, located on the southern side of the fjord Dýrafjörður or Animal Fjord. It is one of the few small towns or villages in The West Fjords that doesn’t have a high, almost threatening mountain right above the village. On the contrary, the area around the village is wide, compared to many other communities. Although the village was an old trading place for the trading companies that had permission from the Danish–Icelandic Trade Monopoly, it didn’t start to develop as a community until the late nineteenth century. One of the oldest buildings in Iceland is at Þingeyri, an old warehouse built in 1734.  But it wasn’t until a few farmers purchased a docked vessel in the...