Strandir in the Westfjords is a perfect road trip for a two-day scenic drive

  • Strandir drive in the Westfjords in Iceland
May 11 2016

Strandir is the Icelandic name for the east coastline of the large Westfjord Peninsula. The name is the plural of the term coast and translates to The Coasts.  For centuries the area was one of the most isolated parts of Iceland. It was a hard part to live in, limited land to cultivate, and tough to travel; this was true even in the 20 century. Oddly and due to rich fishing grounds, Strandir had its share of ventures in the late 19th century and also in the 20th century, even though communication was extremely challenging.


Strandir drive in the Westfjords in Iceland

Driving strandir road trip is a great scenic drive

In recent decades the road to the northernmost part of Strandir has improved and driving all the way to Norðurfjörður fjord is relatively easy, in summer. It is not a drive anyone should even think about during winter as the road is most likely closed for moths.  But during summer it is highly recommended although it is not a simple drive and requires caution and careful driving as the road is narrow and is sometimes at a slope of a steep hill.  In contrast to many interesting Road Trips and drives in Iceland where you can drive a kind of circle, Strandir is a road that you need to drive the same way back after reaching the northernmost part of the road, the fjord Norðurfjörður.

Djúpavík hamlet is an intesting stop

Djúpavík hamlet is a one of a kind hamlet

What you will see on the Strandir drive

Like the Westfjords Drive, the Strandir Drive is more of a scenic drive rather than a trip to see natural wonders.  It is a drive into what is still a remote and peaceful part of Iceland on a road that has magnificent landscape and some stunning viewpoints at the top of a mountain pass. You will see tiny hamlets and villages and beautiful and impressive fjords. It is a part of Iceland that is still hard to live in, and communication in winter is still difficult. But it is different in many ways.

Norðurfjörður has many hiking trails and many peaceful places to taka walk

The coas in the Fjord Norðurfjörður is an ideal place tor a peacful walk

The road, the best car for the drive and time of year to take the Strandir road trip

The whole drive from Hólmavík village to Norðurfjörður fjord is approximately 240 kilometers.  Here we account for the approximately 35 kilometers added to take the Drangsnes loop which is an interesting part of the trip and you only drive on your way to Norðfjörður fjord.  The road is more or less a gravel road and a large part is narrow and at some points requires caution as it is difficult to meet cars from the opposite direction. If you decide to take the Strandir drive it is a good rule to check the weather as this is a part of Iceland that has considerable precipitation and fog. Often preventing good and necessary visibility while driving to Norðurfjörður. We highly recommend a mid-size car or a 4WD car for this road.  It is possible to drive this road during summer in a small car, but not the most convenient way to travel.

Strandir is a great place to find peaceful places and sanctuaries

A back and forth drive in a day or preferably two days

We recommend that you drive north from Hólmavík and start on Road Nr. 61 turning to Road Nr. 643 after a few kilometers drive from Hólmavík village.   Although that road leads all the way to Norðurfjörður, we recommend the loop, driving by the north shore of Steingrímsfjörður fjord and stop at Drangsnes, Road Nr. 645.  In Steingrímsfjörður fjord it is not uncommon to see whales in the fjord. If you need to stop, you should find a good spot where you can park the car. Do not stop the car on the road or the shoulder of the road at any time. It has proven to be very dangerous. Drangsnes is a tiny village where you are invited to dive into a natural pool just by the roadside when driving through the village. The jacuzzi pots are heated with natural geothermal water and located on the shore by the main road and locker rooms and showers on the other side of the road. After Drangsnes you continue on Road Nr. 645 until it joins Road Nr. 643 again after about 25-kilometer drive and head to Norðurfjörður.

Although isolated Strandir got its share of big dreamers and entrepreneurs

Although isolated Strandir got its share of big dreamers and entrepreneurs 

When you take the turn to Road Nr. 643 you have reached another fjord, Bjarnarfjörur fjord and here is a perfect second stop by the small creek Brúará. This is a wonderful place to take a quiet and peaceful stop by the beautiful small riff housing the creek.   It is a perfect place to stretch your legs and walk a short hike up the slope by the creek. 

From Bjarnafjörður you drive to Reykkjafjörður and Djúpavík hamlet. Interestingly on your way, you will see by the shore quite a few places filled with driftwood. Driftwood that has drifted from Russia and has throughout the centuries been entirely a benefit for the owners and farmers.  Djúpavík is a great place to stop and see the factory and learn about the strange history of this area.  And on your way to Norðurfjörðru, you should stop at another tiny hamlet nearby,  Gjögur.  From Gjögur to Trékyllisvík and Norðurfjörður is a short distance.  When you arrive at Norðurfjörður, you should take the time to relax in the fantastic small geothermal pool Krossneslaug.  If you have a good 4X4 vehicle a tour to the next fjord, Ingólfsfjörður is also a good option for a great view and another factory of broken dreams.

Krossneslaug is the ultimate place for peace and relaxation

Krossneslaug is the ultimate place for peace and relaxation

As we pointed out at the beginning of the article when you leave Norðurfjörður, you need to drive the same road back. If you have not looked at the rest of the Westfjords you should also consider the Westfjords drive and road trip

Read this important article before you choose a car.