Endless Fjords

The fjord just outside of Ísafjörður Iceland Poppies

Driving through the Westfjords is amazing, but there is a lot of into the inside of the fjord, back out to the peninsula's end, back into the next fjord, and out to that peninsula's end. Repeat, and repeat. We liked it, and stopped along the way to watch for sea life like sea lions and whales. Several of the fjords on the way in were deep enough that whales occasionally show themselves. The route can be slow going as it is narrow and curvy, so if you do this route, plan on extra time as we did not make it in the estimated amount of time.

Iceland Sorcery & Witchcraft - Holmavík

The first place we visited in the Westfjords was the Witchcraft Museum in Hólmavík. It shares a building with the information center and is near an N1 gas station. We had ordered our maps from their online gift shop and had been interested in checking the museum out. The signs in the museum were mostly in Icelandic but they provided a printed cheat sheet to help guide us through some of it.

Symbol used in witchcraft Bowl used for sacrifice to the gods Paper in the museum with symbols Other items on display

It is an interesting history that one may know nothing about. It has a few floors with items on display. It was a small museum and did not take a long time, but certainly helped break up the long drive. The information center helped us map the rest of our trip and showed us where to watch for whales while driving along the fjords.


A church under repair along Route 61 A typical Icelandic Church along Route 61 Churches sit in isolation by the fjords along Route 61 Church along Route 60

Part of passing the time along the journey through the Westfjords to Ísafjörður was stopping at the churches along the way. A town might consist of a church and a home next to it, giving a sense of either solitude or desolation. The scenes were so peaceful and each church had its unique charm. Each of the churches we stopped to see was locked, but it was still fun for us to check them out and to walk around. The first three churches above were on Route 61 before we reached Hólmavík and the last was on our trip out on Route 61. The first two below are between Hólmavík and Ísafjörður and the last is from Kayaking Önundarfjörður.

A church in the distance Last church before Ísafjörður Church seen from Önundarfjörður while kayaking

Our Route

Driving to the Westfjords is a commitment. It is a day in and a day out, and long ones at that. Along the coast there is fjord after fjord after fjord, and not all towns have places to get gas or to eat. Many towns have just one family or farm, and we found that Hólmavík and Ísafjörður were our biggest stops, and the Fjord before we reached Ísafjörður had groceries and an Arctic Fox Museum.

Places we visited along the way Map of Route 1 from Reykjavik to Ísafjörður in the Westfjords

No road was completely paved the whole way. It is what we call 'graded dirt' but people who live there do refer to it as paved. We drove from Reykjavik and it took about 12 hours with many stops at scenic areas and museums. The first two hours were on Route 1 north, but the turn off after the N1 at that intersection (we recommend you stop for a break, get something to eat, get a beverage for the road, and gas up at this point) the going is a bit slower. At some points we drove over high barren country and other times it was the in and out and in and out of edging along fjord after fjord. We took Route 1 to 61 to get there and it was certainly scenic, but long.