Stepping into West Iceland is like stepping into a realm where Mother Nature unfurls her magic in every corner. Here, volcanoes stand tall, a testament to their explosive past, some still active, whilst others lay dormant.
The coastline is equally dramatic, punctuated by charming fishing villages that are a living homage to the region's maritime heritage. Scenic lava fields and majestic waterfalls further decorate this extraordinary landscape, awaiting your discovery. West Iceland invites you to take in this stunning vista and immerse yourself in its enchanting environment.
West Iceland is a place where fire and ice have choreographed a dramatic landscape, replete with volcanic mountains, verdant valleys, expansive lava fields, and sparkling glaciers.
The Snaefellsnes Peninsula - Iceland, in Miniature
West Iceland is the home of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. It is often nicknamed "Iceland in Miniature" due to the variety of landscapes condensed into one area. From the mythical Snaefellsjokull glacier, considered one of the earth's seven great energy centres, to the rugged beauty of its sea cliffs adorned with birdlife, and to Iceland's most photographed mountain, this part of West Iceland is unparalleled.
The Raw and Wild Reykjanes UNESCO Geopark
As we journey southwest, the Reykjanes peninsula reveals itself. Raw. Wild. Intensely beautiful. This region is a realm born of fire, dominated by vast lava fields, bubbling geothermal hot springs, and the dramatic, wind-battered coastline.
Its lighthouses stand as sentinels, their watchful eyes ever on the vast North Atlantic. Underneath it all, the Earth is alive, its seismic heartbeat reverberating through the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
The Mystic Borgarfjördur
Another remarkable region in the west is the mystic Borgarfjördur, steeped in Viking sagas and a stark, tranquil beauty. Gushing rivers cut through the heart of the landscape, cascading down in a symphony of waterfalls such as the spectacular Hraunfossar and Barnafoss.
This is a realm where the spirits of the past can almost be heard in the whisper of the wind, where the saga-rich history weaves into the very fabric of the land. There's an undeniable magic here: a deep connection to the ancient and the timeless.
The Enchanting Westfjords
Further still to the northwest, the Westfjords beckon. A realm where the land splits and fractures. It creates a stunning tableau of jagged fjords, yellow and black sand beaches, and quaint little villages in secluded bays.
Látrabjarg, the westernmost point, offers an incredible spectacle of thousands of puffins. The cool, clear waters regularly showcase the grace of whales, a sight often visible from the shoreline.
Hornstrandir, the region's most remote area, beckons to the adventurous, a haven for Arctic foxes and a paradise for those on foot. Distinctly different from the rest of Iceland, the Westfjords hold a raw, captivating beauty that leaves a lasting imprint..
The Serene Hvalfjordur fjord
And finally, we encounter the serene Hvalfjordur fjord. It is most known for being home to the second-largest waterfall in Iceland.
The beauty here is quiet but potent. The fjord, a silent, shimmering mirror, reflects the towering peaks cradling it. In its embrace, the world's whispers seem to quiet, and the clamour of daily life fades.
A place for reflection, for quiet moments of awe, a place to be seduced by the play of the Northern Lights across the dark, star-speckled sky. A place where you truly realise - West Iceland is not just a location; it's a state of mind.
Reykjavik: The Gateway to Your West Iceland Adventure
Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, nestles on the west coast. Over 60% of the country's population resides here, offering a well-established infrastructure and a plethora of West Iceland tours to quench your thirst for adventure. Your exploratory journey can begin right here in Reykjavik, featuring modern roads that are a breeze to navigate.
An Unparalleled Blend of Ancient Geology, Rich History, and Captivating Wildlife
Geologically, West Iceland is the oldest part of the country, with rocks as ancient as 15 million years. This offers an entirely different experience from the newer southern region. Here, you will find a tapestry of old and eroded landscapes, with mountains and ridges showcasing aeons of natural history.
When it comes to cultural richness, West Iceland stands apart. It's a region steeped in historical sagas and folklore, with connections to notable historical figures such as Erik the Red, the notorious Viking who founded the first Norse settlements in Greenland.
This makes West Iceland particularly intriguing for history buffs and those interested in the Vikings. Visiting the Settlement Centre in Borgarnes offers an immersive dive into the region's past.
Its quaint towns and villages also give it a unique charm. While places like Reykjavik or Akureyri have a city feel, the fishing villages of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, such as Stykkisholmur or Arnarstapi, provide a more intimate and rustic charm. The slower pace of life in these towns, with the extraordinary landscapes and the warmth of the locals, gives you a unique flavour of Icelandic life.
And let's not forget the wildlife! West Iceland offers an impressive variety of bird species, with the Látrabjarg cliffs in the Westfjords being one of the biggest bird cliffs in Europe. This is a birdwatcher’s paradise, with a chance to see puffins and many other seabirds in their natural habitat. You can also find seals lazing on the shores of the Vatnsnes peninsula.
Unforgettable Geothermal Experiences
When it comes to natural hot springs, West Iceland also has a unique offering. While the world-renowned Blue Lagoon is the region's star attraction, the exquisite Hvammsvík hot springs and the opulent Sky Lagoon hold their own unique appeal, providing a tranquil retreat nestled in the heart of nature's grandeur.
Tucked away in the geothermal landscape around Deildartunguhver, Europe's most powerful hot spring, lies Krauma wellness spa. And this is just the beginning, for West Iceland is brimming with even more geothermal delights waiting to be discovered.
Within Arm's Reach of the Capital, yet Offering an Entirely Different Experience
While only a stone's throw away from the bustling capital area, West Iceland promises a contrasting adventure that will truly captivate your spirit. Embrace the harmonious blend of historical richness, geological marvels, and charming villages, a striking departure from the city vibes of Reykjavik.
Being remarkably close to the capital yet distinctively different, West Iceland welcomes you to delve into its unique charms, offering experiences that are unmatched and truly memorable.
The Diverse Wonders and Adventures of West Iceland
Delve deep into the heart of the terrain as you explore the over 500 lava caves, each unique in its own right. Wrap up warm and traverse the world's first man-made ice tunnel in the Langjokull Glacier, or embark on a whale-watching tour from Reykjavík or Breidafjordur. Whatever your adventurous spirit desires, West Iceland has something to offer.
As you journey through West Iceland, each region reveals its unique splendours, a symphony of nature that captivates us. From the magnetic allure of the Blue Lagoon to the quaint charm of remote villages in the Westfjords, every corner of West Iceland offers an adventure like no other.
West Iceland invites you to return, explore more, and uncover the many undiscovered treasures.
What awaits you in West Iceland is an array of breathtaking sights and activities. Embrace the adventurer in you as you embark on a sightseeing trip through West Iceland, exploring its diverse landscapes.Browse West Iceland Tours
Questions and Answers about West Iceland
Iceéland’s western region is renowned for its distinctive blend of stunning landscapes, cultural richness, and historical significance. It's home to Europe's most powerful hot spring, and one of Europe's largest bird cliffs. West Iceland is also associated with sagas and folklore, providing an insight into Iceland's early settlement period and Viking history
Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, located on the western coast, is the largest city in the West Iceland region and in the country as a whole.
While beauty is subjective and every region of Iceland offers its own unique attractions, many travellers find the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, often referred to as 'Iceland in miniature,' particularly stunning due to its diverse and concentrated natural features.
- Hornstrandir, a virtually uninhabited wilderness in the Westfjords, is a nature reserve, motorised vehicles and even horses are banned. You can only reach it by boat and travel on foot.
- The distance from Hornstrandir to Greenland is just under 300 kilometres (186.4 miles).
- Although The Golden Circle, a popular tourist route, is located geographically in West Iceland, it officially belongs to the southern region of the country.
- According to certain spiritual beliefs, Snaefellsjökull, a glacier-capped volcano on the Snaefellsnes peninsula, is considered the heart chakra of the world, said to possess powerful energy and spiritual significance.
- West Iceland is home to Deildartunguhver, the most powerful hot spring in all of Europe. Its water reaches an impressive 97°C at its emerging point and is utilised for heating the surrounding towns. You can bathe in a mixture of Deildartunguhver hot spring water and the water of the former OK glacier at Krauma Wellness Spa.
It is about 500 kilometres (310 miles) between the eastern and western extremes of Iceland. The westernmost point is Látrabjarg in the Westfjords, while the eastern tip is at Gerpir.
West Iceland, or Western Region, is one of the eight regions of Iceland. It is the area of the west coast between the capital city of Reykjavík and the Westfjords to the north. There’s lots to see and do here. In fact, you might spend quite a lot of your trip in the area.
Most famous of West Iceland’s attractions is the Snæfellsnes peninsula. It’s often known as “Iceland in miniature” thanks to its impressive array of different sights, including the Snæfellsjökull glacier, black-sand beaches, and lava fields. This is also home to Kirkjufell, the most photographed mountain in Iceland.
While you’re here, don’t miss Langjökull, “long glacier”, with its famous ice caves.
Yes, the sun does set in the west of Iceland. However, during the summer months, from late April to early August, Iceland experiences extended daylight due to its proximity to the Arctic Circle. For most of the region, there's never complete darkness during this period, but the sun does briefly dip below the horizon. In the northernmost parts of western Iceland, you can experience the true midnight sun, where the sun does not set below the horizon at all.
The coasts of Iceland are famous for their puffins. Probably the best known area to see these birds is Látrabjarg, in the Westfjords. But the region of West Iceland also has its puffin destinations too.
For example, north of Stykkishólmur, the largest town on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, you’ll find Breiðafjörður bay, with its gorgeous archipelago of islands. During the summer, they’re covered in puffins—and can be toured on a boat trip.
While they may be less famous, there are many other places to see puffins on the Snæfellsnes peninsula. Head to the cliffs in the summer months to see them.
There are many things to do in west Iceland:
- Visit the Snæfellsjökull National Park, one of Iceland’s three national parks and home to the Snæfellsjökull glacier.
- Photograph Kirkjufell, or climb to its slender summit. The views from the top are immense.
- Venture beneath the Langjökull glacier, in an ice tunnel.
- Marvel at Hraunfossar, the “lava falls”, a waterfall that cascades over the Hallmundarhraun lava field.
- Explore the coast of Snæfellsnes peninsula, with its fishing villages, sea cliffs, and historic beaches.
Western Iceland is a region to visit in any season. In summer, you can enjoy milder weather and longer days, while in winter the landscape will likely be covered in snow. At all times of year, you’ll find it a gorgeous place.
Of course, the best time to visit will depend on what you want to get up to. If you want to see puffins, for example, you’ll need to come in the summer. The same goes for whales.
If there’s just one thing you see in West Iceland, it should be the Snæfellsnes peninsula. It’s a relatively small area, but it’s crammed full of breathtaking sights.
For example, make sure you see Kirkjufell, known as Iceland’s most photographed mountain. It’s popular with photographers for good reason, with its slender ridge, nearby waterfall, and coastal location.
Check out the cliffs around Arnarstapi too. They offer some of the top sea views in Iceland.
The first thing to consider when deciding what to dress for your west Iceland tour is the weather. This will largely depend on the season in which you visit—but the weather can change dramatically even within seasons.
In winter, you’ll want to stay warm and dry. Sturdy shoes, a winter jacket, and lots of warm layers are a good idea. In summer, a waterproof jacket is still wise, but you may just keep it in your bag.
Western Iceland boasts some of the most captivating sights and attractions in the whole country. This is the region where you can see:
- Snæfellsjökull glacier, above the stratovolcano of the same name
- Kirkjufell, Iceland’s most photographed mountain
- Arnarstapi, the cute fishing village on the Snæfellsnes peninsula
- Bjarnarfoss, a thundering waterfall
- Gerðuberg Cliffs, formed of strange geometric shapes
- Langjökull glacier, with its underground tunnel.
West Iceland, also known as Western Region or Vesturland, is one of the westernmost regions in Iceland. It sits in the centre of the west coast, with the Reykjavík area directly to its south and Westfjords to the north.
It comprises the area between the Hvalfjörður and the Gilsfjörður, including the whole of Snæfellsnes peninsula.
There are many guest houses across the Western Iceland region. You’ll find concentrations in villages such as Ólafsvík, Grundarfjörður, Stykkishólmur, and Borgarnes.
That said, Western Iceland is very close to the city of Reykjavík, and you may find it just as convenient to stay there. That’s especially true if you’re taking a tour of West Iceland. Many of the tours leave from the city.
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Enjoy a perfect winter day in Iceland! Experience the best of Iceland with this package of two of the island’s most popular tours in one day! Soak in the milky blue healing water of the Blue Lagoon, which is one of Iceland's most famous tourist attractions and is considered by many to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and an unmissable part of a visit to Iceland. After your return to Reykjavík, a guide will lead you on a search for the elusive northern lights! Watching the lights dance and flicker in the sky, changing shape and colour, is incredible. Prepare to be dazzled!
The Snæfellsnes peninsula is often referred to as “Iceland in miniature”, as you get a little bit of everything. The diverse landscape includes natural wonders like vast black sand beaches, magnificent mountains, large volcanic craters, rich birdlife, and the mighty glacier, Snæfellsjökull. It’s a spectacular slice of Iceland.
In the summer, Skógar comes alive, turning into a lush green wonderland under the towering Eyjafjöll mountains. The area is home to one of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls, Skógafoss, a pearl of the south coast. The drive to Skógar is a scenic ride through the picturesque south of Iceland, passing by small farms and charming villages with astounding views of the surrounding mountains and volcanoes on clear days. Whether you are planning a day trip to the region or a multi-day hike, leave the driving to us!
Are you dreaming of an Arctic adventure of a lifetime? This 5-day tour has you scaling the highest peak of the Arctic (3694 m/12120 ft). Mt. Gunnbjörn has been called the 8th continental peak due to its massive size, and it beckons climbers from around the world. On the east coast, where towering mountains rise from the Greenland icecap, the conditions are pristine and similar to those in Antarctica. There’s nothing quite like challenging yourself to climb in one of the most isolated areas of the north, with the fresh Arctic air and stark white snow. An experienced and qualified guide will lead the group, keeping participants safe and informed. This is not a trek for a beginner as the hike is considered strenuous, and participants should have mountain climbing experience and be prepared to camp for four nights. Mt. Gunnbjörn is easily accessible on a ski plane from Iceland. Once in the Watkins Mountains, we set up a comfortable base camp at the foot of the mountain. To make the summit day more manageable, we establish one camp on the way to the summit. The climb can be done on snowshoes, with the last part done on crampons.
Looking for a challenge with a fantastic reward? On this active day tour, you will experience a natural ice cave, one of the most iconic and picturesque features of the glacial landscape. As is often the case, the most beautiful places can be difficult to access, but it is absolutely worth it if you are physically up for it. Expect a challenging tour with about 4.5 hours spent on the ice.
Enjoy a guided glacier walk, exploring the beautiful, icy wonderland of Iceland's Sólheimajökull Glacier. Enjoy the fresh air, interesting shapes and hues of the ice and marvel at the vast and remote slice of south Iceland. Get up close and personal with one of the country's most famous glaciers! Expect a 2-hour drive from Reykjavík, a 1.5-hour glacier hike, and some sightseeing along the south coast and back to Reykjavík.