The west of Iceland begins just outside Greater Reykjavík’s northern city limits. From undulating fjords and stretches of idyllic farmland to the rolling fields of Borgarfjörður, to the geothermally active Snæfellsnes peninsula, the Langjökull glacier, and the sprawling Kalmanstunga lava field, it’s an area that contains all the diversity of Iceland. Each region is rich with small towns, tucked-away pools, remote glaciers and historic sites. It’s a wonderful part of Iceland, and we’ve distilled some of the must-see places for you here.
Bjarnarbraut 4-6, Borgarnes
Safnahús Borgarfjarðar is one of the most locally-focused museums in the country. Located inside a bright red house near the sea, the museum offers a new program every year focusing on local artists. Their permanent exhibition, ‘Children Throughout A Century’, dives into the dramatic changes Icelandic children have faced as Icelandic society transformed from an agricultural community to a modern nation. “They reconstructed an old turf living room and from there you just walk into a modern teenagers bedroom from IKEA,” one panel member says. “It’s a crazy contrast, just a great exhibit.”
Iceland is known for its bizarrely specific museums, but Bjarnarhöfn’s Shark Museum is easily the most charming. The space is packed to the brim with boats, shark info sheets, shark skeletons, shark stomach contents, and stuffed local fauna. If that’s not enough, just up the hill is a drafty shack where shark meat hangs right down in front of your eyes. “The whole thing is so handmade but very informative,” raves one panel member.
Bókhlöðustígur 17, Stykkishólmur
Roni Horn’s Vatnasafn, or Library of Water, overlooks the Stykkishólmur harbour in the town’s old library building. The exhibit presents floor-to-ceiling glass vials, each containing a sample of meltwater and silt from one of Iceland’s glaciers. The subtext is clear—one day, this may be all that’s left of them.
More Best Of Iceland Awards
You can buy a copy of the full Best Of Iceland 2018 magazine—an essential guide to having fun in Iceland—here, posted worldwide. We also have a Special Offer double-pack that also includes our Best Of Reykjavík magazine, about places to eat, see, swim, visit, and shop in the country’s capital city, here.