The Wonder Of The Westfjords: One of Iceland’s Best Kept Secrets

The Wonder Of The Westfjords: One of Iceland’s Best Kept Secrets

Photos by
Art Bicnick

Three hundred and twenty-one kilometres northwest of Reykjavík lies Látrabjarg, the westernmost point of Europe, and arguably Iceland’s best kept secret. Látrabjarg is set in Iceland’s wild Westfjords, a stunning peninsula blessed with unspoilt nature, mountain roads and monumental landscapes.

“If the mountain road says it’s closed, listen to the authorities, for the love of God”

Although it may not seem far, journeying to the Westfjords takes a lot of time. Unsophisticated infrastructure and ascending mountain roads mean that you’re going nowhere fast, but that’s what makes it special. If you put a few days aside to make the journey, be prepared to reap epic visual rewards in the midnight sun.

Summer is the best time to visit, but back away from the booking office. If you’re travelling to the Westfjords, book a car and do it yourself. That way you’ll have every opportunity to take in your surroundings. There’s almost too much to see, and I guarantee you will leave feeling overwhelmed. If you can’t drive, or you’re on a mega budget like our friend Michel, fear not. You could always hitchhike.

Hitchhiker’s guide to the glacier

We picked up Michel outside our hotel in Búðardalur (around two hours north of Reykjavík). “I’m heading to Ísafjörður,” Michel exclaimed as he chucked his hiking poles in the car.“I love the Westfjords,” he continues. “It’s so peaceful. I come here to hike.” Michel, a friendly and unkempt Frenchman, had been travelling around Iceland for eight months and decided the Westfjords was where it was at.

As we approached, crystalline glacial lakes reflected the mountains. Just a few kilometres further on, the landscape changed again into lush prehistoric vegetation. I legit went into existential crisis mode, thinking about dinosaurs and the origin of life. I asked my fellow travellers: “When did the dinosaurs die again? I’m pretty sure they would have lived here.” Silence.

Midnight friend

We dropped off Michel, and ascended a mountain. Pro tip: If the mountain road says it’s closed, listen to the authorities, for the love of God. Four whole hours were wasted stuck in the snow at the top of the mountain. It ain’t big, and it ain’t clever. Once we dug our way out of the snow, we proceeded to Látrabjarg cold, hungry and grumpy AF.

I didn’t make a very good travel buddy for those long few hours. It was almost midnight as we drove our way through a colony of Arctic terns nesting close to the road (be prepared to be attacked in Hitchcockian fashion). We finally made it to Látrabjarg and I felt like I had just climbed Everest, although all I had done was sit in a car for seven hours and snack. It was midnight and my troubles were washed away. The sun kissed the sea as I approached the cliff edge. Puffins danced above my head—I was in my element. I sat on the ground wrapped in a blanket, unable to see another human being. I did, however, make a midnight friend in the midnight sun—a solitary Arctic fox snacking on the cliff edge. Fox gotta eat.