Road Trip: Látrabjarg's Hidden Places, Wildlife & Wonders

Road Trip: Látrabjarg’s Hidden Places, Wildlife & Wonders

Published May 21, 2019

Photo by
John Rogers

Tucked away in the southernmost region of the Westfjords lies the small town of Patreksfjörður—a peaceful fishing town of around 700 inhabitants, and a perfect hub for exploring the lower reaches of the region. On the peninsula right across the fjords lies a rugged dirt track that leads past unexpected sights, a strange museum, a red beach, and finally to the towering and spectacular Látrabjarg bird cliffs—one of Iceland’s most wild and windswept viewpoints.

Stay: Fosshótel Westfjords
The Fosshotel chain has reliably comfortable hotels dotted all around Iceland, and the Westfjords branch is no exception. The rooms are crisply decorated, with soft beds and windows looking out over the water. The bar has a happy hour from 5-7pm every day, and the restaurant serves tasty meals at night, and a sumptuous buffet breakfast.

Visit: Húsið Creative Space
Before you leave town, stop at the Húsið creative space for coffee. It hosts a monthly exhibition programme with accompanying artist talks, also selling local handicrafts, Reykjavík Roasters coffee, and an assortment of interesting posters and design objects. If you fall in love with the town and decide to move to Patreksfjörður, you could also hire a desk in the coworking space on the second floor.

Stop: Garðar BA 64
This somewhat spectral ship sits landlocked on a beach off route 612, helplessly jutting up from the sand. Once the largest steel ship in Iceland, it was retired in 1981, and was jammed into the sand rather than being scuttled, as was the tradition at the time. Information plaques fill you in on the ship’s long and storied life.

Visit: Minjasafn Egils Ólafssonar
As you trundle towards Látrabjarg to spot some puffins, you’ll pass this curious-looking museum. Inside, there’s a treasure trove of local history curated by the late Egill Ólafsson, a local man and avid collector of everything from seal hunting blades to boats, antique prosthetics and fishing equipment, and even two spindles from the Viking era. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the hardships of Westfjordian life over the centuries.

Hike: Rauðisandur
On the south side of the peninsula lies Rauðisandur, a long beach of reddish sand. Over a rough mountain trail, the widescreen view is something to see. In the summer, there’s a café and campsite, and accessible hiking trails into the surrounding mountains; in winter, however, the treacherous road is best avoided.

Must-See: Látrabjarg
The final stop is Látrabjarg. At the westernmost point of Iceland, the landmass ends dramatically, with high, tilted spikes of turf leaning away from the sea, creating an 11km stretch of dizzyingly high cliffs. Looking down to the churning ocean, you’ll see that the rocks are alive with seabirds, from common gulls to razorbills, oystercatchers, and puffins, who visit en masse each year to nest during the summer months.

Swim: Birkimelur Swimming Pool
If you’re heading back to Reykjavík, keep a lookout for the Birkimelur Swimming Pool. The outdoor pool on Route 60 has minimal facilities, but a beautiful sea view. You never know your luck—if it’s early morning or later in the evening, you could have it all to yourself.  

Read about more Road Trips here.

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