Although it boasts some of Iceland’s most beautiful landscapes, the Westfjords is one of the least visited areas in the country. Admittedly, the windy coastal roads mean the drive is a long one—five hours if you’re lucky, and more if you get caught in bad weather. However, the big-for-the-Westfjords town of Ísafjörður is a mere 30-minute flight from the Reykjavík domestic airport, meaning you can take a day trip up north and still be back in Reykjavík for supper.
Once you’ve landed in Ísafjörður—at potentially the cutest little airport in the world—you instantly feel a world away from Reykjavík. Surrounded by snowy mountains and an almost turquoise ocean, this place feels like something out of a Disney movie—you know, that one with a Nordic feel, where everything is frozen. I forget the name.
Although the Westfjords receive far less visitors than Reykjavík, there is still a wide range of tours available, from kayaking to Super Jeeps to horseback riding. Alternatively, if you want something a little more chilled, a day trip to Vigur—or “Paradise Island,” as West Tours calls it—is the perfect way to see the natural beauty of the Westfjords.
We hopped on the boat from the Ísafjörður harbour and sailed for about half an hour to get there, and the trip was worth it for the boat ride alone. The bitter sea breeze rattles through your bones, but you won’t even notice—the white mountains glitter in the sun, contrasting against the black soil of the ground below, and flocks of birds fly alongside as you speed through the freezing ocean. It’s Arctic bliss.
Our destination is a tiny island famed for its avian inhabitants. In the summer months, flocks of puffins and eider ducks nest along the hilly shore. West Tours is careful about the number of tourists they take to Vigur—usually only one group of around ten people per day—as they’re wary of disturbing the island’s natural inhabitants.
As we walked along the shore, we also noticed a group of seals curiously following us, intermittently bobbing their heads above the water to get a good look. Once the tide went out, they took their chance to sunbathe, flopping onto rocks in that oh-so-graceful way that only a seal can make look adorable. Also, if you’re into manmade rarities, this tiny island is home to Iceland’s only windmill, and the smallest post office in Europe—which is something to write home about… and post from. Two birds, one stone.
Back in Ísafjörður, we had time to wander around before catching our flight home to Reykjavík. It’s a quaint town, with colourful buildings set against the snowy fjord. There are plenty of bakeries and cafés to enjoy, or you can just grab an ice cream and watch this slow-paced miniature world go by. Take your fill, because once you’re back in Reykjavík, you’ll be counting down the moments until your next trip to this northern paradise.
With thanks to: Aldrei for ég suður festival