We all know the Ring Road, but have you heard of Ring Road 2 in Westfjords? I know, not the most original name, but I can assure you it is one of the most breathtaking roads you can drive through. It circles around the Westfjords – a sparsely populated part of Iceland, full of untouched nature. The road winds and turns mainly along the coastline of the fjords and lets you experience Icelandic wilderness. In this blog post, I present to you the ultimate guide through Westfjors. I compiled all the places you can put into your itinerary if you are planning to drive the Ring Road 2
As the name implies, the road circles around (and eventually connects to Road 1), so there are no rules whether you go clockwise or counterclockwise. The last time I went, our starting point was Búðardalus, and from there, we went north, came back through the south, and took a ferry to Stokkishomur. So in this blog, I will follow the same route and tell you about different stops and detours you can take. Pro tip: don’t forget to pack your swimsuit. There are many relaxing pools and natural springs with scenic views you don’t want to miss.
I would say the optimal time would be 4-5 days. Don´t get fooled by the seemingly small area on the map. The majority of the roads go through the fjords, and it takes roughly the same time to drive from Hólmavik to Isafjordur as it takes to drive from Reykjavik to Vik. Of course, people manage to squeeze a spot or two in their ring road itinerary, but most people come on a separate trip just to explore the Westfjords and skip it entirely on the first ring road trip.
Another thing to consider is there are a lot of gravel roads. They are getting a makeover, but I wouldn’t go there without some kind of gravel protection, at the least. We do not allow one road to go even with our 4×4, and that road 622 is poorly maintained and dangerous even in ideal circumstances even though it is not even an F-Road. We talk more about it in our 4×4 Dangerous Roads Guide. This brings us to the most common question asked about driving in Westfjords.
Generally, no. Especially in the summertime, the roads are easily passable even with our smallest Happy 1. Of course, it may require more caution, but it is doable. In wintertime some roads may be closed due, so always check Road.is for road conditions, and a 4wWD might be a safer choice in late fall/winter/early spring when the roads can be more muddy and slippery than usual.
Check out the Happy Campers campsite map to see all campsites in Westfjords, but if you are looking for recommendations, here are our TOP 5 choices.
So the Ring Road 2 circles around the fjords if you follow roads 60 and 61. But the very next day, we took our first detour (and it is one of the best detours you can take in Iceland). Once we passed Hólmavik, we turned to road 643 and continued towards Dragnes, leading all the way to Djúpavik. If you decide to g down road 643, remember, it doesn’t go around, and you will have to return to the same roads.
Fun fact: this area, known as Árneshreppur, is the least populous municipality in Iceland, with a population of only 53. The population density is thus only 0,07 individuals per km2. There is no public transport, and most locals do not stay in the area over winter. The houses in Djúpavík are only used in summer today, except for the Hótel Djúpavík, which is open all year. So, if you are traveling during winter, check the weather and road conditions before heading down.
Westfjords are full of quirky and weird places. Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft is a great example. Definitely, one of the most unique museums you can visit in Iceland.
It is hard to beat the view Drangsnes hot pots are offering. Probably that’s the reason why both locals and tourists continue to soak in them, even after they built a new and modern swimming pool nearby.
There is a reason why this swimming pool is on our Happy Challenge. Krassneslaug is located in the remote Strandir area but is worth visiting if you have time. You will enjoy untouched nature, and, if you are lucky, it is possible to spot some whales in the ocean as well. That’s how remote it is.
Once a symbol of entrepreneurship, today, it serves as an exhibition building. Savvy businesspeople built the first factory in 1917 due to growing herring stock in the bay, unfortunately, the venture failed, and they closed it in 1952. If you are looking for a fantastic location for your Instagram feed – definitely check it out.
Ísafjorður is known as the capital of Westfjords, but no matter which road you take, it will take a while to reach it. Many locals don’t even bother driving and just book a fight to Ísafjorður. Let’s start with one of the hidden gems.
As you can already tell, you must include Westfjords if you like soaking in natural springs and pools. Hot pots and a swimming pool in Heydalur are reserved for guests, but you don´t need to book a room in the hotel. Just stay at their campsite and enjoy some geothermal baths. We highly recommend it.
Are you traveling with kids? It can be hard to spend long hours in the car with your children, so if you are looking for a place where your kids can run around and play while you enjoy some coffee – mark Ragargadus as a place to stop.
Arctic Fox Centre is a museum and non-profit research center focusing on Iceland’s only native land animal – the Arctic Fox. This is a great educational stop if you are interested in Icelandic wildlife, especially our cute little foxes.
Are black sand beaches getting boring? Holtsfjara is one of a few beaches in Iceland with golden sand and dunes – a nice place for a walk on a sunny day and to have lunch.
As you drive between Hestfjörður and Skötufjörður, make a short stop at Hvítanes. Rocks only meters from the shore are a favorite place to relax for a large Harbour seal colony.
Are you up for short but challenging hiking? As you approach Ísafjörður, it is hard to miss a giant dip in the mountain range right next to the airport. According to folk stories, a troll was running home before the sunlight. She ran so fast that she got earlier and sat in the mountains to rest her tired feet.
Right in the center of Ísafjorður is the museum of everyday life. All artwork is created by locals. It invites people to get a new perspective on things that seem mundane and surround us daily.
Tungudalur is one of the most beautiful campsites in Iceland. Right in the valley of a waterfall. Next to it, you will find a golf course, a skiing center in winter, a playground, a volleyball court, and hiking trails.
Travel back in time at this little place in a remote corner of Westfjords. Ósvör is a replica of a 19th-century Icelandic fishing station. The curator welcomes travelers in a traditional fisherman outfit and will show you around how they used to process fish in the olden days.
Visit the oldest original store in Iceland, and it is not any store but a book store (my favorite kind!). The same family runs the store since 1914, and it is a fascinating place to visit.
Dynjandi waterfall is often called the jewel of Westfjords. It is one of my all-time favorites. It is massive, magnificent, and a must-visit place. Great spot to take a break and have some lunch!
Hot spring and pool all in one place. There is a cemented swimming pool with warm geothermal water or a natural pool next to it. It is up to you where to take a dip. Look, the bathing culture in Iceland is huge. No wonder many of the pools have the best views to soak in. Reykjadjarðarlaug can be visited all year round. Imagine getting lucky and soaking while the Northern lights dance above your head. Wouldn’t that be magical?
I have to be honest. Once you see Dynjandi with your own eyes, most waterfalls will look a bit underwhelming. However, if you are chasing waterfalls – this one will be waiting for you. The name Fossa means waterfall, and it is located next to a farm with the same name. So, if you get lost, good luck trying to explain that you are looking for a waterfall named Waterfall next to the Waterfall farm. Easy, right? However, in the area, there is an A-shaped abandoned house. A popular stop for many professional and amateur photographers.
Tales of sea monsters have played a role in Icelandic folk culture for centuries. Arnarfjörður – the fjord on the way to Biludalur is one of the places where sea monsters have been spotted the most. You will probably notice a road sign at Litla-Eyri rest stop, inviting you to take a break and try to spot some monsters. Meanwhile, if you want to learn more, we recommend visiting the Icelandic Sea Monster Museum.
Another cute place created and curated by a local, telling a story of life in south Westfjords. It attracts many curious travelers due to peculiar items parked next to it, such as a Russian airplane stranded in Iceland in 1993. There’s also a café and a tourist information center. Not far from it you will find an abandoned ship stranded on the short – the oldest steel ship in Iceland. Another abandoned item turned into a popular tourist attraction thanks to Instagram.
Welcome to the westernmost point of Iceland and whole Europe. Massive cliffs attract thousands of tourists to watch spectacular birdlife. It is one of the most popular spots to see some puffins. There is a hiking trail circling along the cliffs, and I would highly recommend taking your time there. The views are breathtaking and pro-tip – at the foot of the cliffs, there is a free campsite.
The narrow winding gravel road will take you to the remote red sand beach (yes, beached in Iceland come in all kinds of shapes and colors). It is accessible with a 2wd in summer, just be careful. In the area, there are also remains of the Sjounda farm. Probably the most infamous true crime story in Iceland, which inspired Gunnar Gunnarsson to write a book, “The black cliffs.” The last time I went there, it was early morning (we spent the night at the Lautrabjarg campsite), and it was so peaceful and so tranquil it´s hard to describe.
If you are like me and decided to take a ferry to Stykkisholmur, and you have some time to kill – get in the Hellulaug hot pot. Nearby there is a hótel with a restaurant and campsite if you want to grab a bite or stay the night.
A remote small island Flatey, is a cute hidden gem off the west shore of Iceland. Please note, there are no cars allowed on the island, so you will have to leave them before boarding the ferry and come back later, but if you have an extra day and looking for ideas on what to do – why not visit Flatey.
No Westfjords guide is complete without mentioning the Hornstrandir Nature reserve. Along with Landmannalaugar trail, many hikers have this place on their bucket list. The territory can only be reached by boat, nobody lives here since the 1950s. If you want to experience truly raw and untouched nature – Hornstrandir is waiting for you.