Enjoy the Vast Beauty of West Iceland
A trip to West Iceland is perfect if you want to see a bit of everything. Black-sand beaches, hot springs, quiet fishing towns and a glacier accessible by foot await you. The West is frequently referred to as ‘Iceland in miniature’ as it contains so many interesting landscapes and attractions.
Visit stunning waterfalls
The West is home to some spectacular waterfalls. Glymur, Iceland’s second tallest waterfall, is a worthwhile detour before heading further west from Reykjavík. Glymur stands 198 metres high on the Botnsá river, the white water crashing down the side of Hvalfell mountain. The hike to the top can be a bit challenging for some, but it’s worth it! The view from the top over Hvalfjörður is quite striking on a clear day.
Hraunfossar is a series of waterfalls streaming over 900 metres out of a lava field. The falls are beautiful to visit in any season and rainbows are frequently seen when the sun breaks through on showery days. There’s a neighbouring waterfall very close by, called Barnafoss. It’s a stunning, wide waterfall, with water rushing over a rocky landscape, creating several cascades.
Enjoy Iceland’s unique geology
Iceland is paradise for geology buffs. Be sure to take a look at Deildartunguhver, which is considered Europe’s most powerful hot spring. It provides 200 litres of boiling—100°C (212°F)–water per second. Visitors will see water bubbling up and splashing against moss and rock, a reminder that Iceland is very much alive with pure geothermal energy.
If you want to get up close and personal with Iceland’s interior, visit Víðgelmir, the largest cave in Iceland. With a guided tour, you can explore the beautiful ice formations, including scores of stalactites and stalagmites. It’s a fascinating look at Iceland from the inside.
See spectacular Snæfellsnes
The Snæfellsnes peninsula is considered the jewel of the western coast, in part, because the region has a taste of everything, including a mighty glacier. Snæfellsjökull, the king of Icelandic mountains, lies on top of a volcano situated in the centre of a national park. The glacier’s peak reaches 1,446 metres and can be seen from Reykjavík on a clear day. The volcano is considered active, though it last erupted 1,900 years ago.
Meanwhile, the western edge of the Snæfellsnes peninsula is home to Snæfellsjökull National Park and small towns like Hellissandur, Ólafsvík, and Grundarfjörður. Charming fishing villages dot the peninsula and offer ample hiking routes and quirky museums. Other areas of interest include the beautiful rock formations and birdlife of Arnarstapi-Hellnar, and Kirkjufell, one of the most photographed mountains in Iceland.
It’s possible to visit all these places in three days and enjoy others along the way, but it is recommended to allot more time to the West for the sheer beauty and uniqueness of the region.
Make sure West Iceland is on your radar for your next trip to Iceland.