Where are the best places to stay in the Westfjords of Iceland? Are there any cabins or bungalows you can rent in this spectacular region? When is the best time to stay in the Westfjords? Continue reading for information on the top 10 places to stay in the Westfjords.
Iceland’s Westfjords boast some of the country’s most unique, remote and breathtaking wilderness. It is a region of vast, clustered mountains; deep, meandering fjords; dramatic ocean cliffs; and countless hidden gems.
Its waters teem with seals, seabirds, dolphins and great whales, while inland, it is made all the more beautiful by its blooming flora and an abundance of Arctic Foxes.
The settlements of the Westfjords, are some of the country’s farthest flung and thus most traditionally Icelandic. Many hold onto an old way of life that centres around fishing, folklore, handicrafts and community.
Due to the region’s distance from the capital, it also has some of the fewest annual visitors, meaning all of this appeal can be enjoyed without the tourists crowds.
It’s not surprising, therefore, that when many guests reach the Westfjords, they don’t want to leave; it truly is one of the most special parts of the country.
Thankfully, there are plenty of places to stay locally that will provide you with the opportunity to immerse yourself in the region, and allow you to take your time as you explore its mysterious, silent reaches.
This does not just refer to guesthouses and hotels in towns such as the region’s capital, Ísafjörður, but the many cottages, bungalows and cabins scattered throughout the magnificent landscapes. After all, the main appeal of the Westfjords is its unbelievable nature; why not envelope yourself in it, waking each morning to its unspoilt glory?
Not only are these cottages and bungalows perfectly located, but most are excellently furnished and boast modern amenities such as wifi and a modern kitchen. Some even have extra luxuries such as hot tubs, which is quite unusual for the Westfjords; being Iceland’s geologically oldest region, it has little geothermal activity remaining.
Staying out in the nature of the region is also advantageous as many cabins are actually closer to certain attractions than many of the towns are. The most renowned sites of the Westfjords that all visitors will want to see at least once are not close together, and Ísafjörður, being such an attraction, is included in this.
You may, therefore, be grateful for a cabin near the waterfall of Dynjandi, which stands at over a hundred metres tall, cascading down a staircase-shaped cliff so beautifully formed it seems like it was carved by divine forces. That way, you can see it under different lights throughout the day with ease, or with a totally different ambience under changed weather.
Birdwatchers, meanwhile, might want to stay closer to the largest nesting cliffs in Europe, Látrabjarg. Here, over a million creatures from dozens of species – including Atlantic Puffins – can be observed throughout summer incredibly intimately.
Though you must stay over a metre from the cliff edge, for your own safety and to protect the burrows dug into it, the birds are not bothered by your presence. This provides a rare natural opportunity to marvel over their details and behaviour up close; considering most nest in lifelong pairs, this is particularly adorable.
The Hornstrandir region is one of the most remote and untouched parts of Iceland, having been all but abandoned decades ago and left to nature to be reclaimed. It has unbelievable mountain views looking out towards the Arctic, blooming wildflowers, and foxes who have long since forgotten why they should fear man.
Though it is not usually possible to stay here outside of a guided tour, cabins in the Westfjords can be rented close to the places where such adventures depart. This allows a trip to the region to be easily included into your immersive holiday.
Even if you rent accommodation that is not in the shadow of one of the area’s more popular attractions, you will still be surrounded by nature unlike anything else on earth. Whether you are nestled in the nook of a gleaming fjord or tucked on the edge a windswept mountain pass, the local scenery will take your breath away.
Furthermore, being in more remote reaches will allow you to hike without seeing another visitor, providing total immersion into the wilderness and the chance to seek out some stunning hidden gems.
Finally, staying out in cabins or bungalows in the Westfjords will allow you fantastic opportunities to hunt for the Northern Lights if travelling between September and April. There is little light pollution in the region, making your viewing experiences as spectacular as possible.
If travelling in summer, your stay will be under the magical light of the Midnight Sun, providing you with countless hours of daylight for maximum amounts of sightseeing.
With these factors considered, it should be clear: bungalows should be top of the list when considering where to stay in the Icelandic Westfjords.
The Top 10 Places to Stay in the Westfjords of Iceland
Now there is no doubt why so many wish to stay in the Westfjords, it is a simple matter of finding the perfect bungalow for you and your travelling group. Thankfully, there are a diverse array on offer, from the simple cabin for those on a budget to more luxurious cottages for those seeking all their home comforts.
The Nupur Cottage is unlike many cottages in the Westfjords, forgoing a traditional log cabin design for a modern, chic style. It is excellently furnished, with three comfortable bedrooms and space for seven guests. Families and groups of friends looking for a little luxury will thus find this space particularly appealing.
In terms of its location, the Nupur Cottage could hardly be better placed. Facing out to the Dýrafjörður fjord, it has spectacular ocean views. Inland, meanwhile, you can see both the region’s tallest and oldest mountains, Kaldbakur and Helgafell. Both of these are part of a mountainous region playfully called the Alps of Iceland.
Very few buildings are in sight around the cottage, providing a perfect sense of privacy and escape. Even so, services can be found at the nearby villages of Þingeyri and Flateyri, which are approximately twenty minutes drive away.
In terms of attractions, the Nupur Cottage is under an hour from Ísafjörður, which could potentially open the Hornstrandir region up to guests, and just over an hour from Dynjandi.
Regarding its design, the Thurranes Cottage could not be more different to the Nupur Cottage, although they have similar capacity, with Thurranes sleeping six over two bedrooms. It has a classic log cabin style and, though well furnished, boasts a much more rustic ambience. What makes this complete is the hot tub on site.
The Thurrannes Cottage is, however, similarly far-flung in nature; though it has a couple of neighbouring cabins, the only other buildings nearby are those on a distant farm.
Unlike most others on the list, this cottage is not actually in the Westfjords, sitting just shy of the land bridge that connects it to the mainland. It earns its place, however, for its spectacular views over the region’s fjords, and because it poses a great setting off point to access them.
It also allows guests the opportunity to see other parts of Iceland within a day, which those staying deeper in the Westfjords cannot. These include the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, a region so diverse it is often called Iceland in Miniature, and even some of the sites of North Iceland.
Blomsturvellir Holiday House
The Blomsturvellir Holiday House allows you to experience some Westfjords culture along with its spectacular nature. Not only is it located overlooking the Álftafjörður fjord, with towering mountains behind it, but it is actually inside one of the region’s tiny fishing villages, Súðavík.
Not only does staying here provide insight into the day-to-day of traditional Icelandic living, but the chance to visit the town’s Arctic Fox Centre, a leading research body on the species.
The Holiday House itself is spacious and excellently furnished, with a beautiful veranda. It has capacity for six guests over three bedrooms. All services can be accessed from Súðavík, and the capital of the Westfjords, Ísafjörður, is just twenty minutes away.
Drangsnes, in the eastern Westfjords, is an even tinier fishing village than Súðavík, and home to the Bær Cottage. A classic log cabin with all the basic amenities you could need, it has two bedrooms and sleeps up to six adults.
There are plenty of reasons to want to stay near Drangsnes; their coastal hot pools boast spectacular views, it has a relaxing sauna, and there are boat trips to the birdwatching paradise of Grímsey Island, which is also known for its fascinating folklore.
Note that this is not the Grímsey Island that is part of the Arctic Circle.
It is also near lesser-known attractions such as Hólmavík, home to the fascinating and haunting Museum of Sorcery and Witchcraft.
Hiking is spectacular around Drangsnes, and there are many paths that are within easy access of Bær Cottage.
The Bær Farmhouse is very close to the cottage above, sharing the same excellent location of Drangsnes and all its advantages. The only difference is that it is a lot bigger, with five bedrooms and capacity for ten.
Work trips, family gatherings and large groups of friends will find plenty of space considering the farmhouse is 200 square metres. There are two bathrooms, and a living room where everyone can spend time comfortably.
Barðaströnd Cottage is a fantastic place to stay in Iceland’s Westfjords for those who want to be as close to as many as the most famous sites as possible.
It takes just over an hour to get from Patreksfjörður, the beautiful fjord the house overlooks, to Dynjandi waterfall and the Látrabjarg birdwatching cliffs in either direction. Just thirty minutes south of the cottage is another attraction, Rauðasandur, a beach of spectacular pink sands.
Barðaströnd Cottage is a simple but fully furnished bungalow with capacity for seven guests in three bedrooms, making it perfect for families and larger groups of friends.
Hvilft is another house that is perfect for large gatherings, sleeping up to ten people in six spacious bedrooms; its three bathrooms provide greater privacy and comfort. The house stands alone, just off the road, with stunning views of the sparkling waters of Önundarfjörður fjord.
Its isolation and the many hiking opportunities that can be found in the beautiful surroundings make this a perfect escape for those wishing to immerse themselves in nature. Conveniently, it is also only a twenty minute drive to Ísafjörður, and just a mile from the village of Flateyri.
Hvilift’s decor is bright and airy, it has a well-furnished kitchen and living room, and a lovely garden to enjoy the Midnight Sun or Northern Lights.
On the southernmost coastline of the Westfjords, looking across a beautiful bay to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, one can find the rustic Bjarkarholt Cabin. A classic log cabin in style, it sleeps six in two bedrooms, and has simple furnishings for a comfortable getaway.
Its proximity to Látrabjarg, Dynjandi and Rauðisandur makes it perfect for those who want a taste of the region’s birdlife, waterfalls and beaches.
It is also near to where the Baldur Ferry departs to the aforementioned Snæfellsnes Peninsula, allowing you to spend a day exploring the sites there such as Kirkjufell and the Snæfellsjökull glacier. From more northern parts of the Westfjords, this would not be possible.
The Bolungarvík House looks out to the Arctic Ocean from its position as the northernmost entry on this list. Just over ten minute’s drive north of Ísafjörður, it is part of the beautiful town of Bolungarvík, the region’s second largest settlement.
It is a centre of fisheries and handicrafts, and inspired the Icelandic films of ‘Sparrows’ and ‘Nói Albínói’. It is also renowned for its swimming pool, numerous hiking routes, birdwatching, and fascinating folklore.
The house itself has capacity for six, providing plenty of privacy with four separate bedrooms. It also boasts a chic, modern interior with comfortable furnishings and amenities on its doorstep.
Reykholar Holiday Home
The final entry on this list is the Reykhólar Holiday Home, which sits right on the cusp of the Westfjords. It is a perfect point to explore the many sites of this magnificent region, as well as the country’s west and north.
Another house perfect for large groups, up to nine can sleep here in four bedrooms. While its outside appears to be that of a classic log cabin, its interior is modern and refined. It’s surrounded by rugged nature, providing plenty of opportunities for hikes and birdwatching.
Birdwatching around Reykhólar is particularly popular due to the presence of both fresh and saltwater species. This settlement itself is perfect for finding all necessary services and amenities.