Pink Iceland's Guide Ziggy took a magical trip to the Westfjords of Iceland and shared her experiences with us!
After 6 days on the road exploring the Westfjords of Iceland, I found the urge to share with our Pink Iceland friends and family this incredible adventure!
Leaving Reykjavik about noon we anticipated to be at our destination Flateyri around dinnertime.
Google maps suggested this to be a 6 hours drive but of course it did not include all the amazing waterfalls and other scenic stops that would catch our eyes! Travelling in Iceland all year round has taught me to always check both the road and weather conditions before heading out and then expect everything to change within minutes! Oh how we love the unpredictability of this island.
After a smooth 3 hour drive to Holmavik a lovely little town in the north-west, we would head up onto Steingrimsfjardarheidi (try saying that 5 times!) which are moors reaching over 1,000ft above sea level. The weather is known to change drastically there and oh did we get to experience this magic. We drove off in sunny weather and t-shirts but within 10 minutes we had hit a snow blizzard with winds of over 70 mph!
After a loooong 30 minute drive we arrived safely on the other side and took a pitstop to catch our breath and enjoy our first stop at Arngerdareyri where they are renovating this unique house often referred to as “The Castle”
Touring during this time of year when the snow is melting off the mountains offers endless amounts of waterfalls pouring down the mountain sides giving you a reason to stop at every turn!
Arriving in Flateyri town at around 10 pm, I was happy to sit down with a nice glass of wine and watch the sun going down anticipating the adventures the next days would bring.
Flateyri is a small village with a population of only 200 people. In 1995 Flateyri was hit by one of the biggest avalanches in recent history destroying 29 homes and resulting in 20 fatalities. The following year they built a deflecting dam to protect the village and it is beautiful to hike up on the dam for a stunning view and the perfect spot to watch the sun set and rise. Sitting up on top of the avalanche wall brought on some mixed emotions of sorrow but also of pride in how through centuries Icelanders have encountered tragic events related to mother nature but never let this defeat us or scare us away!
Looking over Flateyri from the top of the avalanche wall, still mostly snowy covered mountaintops.
Even though many people left the town after the avalanche, Flateyri is now a very popular place to visit and as a summer dwelling for city slickers and its amazing beauty and magical tranquility gives you some inner peace that makes you just want to stay there forever! My sister being one of the most recent people to buy a house in the area (lucky me!) gave us the opportunity to meet with some of the locals that seemed ever so happy to have some of the first visitors this summer! She is also extremely fun and outgoing like myself and if I know her correctly she will happily invite you over for coffee or a guided walk through the small streets of Flateyri!
Úlli is one of the locals that has lived there his whole life. He invited us over for a late night coffee in his shed where he builds unbelievable model ships from scratch and then in the summer months sails them in the local pond for guests to enjoy.
Handpainted guests aboard the Titanic & the famous Bizmarck battleship
Pink Iceland operates in co-operation with a local partner, Fantastic Fjords, a fantabulous 5 day tour starting and finishing in Reykjavik so it was perfect joining that partner for a full day of exploring!
Our day started with a visit to the old children’s school that has been fully renovated and is now a beautiful country hotel called Holt Inn and is run by a local family. With 11 en-suite rooms, a dining area and a hot tub with a view to die for it is the ideal spot for small groups and wedding parties to enjoy a long weekend!
If you are looking for a luxurious stay in the area, look no further as right in the center of town you can find the fascinating Bergshus which is an amazing renovated timberhouse with room for up to 10 guests and a hot tub in the back!
The stunning living room with high ceilings and retro mood & the impressive gas stove and kitchen area.
A short 5 minute drive and you will arrive at one of the few white sandy beaches of Iceland where the beautiful pier Holtsbryggja offers endless photo opportunities and the brave can even experience swimming in the blue waters of the Atlantic. In the summer months you can find groups of people even practising yoga out on the pier embracing the elements and surreal power that surrounds them.
Holtsbryggja pier, what a backdrop for Icelandic Wedding photos??
Afterwards we drove over to the village Þingeyri and for you history and viking buffs, this is the oldest settlement in the Westfjords and you can still see remains of an old medieval assembly there.
Next up was lunch and city walk in the beautiful capital of the West - Isafjordur with a whopping headcount of over 2,500 people!
Isafjordur is popular with both locals and tourists and can be accessed by car, bus and the twice daily flights from Reykjavik. Isafjordur hosts two of the most celebrated festivals in Iceland, the Aldrei for eg Sudur (I never headed South) music festival held every Easter and believe it or not The European Championship in mud-soccer held yearly during the first weekend of August! Yours truly has competed 3 times and would class this as one of those once-in-a-lifetime kinda thing!
Isafjordur has some wonderful restaurants and the most famous being Tjoruhusid which offers the best and most fresh fish plates in the West as well as a stunning view and fantastic outdoor dining area perfect for the long summer nights!
Like the rest of the world, Iceland has found a new love for novelty beers and many small microbreweries can be found around the island, one of them being Dokkan here in Isafjordur! They pride themselves in using only the freshest of water which has been naturally sieved by running through 14,000,000 year old lava fields and almost straight into your bottle!
The brewmasters at work, the new beer from Dokka is infused with seaweed & Dokkan only uses recycled biodegradable plastic caps!
Leaving Flateyri after 3 amazing days, I promised myself that I will be back as soon as possible to enjoy this spectacular place! With a couple of more days to spare, we hit the road in search of some more adventures.
In less than an hour we were out of the car running towards one of the beautiful waterfalls that can be found in the area - I can tell you its location but even after looking through the Icelandic Road Atlas and travel maps, I am still unable to find its name.
The waterfall with no name! Sigrunarfoss has a nice ring to it! Looking back down the amazing gorge
As we sat down and enjoyed the beautiful sounds of the water my travel partner spotted a person sitting there next to us who then disappeared as quickly as it appeared. It seemed like one of the Hidden People had paid us a brief visit but they are known to appear to people when immersed in the beauty and power of nature (that is if you believe in them!). Icelanders tend to have this naive belief in the hidden people and elves and having two sons myself, I will keep their stories alive!
We slowly made our way back to the car and headed towards our accommodation for the night - the unique Heydalur Country Hotel. After meeting with the lovely hostess Stella we packed a few cold drinks and made our way down to the hot pots that are filled directly with 40°C hot natural water. These hot pots were the perfect way to relax after all the driving in the last few days and I recommend jumping into one of these at any chance you get whilst travelling in Iceland!
Waking up with the sun shining through the windows, the sounds of the farm dogs and lone rooster we packed our gear and took a nice long dip in the pool which is impressively located inside a greenhouse where strawberries, apples, pears, cherries and fresh herbs are being grown!
Embrazing the clean water and smell of spring! Natural archway amongst the apple trees!
Heydalur offers a great variety of accommodation with 19 en-suite rooms and 4 cabins as well as a campsite so it can easily accommodate both small and large groups!
Hostess Stella and the greeter dog Bangsi (Teddy Bear). The local farm dog and friendly arctic fox Þóra (female Thor)
We left Heydalur grateful and with a large smile on our faces as the sun was still following us around and we had places to explore!
Making our way around Mjoifjordur we encountered some heavy traffic in the form of horses offering some great photo shots! They seemed extremely happy feeding on the spring grass starting to grow after a heavy winter
Still embracing the winter coat & Fresh out of the barber shop
Twisting and turning our heads at everything this fjord has to offer, we spotted a lone pool down by the sea and with the car barely coming to a halt we are out the doors with our swimsuits and picnic! Leaving the pool was a lovely Icelandic couple with their three kids and they said they never missed the opportunity to give this pool a visit. After 3 luxurious hours and three beers (for me) later we say goodbye to this magical spot again and start counting the days until we can return. You just have to pay the farmer a visit and ask their permission to use the pool.
Icelandic infinity pool with a view, they even offer a changing room!
One last thing to mention in regards to travelling around Iceland during this time of year (and of course during summer) is that the days seem to be endless!! Early May the sun isn’t setting until 10:30 pm and rising again around 4.00 am! This gives you so many hours to drive and enjoy everything the area has to offer, stop for food when you are hungry and reach your destination at almost any time of day with still some daylight to spare.
We left the Westfjords having completely fallen in love with its sometimes overwhelming energy, beautiful nature and Icelandic people of the finest sort!
Dear Westfjords, thank you for refilling my batteries & charging my soul in these strange Covid times. I will be back before you know it! 💗