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Highlights

Akrafjall Mountain

Akrafjall is a picturesque mountain close to Akranes. The mountain offers one of the best views in West Iceland across Faxafloi Bay and a panoramic view from Reykjanes to Snaefellsjokull Glacier.

The mountain was smoothed on the top by a glacier and surrounded by water during the Ice Age.

It is easy to ascend the mountain from the Akranes Water Works car park, where a sign points the way to Haihnukur (555m), the shoulder on the right side of the mountain seen from Akranes. A visitor's book is at the top. A somewhat longer hike takes you to the highest peak in the range, Geirmundartindur (643m).

Arnarstapi

Arnarstapi was an important trading post in the past and had a much bigger population than it has now.

Columnar basalt, ravines and grottoes surround the Arnarstapi pier. There is good anchorage for small boats.

There is quite a large arctic tern colony in the village itself. A walk along the coastline is recommended to watch the birds and the magnificent lava formations. The seaside and the cliffs between Arnastapi and Hellnar have been made a Natural Reserve in 1979.

A very interesting old path follows the coastline where you can see old lending places of fishermen, lots of birds like the kittiwake, the Arctic tern and the fulmar and pass through a lavafield. If you take a guided tour, you will also hear a ghost story.

A sculpture of Bardur Snaefellsas by Ragnar Kjartansson stands by the beach at Arnarstapi.

Brakarey Island

Brakarey is connected to the mainland by a bridge. The island was named after Egill's nanny and Skalla-Grimur´s slave Thorgerdur brak, after Skalla-Grimur killed her and she drowned in the sea near it. From the island is a great view over Borgarfjord.

Deildartunguhver thermal spring

Deildartunguhver highest flow hot spring in Europe !
Deildartunguhver is Europe's most powerful hot spring. It provides 180 l/sec of 100°C hot water.
Most of the water used for central heating in the towns of Borgarnes and Akranes is taken from Deildartunguhver. The hot water pipeline to Akranes is 64 km long, the longest in Iceland and the water is about 78 - 80 degrees when it reaches Akranes. If you take a shower anywhere within a 65 km radius of the spring, you have already bathed in the hot water from this powerful spring!

Djupalonssandur & Dritvik

Djupalonssandur is a beautiful pebbled beach, with a series of rocks of mysterious form emerging from the ocean.

It is one of the few areas that lead down to the sea along this coast with its high dramatic cliffs. Watch out for the famous ghosts roaming the place!

The rests of a shipwreck can be seen on the beach. On the beach there are also big stones which people tried to lift and test their strength in the days of the fishing stations: Fully Strong 154 kg, Half-Strong 100 kg, Weakling 54 kg and Bungler 23 kg. Weakling marked the frontier of wimphood, any man who couldn't lift it was deemed unsuitable for a life as a fisherman.

Eirik the Red´s homestead.

One of most historic sides of Iceland. Step back to the Viking Era and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and scents of Eriks the Red's farm which is also the birthplace of Leif the Lucky who is said to have discovered America. Modern day vikings demonstrate the lifestyle of 1000 years ago, sharing their crafts and knowledge.

Flatey Island

Beautifully kept old houses in cheerful colours line the dusty path through the settlement of Flatey island. Walk through it, and at the end of the settlement, the path becomes even narrower and more crooked, taking you through a dense population of birds, consisting mainly of Arctic terns. Two families stay on the island throughout the winter, but many more migrate during the summer, mainly for leisure but also to serve tourists.

In a charming way, it feels very much like a movie set. And so it is. Many movies are set on the island, most notably The Honour of the House based on a short story by Nobel Prize winner Halldór Laxness, and White Night Wedding, a movie by Baltasar Kormákur. In fact, Baltasar's father painted the unusual altar piece in the island's church, making it worthy of a visit.

In summertime, a ferry goes to Flatey twice a day from Stykkishólmur and Brjánslækur, and, albeit less frequently, a passenger boat offers connection to Reykhólar.

Garðalundur park

Garðarlundur country park, protected for recreational use and the preservation of the typical landscape of the area. The areas' main characteristics are its rocky islands or bluffs that rise from the areas' vast flat wetlands.

Gerduberg basalt columns

An impressive wall of beautiful basalt columns, forming geometric patterns in the cliffs.

Glanni Waterfall

The Glanni Waterfall on the Norðurá River is said to be the dwelling place of elves and trolls. However, during our visit, we noticed that this waterfall was situated near a golf course nearby an old lava flow (called the Grábrókarhraun lava field) and the hamlet of Bifröst. The falls was one of those wide river-type waterfalls that we saw quite a few of in the country, but this one segmented into at least three side-by-side drops as well as each one having multiple tiers.

Glymur

Iceland's tallest waterfall, is located in Botnsdalur valley, Hvalfjörður. Leading up to it is a fabulous hiking path that should only be attempted by those not daunted by heights or challenging hikes. Glymur is in the river Botnsá that runs out of Hvalvatn, which is a lake closed by molten lava, some 160 metres deep. In Hvalfjordur in West Iceland you can stand in awe before Iceland's highest waterfall. Standing by the fall you'll have a good view of the surrounding landcape, which is is particularly attractive, as Hvalfjordur is widely considered one of Iceland's most beautiful fjords.The walk, approximately 4 hours roundtrip, will take you from the trailhead at Botnsa river through spectacular scenery including a rock arch and will have you crossing a crystal clear river on a strategically placed log.

Grabrok Crater

The largest of three craters in a short volcanic fissure.

Beautiful scenery over Borgarfjordur is from the top of the Grabrok crater. Mt. Grabrok can be ascended by a marked trail from the main Ring road no. 1.

Gudrunarlaug

According to Laxdaela saga, Gudrun Osvifursdóttir used to dwell by a geothermal pool in Laugar in Saelingsdalur. The pool is mentioned in Sturlunga saga and it seems to have been used a great deal.

The pool is believed to have been destroyed in a landslide. In 2009 a new pool was built near to the location where the old pool is thought to have been situated and named Gudrunarlaug.

A changing facility, referred to as a "house of modesty" in Icelandic, was also built at the same time.

Hallgrim's Church

Church built in 1957 as a tribute to the 17th-century hymn writer Hallgrimur Petursson, one of Iceland's best-loved poets.

Hallgrimur Petursson served at Saurbaer 1651-1669, a poor leprous pastor who composed Iceland's most widely known religious work, 50 Passion Hymns. Reykjavik's Hallgrimskirkja church is also named after him.

Hallgrimur was married to a woman who had been abducted from the Westman Islands by Algerian pirates and bought free again.

The church contains beautiful stained glass work by one of the first widely known Icelandic woman artist Gerdur Helgadóttir.

Helgafell Holy Mountain

Holy Mountain, 73 m with a breathtaking panoramic view across Breiðafjordur Bay. A viewing dial is at the top.

Folklore advises anyone climbing the mountain for the first time to walk straight up without looking back or speaking and three wishes will be granted. The wishes have to be of good intent and the wisher tells no one and faces east when making them.

A small remnant of a wall on the mountain top is dated 1184 and was a part of a nearby monastery built at this time.

Kirkjufell mountain

Grundarfjörður's beautiful landmark is the most photographed mountain in Iceland. Its isolated position jutting out into the sea makes it a focal point for tourists and seamen alike. Surrounded by beaches, Kirkjufell has a lovely walking trail around it as well as a more challenging climb up to the top where bird and fish fossils can be found (guide is recommended).

Krosshólaborg

Auður djúpúðga ( Auður the Deep minded) was one of the settlers in Dalir. She was a Christian and had a cross raised at Krosshólaborg, where she went to pray. Her descentants considered Krosshólaborg a holy place. Women in Dalir set up a memorial of Auður, a stone cross in 1965. The remains of Auður´s first farm, Auðartóftir, are nearby.

Langjokull Glacier

Langjokull Glacier is the second largest glacier in Iceland, and is approximately 18 km from Husafell (tourist resort).

Excursions onto the glacier are offered from the base of the glacier. On a clear day the view from the glacier is beyond compare.

Lava Waterfalls

Hraunfossar - Lava Falls - are beautiful and unusual natural phenomena. Clear, cold springs of subterranean water seep through the lava and run as tiny waterfalls and rapids into the Hvita River.

Hraunfossar have been protected since 1987.

There is a viewpoint at the car park offering an amazing view over the Lava Falls and Hvita River.

A coffee shop at the waterfalls is open during the summer months.

Laxness Museum

Gljufrasteinn was the home and workplace of the Nobel Prize winner, author Halldor Kiljan Laxness and his family for over 50 years.

The house which was built in 1945 is a good example of a 20th century Icelandic cultural home and has remained unchanged since the writer lived there.

Gljufrasteinn is now a museum with audio-guides in Icelandic, English, Swedish and German. There is a souvenir shop and multimedia show in the reception.

This is a perfect resting place en-route to West Iceland or to Thingvellir.

There are music recitals every Sunday during summer. Readings of Icelandic authors on the weekends in December.

Londrangar basalt cliffs

Uniquely-formed remnants of ancient basalt volcanic dikes sticking out from the sea.

Londrangar and the hill Svalthufa are the remains of a crater, which has been eroded to its present form by the sea.

The farmers in the area never made or make hay on the hill, because it is said to belong to the elves living in the area.

Younger lava fields surround this old crater ruin. The higher pillar (75m) was first climbed in 1735 and the lower (61 m) in 1938.

Below the hill you may find Thufubjarg cliff where according to a folktale the poet Kolbeinn Joklaskald had an encounter with the Devil.

On these cliffs, puffins and fulmars have their nests.

Reykholt

Reykholt is one of Iceland's most notable historical sites. It houses a cultural centre and a church.

Reykholt is most famous for being the home of Iceland's best-known author Snorri Sturluson during the years 1206-1241. An ancient geothermally-heated pool, Snorralaug, is named after him. It is one of the few things preserved whole from Iceland´s medieval period.

Snorrastofa is a cultural centre and institute for research in medieval studies. Snorrastofa offers historical exhibitions and guided tours and lectures. Music recitals are held in the church of Reykholt.

Visit Reykholts website www.snorrastofa.is

There is one hotel in Reykholt see more here.

Snaefellsjokull glacier

The Snæfellsjökull glacier is 1446m above sea level. The glacier is an active volcano, having been built up through numerous eruptions during the last 800,000 years. Many believe the glacier to be one of the seven main energy centres of the earth and its mystique is noticed by many. The glacier plays big role as the Center of the Earth in the novel Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864) by Jules Verne. Snæfellsjökull is a part of the Snæfellsjökull National Park which was established on June 28, 2001. The Park's purpose is to protect and conserve the areas unique landscape, indigenous plant and animal life as well as important historical relics. At the same time, the Park is meant to allow visitors easier as well as improved opportunities to get to know the area.

Troll Waterfalls

The Troll Waterfalls of the Grimsa river. There is a clear formation in the form of a troll face in the cliff by the river bank.

Take the troll walk and learn about trolls, folk tales and places that connect to the nature and scenery at Fossatun.

An extraordinary view and good spot to see the Skessuhorn mountain peak. Excellent for witnessing jumping salmon in the summer.

Vatnshellir Cave

Exploring Vatnshellir cave is truly amazing and unforgettable experience. This 8000 year old lava tube reaches over 200 meters and goes 35 meters below the surface.

During summer, guided tours are offered from 10am-6pm. During wintertime 2 tours a day are offered. Please check on the website www.vatnshellir.is.

All guests will be equipped with flashlights and helmets.

Hiking shoes and warm clothes reccommended.

10 minute drive west of Arnarstapi. 25 minute drive south of Hellissandur.

Further info: vatnshellir@vatnshellir.is www.vatnshellir.is +354-665-2818

Vidgelmir Cave

Víðgelmir is the largest of all caves in Iceland, 148,000 cubic metres, and one of the largest lava caves in the world. It has beautiful ice formations and deep inside there are lava stalactites and stalagmites.

Bones and jewelry from the viking age are a part of the archeological remains found in the cave in 1993. It has been preserved since 1993 and entrance is only allowed with proper guidance. Guides from "The Cave" arrange short (1,5 hour) and long (4 hours) tours. Please contact The Cave for information, availability and schedule.

Víðgelmir lava cave is considered by specialists to be one of the most remarkable caves on earth.

West Iceland

Towns & Villages

The population centres in West Iceland are as varied as they are many. Ten places have over 50 residents and Akranes is the most densely populated with 6,500 inhabitants. 

All of the larger communities put ever-increasing emphasis on dynamic tourism where a wide selection of recreation and services are offered.   

Explore map by categories

Map Hellissandur, Rif Grundarfjörður Stykkishólmur Búðardalur Dalir Arnarstapi Hellnar Snæfellsnes Bifröst Húsafell Reykholt Borgarfjörður Hvanneyri Borgarnes Hvalfjörður Akranes Ólafsvík