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Interesting towns and villages

Interesting towns and 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.   


Budardalur is the main administrative and service centre in the Dalabyggd region.

Few parts of Iceland are as rich in history as Dalabyggd, where records go back virtually unbroken to the Settlement in the 9th and 10th centuries.

On the 24th July 2000, a replica of a Viking ship, Islendingur (Icelander), set sail from Budardalur harbour en route for Greenland and America, retracing the first Viking voyages to North America.

From Reykjavík City Centre to Budardalur: 153 km.

Tourist Information Office, guesthouse, camping site, restaurant and café.


Borgarnes lies in the middle of West Iceland about 75 km from Reykjavík City Centre.
In Borgarnes you can create an unforgettable holiday: breakfast and a beautiful view at Geirabakarí, Relaxing in the Skallagrímsgarður public Park, Visiting the bird and photography exhibition at the Borgarnes Museum, watching the saga exhibits at the Settlement Centre. hiking in Einkunnir Country Park or climbing the Hafnarfjall mountain. Shopping in the local stores, take a dive at the Borgarnes Swimming Pool, eating delicious meal made from local products in the restaurants, and resting in one of the town's hotel, guesthouse, or B&Bs.

And don't forget to take a walk along the beach or stop at the playground Bjössaróló were children of all ages can play for hours.


Stykkishólmur is located by Breiðafjörður Bay on the north of Snæfellsnes peninsula, and is surrounded by wonderful views of the innumberable islands. One of the defining landmarks in Stykkishólmur are the old houses which reside in the old city center and this is reflected in the atmosphere – it sometimes feels like a place from a different time. In 2008 Stykkishólmur was presented with a planning award in part for its renovation of the old houses. The town and its inhabitants have systematically rehabilitated the houses, and they have gained new and exciting purposes – what once was a library is now an art installation, a fish packing house is now a restaurant, the old recreation center is now a volcano museum!  The church in Stykkisholmur is an fascinating architectural structure. It makes a beautiful landmark both from land and sea. The view from the church over Breidarfjordur is spectacular.

Stykkisholmur is, as we mentioned above, known as the gateway to the innumerable islands of Breidafjordur bay, which is renowned for its natural beauty and remarkable wildlife. We have plenty of ways to explore these sight on different levels via kayaking and tour boats of all sizes.

Stykkishólmur boasts of a great swimmingpool, that includes an indoor and outdoor pool, a large water slide and hot tubs with water with healing properties certified by the Institut Fresenius. In Stykkishólmur we have open wi-fi access for tourists, numerous hotels, youth hostels, bed and breakfasts, a large camping site and a 9-hole golf course. In Stykkishólmur everyone should be able to find a restaurant to their liking as there is not only many of theme here, but they also cater to diverse tastes.

Within the city center you can visit three unique museums: The Volcano museum, The Library of Water and The Norwegian House.

The Volcano museum is The private collection of Haraldur Sigurðsson, a renowned volcanologist who has carried out research on colvanoes worldwide. Aunique exhibition of international art and objects related to volcanoes and their impact on our historu. Enjoy or movies of volcanic eruption all aroud the world

The Library of Water is an istallation of 24 glass columns, by the artist Roni Horn, containing melted ice from some of the major glaciers around iceland. The glass colums refract and reflect the light onto a rubber floor embedded with a field of words that concern with weather, water, words and identities.

The Norwegian house serves as the regional museum for the Snæfellsnes area. The house has been renovated back to it original style, with an open storage on the top floor. Rotating exhibiton as wrll as a museum shop with handicraft, sweets, coffee from the area.

Stykkisholmur has been the frontrunner in environmental consciousness in Iceland and along with the four other municipalities on the Snaefellsnes peninsula it is the first community in Europe to get  the EarthCheck environmental certification. The town is operated in as environmental friendly way as possible continually measuring various environmental indicators. The town was also the first municipality in Iceland to start fully sorting its waste as well as the first town in Iceland to receive the prestigious Blue flag eco-label for its harbour, and has been an European Destination of Excellence (EDEN), since 2011.


Akranes is just a stone's throw away from the capital largest town in West Iceland with the population 7.421.

The Museum Area at Gardar is without a doubt the cultural centre of Akranes and a popular destination for tourists. Not far from there is the highly-praised 18-hole Gardavollur golf course and, likewise, the Gardalundur outdoor area with a playground for children of all ages.

The swimming pool at Jadarsbakki are also just a few minutes from the Museum Area.

If you are into photography or just interested in exploring new things in Iceland you need to look at Akranes lighthouses. Down by the harbour you will notice two lighthouses. The bigger one that is currently in use is open to the public so you can go up and enjoy the view from there and there is even a photography exhibition to enjoy in there.

At Langisandur beach you can bathe in the ocean, build sandcastles and enjoy the view. You can also bathe in Guðlaug, a hot pool located in the rockgarden of Langisandur.

From Reykjavik City Centre to Akranes 49 km. There is a regular bus service from Reykjavik to Akranes several times a day.

Guesthouses, camping site, restaurant, café, museum, swimming pool and an 18- hole golf course.


For centuries Hvanneyri has been a chuch centre and a small comunity of 250 inhabitants formed around agricultural organizations. The main one is the Agricultural Universtity, which traces its roots back to 1889.

The little church now standing in Hvanneyri was built in 1905.

The Agricultural Museum exhibits antique tractors and farming tools and Ullarselid is a woollen and handicrafts workshop.
From Reykjavik City Centre: 80 km.


Home to Mt Kirkjufell.

Grundarfjörður is a picturesque town situated on the fjord of Breiðafjörður. The town is located right next to Kirkjufell mountain which is certainly one of the most famous mountains in Iceland, if not the world. Mt. Kirkjufell is the landmark of Grundarfjörður and visible from all angles in town.

It is not unusual for photographers from all over the world to make their way to Grundarfjörður for the sole purpose of photographing this unique mountain which has even starred in a number of films. But there is a lot more on offer in Grundarfjörður than merely magnificent mountains. Nature abounds, with vibrant birdlife, spectacular waterfalls, great hiking trails and exciting marine visitors such as seals and whales putting in an appearance every now and then.

During the long summer days, there are daily boat trips where visitors can go deep sea fishing, see puffins and other beautiful birds and perhaps even catch sight of a whale or two.

Grundarfjörður is the perfect location for people who wish to stay for one or more nights in the area. It is conveniently located in the middle of Snæfellsnes and provides easy access to Stykkishólmur, Snæfellsbær and the Snæfellsnes National Park.

There is a great selection of accommodation available, with hotels and hostels, home guesthouses, and a campsite by the swimming pool.

The swimming pool with its hot tubs is just one of a number of exciting services around the town. There is also a golf course, family restaurants, a coffee shop, an information centre with some interesting exhibits, horse rentals, a pharmacy, a liquor store, a dry cleaning and laundry service and a well-stocked grocery store. Nice walking and hiking trails are marked up to the mountains and give spectacular view over the Kirkjufell mountain where it stands separated from the mountain range.

Though most visitors to Grundarfjörður arrive by road, there are also thousands that come by sea. Grundarfjörður Harbour makes every effort to make a cruise ship's visit comfortable and memorable for passengers and crew alike and as a result the number of cruise ships visits have increased from 2 in 2001 to no fewer than around 50 in summer 2019.

During summer the town truly comes alive in a number of different ways. During the town festival, "á góðri stund", which is held the last weekend in July, the town literally changes color when inhabitants and their guests decorate their houses in red, blue, yellow and green and indulge in a range of activities for all the family, from art exhibitions to concerts on the pier


Olafsvik is a town on the northern side of Snaefellsnes peninsula, close to the magnificent glacier, Snaefellsjokull.

Olafsvik has a large fishing harbour which is ideal for watching the lively seamans life.

An old warehouse, built in 1844, is now protected and houses a museum, with exhibits displaying working methods from ancient times.

At the end of Baejargil gorge is the beautiful Baejarfoss waterfall. Snaefellsjokull National Park with its amazing nature is in the vicinity.

Distance from Reykjavik City Centre: 195 km.

Tourist Information Office, hotel, guesthouse, camping site, restaurant, museum, Maritime Museum, swimming pool and a 9-hole golf course.

Hellissandur & Rif

Hellissandur was once a major fishing centre but Rif was one of the main trading ports on Snaefellsnes peninsula. Most of the villages' fishing fleet is now based at Rif. These two villages are only 2 km apart.

The Maritime Museum at Hellisssandur has displays that include Iceland´s oldest rowboat, built in 1826.

The area between Hellissandur and Rif is a bird-lovers' paradise and one of the largest arctic tern nesting areas in Iceland.

Snaefellsjokull National Park is on the doorstep of Hellissandur.

From Reykjavik City Centre to Hellissandur:195 km.

Hotel, camping site, restaurant, cafés and museum.


Bifrost is a university village with a population of 200 but during the winter months 600 - 700 people live there.

Bifrost is a direct descendant of the Cooperative School, which was founded in Reykjavík in 1918. In summer 1955 the school was moved to Bifrost, in the valley of Nordurardalur, in the Borgarfjordur area.

Close by is Mt Baula, Glanni Waterfall and a 9-hole golf course named after the waterfall Glanni.

From Reykjavik City Centre: 107 km.

Restaurant and a 9 - hole golf course close by.


Hvalfjörður (Whale Fjord),only 50 km from Reykjavik, gives an excellent opportunity to enjoy the unique beauty of Icelandic fjords,with its sloops, shores, canyons and waterfalls and its somewhat controversial history of whaling. The area is especially quiet and tranquil with few people around. Glymur, the highest waterfall of Iceland (198 m) is in Hvalfjordur.


Borgarnes and the surrounding Borgarfjörður region can be regarded as the setting for most of the Icelandic sagas. The area's landscape, nature and culture reflect this heritage and bring history to life

Snaefellsnes Peninsula


The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is a region in Western Iceland, located between Reykjavík and the Westfjords. The area, easily accessible all year round and a short two hour drive from the capital area, is a popular destination amongst tourists and Icelanders alike.

The Peninsula is known for incredibly beautiful and dramatic landscapes, and a common knowledge amongst Icelanders is that the area is the only part of Iceland where you can see all of the unique natural elements in one place. In other words, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula has everything to offer, from untouched lava fields, tall volcanoes, mystical glacier and black beaches to white beaches, a National Park and hazardous cliffs along the coastline. Uniquely diverse geology, folklore, sagas, ecology, food and more have enough to offer for several days.

Simply put, the area is a true paradise for the outdoor enthusiast and, with magical sights on every turn, a feast for lovers of photography. Make sure you bring that extra battery as this is the perfect place to explore Iceland.

Snæfellsjökull National Park

The symbol of the area is the mysterious Snæfellsjökull glacier, located near the tip of the peninsula, and where the National Park was established in 2001. Its mystique and majestic features have inspired many throughout the years, including French writer Jules Verne and Icelandic Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness. 

The Park's purpose is to protect and conserve the area's 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.

Captivating Nature 

The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is known for its vivid wildlife and picturesque surroundings. Such as Kirkjufell mountain, hugely popular since it’s appearance in Game of Thrones, and the beautiful town of Stykkishólmur, with colorful houses and vivid museums, as seen in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The waters around the peninsula, especially in Breiðafjörður bay on its northern side, are bountiful with diverse ecosystems and sources of food that have sustained the population throughout its history. Breiðafjörður and its ecosystem is preserved by law. Its inner part is characterized by countless little islands and strong tidal currents. Various species can be seen in the area, such as the white-tailed eagle and puffins. Whales and seals are a common sight and the arctic fox can be spotted in the National Park and surrounding areas. Sandy beaches on the south of the peninsula are perfect for horse riding.

We care about the environment...

The community of Snæfellsnes has for a long time emphasized on sustainable development in all areas of society. Therefore, the municipalities have jointly been working on their diverse collaboration with businesses, associations and organizations resulting in a formation of the Snæfellsnes Regional Park – forming a complex landscape and cultural whole. The cooperation is based on a common vision of the uniqueness of the area and its utilization and especially its protection.  In addition, Snæfellsnes has been awarded EarthCheck destination certification confirming an environmentally conscious community that strives for improvements in the spirit of sustainable work practices. This experience, further emphasized by globally increasing enthusiasm for sustainability, social responsibility and food traceability, provides good encouragement for further steps.

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 Bjarteyjarsandur