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OPEN DURING WINTER IN WEST ICELAND

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OPEN DURING WINTER IN WEST ICELAND

 

Here are listed accommodations, restaurants, museums, galleries and activities you can experience during this winter in West Iceland.

Open during Winter in West Iceland 2014-2015 (download pdf)

Top winter activities in West Iceland

4x4 bike tours
What is more fun than driving ATV/Quad in the snow. At Þórisstöðum you can take a trip on ATV/Quad. Drive up to the mountains and enjoy beautiful view over Hvalfjörður.

Bjarnarhöfn
At Bjarnarhöfn is a Shark museum. There you will get to know how the shark is handled and you can taste it. If you bring with you Icelandic Brennivín and Icelandic tobacco you have the Icelandic tequila.

Boat tour

In the beautiful town Stykkishólmur you can take boat trip around the Breiðarfjörður islands.
Breiðarfjörður has around 3,000 islands, islets and skerries one of them is Flatey island witch is really worth visiting. Several geothermal sites can be found like beautiful basalt columns.

History circle in Borgarnes

Borgarnes has a lot of history and is offend called history town. Tree museums are in Borgarnes the Settlement center, the Eddaveröld and the Borgarnes Museum. These museums mark a circle so it is fun to walk between them

Horseback riding in winter

The Icelandic horse is fair particularly in winter because of their coat of hair which grows quite long during the winter months. This long hair makes them look like mammut. Only thing you need to worry about is not get cold yourself when horseback riding in winter in Iceland.

Jeep tours
Many travel companies specialize in different kinds of jeep exhibitions.
A jeep tour on a glacier with breathtaking views is an unforgettable experience.

Knitting Circle
West Iceland is the perfect destination for knitting, because of the long-established knitting tradition in the area. This, in combination with sightseeing in the beautiful nature West Iceland has to offer will make this trip an unforgettable experience

Langjökull
Langjökull is the second largest Ice cap in Iceland many companies offer super jeep tour to the glacier. The view from the glacier is amazing. In the year 2015 the ice cave will be opened for public then you can travel in to the glacier in a man made tunnel.  

Swimming
In West Iceland we have many swimming pools. NO you won’t get cold! They are all heated so it is really nice to take a dive in the winter.

Vatnshellir Cave
Vatnshellir the 8.000 years old cave located in Snæfellsjökull National Park.
Follow the path of the lava flow, about 200 meters into the cave and 35 meters below the surface to see amazing colors and lava formations. Open all year.

Visit a Farm
Couple of farms in the West Iceland open there farm for visitors but it depends when you come what they have to offer. At Háafell you can pet the goats, Bjarteyjasandur you can hug the lambs, at Erpsstaðir you can get ice-cream from the farm and see how the cows are doing.

Whale watching
The winter in Grundafjörður is one of the best times to see whales. Whales are the giants of the ocean but even so, they can be very difficult to find.  However, Orca trips in Grundarfjörður have had a great success rate of seeing these beautiful creatures.

INTERESTING PLACES IN WEST ICELAND

In this list we will show you part of what West Iceland has to offer, but of course West Iceland has many other highlights to be explored.

 

Into the glacier
The Ice Tunnel and the Caves are located high on Europe‘s second largest Glacier, Langjökull. You will get an amazing opportunity to explore the glacier and see it from the inside. This is once in a Lifetime Experience where you will be taken to the hidden beautiful Ice.

Glymur, Iceland's highest waterfall 
Glymur is Iceland’s tallest Waterfall. The 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. Expect to spend some 3-4 hours of hiking. Note it can be really difficult to hike in the winter.

Hallmundarhraun, includes the longest and the largest Caves in Iceland.
Hallmundarhraun, a Lava Field, was formed in a giant Eruption close to the Langjökull Glacier around the year 930 and is 8-9 cubic kilometres. Hallmundarhraun includes three Caves; Surtshellir/Stefánshellir, combined they are 3500 meters and the longest Lava Cave in Iceland. Víðgelmir is a Lava tube Cave and is the largest of all Lava Caves in Iceland. The tubes Volume is well over 150,000 cubic meters.

Akranes Lighthouses; one of the most picturesque lighthouses in the world!
If you are into Photography or just interested in exploring new Things in Iceland, you need to visit the Lighthouses in Akranes. Down by the Harbour you will notice the two Lighthouses. The bigger one is currently in use and is open to the public. So, when it´s open, you can go up and enjoy the View from there. There is even a Photography Exhibition to enjoy in there.

Breiðafjörður with its amazing Nature and uncountable Islands
Breiðafjörður has around 3,000 Islands, Islets and Skerries. One of them is Flatey, an Island which is really worth visiting. Several geothermal Sites can be found there and beautiful basalt Columns.
Breiðafjörður contains about half of Iceland's intertidal Area and the Tides can be up to six Meters. There are around 50 breeding Bird Species including Common Shag, Glaucous Gull, White-tailed Eagle, Common Eider, Black Guillemot and Grey Phalarope. The area is important staging area for the Brent Goose and the Red Knot. The Common Seal and the Grey Seal have their main haul-out on the Islands and the Skerries. 

Deildartunguhver is the highest flow hot spring in Europe!
Deildartunguhver is Europe's most powerful Hotspring. It provides 180 l/sec of 100°C hot Water.
Most of the Water is used for central heating in the Towns of Borgarnes and Akranes and it 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!

Reykholt; Home of The Prose Edda, the Bible of Norse Mythology. 
The Prose Edda is the most renowned of all works of Scandinavian Literature and our most extensive Source for Norse Mythology. Prose Edda is written by Snorri Sturluson, a 13th-century Author and Politician who lived on a Farm in Reykholt. The Prose Edda is proved to be among the most influential of all Myths and Legends, inspiring diverse modern works, from Wagner's Ring Cycle to Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.
In Reykholt you will find the Museum Snorrastofa which is founded in the Memory of Snorri Sturluson.

Eiríksstaðir; Birthplace of Leifur the Lucky!
Eiríksstaðir is one of most historic Sides of Iceland. Step back to the Viking Era and immerse yourself in the Sights, Sounds and Scents of Eiríkur the Red's Farm which is also the Birthplace of Leifur the Lucky who is said to have discovered North America. Modern day Vikings demonstrate the Lifestyle of 1000 years ago, sharing their Crafts and Knowledge.

The Lava Field Waterfalls is a must see.
Hraunfossar are a Series of Waterfalls formed by a rivulets streaming over a distance of about 900 meters out of the Hallmundarhraun. The Waterfalls come from an underground Freshwater River and goes down the Hraunfossar and into the Whiteriver Hvítá.


Kirkjufell is the most photographed Mountain in Iceland!
Kirkjufell (463m) is a beautifully shaped and a symmetric, free standing mountain.  Its name, which means 'Church Mountain', it probably got because of its shape, reminding of a church tower. Standing next to the Kirkjufellsfoss, you get a great view off the mountain and a perfect shot for your photo.

Snæfellsjökull, the Center of the Earth!
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; the unique landscape, indigenous plants and the animal life as well as important historical relics. At the same time, the Park is meant to allow visitors easier access as well as improved opportunities to get to know the area. 

 

 

Winter break

Travelling in winter in Iceland can be one of the greatest experiences you can have. But this beautiful and rugged landscape also contains some difficulties and dangers for the driver. Travellers should prepare well for each trip and know the conditions of the trails and routes. This is the best way to prevent accidents and to ensure a pleasant and a safe journey.

Winter in Iceland is unpredictable. Iceland is located just south of the Arctic Circle, but thanks to the Gulf Stream, temperatures are cool in summer and remarkably mild in winter. (New York’s winter lows are normally lower than in Iceland). You can have all types of weather in one day; sunshine, the heaviest rain and everything in between. The only thing you can really count on is that the daylight will be short.

In this section you will find information about winter driving in Iceland along with information, tips and links so you can make your trip to Iceland as safe as possible. 

Iceland Winter Break, Winter in West Iceland, is a cooperative project in West Iceland, spearheaded by the West Iceland Marketing Office, that aims to show the travellers everything the area has to offer during winter which is a lot. The participants that took part in this project commit them self to be open in winter. 

Restaurants

There are plenty of restaurants all over the country, ranging from low to high prices and differing in quality, so there should be something to suit everyone´s needs. Whether you are interested in health food or something less wholesome, domestic or foreign cooking, it should be easy to find something tasty.

Driving in Iceland during the Winter

When driving between regions you will often have to drive through mountain passages or heaths. These are usually the most dangerous part of your way since the weather in the mountains can be much worse than down by the seaside. When you do get into a heavy snow or a snowstorm, try to follow the sticks on the sides of the roads, they will keep you on the road until you get to better driving conditions. If you are caught in an Icelandic storm, the rule number one is never to leave your vehicle.

But what to do when driving on ice/snow and you lose control of the car? As soon as you feel you do not have control of the car, take your foot of the gas pedal. Be sure, whatever you do, not to hit the brakes because it would increase your sliding.

Always check the road conditions

The weather is not always the same and can vary in different regions of Iceland. The west Iceland is usually milder while the north and western fjords get more snow. Here below are good websites to use when travelling in Iceland in the winter. Vedur.is is the official website for weather in Iceland. But it doesn’t always give the right picture. Road.is, is the website for the Icelandic Road Administration,  it is the best website to use if you use it correctly.

How to use Road.is

 

The web page road.is presents overview maps showing road conditions and the current situation for all main roads at a given point. The pages also provide information about the weather and the local traffic and show real-time Webcam images of road conditions. If you are unsure then you can call 1777 and ask for the conditions (open 06:30-22:00) or 1778 an automatic telephone service open all day.

Weather signs 

 

If coming across a weather sign, please read the information given carefully.
Óveður means storm. On the road ahead the weather is very bad and you should avoid driving further if possible. Find a place to rest until the weather clears unless there is an emergency
On the signs you can see the temperature, average wind and the strongest wind.
Lokað means closed. The road ahead is closed and you should not continue. Find a place to rest until the weather clears.
 

If the average wind goes over 20 you should take special precautions.

 

Equipment for winter trips in Iceland

Cars must be fitted with good winter tires. Take along appropriate protective clothing in case your have to wait in the car due to weather or road condition. And of course your phone can be your best friend if you get in to trouble. The emergency number is 112. You should also check out the 112 Emergency App.

F-roads / Mountain roads in Iceland

F-roads are mountain roads in the highland of Iceland. The roads can be closed any time of year, depending on road conditions. We do not recommend driving on F-roads over the wintertime and most of them are closed. Some superjeep companies offer tours over F-Roads in winter but those tours are operated in specialized vehicles by expert guides.

Gas stations in Iceland

Gas stations are all over the country, so no worries. Many of the gas stations around the country are self-service so bring your debit or credit card and make sure you remember the pin number to be able to use it. The website GSM bensín tells you the price of fuel in gas stations around the country.

Speed limits in Iceland.

The general speed limit is 30-50 km/hour in populated areas, 80 km/hour on gravel roads in rural areas and 90 km/hour on paved roads. Drivers and all passengers are required by law to wear seatbelts. Older children must wear seatbelts and younger children and infants must be seated in car-safety seats. If you are caught speeding in Iceland you can expect hefty fines so our advice is to follow the law.

Off road driving is illegal in Iceland!

For more information about traveling safely in Iceland, visit safetravel.is

Transport

Whether you plan to drive, take a bus, walk, cycle or even fly around the country, there is
plenty from which to choose.

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