West Iceland (Vesturland) is a short drive from Reykjavik, and a perfect first stop-off point on a clockwise Iceland Ring Road tour. This is a place for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts – blessed with mountains and stratovolcanoes, lava fields, thundering cascades, and picture-postcard towns.
Just a short detour from the main circular route, the red-roofed village of Reykholt attracts literary lovers with connections to the most popular ‘Icelandic Sagas’, and it’s home to some of the islands oldest geothermal springs. And, on the northern shores of Snæfellsnes Peninsula, the pretty town of Stykkisholmur promises glimpses of the Aurora Borealis, orcas, and whales at certain times of the year.
Discover the blond sand beach of Skardsvik hemmed in by lava rocks or venture to the black pebble beach of Djúpalónssandur to see birdlife, shipwrecks, and the ‘lifting stones’ – four large boulders set to test the strength of potential fishermen.
The subglacial stratovolcano of Snæfellsjökull is a highlight of West Iceland. The towering behemoth is steeped in mysticism as locals believe it possesses a source of ancient power – so much so, that it inspired the portal to another world in the Jules Verne classic ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’.
Visit Iceland’s most photographed mountain Kirkjufell, also known as Arrow Head Mountain, and the nearby by waterfalls, and see the famous wooden black church of Budakirkja on the periphery of a huge lava field.
Continue an exploration of West Iceland underground, navigating the 8,000 year old lava tubes of Vatnshellir cave or marvel at the aquarium blue hues of Langjökull ice cave – the largest man-made ice tunnel in the world.
Finally, spend a day at one of the regions beautiful waterfalls – Glymur – the island’s second tallest, or the lava waterfalls of Hraunfossar tucked away in Borgarfjörður fjord – both majestic subjects for nature photography.