West Iceland

West Iceland is known for its stunning national parks and wild Atlantic coastlines. Here you have the chance to explore some of Iceland’s best-loved landmarks and natural attractions.

Rooftops of the town of Borgarnes, West Iceland
Hraunfossar waterfall with autumnal colors
The Barnafoss waterfall
Rooftops of the town of Borgarnes, West Iceland
Hraunfossar waterfall with autumnal colors

More attractions in West Iceland

FAQs about West Iceland

The two main things West Iceland is best known for are the capital Reykjavík and the Snæfellsnes peninsula. If you’re basing yourself in the city, you can easily take day tours and trips out to see the spectacular scenery that Iceland is so famous for.

The Snæfellsnes peninsula is often referred to as ‘Iceland in Miniature’. Here you can find towering waterfalls, the Kirkjufell mountain (featured in Game of Thrones), Europe’s most powerful hot spring, and the glacier that gives the peninsula its name.

West Iceland is also home to dairy farms, and many of them make excellent ice cream! Icelandic skyr and cheese are made here too, so be sure to try some local produce.

There’s plenty to experience in this slice of Iceland. Visit here and you could:

  • Hit the hiking trails and explore amazing West Iceland on foot. Many overlook incredible scenery such as the Langjökull glacier, black sand beaches, and the twin waterfalls of Barnafoss and Hraunfossar.
  • Travel deep into the lava caves or stroll around the villages on the coast.
  • See waterfalls such as Glymur, Iceland’s highest waterfall.
  • Take a dip in one of the many hot springs available for bathing when you need to rest up. Many are linked to the powerful Deildartunguhver geothermal spring, but luckily there are plenty safe for soaking in.
  • Get a taste of Icelandic farming life, You can head up to Háafell and see the native Icelandic goat! Meet and greet the herd of these sure-footed creatures.
  • Say hello to the unique Icelandic horse, or even try riding one at the many horse farms in the region.

West Iceland covers an area of approximately 9,554 square kilometers (3,689 square miles). It’s one of the smaller regions of Iceland, but it still has plenty to offer.

The Snæfellsnes peninsula, a key part of West Iceland, is 90 square kilometers (56 square miles).

You don’t have to stay in the capital to experience Iceland. The west region offers many towns and villages you can visit and stay in, perfect if you are on a road trip or camping:

  • Akranes – Just 40 minutes from Reykjavík, Akranes sits on the coast of Iceland in the shadow of Mount Akrafjall. Family-friendly attractions include museums, beaches, and the popular lighthouse.
  • Borgarnes – Located in the Borgarfjörður area, Borgarnes is the gateway to the Snæfellsnes peninsula. This historic town is one of Iceland’s oldest, and is well worth the stop. The surrounding region has plenty to offer, including salmon fishing, forests, and horse farms.
  • Reykholt – This hamlet has lots of geothermal activity, with nearby hot springs ready and waiting for you. The famous Icelandic historian Snorri Sturluson also lived here in the Middle Ages. Take the time to find out more about his work in writing the Prose Edda.
  • Húsafell – While not technically a village, the estate of Húsafell is a fantastic place to visit. The church rectory and farm estate has become a hub for travelers in recent years, offering a place to rest on your journey. It’s also very close to the twin waterfalls and lava caves – join a tour as part of your visit!

The Icelandic Ring Road, also known as Route 1, goes through West Iceland up until it reaches the town of Borgarnes. The route then splits, with Route 1 carrying on towards the north of the country.

You can pick up Route 54 at Borgarnes which will take you into the peninsula and the more remote parts of west and north west Iceland.

Yes! There are a few famous lava caves in West Iceland that you should definitely include on your itinerary.

Víðgelmir lava cave is one of the biggest and easiest to access. It forms part of a bigger lava tube which can be found in Hallmundarhraun. There are incredible mineral colors and lava formations you can see.

Near to Húsafell you can visit Surtshellir, a mile-long lava cave that also has ice formations in it. This is another lava tube and is part of the Hallmundarhraun lava field.

Seeing these adorable seabirds is often high on the list of must-see things in Iceland. Luckily, West Iceland offers some great places to see them!

Just north of the Snæfellsnes peninsula you can visit Elliðaey island. This remote outcrop is perfect for spotting puffins tending their nests and fishing in the summer.

Make sure you time your visit right with the puffins arrival if you want to see them! Summer is the best time to see puffins: May to August are the months when they are most active.


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