The Westfjörðs are Iceland's most rugged region. This area of unspoiled nature is accessible only by water and each fjord has its own distinctive character.Most inhabitants live by fishing and many tiny fishing villages rest at the foot of the cliffs and mountains.Known for its peace and quiet, the area is ideal for hiking.Whales are sighted and the shore is home to a variety of bird-life.In the Westfjörðs, the mountains are so steep that the sun can not be seen over them for months on end.
Látrabjarg - Bird-watching
The cliffs of Látrabjarg in the Westfjörðs are the largest known bird cliffs in the world. A great variety of cliff-nesting species can be found there including the largest razorbill colony in the world. Puffins are plentiful, as are guillemots, cormorants, gulls and kittiwakes.Seals are a normal site on the rocks to the north and whales are often sighted.
The capital of the Westfjörðs is Ísafjörður. This somewhat isolated fjord has two valleys, Tungudalur and Engidalur, and is surrounded by steep mountains.Ísafjörður town has 3,500 people and is partially situated on a spit of land protruding into the Skutulsfjörður.The town has a long history of being one of the largest fishing industry centers in Iceland. Neðstikaupstaður, a part of Ísafjörður town contains the best-preserved cluster of 18th C houses in Iceland once belonging to Danish monopoly merchants.Ísafjörður is becoming a popular port of call with cruise-ship passengers.
West Fjords Maritime Museum
An extensive maritime museum, which includes the country's oldest house, Tjoruhusið built in 1734.The museum is in a part of town called Neðstikaupstaður, where Iceland's oldest group of restored houses are situated.The museum includes a collection of traditional tools and relics, maritime exhibits, photographs and nautical paraphernalia.
Hnífsdalur is a hamlet on the Harpoon Bay 4km/2.5mi north of Ísafjörð. Short, narrow, and surrounded by steep mountains, the valley is no stranger to avalanches.This risk renders the houses of the village totally worthless and all inhabitants are evacuated during avalanche warnings.
Tungudalur is a valley 2km/1.25mi west of Ísafjörður where there is a large golf course, ski slopes, campsites and hiking routes around the forested area.Set within its natural solitude are waterfalls and birch trees.
The Ice House on Fjardarstraeti contains a group of paintings depicting the history of ice collection in Iceland.
This valley is a pleasant hike in summer.Wintertime there is a small ski lodge with illuminated slopes and level terrain for cross-country skiing.
Ísafjörður City Park
The centerpiece of this colorful flower garden is the massive whale jaw-bone arch. The seamen's memorial stands across the street.