Despite its size (40,000 square miles), most of Iceland's modest population is nestled in the southwestern corner, making the Westfjords a truly remote destination.
The Westfjords Peninsula is connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus, adding to the region’s atmosphere of mystical isolation. The landscape is characterized by large fjords — inlets from the sea surrounded by towering mountains. The area's lack of flat land makes it inhospitable to human life. In fact, in 2007 the entire Westfjords region accounted for just slightly more than 2% of Iceland's total population.
Wedged between Arnarfjörður and Dýrafjörður, just 19 miles to the north, is an area known as the "Alps of the Westfjords." The mountains here are uncharacteristically pointy and much taller than other peaks in the region. Here, you'll find Kaldbakur, the tallest point in the Westfjords region, standing proudly among the fjords.
Characteristics of Arnarfjörður
Arnarfjörður is the second-largest fjord in Westfjords and stretches for more than 19 miles through the snowy mountain peaks and rugged terrain of northern Iceland. It’s famed for its diverse landscapes, including an immense lake and volcanic ash mountains that tower triumphantly above the water in hues of gray.
Towns and villages close to Arnarfjörður
Nestled along the banks of Arnarfjörður is the picturesque town of Bíldudalur. The fjord grants the town great shelter, protecting it from wild winds off the Atlantic, and for this reason, the town is affectionately known as the “good-weather capital of the Westfjords.” Despite its small population of around 200, a vibrant music culture has thrived here for decades, and Bíldudalur even hosts an annual folk music festival.
A short hop away from Arnarfjörður is the village of Þingeyri, located on a small spit of land jutting out into the water. Although small, Þingeyri is very important to both locals and tourists visiting the surrounding countryside, offering services such as a post office, a local sports hall, and a swimming pool.
There are plenty of museums around the Westfjords region, offering you the chance to learn about the history of the local community and natural environment. The Icelandic Sea Monster Museum recounts Icelandic mythology and the many creatures said to have inhabited the icy waters around the fjords. The Natural History Museum of Bolungarvík displays more than 250 stuffed birds, along with numerous sea mammals and creatures found on land.
Dynjandi Waterfall in the Bay of Dynjandisvogur is one of the undisputed highlights of Arnarfjörður. This natural site is a series of waterfalls with a total height of over 328 feet. Water cascades over the clifftops and crashes to the rocky landscapes below, making it one of the most beautiful sights in the country.
Arnarfjörður is one of the many spectacular fjords that make up one of Iceland's most remote areas, the Westfjords. From the small villages that pepper the shores to the soaring mountains above, this remote region is beautiful, tranquil, and undisturbed.