Iceland // The West Fjords //

Hólmavík and the Strandir coast

From Brú in the south to Norðurfjörður in the north, the lonely 220km of the Strandir coast form the West Fjords’ easternmost extremities and one of the least-visited corners of Iceland – if you’re looking to get off the beaten track, this is the place to come. The main entry point, and the region’s only substantial settlement, is Hólmavík, accessed along Route 61 from either Ísafjörður or the Ringroad at Brú – buses run this route three times a week in summer. North of here, the land is rugged, with snowcapped mountains and deeply indented fjords, the setting for some of the country’s most isolated communities, dependent on fishing and sheep farming for their existence. The only thoroughfare, the 80km Route 643, is always in poor condition, prone to landslips and impassable from autumn’s first snows until road maintenance crews break through again in late spring. There’s no public transport, but it’s worth making every effort to drive this earth road to really experience the wild and pioneering spirit of Iceland, notably at Djúpavík, a former herring-fishing village that’s now all but abandoned, and is home to one of the West Fjords’ most welcoming hotels. Beyond here, the road battles on north towards Iceland’s most remote airport, Gjögur, handy for reaching this forgotten corner of the country, and end-of-the-road Norðurfjörður, where it finally expires, marking the jumping-off point for ambitious overland treks north towards the uninhabited wilds of Hornstrandir.