Iceland // The West Fjords //

Patreksfjörður

Located on the shores of the southernmost of all the West Fjords, PATREKSFJÖRÐUR is named after Saint Patrick, a bishop from the Scottish islands who acted as spiritual adviser to one of the region’s first settlers, Örlygur Hrappson. With a population of 770, the village now is large enough to exist independently of Ísafjörður, 172km away, and is the only place in the West Fjords outside the regional capital to boast more than the odd shop and restaurant. Over the years, this tiny village has won a reputation for pioneering excellence: trawler fishing in Iceland began here; a particular style of saltfish now popular in Mediterranean markets was developed here; and, somewhat less notably, the town also dispatched the only Icelandic vessel ever to hunt seal in the Arctic.

Built on two sandspits, Geirseyri and Vatnseyri, Patreksfjörður comprises a main road in and out of the town, Strandgata, which runs along the shoreside to the harbour. Several side streets branch off Strandgata’s western end, including Eyrargata, while the main shopping street, Aðalstræti, runs parallel to it. There’s little to do in town other than amble up and down the parallel streets peering in windows, or take a swim in the open-air pool.

Patreksfjörður’s one saving grace is its spectacularly located open-air swimming pool, perched high above the fjord at the western edge of the tiny town centre. As you swim here, you’re treated to uninterrupted views across the fjord to the mountain of Vatnsdalsfjall, which rises on Patrekfjörður’s sandy southern shore; soaking in the hot pots, drinking in the views, is equally as pleasurable. Though the pool should have been built a little longer (the neighbouring graveyard is in the way), a swim here is one of the most restorative and relaxing activities in the whole of the West Fjords region.