Peak the Westfjords

The often-demanding routes to the top of the region’s tallest mountains are best undertaken with the help of a guide. The Westfjords is already a beautiful and remote region, but high above sea level the lonely tranquillity is next level.

The photo ops are as endless and unparalleled as the landscape and it is one thing to hear of their beauty, but quite another to experience them first hand. Hiking trails in the Westfjords are usually across grassy valleys (dalir in Icelandic), hillsides, and mountain passes. In many places you can find sheep-trails that make the walking easier, but often you need to traverse rough hillsides. It is important to pace yourself according to your ability.

Kaldbakur (998m)

At 998 metres, this is the tallest mountain in the Westfjords region, one of the ‘Westfjords alps’ and can be found between Dýrafjörður and Arnarfjörður fjords. The entire peninsula between these two fjords offers unlimited options for hiking enthusiasts. Most Westfjords mountains are flat topped as a result of Ice Age glaciers, but the “Alps” are tall and pointy, and Kaldbakur tops the list. From the top of Kaldbakur the view is outstanding in all directions. Virtually all of the Westfjords and Snæfellsnes peninsula are visible from the top. The village of Þingeyri can be found on the coast of Dýrafjörður fjord as well.

from Fossdalur

Drive past the farm Auðkúla and out of Arnarfjörður to Fossdalur valley and up to the head of the valley. In the turn there is a good parking space for the car. You can also drive past Kirkjubólsdalur, across the pass and park the car as mentioned above. From there you walk up Meðalsdalsskarð pass (the one to the west) and follow the shoulder up to the top of Kaldbakur.

from Kirkjubólsdalur

Despite the long hike it is an easy climb. If you intend to reach the very top, your vehicle can be left at the farm Kirkjuból. Follow the path into the Kirkjubólsdalur with the four majestic mountains Hádegishorn, Breiðhorn, Göngudalshorn, and Grjótskálarhorn on the left. When you have reached most of the way into the valley it is advisable to leave the road and veer to the right into Kvennaskarð pass. From there you can follow the ridge up into Meðaldalsskarð pass. From this pass you go up and follow a faint trail to the top of Kaldbakur. On the top there is a two-metre-high cairn that gives people the chance to reach a height of one thousand metres above sea level. 

Sauratindar (856 m)

This is a challenging route that starts at Súðavík village and goes up grassy slopes to the south of Traðargil gorge. The sheep trail helps. En route, the large glacial cirque above the gorge shows interesting rock features and reaching the top of the mountain is a reward in itself thanks to the view.

Hornbjarg (534m)

At 534 metres it isn’t a very high climb, but the scenery en route is drop dead gorgeous. Hornbjarg is the famous cliff topping the Hornstrandir nature reserve, which is the northernmost portion of the Westfjords. Think green hills suddenly cut short by sheer cliffs dropping over 500 m straight into the ocean below. As you might already know, Hornstrandir was inhabited until the early 1950s, but has been a dedicated nature reserve since 1975. This sheer cliff is counted amongst the greatest seabird colonies in the world.

Another major attraction is Látravík, a small creek to the southeast of Hornbjarg which has the famous lighthouse of Hornbjargsviti. In the summer, the lighthouse serves as a guesthouse for hikers. You get to Hornstrandir by boat from Ísafjörður, Bolungarvík, or Strandir.

Jökulbunga (925m)

At 925 metres, this is highest point of the Drangajökull glacier which is the northernmost glacier in the country and the only one in the Westfjords. With an area of 200 sq. km, it is the country’s fifth largest glacier. Interestingly, it expanded and advanced and its area grew slightly in the latter part of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st—the only one in Iceland to do so. It has since started to shrink, however. Once upon a time when the Hornstrandir area had resident humans and the Strandir district had a denser populace, the routes of the glacier were commonly trekked. These days, the very hardiest hikers combine it with the Hornstrandir hiking route.

Scroll to Top