Worth Visiting the West
In the westernmost municipality of Europe, Vesturbyggð in Iceland’s West Fjords, live only around one thousand people. But they are not alone. A few thousand sheep, some cows and—during the summer—a few million seabirds call Vesturbyggð home.
There are two fishing towns in Vesturbyggð. The bigger is Patreksfjörður, with more than half of the municipality’s population, or close to 700 inhabitants. The smaller is Bíldudalur with a population of around 200, located in the big and beautiful fjord Arnarfjörður.
It’s the surrounding nature that attracts both migrant birds and tourists to the area. Here, you have Europe’s largest bird cliff—which is also the westernmost part of the continent—Látrabjarg, a nesting site for millions of birds, including puffins, guillemots and razorbills. The golden sands of Rauðasandur beach, and Patreksfjörður and Arnarfjörður fjords, where the mountains rise high and sharp from the sea, also beg to be experienced.
The people who live here claim that Vesturbyggð is the only place in all of Iceland where the phenomenon known as ‘no wind’ can happen. That fairy tale could just be true.
Road 62 connects the West Fjords region to the Ring Road, when arriving from Reykjavík, while the stunningly beautiful Road 60 takes you onwards to the northern part of the West Fjords and the region’s capital, Ísafjörður. However, that road is not open during the winter.
Text and photos by Páll Stefánsson.
Bíldudalur in Arnarfjörður