The Road to Ísafjörður

As the puffin flies, Ísafjörður was a scant 40 kilometers away, but we were looking forward to a three-hour journey of 172 kilometers. The road leading to the Westfjords’ biggest city hems tight to the coastline, tracing six fjords deep inland and then straight back out to sea. You can drive for an hour and end up two kilometers away from where you were before. Luckily, the incredible nature kept us distracted during what would have otherwise been an infuriating drive.

We had set out from Norðurfjörður early in the day and cut west through the highlands of the interior. We passed stubborn drifts of ice which hadn’t melted, even in late July, and took a detour along route #635 to the Kaldalón glacial lagoon. More a long, damp valley than a lagoon, Kaldalón was formed by Drangajökull: the fifth-largest and northernmost of Iceland’s glaciers, and the only one which is expanding instead of shrinking. We continued north until the road ended at the small church of Unaðsdalur, where we paused for lunch.

During the rest of our drive to Ísafjörður, we were almost completely alone on the road. We stopped a couple times at especially photogenic spots, but otherwise kept a steady pace. Though lovely, the scenery of the fjords was unchanging, and with Sigur Rós droning on repeat over the speakers, we fell into a sort of trance. Turn south: fjord, mountains, fields. Turn north: fjord, mountains, ocean. Turn south… and so on, for hours.

When we curved into Skultulsfjörður, the sixth and final fjord, Ísafjörður finally came into view, signalling the end of a tiring and beautiful day in the car. It was a trip which we were happy to have experienced, but even happier to have put behind us.

Locations on our Map: Drangajökull | Unaðsdalur | Ísafjörður

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Christopher Wells

    What incredible views and play between the cloudy sky and the sunlit mountains. These pics are amazing! Your poor car looks like a bath is long overdue! 🙂

  2. Shelly

    Great blog…3 months sounds like a fantastic amount of time to explore Iceland.  I just got home from a 2 week trip and I could hardly scratch the surface.  I think I will include the West Fjords next time.  How much time do you think one needs to allow to properly explore that region?

  3. Wendy

    Hi there, I can’t wait to visit Iceland this September now I’ve seen your fabulous photos. I was just wondering if you hired your vehicle before arriving? I heard there are some incredible deals if you hire from the notices found in e.g. Newsagents shop windows. In case you have any information. Thank you

    1. Mike Powell

      Thanks for writing! We didn’t hire a vehicle before arriving, but we were there for three months, so had some time to research. Car rentals aren’t the cheapest in Iceland, but we ended up going with SAD Cars, which had the best deals. I hadn’t heard that tip about notices in shop windows… that would be great! Hope you have a great time in Iceland… it’s an unforgettable place 🙂 

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