Posted by: neilh10 | July 12, 2011

Visiting the Westfjords in Winter

I’ve recently had a number of enquiries about visiting the Westfjords and staying in the apartment in Wintertime. I thought I would write a post on this subject, to answer the questions.

Visiting the Westfjords in winter is something for the adventurous. I’m saying that because it would be irresponsible of me to start making promises about the weather, which is completely unpredictable. You might find a perfect alpine ski resort, or a 50 m/s gale when you arrive. You might have night after night of perfect northern lights and more stars than you have seen in your life, or low covered cloud and endless hailstorms. It is the unpredictability of the place that has stopped any real attempt to promote winter tourism in the Westfjords. People head to Reykjavik instead.

But, they’re missing out. What I think the Icelanders fail to grasp is that tourists, for the most part, come to Iceland in search of adventure. If you wanted to go on a reliable ski trip, you’d go to the Alps. If you want to see father Christmas, you’d go to Lapland. There are many reasons why people travel to Iceland, but I think it is mainly to experience something radically different. You want to experience the amazing landscapes, the polar night and the huge diversity of weather conditions: the many variations of freezing rain, the haunting beauty of the distant sunlight reflecting against the clouds, and the northern lights. Although the weather can be punishing, in my view the place in Wintertime is a lot more interesting than the summer – although of course the summer is beautiful in its own way.

If you are interested in visiting the area in Winter, I’d suggest you should set aside at least four days for the Westfjords in Winter, and that you rent a 4×4 and drive up from Reykjavik. The domestic flights at that time of year are very unpredictable, because of the wind speeds which can delay the flight for days at a time. The road (route 61) around the northern westfjords is cleared of snow every day except saturday, thats the only way you can get in, and out, of the area in wintertime. But its a great road, with plenty of places to stop along the way, including the wonderful geothermal pools at Hotel Reykanes

As for things to do, there are few ‘organised’ tourist activities, as there are so few tourists! However, you could meet up with the local ski club and go cross country skiing. Even if you are a total beginner, you could rent an instructor and equipment inexpensively. If the weather is ok, you could also go kayaking. There are always a lot of interesting cultural things happening in Isafjordur, particularly so in Winter.

But the main point is that it is just incredibly beautiful, in winter. The snow, the quiet and the northern lights make it a great spot to really get away from it all. I guess you have to go there to appreciate what I am saying! A friend went in March, and i think her account of the journey sums up the appeal of the area in winter.

When deciding when to go, it is well worth taking in to account the daylight hours. From December through to early February, there is limited daylight hours. It’s not as bad as the Icelanders might have you believe, Even in the depths of midwinter there is still some daylight. But after March, the days start getting longer very quickly. By April, the days are already longer than they are here in the UK. The flipside of going when the days are longer, of course, is that the northern lights are visible for less of the time.

And if you are conidering a winter visit, where better to stay than my apartment? The apartment is available all year. The rate in wintertime is £60 per night or £250 per week. Most of my business is in the summer, so its pretty much available anytime from September onwards, at the moment. Feel free to email me at if you are interested or have any further questions.



  1. Hello, very interesting articles, I´ve read a couple of them. I´ll be moving shortly to the Westfjords and would appreciate any tips you could give me in terms of clothing. I´ve lived in the past in continental central below zero areas but never in coastal below zero areas. Should I bring Jean/drill pants aside from the basic Parka, gloves, wool hat/socks and scarf. I know temp goes until -4 Celsius but was wondering how does it feel like really in Winter. I bought waterproof boots. I will not be doing outdoor sports or anything – just wondering on life temperature.

    Would really appreciate any help.


  2. Hi Andy

    The weather isn’t as bad as you might think. I guess people arrive in Iceland expecting it to be like the north pole or something, but actually the temperatures aren’t that much lower than the UK. The main difference is the wind – that’s what you need to prepare yourself for. Indeed, when the Icelanders look at the weather forecast, they tend to go straight to the wind forecast, in my experience.

    The wind can be very extreme in winter. The advice I was given is to buy one of those Icelandic woollen sweaters and wear it underneath your overcoat. Along with waterproof boots, that’s probably the best way to prepare for the weather in the Icelandic winter.



  3. Neil, thanks for replying to my question. It helps a lot and proves I´m on track in terms of clothing.

    Again, thanks and awesome blog!

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