Sorcery, seafood and the world’s smallest Icelandic fishing village
While the last post suggested lesser-known sweet spots along the popular Golden Circle route, the following segment will continue in the same vein and introduce some of our favorite locations.
Iceland is often presented as divided into four regions–the north, the south, the east and the west–and these four regions each have their special landscapes and attractive locations. However, there is also a fifth quarter, a bonus round if you will, which is the Westfjords. Because of its distance from Reykjavík, the Westfjords region is largely overlooked by mainstream tourism. However, it is also secluded, sparsely populated and contains some of the most exciting views and locations Iceland has to offer. Covering everything the Westfjords have to offer could easily take up several hundred pages but for this occasion we at Iceland Mini Campers would like to suggest a trip to the most accessible place in the Westfjords and one that’s perfectly suited for a 2-4 day getaway in a motorhome. (For more general and practical information about the Westfjords see here).
The best way to get to the Westfjords is to drive straight to Hólmavík. The journey should take a little under three hours of driving but we would of course encourage campervan travelers to take it slow and keep their eyes peeled for interesting stops along the way. Once in Hólmavík there are at least three activities that we must recommend:
First, check out the seafood that is on offer. The local stores often sell locally caught fresh fish, mussels, prawns and other delicacies. These are also usually on offer at the two local restaurator Café Riis and Kaffi Galdur.
Second, visit the local witchcraft and sorcery museum (see here), which has on display a replica of the bone chilling “necropants” which were worn only by the most ruthless sorcerers in the past. The Westfjords and the area around Hólmavík in particular has an interesting history of magic and sorcery. To this day people are advised not to make enemies in this region because of this fact so we suggest that visitors tread lightly and treat the locals with utmost courtesy.
Third, Hólmavík has, in our humble opinion, the thickest, warmest, and prettiest hand knitted woolen sweaters in Iceland. Be sure to visit the town’s little arts and crafts store for a closer look.
Once you have reached Hólmavík the rest of the Westfjords are at your fingertips but for now we would like to suggest share one of our favorite spots in Iceland, the small town of Drangsnes, which is only a 25 minutes drive from Hólmavík. (see here) Drangsnes is the smallest fishing village in Iceland with around 60 inhabitants and has a some really interesting attractions to offer. There is a restaurant there and boat tours that include fishing and sightseeing around the surrounding islands. The area is chock-full of all sorts of life; fish, whale and seabirds, which serves to explain why there has been a town thriving at that remote spot for hundreds of years. Another interesting benefit is the town’s three outside hot pots located at the shoreline. In 1996 the township of Drangsnes tried to drill for cold water but instead stumbled upon a geothermal spring. Because of this Drangsnes has all the hot water it could possibly use and more. Therefore the three hot pots were installed and at a short distance a small house with showers and changing facilities, all free of charge. At night you can soak in the hot pots and watch the locals waddle over in their bathrobes for a late night dip. The town also has a very nice swimming pool and an excellent camping site for the tired but happy campervan traveller.
To conclude, it is worth stressing that if one is to venture further into the Westfjords there are a few practical things to keep in mind. Beyond Hólmavík there are many gravel roads where one must drive extra carefully (and perhaps consider getting extra insurance coverage). It is at least advised to drive considerably slower (no faster that 75 km/h) and try the brakes every now and then to get a feel for the grip of the tires.
Moreover, there are long stretches of road without shops, restaurants and gasoline- or service stations so it is advised to plan ahead. Finally, no matter the season it can get cold up there in the Northwest so the motorhome traveller should come prepared.
Have a safe trip!