Picture by Garrett Miller

West of Skagafjörður

The area that stretches from Skagafjörður to Húnaflói bay and to Hrútafjörður, where the corridor leading to the Westfjords start, is one of the least visited of Iceland though always on the way along the Hringvegur. Most people just rapidly drive through and this is a pity as several interesting places and impressive scenery can be found here. In Skagafjörður the two small islands of Drangey and Málmey, respectively reachable from Reykir and from Hólsos, are inhabited only by sea birds and offer a unique chance to experience some true calmness in the nature.

Equally peaceful is the peninsula of Skagaheiði. On the East mount Tindastóll casts its shadow on the sea and, at the end of a relatively easy path, a simply astonishing view over the fjord and until the tip of the peninsula awaits you. But beware, the caves of the mountains are inhabited by trolls, giants and sea monsters. On the other side of Skagaheiði is the coloured Skagaströnd, the biggest (and only) town of the peninsula, mostly famous to be the country music capital of Iceland with a country-style restaurant and a country festival in August. At the bottom of Skagaheiði two towns occupy the two corners. At the eastern one is Sauðárkrókur, an attractive fishing town some kilometers North of Varmahlíð, where the Tourist Information Center is located and from where it’s possible to organize activities for which this area of Iceland is renowned: river rafting and horseback riding.

Picture by Dag Endre Opedal

Between the two towns stands the most iconic turf house museum of Iceland. Glaumbær is incredibly charming from the outside and soaked in history and folklore inside. Moreover, just beside the museum there is a very pretty doll’s house style café where to get some delicious cakes. At the western corner of Skagaheiði the small town of Blönduós is the gateway to Húnaflói bay. The road to Staðarskáli, at the southern tip of Hrútafjörður, is wonderful in clear days with views of sea, bays, fjords and lagoons. On the way the distinctive stone church of Þingeyrar, the pictoresque canyon of Kolugljúfur and the lake-alike lagoon of Hóp full of birds are excellent location to stop at before reaching the real VIP (very important place) of the area, Vatnsnes.

At the northernmost point of this harshly beautiful peninsula, the bay of Hindisvík houses the largest seal colony of Iceland. In the East the idyllic scenery is enhanced thanks to the bizarre 15 meters high M-shaped mammoth-alike basalt stack of Hvítserkur. In the West, instead, the town of Hvammstangi is where the excellent Icelandic Seal Center is located. The road between Blönduós and Hvammstangi is known to be the most monitored talking about speed check. So always respect speed limits, everywhere, especially here.

How to get there and around:
Coming from Akureyri, Sauðárkrókur is 118km away. Drive 93km on road n.1, direction West until the junction with road n.75. From here drive 25km North and you get to town. Akureyri to Blönduós is a 144km drive on road n.1, direction West. Going from Akureyri to Hvammstangi requires to drive 195km on road n.1 until the junction with road n.72, direction West. From the junction it take only 6km North to get to the town.
Coming from Reykjavík, Sauðárkrókur is 318km away. Drive 293km on road n.1, direction North-East until the junction with road n.75. From here drive 25km North and you get to town. Reykjavík to Blönduós is a 244km drive on road n.1, direction North-East. Going from Reykjavík to Hvammstangi requires to drive 191km on road n.1 until the junction with road n.72, direction North-East. From the junction it take only 6km North to get to the town.
Road n.75 connects Sauðárkrókur, Glaumbær and Varmahlíð. Roads n.744 e n.745 lead all around Skagaheiði. Road n.711 circumnavigates Vatnsnes peninsula.

 

Text by Francesco Perini
Heading picture by Garrett Miller
Mid text picture by Dag Endre Opedal

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