A road trip around Iceland’s Westfjords

Katherine O’Brien ventured where few tourists to Iceland do: the ghostly, mountainous Westfjords

Friday 28 May 2021 18:43
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<p>Isafjordur consists of a cluster of tin-clad houses in paint box hues</p>

Isafjordur consists of a cluster of tin-clad houses in paint box hues

The spindly northwestern antennae peninsula of Iceland’s Westfjords has slipped through the tourist net. Back in 2008, Iceland’s financial crisis stoked a tourism boom that meant visitor numbers had swelled by 39 per cent at its peak in 2016 – with tourists topping 2.3 million in 2019, despite a petite 360,000 population.

Jutting out towards Greenland, detached from the ring road that encircles Iceland, the Westfjords only net seven per cent of visitors to the country. My visit was my second time in Iceland; the first was a checklist of the Blue Lagoon, tour buses around the Golden Circle and squinting up at the blackness for a glimpse of the aurora borealis against Reykjavik’s glare.

As the propeller plane sweeps into the fjord town of Isafjordur – the region’s largest town – it feels like venturing to the frost-fringed edge of the earth: hulking grey elephant-ribbed mountains dusted with snow loom into view and the wind rocks the plane upon landing. In winter, only 50 per cent of flights land – otherwise it’s a seven-hour drive from Reykjavik.

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