thingeyri campsite sunset

Day 11 – Best of North Westfjords in 1 day


Exactly according to the forecast, we woke up to nicer weather this time. It changed a bit later on during the day, but the morning seemed to be really nice.

As compensation for not bathing in Drangsnes pools, I decided to go for Krossneslaug hot spring. It was supposed to be a long detour, but I liked the idea of a remote coastal road leading to the pool at the end of the world (or at least the end of Iceland). I calculated that we should have enough time to make it, so we headed out!

643 – Strandavegur – towards Krossneslaug

8:00-10:00

Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes, hopefully
Interesting index: 1 – amazing (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)
road 643 near Arneshreppur

Overview of Strandavegur, a.k.a. road 643

Road 643 heading towards Krossneslaug could easily be classified as an Icelandic F-road. It doesn’t contain any river crossings but it contains almost everything else an F-road may contain. Potholes, gravel, narrow passages, steep parts, driving on the edge of the cliffs, … When I had googled about the road, one review stated that it’s the most dangerous road the guy had ever driven. Well, I don’t agree with that, it’s not necessarily dangerous, but it may be a bit scary at some parts.

road 643 Strandavegur

Landscapes along Strandavegur (643)

Road 643 is definitely doable by any SUV and definitely was by our Dacia Duster. Officially you’re allowed to drive the road even with a normal 2wd car. However, Strandavegur is the only “normal” road in Iceland, where I don’t recommend using a 2wd car. There are just too many potholes for it. Yes, you can do it also with 2wd, but take a lot of additional time. We’ve done it in about 2 hours (one way) and I would say with 2wd it’s additional 1-2 hours.

iceland 643 Strandavegur

Beautiful views along Strandavegur, road 643

643, on the other hand, belongs to one of the most breath-taking coastal roads I’ve ever driven. So, it’s definitely worth taking. There are numerous spots where you just have an urge to stop, soak up the atmosphere and take photos to remember it. It’s also almost deserted, we met a single-digit number of cars during our drive.

iceland 643 Arneshreppur

Road 643 a.k.a. Strandavegur near Árneshreppur

One of the highlights of the road was a moment when my girlfriend spotted a seal sunbathing on the rock in the sea. We stopped the soonest we could, got out of the car and observed a seal family enjoying their day under sunbeams. It was a once in a lifetime experience to spot wild seals out of the blue.

seals on 643

Surprise! Our first seals spotted on 643

Krossneslaug

10:00-11:00

Distance from car park: 5 minutes 
Time spent at: 30-60 minutes 
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little 
Interesting index: 1 – amazing (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)
krossneslaug

Krossneslaug

Krossneslaug is the hot spring at the end of the world. Or at least at the end of Icelandic roads.

How to get to Krossneslaug and what to expect

Google Maps mark Krossneslaug quite precisely. They just don’t show that the “car park” (or better said the place next to the road where you may leave your car) is tens of meters above the pool. That means, you have to leave your car up, next to the road and you have to walk down the path to Krossneslaug itself. Only the owner of the pool has an access to reach the pool by car.

krossneslaug entrance

You can descent to Krossneslaug via this road or via stairs on the other side. Leave your car at the top

Krossneslaug is a paid (6-7Eur/person), man-made, hot water pool, utilising nearby hot spring water. It has a long history (1954) and 2 pools available for bathing. The bigger, rectangular pool with a water temperature of around 34°C and a smaller, more modern hot tub with a temperature of around 38°C. It is well maintained by the owner of the place, who also resides there usually from June until August each year. The entrance fee includes a changing room, toilets and showers, of course.

Krossneslaug bathing experience

Bathing in Krossneslaug is again a once in a lifetime experience. It definitely belongs to Top 3 of our Icelandic hot springs. When we arrived, there was no one else in the pool, only the owner performing maintenance of the place.

krossneslaug hot spring

Views from Krossneslaug

Once in the pool, you will again feel like being in some kind of fairy tale. Just you, hot pool and view of the endless sea. The smaller, hotter bathtub even has a windshield (I guess for cases of severe weather?).

Before our departure, I asked the owner whether it does make economical sense to maintain such a pool at the end of the world. He just smiled and replied that from June till 1st half of August usually hundreds of people come per day. Even during Covid times, just their structure changed to more locals. OK, that surprised me, I guess it makes sense then.

Djupavik

12:00

Distance from car park: 2-3 minutes 
Time spent at: 10-30 minutes 
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little 
Interesting index: 3 – nice (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)
djupavik westfjords

Djupavik

We made a short stop in Djupavik on our way back. It’s a little, once used to be thriving, village. There’s an old can factory (they even hold guided tours in there, we didn’t go, though) and there’s a boat wreck nearby. We walked for a while around the area, ate something from our food stock and continued in the direction of Drangsnes.

djupavik shipwreck

Boat wreck in Djupavik

The long road from Djupavik towards Gjörvidalslaug

12:30-14:45

Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes, probably
Interesting index: 3 – nice (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

Our next target was a long drive towards Isafjordur, where we wanted to have dinner, and then camp at Thingeyri campsite, i.e. on a halfway towards the southeast end of Westfjords.

road 643 westfjords

Semi-paved road 643 with many potholes

Thus, we had to go back via road 643, making a few additional stops, like the one for seeing a shipwreck. Next, the road 61 follows, which firstly crosses the inland and then starts copying a fjord. This is where the road begins to be interesting.

Gjörvidalslaug (really hidden?) hot spring

14:45

We wanted to make our first stop at another hot spring. This time it was supposed to be Gjorvidalslaug “hidden hot spring”. Nevertheless, even after 15 minutes of driving and walking around the spot marked by Google Maps, we were not able to find any hot spring.

Well, at least the hot spring remained true to its name “hidden”. Never mind, we’ve already been to a few amazing ones.

Hörgshliðarlaug

15:30-16:00

Distance from car park: 2 minutes 
Time spent at: 10-30 minutes 
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little 
Interesting index: 2 – great (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)
Horgshlidarlaug hot spring

Hörgshliðarlaug hot spring in the heart of fjord

How to get to Horgshlidarlaug and what to expect

Not only tough to pronounce, but also tough to find, that’s Horgshlidarlaug. At the time of our visit, the road 633 was closed, so we had to use northern part of the road 61 and make a detour south (left) right before crossing the Mjóifjörður fjord.

Once we arrived at the point indicated on Google Maps, there were just a few rural settlements with old houses next to them and we didn’t see any hot pot. At one of the settlements, we spotted an old bath-tub, with the big sign “PRIVATE PROPERTY”. Hmm, maybe this is Hörgshliðarlaug? I stepped out of the car and headed towards the bath-tub. On a halfway there a local guy stopped me with a huge smile on his face. I asked whether this is Horgshlidarlaug and he just casually replied that this is his house and the hot spring is another 2 kilometres down the road. I guess we were not the first, nor the last tourists sneaking around his courtyard.

horghslidarlaug map

The actual hot spring Hörgshliðarlaug is 2 kilometres south from the spot indicated by Google Maps

Nevertheless, the guy was right (of course). So, in case it will not be corrected yet on Google Maps (and you couldn’t see any hot spring), just continue 2 kilometres south down the road. You will definitely see it on your right (when coming from the north) or on the left (when coming from the south). There’s no real car park, you have to stop next to the road (but there’s a wider part of the road near hot spring).

Hörgshliðarlaug bathing experience

Horgshlidarlaug is a dirty, old, full of seaweed hot spring with some Icelandic atmosphere. It lies right in the heart of the fjord, so you will be able to watch the fjord while soaking in the hot pot. If you are lucky enough, there may even be seals around (we haven’t seen any though).

Horgshlidarlaug westfjords

Horgshlidarlaug hotpot and a changing room

There’s an old shelter next to the hot spring, which serves as a changing room. If you are into “sauna style” bathing, you may even alternate between bathing in the hot spring and bathing in the ice-cold sea. Water in the hot spring is very pleasant though, having some 36°C (according to my professional, read as „guessed“, assessment).

At the time of our visit, there were 2 groups of tourists already bathing in the hot spring. Hence, we waited 10 minutes, and afterwards, the hot spring became empty. Hörgshliðarlaug is definitely an original and picturesque place, nevertheless, we liked Hrunalaug, Krossneslaug or Gudrunarlaug more.

Road 61 – Djúpvegur – towards Ísafjörður

16:20-17:00

Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Interesting index: 2 – great (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

Djúpvegur is a well-paved road. The entire drive is coastal and copies the shape of fjords several times. It’s definitely safe to drive in summer and you’ll get some very nice views as a bonus. We drove it in rain without any problems. A nice road for a beautiful road trip. As far as I remember no gravel (or only short) or any mountainous passages.

Seal lookout

17:00-17:30

Distance from car park: 10-15 minutes 
Time spent at: 10-15 minutes 
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: medium to advanced 
Interesting index: 2 – great (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)
seal lookout westfjords

Seal lookout next to the road 61

About 1 hour of driving away from Hörgshliðarlaug towards Ísafjörður via Djúpvegur we noticed an unusually large number of cars (read: more than 2) parking at one place next to the road. I slowed down and my girlfriend spotted a sign reading “seal viewpoint”. Well, how can they be so sure there will be seals? Oh yes, they know why they are sure. Because seals are here probably the majority of the time 🙂

Once we got out of the car and examined the place, we saw several people walking towards the bulk of huge stones located right next to the sea. Thus, we followed their steps, jumped across the safety fence and walked towards stones in the sea. Soon we realized, gazing in the distance, there’s actually a horde of seals chilling on the stones. We wanted to come closer to take a look at them (but not too close to scary them).

seal lookout at road 61

If you want to approach the seals, you have to jump through these very slippery blocks

Here came the difficult part. The only way to reach the seals was to get across the chain of slippery boulders covered with seaweed. That didn’t discourage us of course. Hence, for the next 10 minutes, we were jumping from boulder to boulder each one more and more slippery than the previous one, almost falling every other jump. Definitely do take care at the seal lookout – you can easily break any part of your body by slipping on the slimy boulders.

When we reached roughly a 15-20-meter distance from the seals we stopped to not bother them. Next, we just quietly enjoyed watching the group of wild seals in their natural habitat. Very cute experience. Please, just don’t get too close and don’t disturb the seals.

Ísafjörður, Tjöruhúsið

18:30-19:30

We finally reached Isafjordur at half-past 6. I planned to feast on the most delicious dinner of our trip here. In a restaurant with probably best reviews out of all Icelandic ones. Its name is Tjöruhúsið and it’s famous thanks to its fresh fish buffet.

Although I had read that it’s better to do a reservation beforehand, I didn’t do so. I thought that it can’t be full during Covid-19 times, right? Hell, I was wrong. It was full. So we had to turn back and “feasted” on the fast-food again. So, yes, if you want to go there definitely make a reservation. Otherwise, it doesn’t make sense to even try.

Bolafjall

20:00

As the last stop for the day I had planned to drive to the viewpoint on top of the Bolafjall mountain. Bolafjall should have been the northernmost point of our Icelandic journey. It was also supposed to have magnificent views over the nearby fjords and gigantic cliffs at its sides.

Weather was rainy and foggy at the time we were leaving Isafjordur. There’s, however, a big tunnel in between Isafjordur and Bolungarvik (the village closest to Bolafjall), so I hoped for a weather change after crossing the tunnel. Well, we crossed the tunnel and weather remained to be the same shitty, foggy one. Maybe on the mountain itself, it will be better? I still hoped.

This is how Bolafjall approximately looked like at the time of our visit in August.

Well, no. We drove to the summit of Bolafjall, but the mountain was entirely covered with fog and we couldn’t see a thing. Not to mention, the final road towards the top of the Bolafjall was really steep and full of sharp twists. My girlfriend was scared to death because of the combination of mist, steepness and turns, so I drove really slowly. Useless 50 minutes detour. Well, not everything has to go smoothly right?

Þingeyri camping

21:10-

Road 60 towards Thingeyri leads across the mountainous area, but is well paved and should be accessible most of the time. We reached the Þingeyri campsite quite late, after 9 pm. The campground lies right next to the picturesque fjord (and the local swimming pool from the other side). Reception is to be found at the swimming pool entrance.

thingeyri sunset

Picturesque sunset at Thingeyri campsite

Þingeyri had one of the most beautiful campsites we’ve been to. Especially the dining area was really modern and nice, although a bit small. Thanks to arriving late, we were lucky enough to spot the sunset. And not just an ordinary one. Sunset at Þingeyri campsite was the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen. Look at it yourself – the picture was taken with a cell phone without any filters. Truly breath-taking, fairy-tale-like place.

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3 comments

Do you think that the scenery is better when you start at Holmavik and end in Flokalundur or the opposite?

Hi Nick, my personal opinion is that there is not a huge difference between these 2 directions. There are some valleys that look better if you come from the Holmavik direction and then there are others that look better if you come from the Flokalundur direction, so it’s really hard to say. I recommend taking enough time and making stops along the road and that way you will be able to observe even the scenery which is situated in the opposite direction.

Thanks for this website, it is the most detailed I have found and has helped immensely with planning my trip to the Westfjords, they look amazing and I can’t wait. The Gjorvidalslaug “hidden hot spring” is located here 65.79468631760557, -22.526249265459576. More info here https://is.geoview.info/gjoervidalslaug,1787088902n

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