Cycling in Iceland is a dramatic experience. Everything here is on a vast scale: the open spaces, mountain terrain, glaciers, fjords, beaches and skies. These things make a bike tour in Iceland a dream trip for those that love wild places.

This article focuses on cycling Iceland’s Westfjords region, a spectacular peninsula on Iceland’s northwest tip, forged by glaciers and jutting into the Atlantic Ocean. Pick summer for your Iceland cycling tour and you’ll enjoy over twenty hours of light per day on which to ride abandoned gravel roads and good quality asphalt, unhurried by the rush of urbanity.

Just remember that in Iceland the weather is the boss and the distances between towns can seem endless. Proper planning is essential.

Which is why in this article we’re seeking the insights of two local experts on planning Iceland bike tours: Halldóra Björk Norðdahl (Dora) and Tyler Wacker. They live in Iceland’s Westfjords region and are the energetic souls behind Cycling Westfjords. They host the Arna Westfjords Way Challenge and offer self-supported and guided bike tours around Iceland’s Westfjords. Tyler also runs the Westfjords only bike shop, the Fjord Hub.

Here’s what Dora and Tyler have to say about planning a cycling tour in Iceland’s Westfjord region – including why there are plenty of better choices than cycling Iceland’s ring road…

Why cycle Iceland’s Westfjords region?

Iceland is home to around 43% of Europe’s most wild areas. Within this vast wilderness, the Westfjords are a shamrock-like peninsula that is unique to the country. This special region was listed in Lonely Planet’s Best In Travel for 2022.

The landscape has been shaped by tectonic plate movement, lava flows and glaciers of the past and boasts towering basalt mountains that reach down to the northern fringes of the Atlantic Ocean. Westfjords is also home to red and black sand beaches, oceanside hot springs, stunning A-frame houses and powerful waterfalls such as the Dynjandi waterfall.

The terrain is scattered with fjords and bays as well as low (about 500m high), but very steep, mountains that plunge straight into the sea. The landscape is breathtakingly beautiful. The roads are never straight for a long stretch. You are either going in and out of the fjords (mixing with head and tail wind) or up and down the mountains, with new scenery at every turn.

Nature

You are very likely to see seals, whales and even the elusive arctic fox.

If you visit in late summer some get lucky and see the northern lights as well.

The food here is really good, and the people are very friendly.

Sustainability is important to locals, and the region won the silver certificate from Earth Check in 2016; it’s the only whole region in Iceland to hold it.

Another highlight are the hot springs you find all over the region. They’re known as “hot pots” by the locals and are perfect after each day of riding!

The rewards are great for those that love a cycling adventure and are ready to embrace this corner of Iceland.

Culture

The Icelandic communities are very influenced by the weather and because it can change without notice, they have settled into a mentality that everything will work out. Because people are few and far between, they’re also interested in newcomers, especially when they’re on a bike.

So try to meet some locals and let their relaxed perspective rub off on you.

Solitude

Iceland’s Westfjords region is a quiet, tranquil place; the total population is approximately 7,500 with only 1 out of every 10 tourists in Iceland reaching the Westfjords.

While some visitors to Iceland find that the local to tourist ratio is high, for example for those cycling Iceland’s ring road, here in Westfjords it’s much less of an issue.

For cyclists, this means the region has very limited traffic even on the main roads.

Gravel and asphalt

Over the years, new roads have been built to make access easier to cars, but the gravel roads remain. This means there are multiple options for the most adventurous cyclists, but there are also options for those who want to stick to the main roads.

The towns are spread around the region in three clusters with quite some distance between them. So expect long stretches without any services at all. Just you, nature and the occasional car or sheep.

Cycling tours of the Westfjords

We set up the Arna Westfjords Way Challenge, to help people discover this amazing region and its special culture and traditions. The Challenge is a 5-day stage race that traverses the 1,000 kilometre route. We also offer cycling holidays outside of the event. There are more details on all of this below.

 

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Give us an overview of the Westfjords region from a cyclist’s perspective

Location of Westfjords

Somewhere in the far north of the Atlantic Ocean is an island that bears an appropriate name: Iceland. Sticking out from the northwest corner of the island is a peninsula that is its own geographic region: the Westfjords.

Iceland has a population of just under 400,000 people and the Westfjords are home to around 7,500 of them.

This makes it one of the least populated regions of the country. As there aren’t many people, it also means there is less traffic on the roads, but also there are longer distances between villages. It’s a region that needs proper preparation if you plan to make a trip here.

Map of Iceland

Map of Iceland with Westfjords in the northwest

Terrain of Westfjords

The Westfjords have their own ring road, called the Westfjords Way. It stretches almost 1,000 kilometres around the region’s perimeter, though there are various shortcuts that can reduce the route to around 500 kilometres. This flexibility in distance is perfect for multi-day tours as short as four days or as long as you desire.

The terrain varies, but there are several mountain passes and steep climbs scattered throughout the route. The northern part of the Westfjords, between Ísafjörður and Holmavík, has peaceful fjords where it’s possible to see whales. The southern part, between Holmavík and Patreksfjörður, has more beautiful climbs and abandoned roads as well as new roads.

Ísafjörður is the capital of the Westfjords and the best place to start and end a ride on the Westfjords Way. It is home to the only bike shop in the Westfjords which is called The Fjord Hub. It is also the summer headquarters of Cycling Westfjords, our travel agency that specifically helps cyclists. More details below!

What are the roads like?

In Iceland, the weather conditions change without notice and the mountains can be steep. However the roads aren’t busy and there are some abandoned gravel roads with no cars at all. Because of that there is also a good variety of roads to choose from. You can take the asphalt roads through tunnels or choose old steep gravel roads over the mountains. You just need a sprinkling of local expertise to get the most out of a bike tour in Iceland!

Cyclists are treated well here.

For context, Ísafjörður (and the Westfjords generally) is a place where traffic yields to pedestrians at crosswalks and gives them enough space.

Similarly, vehicles give cyclists at least 1.5 metres of space to pass and people are always curious about the journey that cyclists have been on. They are looked after and it is helpful when drivers are given mutual respect.

The maximum speed limit in Iceland is 90 kilometres per hour so it’s best to ride single file on these roads.

Road surfaces

Pure road cycling in Iceland is do-able, but it’s a bit limited because it means you’ll miss out on the network of gravel. Also, even the main roads are made up of a mix of asphalt and gravel, so it’s best to come with a gravel bike to cover all types of terrain.

The asphalt is smooth and without many potholes. The gravel roads are compacted dirt and usually offer relatively smooth riding.

When it’s wet the gravel and dirt roads get muddy, but fortunately the mud doesn’t stick to your bike too much! Just be cautious on the gravel descents as some are very steep and if there’s strong wind it can knock you off the road without warning.

Roads to avoid in Icleand

In my opinion, the only road to avoid riding in Iceland is the ring road (also known as Route 1). Lots of cyclists do ride it, but the road is pretty narrow and has lots of traffic. Especially compared with the Westfjords.

In general, Icelandic roads do not have usable shoulders or bike paths, so it’s best to choose roads with less traffic.

In some parts of Iceland, you’ll come across many rivers you need to cross. Fortunately, in the Westfjords there are not many river crossings and none of them are big. The ones we do have are mainly in and around Svalvogar, and some of the abandoned mountain roads. Usually, the rivers are small enough to ride through but it’s good to have some light shoes like crocs or socks with rubber sole in your luggage if you are riding those kind of roads.

What kind of cyclist is Westfjords for?

Bikepacking in Iceland is very popular and Westfjords is perfect for gravel-bikepacking, anywhere from four to 20 days of riding.

Day trips are also possible, and you can choose city riding, gravel biking, or even mountain biking from Ísafjörður.

More details below!

How fit do you have to be for a cycling tour of the Westfjords?

Depending on how you want to travel, if you want to stay in accommodation you need to be able to ride over 100 km a day, but if camping, then you don’t need such a high level of fitness, because (with a few exceptions) you are allowed to wild camp for single nights.

The exceptions are that your tent must be set up away from public roads, you can only camp where people don’t live permanently, you may only camp where there is no infrastructure and you can’t camp in the national parks.

While you might not need exceptional fitness, cycling in this remote wilderness is not a good place for beginners to start. The weather can be extreme and good bike handling skills and confidence with basic bike repairs are important.

What is the best place for cyclists to base themselves in Westfjords?

The best place for cyclists to base themselves in the Westfjords is, without a doubt, Ísafjörður.

Accessibility

It offers transportation advantages as you can fly to Ísafjörður from Reykjavík.

Bike services

It is also home to the only bike shop in the Westfjords, the Fjord Hub. So it is a perfect place to stock up supplies for a bikepacking trip or get your bike tuned up from travelling. The Fjord Hub is the only place that offers bike box storage as well.

City, gravel, and mountain bike rentals are also available so you don’t even have to bring your bike to explore the region.

Best cycling routes in Iceland’s Westfjords region

Westfjords Way

There are multiple route options from Ísafjörður. The main bikepacking route from Ísafjörður is the Westfjords Way, which stretches 1,000 kilometres around the region.

It traverses the best of what the Westfjords have to offer, connecting villages, remote cafés and museums, and with hot springs around every corner.

You’ll follow the sea for a lot of the time on a mix of gravel and asphalt. The entire route is roughly 50% gravel and 50% asphalt. There are a few features of the route that are very rough.

Svalvogar, the famous road built by a farmer and his bulldozer (aptly named the Teaspoon), goes around one of the remote roads in Iceland and is only for 4×4 vehicles or bikes. There is even a section so close to the sea that at high-tide it is possible for it to be impassable.

Another section that is rough is the last mountain pass to Isafjörður, Breiðdalsheiði. This road used to be the main route connecting Ísafjörður to Suðureyri and Bolungarvík, but it hasn’t been in use since a tunnel was carved through the mountain in 1996. You’ll pass waterfalls and ride alongside sheep. In fact there are more sheep than people in the Westfjords and in the summer they freely graze throughout the region.

We suggest touring the route in a minimum of six days; eight is the sweet spot between riding and indulging.

Support

Cycling Westfjords offers self-supported trip planning services on the Westfjords Way. The services include a route that is specifically planned for you and the distances you prefer to ride each day, accommodation booking, as well as on-route support. Our network is vast throughout the Westfjords and we can point you to the nearest place to get help if something goes wrong. The service is also backed by the Fjord Hub, offering remote bike mechanic troubleshooting. If you are in need of any parts, we can leverage our local networks to get those to you as well.

You can also find out more about Cycling Westfjords guided Westfjords Way trip here.

Cycling Iceland’s ring road Vs. cycling the Westfjords Way

In my opinion, riding the Westfjords Way is significantly more fun than riding Iceland’s Route 1.

Route 1 might be more famous, but as a result it’s usually busy, with lots of traffic. For most of the route there is only one lane each direction and no shoulders or bike paths to ride on. This makes it stressful and often a little dangerous to ride.

In comparison, the Westfjords have similar road conditions without the traffic, plus there is the option of riding the abandoned roads. You do need gravel bike for riding the Westfjords though.

Westfjords Way Expressway

If you don’t have time for a full Westfjords Way loop, there are options to shorten the route.

For example, Cycling Westfjords offers their passport route service for the Expressway. This takes in many of the Westfjords highlights, but in a shorter amount of time.

This route is still a loop starting and ending in Ísafjörður, but it takes the highlights of the full route. The route takes a shortcut on road F66, Kollafjarðarheiði. This road features a few river crossings and is very rough.

More information

You can read more about this trip on Cycling Westfjords website.

Witch of the Westfjords

The Witch of the Westfjords is another great cycling route in the Westfjords that is a little different than the Westfjords Way and features even more gravel and remote wilderness.

Witchcraft, car-free gravel mountain passes, and a daily hot pot (local parlance for a dip in a hot spring), make the Witch of the Westfjords bikepacking route a perfect mix of hard riding, relaxation, and enchantment. The region has a long history of witchcraft (head to the Witchcraft Museum to find out more).

Winding through a defunct road abandoned since the 1960s, only an adventurous few have ventured this deep into the Westfjords of Iceland. This three-day tour loops through the least populated municipality in Iceland, combining the unique magic of remote mountains and fjordscapes. Expect river crossings, chunky gravel, and variable amounts of hike-a-bike depending on how much snow or mud there is.

This route is best when the snow has receded from the winter which is between July and September.

Cycling Westfjords typically offers this as a guided tour in August.

More information

You can read more about this trip on Cycling Westfjords website.

Day rides

In and around Ísafjörður, there are several day trips by bike that do not require multi-day bikepacking tours.

There are options to tour to the adjacent towns via abandoned mountain passes and coastal roads that are no longer in use due to the construction of tunnels. Biking is allowed in all the tunnels of the Westfjords though so in case you don’t want to climb mountains you can take those.

In Bolungarvik you will find the mountain Bolafjall where they say you can see all the way to Greenland on a clear day. Bolungarvik is also home to Arna, a local lactose-free milk processing company. Be sure to try their delicious yoghurts, skyrs and milks – vegan options available!

In Flateyri, you’ll find a few coffee shops and Vagninn, the most eclectic rural restaurant and bar in the country.

Suðureyri is the home of Fisherman, a fishing company that offers a seafood trail tour and bistro in town to try their delicious dishes.

To the south is the village of Sudavík where you can visit the Arctic Fox Center and taste the best chocolate in Iceland from Sætt og Salt.

Ísafjörður also offers some of Iceland’s best mountain biking, if you want to ride the trails before or after gravel biking.

Want support?

Whether you are a self-supported cyclist or a credit card tourer, Cycling Westfjords is the only bike specific travel agency in the Westfjords. We are cyclists ourselves and have ridden the Westfjords Way. With years of experience partnering with local businesses throughout the region, we know the best places and routes for cyclists.

 

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Do you need to do a supported Westfjords cycling trip?

A point to point, multi-day bike tour of the Westfjords is the best way to experience the culture and landscapes of the region.

Pros and cons of cycling Westfjords

The pros are that there is little traffic, beautiful nature, and amazing villages. The cons are that sometimes these places are long distances away from each other so you have to be very prepared and have a solid plan.

Types of tour

Gravel bikepacking is the best way to tour, but it’s also possible for a traditional 4-pannier touring bike; you might just have to avoid the roughest and steepest roads. There are also some options for bikepacking on mountain bikes.

If you’re considering e-bikes, it’s not yet possible to rent these here – and of course flying with an e-bike battery is extremely difficult (more info here).

Cycling Westfjords offers everything from trip planning services for self-supported cyclists to fully guided cycling trips of Iceland’s Westfjords.

Self-supported tours

On our self-supported passport routes, we provide you with a route to suit your requirements and arrange accommodation. You’ll need to transport your own luggage and be able to do basic repairs yourself, but we also offer on route support in case anything goes wrong. 

We offer this support service via our network of local contacts and, where necessary, using video calls to help you sort out mechanicals. We have developed relationships with every service within the region and know exactly where to get what you need. We’ve sent spare parts via local networks to keep people on the road as well as picking people up who didn’t have time to finish their tours. You get all this local back up with our self-supported bike tours of the Westfjords region.

Find more information about our self-supported tours, here.

Supported tours

Our supported tours are like our self-supported tours, but we also offer a support van, which lets you adjust the distances based on what you are comfortable with. If you want to ride less it’s no problem to be picked up by the van and transported to the final destination for the day.

Find more information about our guided tours, here. 

Guided tours

Our guided tours include everything you get on a self-supported tour, plus airport transfers, bike box storage, meals, accommodation/camping (as you wish) and entrance fees.

We can also offer the support van if you wish.

Our guided tours can also be provided on a private tour basis and also bespoke.

Find more information about our guided tours, here.

Bike hire

The Fjord Hub provides rentals for all types of bikes. Being the only bike shop in the Westfjords, the bikes are prepared and meticulously maintained for the conditions of the Westfjords.

Choose from gravel, city, road, hardtail or full suspension bikes. Racks are available for compatible bikes and a small selection of panniers.

If you’re bringing your own bike, this is also the best place to store your bike box while you’re out on tour.

You can get more information about the Fjord Hub, here.

What are the key cycling events in Westfjords?

Arna Westfjords Way Challenge

The main cycling event in the Westfjords region is the Arna Westfjords Way Challenge.

It’s a 5-day stage race that traverses the 1,000 kilometre route around the Westfjords penninsula. It’s swiftly becoming one of the most famous cycling races in Iceland.

The race has 4 stages, averaging 250 kilometres per day and is organised by Cycling Westfjords.

In 2024 the race starts on 23rd July but it is usually held on the last Tuesday in June. It is the hardest cycling race in Iceland, and features a unique format that allows for cultural exchange and much needed breaks.

Cultural Connections are four to five predetermined points of interest per stage that riders are allowed to visit where their race time is paused. For example, you can enjoy waffles in Litlibær cafe, or you can dip into Hörgshlíðarlaug hot pool and enjoy, rest and recover before tackling the rest of the stage. This adds a twist to your strategy and can totally change the game. It also makes the race so much more enjoyable!

Riders are obliged to stop at least two of the Cultural Connections per day to successfully complete the stage.

ArcticFish Midnight Special

The last day of the race is called the ArcticFish Midnight Special and it’s the most challenging day of the event. You can choose to just join it as a one-day gravel race if you wish.

The ArcticFish Midnight Special starts at midnight under the 24-hour midnight sun in Patreksfjörður and features 65% gravel and almost 4,000 metres of climbing.

The rewards are equally matched with the challenges, with a 2am waffle party at the Icelandic Sea Monster Museum and Coffee shop. Coffee and cakes are served at Kaffi Sól before the notorious last climb of the race, Breiðdalsheiði. It features a steep mountain switchback before riding between fallen boulders, cresting the mountain and descending back to Ísafjörður.

Depending on how much snow there was in the winter, the final metres may still be covered in snow which requires riders to hike across the famous snow bridge.

The grand finale of the event is that the group jumps into the North Atlantic Ocean from the harbor on Monday morning to celebrate their ride.

What are the best hotels and accommodation options for cyclists in Westfjords?

Remember to double-check accommodation bike storage arrangements (and any other services you need) before booking as policies often change.

There are no specific cycling hotels in Westfjords, but in our experience, they all welcome cyclists and do whatever they can for them. People are generally happy to accommodate cyclists as it has been a priority of the region to encourage Icleland’s bicycle touring scene and bring more cyclists to the Westfjords area.

As well as hotels, there are Airbnbs in every major town, roughly every 20 miles. There are also farm stay options.

That said, it can be a good idea to call ahead and check your requirements before you book. Or rely on us! We know exactly which hotels are better for cyclists and what amenities they offer.

If you’re going it alone, make sure you have a back up option in case the weather is too bad and you cannot make it to the place you booked.

Meal times

Breakfast is usually served between 8-10 am, but some might start breakfast as early as 7am. Never earlier.

Dinners are usually served till 8 or 9pm.

It’s best to embrace these times – there are 20 hours of sun a day in the summer months, so riding time is unlimited. Just make sure you have energy for the ride, so just take your time and enjoy those breakfasts and dinners.

Mechanical assistance

Some establishments have mechanical assistance but it’s rare and never bike specific assistance. Tyler, through Cycling Westfjords’ services, provides support over-the-phone and we can often send spare parts via local networks if anything happens.

Bike storage

Most facilities have a place to shelter bikes, but bike storage is limited, and not necessary here. If you are travelling to the area, just check with your accommodation where it is okay to store your bike (before you bring it into your hotel room).

Book in advance

Always remember to book before you arrive. You might get lucky and find an opening, but you can never count on it.

As mentioned, at Cycling Westfjords we offer an accommodation booking service with our passport route service. We know which accommodation is best for cyclists and we can book all of your accommodations together and send one invoice for it.

Camping

Camping is also an option along the route and every village has a campground. Some have showers, but not all.

Are there places for bike hire and bike shops in Westfjords?

It is possible to hire bikes that are appropriate for cycling routes around the Westfjords from the Fjord Hub.

It is also possible to bring your own bikes – and the Fjord Hub is the only place to store bike boxes in the Westfjords.

The Fjord Hub is the only bike shop in the Westfjords so it’s the only place to get any last-minute bike specific items before starting a journey or resupplying on one. The Fjord Hub is also a full bicycle repair shop.

You can find and contact the Fjord Hub:

The Fjord Hub ehf.

Suðurgata 12

Ísafjörður 400

www.thefjordhub.is

Owner of the Fjord Hub bike hire in Iceland

Tyler at the Fjord Hub in Ísafjörður, the only bike shop in the Westfjords (Credit: Josh Weinberg)

When to go on a Westfjords cycling trip?

The best months to go biking in Iceland generally – and ride Iceland’s Westfjords specifically – are June, July and August. But the latter half of May and the first half of September can be good too. It often varies year by year on how the weather is set for the summer.

During the rest of the year, it’s not only weather and road conditions you have to contend with, but also lack of support services because so many of them close down during winter’s bad weather and short daylight hours.

June

Things are still pretty slow in the Westfjords in June, there’s very limited traffic and accommodation sometimes has same-day availability. But some of the mountain passes that don’t belong to the main road system are not passable until the end of June.

July

In July, the weather is best and the mountain passes are passable, but the traffic increases and accommodation is rarely available at short notice.

August

August is one of the best times to cycle Iceland. After the first weekend of August, it is usually very calm, but still warm. All roads are passable and accommodation is sometimes available with short notice. The days get shorter, but you might see the northern lights!

May and September

Late May and early September you might have some snow, but it’s unlikely. Leave it too long into September though and you might come unstuck; blizzards are not out of the question from late September. However, it will probably be quite cold (1-7 °C)!

Other tips

During the summer months, temperatures might fluctuate a little from day to day, but because the days are so long and bright due to the position close to the Arctic Circle, night temperatures don’t tend to drop much.

Note that the winds are notoriously strong and variable. Over a few hours the wind can vary from a light breeze to gale force. They often make it feel colder than it is. The perfect solution is to take your breaks when it’s blowing a headwind and stay on the bike for as long as possible when you have a tailwind or no wind; but of course that’s not always possible!

We use this weather forecast – and also update our clients about the upcoming weather.

We also like this website, which tells you which roads are open. Again, we always provide our clients with information about road conditions.

 

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Any tips for riding in Westfjords?

Books to prepare for cycling holidays in Iceland

Local cycling legend and very good friend of Cycling Westfjords and the Fjord Hub, Ómar Smári, has written books about day tours on bicycle in the Westfjords that we recommend. His collection of Hjólabokin (Bike Book) is available for purchase at the Fjord Hub.

Cycling map of Iceland

You can purchase a Westfjords cycling map at the Fjord Hub. There is also a map here, but it is not longer updated

Rules of the road

The law says cars needs to keep a distance of 1.5 metres from cyclists. A cyclist must, though on narrow roads, be considerate and give the cars space to pass.

Our tip: be as considerate to driving traffic as you want them to be towards you.

Safety (on bike and off-bike) and tips

You can ride through all tunnels in the Westfjords, but bring front and back lights and turn them on when going through them.

A reflective safety vest is also a good idea if you have space.

It’s very rare that bikes or equipment are stolen here and people in general are very friendly. The crime rate is very low.

There are no animals to beware, except mice and foxes, and the Arctic Tern that are beautiful birds but attack everyone passing their nesting area! The best way to stop them is just to ignore them. They get more aggressive if you respond.

There are no threatening insects other than wasps. Mosquitoes have not reached the Westfjords.

In case of emergency, always call 112. Make sure someone knows your route and basic plans. Safetravel is a popular resource that let’s you submit your travel plan, and might be useful for those not travelling with us.

Stay on the road and trails; venturing off route is not recommended.

Kit to bring for an Iceland cycling trip

We always suggest our guests bring clothing suitable for cold weather and wind, including a good quality rainproof and windproof jacket, gloves and overshoes, plus:

  • Front/rear lights (in case of fog or for going through tunnels
  • Spare tube(s) or tubeless patch repair
  • Pump or C02 valve (purchase C02 at the Fjord Hub)
  • Bike tools (hex wrench multi-tool with chain break tool)
  • Spare master chain link
  • Chain lube and rag
  • Spare brake pads
  • Extra wireless groupset battery and/or charger

Our packing list and gravel touring packing list might be useful additional reading.

What training do you suggest before taking on an Iceland bike tour

Focus on climbs and long rides.

It’s also a good idea to go out in the worst conditions in your riding area and practice riding in wind and rain.

Food to try while cycling around Iceland

Although you can have really good vegan dishes everywhere in Iceland, it is not what Iceland is famous for.

The Icelandic lamb meat is acknowledged as unique, and if you are not a vegetarian or vegan, you must have it at least once.

Also Icelandic meat soup, hot dogs and dryfish (acquired taste), and of course fish in general.

We recommend the lamb in Heydalur, fish and chips in Vegamót restaurant in Bíldudalur, and of course Tjöruhúsið in Ísafjörður – all-you-can-eat fish buffet.

As pastry goes you will definitely need to try the Icelandic waffles, but you also must try Hjónabandssæla (marriage bliss or happy marriage cake) and kleina.

As for drinks – try Maltöl and Appelsín. Try mixing them with equal parts; that is our seasonal Christmas and Easter drink.

Ease of access to food/water while on your Iceland cycling holiday

Water may be taken from any stream in the Westfjords without a filter – and streams are plentiful. Just avoid glacial rivers and be cautious taking water from streams that are downstream from a farm or house. It is possible to ride with as little as one water bottle, but two water bottles are recommended.

Food is not as accessible and if you are not using guiding service like Cycling Westfjords you need to do your research well. Food is accessible in most towns during opening hours. Hólmavík, Patreksfjörður, Bíldudalur and Ísafjörður have open restaurants during dinner time, but in other villages they might close earlier, and places like Borðeyri don’t have any restaurants or store of any kind, though there is a cafe during the day.

Best food to buy from convenience stores

You’ll find convenience stores in towns and within petrol stations. Most of the time you can sit inside them and warm up.

Hot dogs are everywhere here! Try them with dry and fresh onions, ketchup, mustard, and remoulade

Also try the kleina/kleinur, deep-fried donuts.

In most supermarkets you can also find energy bars, noodle packs, oatmeal, instant coffee. There is also plenty of chocolate!

Iceland is quite an expensive country, particularly for eating out. If money is tight, save up before you visit and self-cater as far as you can.

Whether you need to learn any Icelandic before coming/useful words to know

Almost everyone in Iceland speaks good English, so you don’t need to know any Icelandic. But it’s always fun to know some local words.

  • Góðan daginn – good morning/afternoon
  • Takk fyrir – thank you
  • Góða ferð – enjoy your tour or have a good tour
  • Gjörið svo vel – here you go/dig-in
  • Áfram! – let’s go!

Toilets

There aren’t that many public toilets in Iceland. Petrol stations are good places to look. There also aren’t many trees or large rocks to hide behind, so take every opportunity to go when you do see a public loo!

Culture

The Westfjords is a very unique landscape that has been shaped by glaciers in the past.

The communities are influenced by the weather and because it can change without notice, they have settled into a mentality that everything will work out. Its culture has an easy go-with-the-flow attitude. This pace of life will rub off on you when you are here, if you let it.

Embrace the fact that there will be some unknowns but know that things will all work out.

Also try and make time to visit cultural stops like hot springs, waterfalls and points of interest like the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft.

Highway code and travel information

As ever, it’s a good idea to check current travel information before you book and travel. For UK visitors, the UK government travel information pages for Iceland are here.

You should also read and follow Iceland’s highway code.

How to get to and around Westfjords?

International flights

When flying to Iceland you will land at Keflavík airport near Rejavik.

Domestic flight to Westfjords

From there you can either rent a car for your trip or connect to the domestic airport. You have to self-transfer with the Flybus from the international airport to Reykjavik domestic airport (approximately 45 minutes, bike boxes accepted) and then you can fly to Ísafjörður (approximately 45 minutes).

Icelandair offers this connection. They take a maximum of seven bikes on the plane, so you need to inform them about your bike when you book it.

Drive to Westfjords

The drive is around 500 kilometres and takes a minimum of six hours depending on the weather and how many stops you have.

On arrival in Ísafjörður

When arriving to Ísafjörður, you can take the Ísafjörður Flybus to town (about 10 minutes) and they can take you directly to the Fjord Hub. The Fjord Hub is the only place to store bike boxes and they can be booked online.

Travel around Westfjords

If you fly into Ísafjörður then a car is not necessary for a cycling holiday in the Westfjords.

At the time of this writing, it is not possible to arrive in the Westfjords via public transport as there are no trains in Iceland and while there is a connecting bus, it does not allow bikes. The nearest place to access the Westfjords Way via public transportation that allows bikes is Staðarskáli which is just on the edge of the route. There is a bus that runs between Patreksfjörður and Ísafjörður in the summer that allows bikes (additional fee applies).

Huge thanks to Dora and Tyler for sharing their valuable insights into cycling Iceland’s Westfjords region. It sounds absolutely incredible.

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Dora and Tyler

Dóra is born and raised in Ísafjörður, the capital of the Westfjords, which has a population of around 3,000 inhabitants. She graduated with a BA in tourism 2020 after doing research on the experience of bikepacking tourists in the Westfjords.  

Tyler has called the Westfjords home since 2020 after spending eight months biking across the US to reconnect with what’s important to him. In the summer of 2021, he became the first known person to ride the Westfjords Way, where he studied the infrastructure and services available to bicyclists along the way. He holds a master’s degree in Coastal Communities and Regional Development from the University Centre of the Westfjords and a BS in Civil Engineering. His passion is applying his knowledge and experiences to engage with the broader issues of place through biking. 

Dóra and Tyler both agreed there is no better place than Westfjords to bike tour in Iceland, but guidance and services were needed. They started Cycling Westfjords in Iceland with a goal to support cyclists in every way possible while connecting them with the people of the region. Whether you want to ride self-supported, supported with luggage transfers, or looking to race as fast as possible, Cycling Westfjords has something for you. Together they host the Arna Westfjords Way Challenge, create passport routes for self-supported cyclists and operate supported tours around the Westfjords. 

Last Reviewed: 07 May 2024

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