For the next part of our trip, Tor and I decided to venture off the beaten path a bit and head to the northwestern corner of Iceland, known as the Westfjords. The Ring Road doesn’t take you up there, so we had to veer off and take what is known as the Ring Road 2 (route 60) to get to the Westfjords. This was the escape we initially had in mind for this trip, and it didn’t disappoint.
Look 1: 525 America sweater c/o, Topshop coat (similar here and here), ASOS scarf, Forever 21 hat, Madewell jeans, Wool socks, White gloves, Danner boots (on sale!)
Look 2: Acacia swimsuit (on sale!)
Look 3: Gloverall coat, J. McLaughlin turtleneck (similar here and here), Patagonia fleece jacket, Madewell jeans, Frye boots (on sale!), Grey hat (similar here), Black gloves
Since the Westfjords are not a part of the Ring Road, it’s much quieter and less touristy up there. In fact, there aren’t really many hotels since it’s so far off the beaten path. But we were always determined to go, since the point of this trip was to encourage all of you to visit these spots in Iceland. So we drove two hours from Hotel Husafell out to Holmavík, where we stopped for gas and tried to stop for lunch. But since it was the end of October, the best rated restaurant in the small town (known for its sorcery, by the way) was closed – on a Saturday. So we decided to wait until we got to our hotel another 2 hours away. When we arrived at Heydalur Guesthouse, we knew we were in for a treat! First of all, the hotel is on a farm in the middle of nowhere, nestled in a valley in between mountains. As soon as we pulled up, we were greeted by their super enthusiastic dog Loki as well as their sweet little arctic fox! I forget the fox’s name, but her mother was killed when she was just an itty bitty pup so the owners at Heydalur took her in, bottle fed her, and raised her. She can be a wee bit shy and never stood still enough for us to take a decent pic.
After settling into our cozy little room that overlooked the mountains and enjoying a delicious lunch that the hotel owner cooked for us herself (yummy homemade lasagna!), we decided to do some exploring. Loki was very keen on exploring with us, which Tor and I loved since we were already missing our cats back home. We were told that the hotel has an old 13th century hot pot on the property on the other side of the river, so we decided to go check it out – with Loki right by our side guiding us the whole way! After crossing some stones and nearly falling into the river, we finally made it to the other side which gave us an uninterrupted view of the valley, the mountains, and even a little bit of the Arctic.
We decided to save the hot pot for the next morning, which wasn’t exactly the wisest idea. We were the only guests at the hotel after a group of friends checked out, but we didn’t know if anyone else would be coming and take over the hot pot. So we crossed the river again after breakfast, however, the rocks were now all icy thanks to the below freezing temperatures the night before. Poor Tor lost his grip and fell into the river. Luckily, the hot pot felt extra hot thanks to the freezing outdoor temperatures, and no one else was there. Fun fact: since this hot pot was first discovered in the 13th century, it means that Vikings used to bathe in this hot pot. Since I am Scandinavian, I felt an odd connection to my potential ancestors.
After bathing in the hot pot and leaving Tor’s snow boots to dry out, we decided to head into Ísafjörður for lunch. It was about a 90 minute drive, despite it not appearing far on the map at all. That’s because in the Westfjords, you need to drive around every single fjord. There’s no bridge to connect you straight across, so hopefully you don’t mind windy roads! It’s really not that bad. We had some of the best views on that drive.
Ísafjörður is a charming seaside town. It’s not a big tourist spot either, but they do have a hotel and a little airport there. As we arrived into town, an Air Iceland Connect plane from Reykjavik was landing at the airport (if you are short on time and don’t want to drive 6.5 hours to reach Ísafjörður, flying is your best option). We attempted to have lunch at Tjöruhúsið, but like most places in the Westfjords, they were closed for the winter season. Instead, we dined at nearby Húsið, which ended up being a cozy spot. We dined on burgers as we watched some snow flurries begin to dance around outside. We then took a little walk around the town and even spotted a local cat crossing the street! I took that for a good luck sign, and also a sign that I was missing my fur babies terribly.
For our excursion to Ísafjörður, Tor and I donned one of our favorite outerwear apparel labels – Gloverall. Tor has always loved duffle coats (and he looks good in them!), so he got me into them as well. You’ve probably seen me wear a lot of Gloverall over the past year since our Austria trip last November, and I keep adding more and more of their coats to my coat collection. In this post, I am wearing this plaid one and Tor is wearing this green one. You’ll see me wear a few more Gloverall coats on this Iceland trip!
After our walk, we stopped back at Húsið to get some coffee and hot cocoa to go and we began the 90 minute drive back to Heydalur. As usual, whenever Tor drives, I immediately fall asleep within 2 minutes so I slept for most of the drive back until Tor spotted a beach at low tide overlooking the ocean and the mountains. He woke me up and said he wanted to take pictures there, so we got out of the car and climbed down the rocks to the beach. It was all ours. Not a soul passed by. We didn’t encounter anyone until we caught up with three workers repairing the road by our hotel. They had cut up the road and had to quickly re-pave it with a bulldozer to let us through. They were really kind and made us laugh a bit.
Back at the hotel, we walked on over to the farm because we had told one of the staff (ahhh I forget her name!) that we were interested in a horse ride. We had never ridden Icelandic horses before, and although we had it scheduled in our itinerary later in the week, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity here. The horses at Heydalur do not live in stables. In fact, there are no stables. The horses roam free in the valley. There’s only one vet in the entirety of the Westfjords, and she lives back in Ísafjörður. There’s also only one man in the region who fixes horseshoes, and he also happens to be a carpenter for his main business. There’s also a law regarding Icelandic horses – once an Icelandic horse leaves Iceland, they can never come back. It’s one reason why there are no known diseases amongst the horses in Iceland, and the Icelandic horse is the only horse you’ll find in the entire country. Since Tor and I are experienced riders, our guide took us on a good run. It was just the three of us, which made the experience even better. Our guide took us all the way down to the beach of the nearest fjord where we ran and did the Icelandic tölt. We then made our way back to the farm as the chilly wind began to aggressively pick up. That night, we dined on a delicious home cooked meal of trout before ending the night with a game of Ticket to Ride.
From being surrounded by animals to delicious home cooked meals to an isolated hot pot on a farm in the middle of nowhere, Heydalur Guesthouse quickly shot up to one of our top favorite spots to stay and visit. It’s not a luxury hotel. It’s not 5 stars or even 4 stars. It’s a cozy guesthouse with an amazing team behind it that make you feel like you’re visiting grandma’s house (in a good way!). We will definitely consider visiting again, and we most certainly want to visit with friends next time!
Check out our travel vlog from Heydalur and the Westfjords below! I hope you like animals, because there’s a lot of them in this video!