Fjords are deep inlets carved into a coastline by a glacier. After the glaciers retreat they leave U-shaped valleys that lead out to the sea, and because they are usually very deep and enclosed, fjords make excellent natural harbours. As it is a heavily glaciated country, the coast of Iceland has many regions of fjord coastline, so Iceland holidays are a perfect opportunity to explore these impressive landscapes.
The North Shore
Husavik is a small town in the north coast of Iceland that has become famous for the visitors it gets to its fjords. Not human visitors, but whales. These whales, and the boat tours to see them, make Husavik a popular destination for package holidays. Iceland has many places off its coast to take whale watching tours, including the capital Reykjavik, but Husavik is one of the best because the local waters are rich in nutrients. This means a large number and variety of species are drawn here, including minke whales, humpback whales, blue whales, and sperm whales.
Also on the jagged North coast of Iceland is the historic Skagafjordur region. The land here is a beautiful area of fields lining the flat-based valley that slopes gently into the fjord. Because of the rich deposits left behind by a glacier, this is a lush green agricultural valley with a tradition for raising horses. Hiking and horse riding is popular here on Iceland holidays, as well as boat trips from the fjord. You might include deep-sea angling as part of specialist holidays to Iceland as well as visits to the local historical sites.
The region’s expanse of flat farmland is enclosed on either side by the walls of the bowl-shaped Skagafjordur valley, which cause an unusual sense of space. The high valley sides appear like petrified tidal waves of rock, and it’s difficult to grasp how near or far away they are.
You’ll find the same trick of perspective and scale in the West Fjords region – a jagged peninsula that takes up the north west corner of the country – where the mountains appear to plunge steeply into the sea. Holidays to Iceland’s West Fjords will centre upon seeing the towering mountainous landscape and angular coastline, but might also include a trip to the museum of Bolungarvík, where you can visit the oldest house in the country, built in 1734.
Unlike the narrow inlets of the West Fjords, the Breidafjordur Bay to the south is wide and shallow. Many people on their holidays to Iceland come here to take boat trips between the innumerable islands. About 2700 islets have been counted in the bay, but there are thought to be 3000 or more. Some of these islands are inhabited and can be reached by ferry, but most are occupied only by birds and wildlife. You can add an island and bird watching boat cruise of the bay to the itinerary of your Iceland holidays.
The southern edge of Breidafjordur bay is closed off by the Snaefellsnes peninsula.
Specialist holidays to Iceland’s west coast might include exploring the seal colony here at Ytri-Tunga, or a visit by snowmobile to the glacier-topped Snaefellsjokull volcano.
Whether you visit the coal-black beaches or the ice-carved fjords, the coastlines you see on your holidays to Iceland will certainly be remarkable and majestic.