Off the Beaten Path From Patreksfjörður to Ólafsviti Lighthouse

Patreksfjörður is the southernmost fjord of the Westfjords, and it has a remote feel compared to the other fjords in the region. The fjords further north are narrower and have more settlements on the shoreline, while Patreksfjörður is wide and desolate.

This area is often overlooked by travellers who are heading to the more well-known tourist hotspots in the Westfjords. It’s not a classic Icelandic “landscape location” with an iconic viewpoint, but it has a bleak and isolated presence that hangs heavy in the air.

The coast road from Patreksfjörður is initially fairly non-descript, but as you drive along the southern shore of the fjord, the ridged cliffs of Tálkni can be seen guarding the entrance to the fjord in the distance.

From the rusting hulk of Garðar BA 64, the oldest steel ship in Iceland, to the perfectly positioned Ólafsviti lighthouse, this stretch of coastline between the more well-known Látrabjarg cliffs and Rauðasandur Beach is worth exploring.

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The road between Patreksfjörður and Ólafsviti

The route to Ólafsviti is easy to follow. From Patreksfjörður the main road around the fjord is Route 62. At the head of the fjord take Route 612 towards Látrabjarg and Ólafsviti. This road is initially paved but becomes gravel, switching between easy driving and less easy. The road follows the cliffs with some scary drops on some of the narrower sections.

All of the places to stop are obvious from the road and have clearly marked parking areas. The road has passing places, but these should not be used to stop, even for a quick snap.

Best time of year to visit Patreksfjörður

For a more enjoyable experience in the summer months when the area is accessible, it is best to hire a 4WD vehicle. In the winter months, the roads are impassable due to snow and high winds and this road should only be attempted between May and September. As with any driving in Iceland always make sure you check the status of the roads on and the weather at


Confusingly the town of Patreksfjörður has the same name as the inlet that the town is found on. The town is a very standard Icelandic town. It is fantastic as a base for exploring the Westfjords, but as far as looks go, it is fairly nondescript.

It was first established in the 9th Century by Örlygur Hrappsson with the blessing of bishop Patrick. But, it wasn’t until the 1800s that it became properly established when the commercial fishing industry started to develop and this industry continues today.

Garðar BA 64

Garðar BA 64 is the oldest steel ship in Iceland and was deliberately run aground in 1981. Originally designed and built in Norway in 1912 she was bought by Iceland as a whaling ship in 1945. She went through numerous modifications and was eventually named Garðar BA 64 in 1963 when she was being used as a herring trawler. After 70 years she was deemed unfit for purpose and was run aground in Skápadalur as a testimony to the area’s fishing and whaling heritage.

She is the perfect stop on a trip around the fjord and has lots to explore. Exploring the hulk, you will see corroding panels and wooden boards in various states of decay with beautiful reds and oranges as the metal rusts.
She is now fairly unstable and you should not enter her or stand on her decking.

Örlygshöfn Beach

A large sandy beach extends like a spit into the centre of the fjord, calming the waters beyond Garðar BA 64. Shortly afterwards huge sand dunes line the edge of the runway of the small airport on the shore of Patreksfjörður. A strange place for an airport, but nothing is really that unusual in Iceland. Beyond this, there are small coves and rusting fishing huts.

Close to the beach, there is a clear parking area and a path that leads down to the sand and shoreline. Even on an overcast day, this beach can be beautiful.

Hnjótur Museum

As we come around the corner in the road after the airport there is the wreckage of a U.S. Navy plane. Maybe this goes some way to being the reason for the airport, but then again the Hnjótur Museum is full of strange and unusual items and stories of saving British trawlers in the winter storms.

The Hnjótur Museum is worth stopping and exploring. It is open daily from May to September and after the road from Örlygshöfn Beach, it is a welcome stop to gather your nerves before heading on.


This beach, also known as Golden Beach is beautiful with a wide sweeping bay and a deep green river that runs across the golden sands into the sea. With the backdrop of the high cliffs, it is a stunning location for beachcombing.

Located just below the Látrabjarg Hotel a path leads down onto the sands. The beach has a number of river channels that drain into Gjögrabót Bay making it impossible to navigate from the main parking area for the beach on the sharp corner between the airport and Hnjótur Museum.


Ólafsviti is found under the high cliffs, but still 26 metres above sea level. Tucked around a corner you wouldn’t know it was there from the land side unless you went looking for it. Across the entrance to the fjord long flashes of white red and green every 20 seconds identify the end of the fjord and the open sea beyond.

As with many Icelandic lighthouses it was built of concrete in 1943 and it became fully operational in 1947. The tower is 14.4 metres high with a solid 3-metre plinth at the base. Within the plinth on the seaward side is the entrance, mirrored by a small window on the land side. Named after Ólafs Jóhannessonar, a merchant in Patreksfjörður whose family donated money for its construction, a plaque on the base plinth below the landward window is a testament to their contribution. In 1978 gas was replaced by electricity and by 1996 it was automated.

Wildlife and nature

This part of Iceland is remote and rugged. While driving along the shore of the fjord look out for whales and dolphins as well as seals bobbing around. When you stop, take time to look at the flotsam and jetsam washed up on the high tide mark. The seaweeds and shells are so beautiful.

This area is also home to Arctic foxes. Keep your eyes open for their dark figures slinking along the shoreline or traversing the bird cliffs where they will hunt for puffins and birds’ eggs.

Places to stay near Patreksfjörður

Stekkar 26

In Patreksfjörður, Stekkar 26 is a town apartment on the waterfront. It is well-equipped and has beautiful views out across the fjord. It is a good base for exploring the southern end of the Westfjords and has a number of hikes from the apartment.

Hænuvík Cottages

For those who are happy with a more basic and remote experience then close to the lighthouse on the coast road are the small Hænuvík Cottages. You do need to bring your own sheets and towels, but if you are mixing camping with cottages then this would work.

Hotel Látrabjarg

If you want time to explore the area then the beautifully situated Hotel Látrabjarg just a short distance from the lighthouse is perfect. From here it is possible to walk down to Tunguif Beach and it is well located for an early start at the bird cliffs.

How to get to Patreksfjörður – Route 62 and Route 612

Patreksfjörður can be reached via Route 60 from just north of Bifröst on Route 1 and then Route 62 into the town. This scenic drive takes you through the beautiful landscapes of the Westfjords region. Patreksfjörður is approximately 400 kilometres north of Reykjavík, and the journey typically takes around 5 hours, depending on road conditions and stops along the way. Some driving can be avoided by taking the ferry from Stykkishólmur on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. There isn’t much time difference but it is a lovely crossing across the bay.

To reach Patreksfjörður from Ísafjörður in the far north of the Westfjords, you can take the interesting route via Route 60 and Route 63 through Bíldudalur. The drive is approximately 150 kilometres and takes around 3 hours, depending on road conditions. The road passes through a number of tunnels as it follows the fjords down the coast. For a slightly faster drive time follow Route 60 all the way to the south and then pick up Route 62 in Flókalundur.

In the winter months, the roads are impassable due to snow and high winds. Getting to the Westfjords is only really possible by road for tourist traffic between May and September. Even in the summer months make sure you check the status of the roads at and the weather at

Places close to Patreksfjörður

  • Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs – High sea cliffs with puffin and kittiwake colonies in the summer months. This is a harder drive but the road starts between Hnjótur Museum and Látrabjarg Hotel so is a good extension of this road
  • Bjargtanga lighthouse – The most westerly lighthouse in Europe is located at the Látrabjarg cliffs
  • Rauðasandur Beach – Stunning golden sands that are located on Route 614 just after Garðar BA64. The road is steep with hair pins and can be difficult without 4WD. Once down onto the shoreline, the beach is beautiful for walking and in the far corner is Melanes Campsite with the seal colony beyond.

The road from Patreksfjörður to Ólafsviti

The drive from Patreksfjörður to Ólafsviti Lighthouse is a scenic and unforgettable journey. The road winds its way through the beautiful Westfjords landscape, offering stunning views of mountains, fjords and glimpses of arctic foxes.

The drive is approximately 45 minutes long, and it is well worth the time. Along the way, you will pass by a number of small villages, as well as some of the most beautiful scenery in Iceland. The road is gravel in places with steep drops but there are plenty of parking areas to stop.

When you arrive at Ólafsviti Lighthouse, you will be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding area. The lighthouse is located on a small peninsula, and it offers panoramic views of the Westfjords.

If you are looking for a unique and unforgettable experience, then be sure to take the drive from Patreksfjörður to Ólafsviti Lighthouse. It is a truly special place, and it is a great way to experience the beauty of the Westfjords.

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