Planning a Trip
Getting There & Around
By Plane -- Air Iceland (tel. 570-3030; www.airiceland.is) connects Reykjavík and Ísafjörður two or three times daily year-round. The flight is 40 minutes, and ticket prices average 8,600kr ($138/£69). (Sitting on the left side of the plane grants views of Snæfellsjökull and the most picturesque Westfjords coastline.) All flights from Akureyri to Ísafjörður connect through Reykjavík.
An airport shuttle operated by Valdimar Lúðvík Gíslason (tel. 456-7195 or 852-1417; 500kr/$8/£4) starts from Bolungarvík and stops at Hótel Ísafjörður approximately 45 minutes before flight departure times. The shuttle also picks up arriving passengers and stops at the hotel on the way back to Bolungarvík. The driver will stop at other accommodations in Ísafjörður's town center on request.
By Car -- Drivers traveling from Reykjavík to Ísafjörður have three main options. The fastest route (440km/273 miles; 6 1/2 hr.) follows this road sequence: Ring Road (Rte. 1) -- Route 60 -- Route 608 -- Route 61. Paving is near complete for the entire route, which is about to be further streamlined by a new bridge over Mjóifjörður. Another route (456km/283 miles; 7 1/2 hr.) follows Route 60 from the Ring Road all the way to Ísafjörður. This route is more scenic and provides access to the southwest and central Westfjords. About a third of the route is unpaved, however, and the rutted sections can be nerve-wracking. The third option is to take the Baldur car ferry from Stykkishólmur (on Snæfellsnes peninsula) to Brjánslaekur (in the Westfjords), and then continue to Ísafjörður on Route 62 and Route 60. The total travel time is around 8 hours, with 68km (42 miles) of unpaved road, but the driving distance is cut to 294km (183 miles). Drivers headed to Ísafjörður from north Iceland should simply take Route 61 from the Ring Road.
Ísafjörður has two rental agencies, National/Bílaleiga Akureyrar (tel. 461-6000; www.holdur.is) and Hertz (tel. 522-4490; www.hertz.is). Both are airport-based, but deliver cars anywhere in town for no charge.
By Bus -- Bus travel is usually not a convenient or cost-efficient means of getting to Ísafjörður from outside the Westfjords, though if you're coming from Reykjavík or Snæfellsnes, combining the bus with the car ferry has some sightseeing advantages.
Three connecting buses lead from Reykjavík or Akureyri to Ísafjörður. The first leg, with Trex (tel. 587-6000; www.trex.is) leads to Brú, on the Ring Road. Morning buses approach Brú both from the south, starting in Reykjavík, and from the north, starting in Akureyri. The next leg, also with Trex, goes from Brú to Hólmavík. The final leg from Hólmavík to Ísafjörður -- which runs only from June to August on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays -- is serviced by Stjörnubílar (tel. 456-1575; www.stjornubilar.is). With layovers, the total travel time from Reykjavík to Ísafjörður is 9 3/4 hours, or 12 1/2 hours coming back, at a total cost of 10,250kr ($164/£82) one-way.
For the bus-ferry route from Reykjavík, the first leg is the morning Trex bus from Reykjavík to Stykkishólmur, arriving at 11:10am from June 1 to 15, or 10:35am from June 15 through August. The ferry then goes from Stykkishólmur to Brjánslækur in the Westfjords. The ferry does not leave Stykkishólmur until 3:30pm, so you'll have some time to kill there; from June 15 through August you might throw in the 11am "Unique Adventure Tour." The connecting bus from Brjánslækur to Ísafjörður -- with service only from June to August on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays -- is handled by Stjörnubílar. The total travel time is 12 hours from Reykjavík to Ísafjörður, or 7 3/4 hours on the way back (except from June 1-June 15, when travelers need to overnight in Stykkishólmur). The total cost is 8,550kr ($137/£68) one-way.
Trex's Full Circle and Westfjords Bus Passport, valid from June through August, includes a complete circuit of Iceland, including the ferry Baldur.
The main bus stop in Ísafjörður is the N1 gas station on Pollgata.
By Taxi -- Leigubílar Ísafirði (tel. 456-3518) is on call 24/7.
By Bike -- West Tours, Aðalstræti 7 (tel. 456-5111; www.westtours.is) rents good mountain bikes for 1,500kr ($24/£12) per day and extra-rugged bikes for 2,500kr ($40/£20).
Ísafjörður's tourist information center, Aðalstræti 7 (tel. 450-8060; www.westfjords.is and www.isafjordur.is; Jun 13-Aug Mon-Fri 9am-7pm, Sat-Sun 10am-5pm; Sept-June 12 Mon-Fri 11am-4pm) is very efficient and provides information and hotel assistance for the Westfjords.