West Coast Landscapes

West Coast Landscapes

In Western Iceland the ice has long disappeared, revealing an impressive fjord-like landscape. Long, glacier-carved troughs now contain sea lochs that penetrate far inland and, whilst making for lengthy detours between A and B, the towering U-shaped valley walls offer a fascinating sight.

Take a look at the following sites you can include in your itinerary:


As well as the glories of the dwarfing glaciated landscapes, travelling around Hvalfjörður (Whale Fjord) gives students the chance to study the topics of whaling stations and aluminium smelters. Beneficial? Detrimental? The debate can begin on-site.

Aluminium Smelter

A controversial industry in Iceland, see one of three aluminium smelters. While you can’t visit the smelter, you can still drive past it.

Iceland doesn't have any of the raw material to make aluminium (bauxite), so it imports the raw material and exports the aluminium. The reason behind it being a viable industry is because it’s very energy intensive something Iceland has a great deal of.

However, the controversy comes from whether Iceland should be producing more energy to support an industry that it doesn’t have the raw material for, especially when they know a lot of their tourism is due to their unique environment. For example, damming more rivers and drilling more boreholes which, although renewable, aren't without their environmental impact.


Nestled in the glacial valley of Skorradalur, Skorradalsvatn is a small, elongated ribbon lake around 16km long. While groups can’t stop here, there’s the possibility of a place to pull over at the side of the road to admire the lake and surrounding mountains from the distance.

Deildartunguhver Hot Springs

Reminding everyone that magma is never too far below the crust of Iceland, a visit to the Deildartunguhver Hot Springs – Iceland’s largest and most powerful hot spring – makes the landscape live once more. The gushing, glugging and spurting hot water is utilised in surrounding local communities for space heating, as well as more locally for greenhouse cultivation.

If you take a shower anywhere within a 65km radius of the spring, you’ll have already bathed in the hot water from this powerful spring!

Hraunfoss Waterfall

Most entrancing is the small but beautifully-formed waterfall of Hraunfossar, emerging from layers of horizontally-bedded lavas. Clear, cold springs of subterranean water seep through the lava and run as tiny waterfalls and rapids into the Hvita River.

Barnafoss Waterfall

Barnafoss (Children’s Waterfall), which is much more lively compared to Hraunfoss, tumbles variously over greatly-contorted rock outcrops. Cross the bridges that lead over the various falls for excellent views of the churning water, then walk around the waterfall itself.

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