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New Tunnel makes visiting Westfjords attractions in the winter possible

Abandoned house by a fjord and a mountain in the Westfjords of Iceland.
A tunnel through Dýrafjörður fjord in the Westfjords was formally opened on Sunday, establishing a new sightseeing route in Iceland named the Westfjords Way.

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The new tunnel

Mountains mirrored in the water of Dyrafjordur fjord in Iceland's Westfjords.
Dýrafjörður fjord. Photo: Diego Delso, delso.photo, License CC-BY-SA

The new Dýrafjarðargöng tunnel lies between the fjords Arnarfjörður and Dýrafjörður, linking the north and south parts of the Westfjords. 

It is 5.6 kilometres long and shortens the route of Vestfjarðarvegur road by over 27 kilometres, saving drivers in the area much time when travelling.

The tunnel bypasses Hrafnseyrarheiði, an unpaved road which led through a mountain pass and was often closed in the winter due to ice or heavy snowfall. 

The opening of Dýrafjarðargöng tunnel marks the formal opening of the new Westfjords Way, a 950 km circle route which threads one of Iceland’s most remote regions. 

The Westfjords Way

Map of the Westfjords Way with pictures of selected locations.
Photo: Vestfjarðastofa

The Westfjords are the oldest part of Iceland and boast of spectacular landscapes as well as unique wildlife, and rich history. 

The Westfjords Way will take you around deep fjords and jagged mountains. Visitors travel through valleys and lowlands, seeing very little human interference. 

The route leads from Iceland’s Ring Road and around the Westfjords Peninsula, past settlements such as the village of Hólmavík, known for its witchcraft museum, and Ísafjörður, the largest settlement in the Westfjords.

It also leads to some of the region’s most spectacular attractions such as Látrabjarg bird cliffs, Rauðisandur beach and the 100-metre tall waterfall, Dynjandi.

Visiting in Winter

The waterfall Dynjandi in the summer.
Photo: pikist.com

The Westfjords are one of the most beautiful regions of Iceland, but one of the least visited as well. This is not only due to its distance from Reykjavík city and Keflavík International Airport but also because of unpaved mountain roads which are often closed in the winter.

It is estimated that by next autumn, paving of the last part of the 950 km of the Westfjords Way will be finished. In addition to that, the new Dýrafjarðargöng tunnel bypasses one of the more challenging mountain roads, Hrafnseyrarheiði road.

One of the Westfjords’ most popular attractions, Dynjandi waterfall, is located between the mountain roads of Hrafnseyrarheiði and Dynjandisheiði which are often closed due to heavy snowfall. Last winter, for example, these roads were closed for five consecutive months.

Traversing these roads in the winter has thus not been a possibility for most travellers. However, the opening of the new Dýrafjarðargöng tunnel means that this year, many people will be able to see Dynjandi in its frozen glory for the first time.

Furthermore, the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration have decided to keep the route to Dynjandi clear of snow on weekdays this winter. 

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