Flanking Húnaflói bay, at the northeast edge of the Westfjords, the Strandir coast has a mysterious allure that's difficult to account for. In many ways, the region accentuates what is already exceptional about the Westfjords. Winters are unusually harsh, and pack ice often remains into late spring. Lowland is scarce, and inhabitants are especially dependent on the sea; even the sheep have been known to taste like seaweed, their backup diet. Strandir's topography is more varied than most of the Westfjords, and the abundance of driftwood lends an enchanting and melancholic cast to the shoreline. Historically Strandir's villages have been among the most isolated in the country, and outlaws have sought refuge on its austerely beautiful upland moors. Whatever the cause, visitors often describe the Strandir coast in quasi-mystical terms, as if they've escaped time or recovered some lost part of themselves.

One day is not enough time for Strandir to work its way into your system; 2 to 4 nights are better, ideally followed by an excursion farther north to Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. Those not keen on roughing it in Hornstrandir -- or without the time to spare -- can still reach the astonishing sea cliffs at Hornbjarg on day tours from Norðurfjörður twice a week in summer.