Strandir Coast / Djupavik / Reykjarfjordur, Westfjords (Vestfirðir), Iceland

About Djupavikurfoss

Hiking Distance: roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2007-06-25
Date last visited: 2007-06-26

Waterfall Latitude: 65.94142
Waterfall Longitude: -21.55025

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Djupavikurfoss (Djúpavíkurfoss) was our waterfalling excuse to visit the hauntingly beautiful and lonely town of Djupavik (spelled Djúpavík, pronounced “DYOO-puh-vik”; meaning “deep bay”) on the Strandir Coast of the Westfjords.

The falls conspicuously plunged off a high cliff then tumbled and cascaded on talus slopes towards the once-booming herring factory town (now abandoned).

Djupavik_100_06252007 - Djupavikurfoss overlooking the town of Djupavik
Djupavikurfoss overlooking the town of Djupavik

Since the decline of the fish trade at Djúpavík, efforts have been made to turn the factories into museums while accommodating tourists in the “loneliest hotel in Europe,” which was once the women’s accommodation when the town was thriving.

Experiencing Djupavikurfoss

We basically did a couple of local walks while exploring the town during our stay here.

We were lucky that the weather cooperated because the receptionist here told us that it tended to get foggy and cloudy given the fickle nature of the weather.

So we managed to experience the waterfall from up close within the town of Djúpavík as well as from the top of a grassy hill overlooking both the town and waterfall (yielding the view you see at the top of this page).

Djupavik_144_06252007 - Djupavikurfoss cascading towards a bridge in the small town of Djupavik where Tina the local dog looks on
Djupavikurfoss cascading towards a bridge in the small town of Djupavik where Tina the local dog looks on

That uphill walk probably took us about 20 minutes or so in each direction, but we were followed by the local dog Tina, who was busy dividing time between chasing sheep and keeping us company.

We were also told of a more strenuous trail that led to the top of this waterfall.

However, we opted not to do it.

After all the driving we had done to get here, we didn’t feel like piling on with another physical challenge.

Djupavik_036_06252007 - Context of Julie checking out Djupavikurfoss tumbling towards the ghost town of Djupavik
Context of Julie checking out Djupavikurfoss tumbling towards the ghost town of Djupavik

Nonetheless, just doing the short walks in the immediate area yielded sightings of additional waterfalls as well as the peace and tranquility you’d expect from being so far away from civilization.

Indeed, the atmosphere and beauty of this place have definitely stayed in our minds well after the end of our 2007 Iceland trip.

A Brief History of Djupavik

We had read about the history of Djúpavík from a booklet in the Hotel Djúpavík, which told a fascinating story about the boom and bust cycle that saw the town go from its humble beginnings to a state-of-the-art herring factory to an abandoned town.

The herring industry started in 1917 when an intrepid man by the name of Elías Stefánsson started building the infrastructure to process herring (the first buildings were salting stations probably to dry out the fish and preserve them).

Djupavik_005_jx_06252007 - Djupavikurfoss backing some abandoned herring factory buildings in the small town of Djupavik
Djupavikurfoss backing some abandoned herring factory buildings in the small town of Djupavik

However, the depression in 1919 caused that operation to close.

Activity wouldn’t continue until 1934 when Djupavik, Ltd got involved with help from some financing by a Swedish bank along with some insurance by the National Bank of Iceland (Landsbanki).

During the Djupavik Ltd years, the area saw its golden years as Djúpavík housed state-of-the-art factories for its time resulting in massive yields and a booming herring and fish oil export industry to much of Europe.

There were people who got wealthy, and there was even enough income and infrastructure for this area to start becoming autonomous with its own farming and growing population.

Djupavik_166_06252007 - Julie and local dog Tina walking about the mostly abandoned village of Djupavik
Julie and local dog Tina walking about the mostly abandoned village of Djupavik

The herring decline occurred around 1944, but really fell sharply in 1948.

The factory closed its doors in 1954, and this would turn out to be the end of herring operations in Djúpavík.

Eventually, people left the area, and what was left were the buildings from the abandoned town, which appeared to be left to the elements as we happened to see it over 50 years later.

The literature at the hotel didn’t cite the reasons for the herring decline, but knowing what we know now, we suspect it was probably a combination of overfishing and the change in the fragile ecosystem here.

Djupavik_139_06252007 - In between some of the remnants of the herring processing buildings at Djupavik
In between some of the remnants of the herring processing buildings at Djupavik

Indeed, I suspect that the factory operations here ultimately might have pressured the ecosystem here to the point of not allowing the herring to thrive.


Djupavikurfoss resides in the Westfjords of Iceland. It is administered by the municipality of Árneshreppur. For information or inquiries about the general area as well as current conditions, you may want to try visiting their website.

Westfjords_100_06252007 - Some waterfall we saw on the way to Strandir Coast
Strandir_Coast_001_06252007 - Looking directly at an attractive waterfall along the Strandir Coast on the way to Djupavik
Strandir_Coast_006_06252007 - More of the atmospheric drive along the Strandir Coast
Strandir_Coast_027_06252007 - It was very cold and windy during our visit
Strandir_Coast_045_06252007 - Another attractive waterfall seen in one of the fjords before Djupavik
Strandir_Coast_055_06252007 - Looking down towards a fjord before the one containing Djupavik
Djupavik_001_06252007 - The local dog Tina following us around Djupavik
Djupavik_004_06252007 - Looking north along the shores of Djupavik
Djupavik_011_06252007 - Looking further south along the shores of Djupavik
Djupavik_014_06252007 - Djupavikurfoss tumbling behind some abandoned buildings
Djupavik_002_jx_06252007 - Looking at some boat with a sign in Icelandic pointing you to the nearby hotel
Djupavik_020_06252007 - Looking across Reykjarfjörður towards Djupavikurfoss and town
Djupavik_023_06252007 - Looking in the distance towards some other cascade spilling towards the bay where Djupavik was located
Djupavik_024_06252007 - Looking back towards some other cascade (possibly Djupavikurfoss from a different angle) spilling towards Djupavik
Djupavik_026_06252007 - The road kept going beyond Djupavik and Reykjarfjörður
Djupavik_032_06252007 - Looking towards another waterfall facing Reykjarfjörður fronted by some driftwood
Djupavik_034_06252007 - Julie approaching the bottom of Djupavikurfoss
Djupavik_050_06252007 - From this angle, it looked like Djupavikurfoss really fanned out in the talus
Djupavik_060_06252007 - Focused on the main drop of Djupavikurfoss in long exposure
Djupavik_062_06252007 - Fork in the road at Djupavik, where the path on the left appeared to act as a trail towards another waterfall as well as a hill overlooking the abandoned town
Djupavik_073_06252007 - Tina waiting for us to catch up with her as we were hiking behind the town
Djupavik_074_06252007 - Looking back towards the road leading back to Djupavik
Djupavik_118_06252007 - Julie and Tina checking out Djupavikurfoss
Djupavik_127_06252007 - Julie and I checking out Djupavikurfoss spilling towards Djupavik
Djupavik_138_06252007 - Tina checking out the Djupavikurfoss and town
Djupavik_142_06252007 - One of the rusted ships left there as a relic of the glory days of the herring trade at Djupavik
Djupavik_021_jx_06252007 - Another look at the rusted boat that was probably last used during the heyday of the herring trade at Djupavik
Djupavik_170_06262007 - Looking back at another waterfall behind Djúpavík
Djupavik_174_06262007 - Heading back towards Djúpavík
Djupavik_177_06262007 - Another look back towards a different waterfall nearby Djupavikurfoss

Getting here requires a roughly 60km detour on the Route 643 leaving Route 61 (the main road around this side of the Westfjords) a short distance north of Hólmavík.

Although the route 643 was unpaved, it was reasonably well-maintained and it followed along the very beautiful Strandir Coast.

We managed to notice quite a few scenic inlets, waterfalls, and rugged coastlines lined with driftwood along this stretch of road.

Hotel_Djupavik_010_jx_06252007 - The front of the Hotel Djupavik, which was called the 'loneliest hotel in Europe'
The front of the Hotel Djupavik, which was called the ‘loneliest hotel in Europe’

Without stops, it might take on the order of 90 minutes to go from Hólmavík to Djupavik.

However, given all the attractions along the way, it could easily take much longer than that.

For some additional geographical context, Hólmavík was about 349km (over 4 hours drive) west of Akureyri, 225km (about 3 hours drive) north of Reykjavik, and 221km (2.5 hours drive) east of Ísafjörður.

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Looking up from the bottom of the falls

Fixated on the falls in blusteringly cold winds

Nearly 360 degree sweep of the Djupavik area including the falls. Julie really had to fight the wind pretty hard to keep this video going.

Tagged with: djupavik, strandir coast, reykjarfjordur, westfjords, vestfirdir, iceland, waterfall, holmavik

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