Drangsnes at Strandir in the Westfjords Region, the Troll and the Hot Tubs
Drangsnes is a lovely little fishing village at Strandir on the eastern part of the Westfjords Region of Iceland, just 30 km away from Hólmavík village. At Drangsnes you will find 3 hot tubs by the sea just as you enter the village.
The hot tubs have become the main attraction of the village, together with Grímsey islands and the pillar of rock a little further on, which is one of the trolls, who wanted to divide the Westfjords Region from the mainland of Iceland. The pillar of rock gives the name to Drangsnes as such pillars of rocks are called drangur in Icelandic.
Top photo: the hot tubs by the sea in Drangsnes
Changing rooms are across the street from the hot tubs
Hot water was discovered in Drangsnes in 1997 and the geothermal water in the hot tubs comes from a borehole. The inhabitants were clever and only a short while after the hot water was discovered they put up these 3 hot tubs next to the sea.
It is really lovely soaking in these hot tubs by the sea and they are very popular. We popped up for a visit when we were staying in Hólmavík village for a couple of days, but somehow I forgot my swimsuit so I could only dip my legs into the hot tubs.
During my other visits to Strandir, the hot tubs have always been filled with people enjoying the hot geothermal water and the lovely view. And you might even spot whales blowing while relaxing in the hot water!
The hot tubs by the sea in Drangsnes
On my visit to Strandir in the summer of 2019, there were so many whales in Steingrímsfjörður fjord that it was amazing. People were standing on the shore with binoculars and zoom lenses and the people soaking in the hot tub had a fantastic view.
The hot tubs are two normal hot tubs and one fish tub with different degrees of hot water. There are changing rooms across the street from the hot tubs (please do NOT go into the hot tubs without a swimsuit, that is very much frowned upon here, as the hot tubs are located in the village where people live and work and children go to school).
The hot tubs by the sea in Drangsnes
When you visit Drangsnes, notice the carved teardrops in some of the rocks by the sea and the hot tubs, carved by the artist Mireya Samper. You can see one of them above the hot tubs in my photo above.
The hot tubs are free of charge. But let's always leave something behind when visiting these small villages, be it staying at their guesthouse, buying something at the supermarket or buying a souvenir to show our appreciation.
Grímsey island and the female troll Drangur
Grímsey island on Steingrímsfjörður fjord
Grímsey island, the Pearl of Steingrimsfjörður fjord, is also a popular attraction at Drangsnes, with its myriad of puffins in the summertime. This is Grímsey in Steingrímsfjörður, and not to be confused with the Arctic circle Grímsey.
You can join a 10-minute boat ride to Grímsey island to see the puffins and explore the island.
Check out the website of Malarhorn for booking the boat-rides.
The lighthouse in Grímsey island was erected back in 1915, but it was destroyed by a German bomber in WW2 and rebuilt after the war in 1949.
There are departures to the island at 09:00 in the morning and at 13:30. I never seem to be at Drangsnes at the right time for the departure. I am hopefully going to visit Grímsey island one day as I love seeing the puffins. And I have heard that you can get very close to this beautiful bird on Grímsey island.
As soon as I have visited Grímsey, I will add more photos to this travel-blog. Until then I can only add photos of the island from afar.
Drangurinn female troll
At the furthest end of Drangsnes, at Malarhorn by the swimming pool, you will see this big freestanding rock. It is a dyke, but we Icelanders have a much better explanation for why this big rock stands here alone. In the Collection of folklore by Jón Árnason, I found the folklore about this big rock called Drangur.
It is a female troll, one of 3 trolls who wanted to separate the Westfjords Region from the mainland of Iceland and keep it as a troll country separated from the Vikings who had settled in Iceland. The other 2 trolls are to be found in Kollafjörður, the next fjord to Steingrímsfjörður.
Drangurinn female troll at Drangsnes
The trolls got caught by the first rays of the sun, but trolls get turned into stone when the sun shines on them. They, fortunately, didn't manage to separate the mainland of Iceland from the Westfjords Region. But the female troll in Drangsnes managed to create Grímsey island with her shovel, and the island is of the same material as the troll even though they are far apart.
I have written another travel-blog about these 3 trolls, where I have translated the whole folklore for you.
Drangurinn female troll
Here is the part about the troll at Drangsnes:
"The Kerling who was digging on the east side also got caught by the rays of the sun. As she noticed the sunrise she jumped north across Steinsgrímsfjörður fjord and stopped by an escarpment north of the fjord, by the name of Malarhorn, where the sun shone upon her.
Kerling was livid as she had not been able to create but a few islets and skerries on the Húnaflói bay, that she slammed her shovel down in anger and the big blow broke off a piece of land which formed Grímsey island, which still stands in Steingrímsfjörður fjord.
It is the only big island which Kerling was able to create. The story goes that the rocks on the island are of the same material as at Malarhorn, so they seem to be created from the same rock.
On the east side of Grímsey island, you will find a rock in the shape of a bull; it stands tall and erect. This rock is called Uxi or the Bull. Its pointy end looks like a church tower; that is the bull's horns.
The bull belonged to Kerling, but she had left her bull on the part which separated from Malarhorn; the bull then turned into stone as his owner."
Elf-houses in Drangsnes
This was the Drangsnes part of the folklore about the Westfjord trolls and how Grímsey island got created. But in Drangsnes you will not only find hot tubs and a troll but also these cute little elf-houses, which I spotted in one of the private gardens. So cute :)
Hveravík - the Hot Spring Cove
Hveravík is a geothermal area which you will encounter on your way to Drangsnes village. On the beach by Hveravík you will find very colourful hot springs right by the sea and some of them are even covered by the sea.
You can also see the remains of an old molten swimming pool, built in the first part of the last century.
Beautiful geothermal colours and patterns in Hveravík
This geothermal area is very hot, up to 76°C, so be very careful here.
A borehole has been dug in Hveravík to use this hot water for heating in the close-by village Hólmavík.
While staying at the Sauðfjársetur and Kirkjuból at Strandir for 3 days, on two occasions the long hot tub in Hveravík cove at Drangsnes was mentioned and I was told that I had to see it.
Gunnar by his home in Hveravík where he has also got a similar long hot tub
So we popped over to Drangsnes and knocked on the doors of the owners of Hveravík unannounced, and asked for permission to have a look at the long hot tub.
The lovely couple Gunnar and Kristín live at Hveravík. Kristín is an ethnologist as so many of the people whom I met at Strandir.
Now, isn't this just lovely? The hot tub is 8×2 m!
And I can imagine why the inhabitants of Strandir have a common interest in ethnology as this area of the Westfjords Region of Iceland is filled with folklore, trolls and elves and a history of sorcery. Strandir is a really interesting place to visit.
See my other travel-blogs about this wonderful area:
The restaurant Söngsteinn in Hveravík
Gunnar was kind enough to show us around. He offers travel services in a building next to his home, where he has fitted in the long hot tub on the terrace with a fantastic ocean view of Steingrímsfjörður fjord.
It was sunny and nice weather when I visited Hveravík and I just wanted to stay behind and soak in the hot tub. But we had a long drive back home to Reykjavík, so I just had to dream about soaking in the tub ;)
The restaurant Söngsteinn
The couple at Hveravík run a camping site for groups with access to a fully equipped kitchen and a dining room - and of course access to the long hot tub. The dining area is called Söngsteinn or Singing Rock and can easily seat 40 people, Gunnar told us. And if you open into another room it can accommodate up to 150 standing guests.
Groups can hire the dining room with or without camping, and even get the master chef Gunnar to cook for you, or cook your own food. I would love to join a dinner party here at Hveravík :) Check them out at Hveravík at Strandir.
To reach the sparsely populated area of Drangsnes and Strandir you can rent a car in Reykjavík and drive to Strandir in 3-4 hours.
Also check out the interesting villages and activities close by:
Whale watching at Hólmavík
Have a lovely time at Drangsnes :)
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