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West Iceland is home to the country’s capital city, Reykjavík, and an array of impressive natural sites. These include Europe's most powerful hot spring, Iceland's most significant lava tube, fascinating glaciers, beautiful waterfalls important historical sites and more. It has three main districts outside of the capital area: Borgarfjörður, the Snӕfellsnes Peninsula, and Breiðafjörður.
Though also in the west, the Westfjords and Reykjanes Peninsula are considered to be in separate regions.
The Capital Area
Iceland’s capital city is Reykjavík, a settlement of 120,000 people (over 200,000 in the Greater Reykjavík Area) that was founded in 870 AD by Ingólfur Arnarson; this makes it the country’s oldest inhabited area.
It is a hot spot of culture, with festivals such as Sónar, Airwaves and Secret Solstice, events such as Pride and Culture Nights, and countless museums and galleries. The city is also renowned for its vibrant live music, cabaret and drag scenes, its street art, many sculptures, and its delicious cuisine.
Reykjavík is where most visitors base themselves and the point from which most tour leaves. There is a comprehensive guide to Reykjavík on this site.
Borgarfjörður is the fjord north of Reykjavík, within which is a wealth of beautiful historical and natural sites. Reykholt, for example, is a tiny village where medieval historian and poet Snorri Sturluson, author of Snorra-Edda and Heimskringla, once lived. Borgarnes, the main village of Borgarfjörður, is one of Iceland’s earliest towns, and home to the fascinating Settlement Centre.
In terms of nature, Borgarfjörður is home to the second highest waterfall in the country, Glymur. Other beautiful waterfalls include the magical and peaceful Hraunfossar and the raging rapids of Barnafoss which lie only a stone's throw apart. The area is also home to the longest lava cave in the country, Viðgelmir, the highest flowing hot spring in Europe, Deildartunghver, and just inland is Iceland’s second biggest glacier, Langjökull.
The region is often called Iceland in miniature due to its diverse sites, which include beautiful mountains such as Kirkjufell, geological wonders such as the Gerðuberg cliffs, and coastal formations such as Lóndrangar rock pinnacles.
Breiðafjörður is the fjord that separates the Westfjords from the Snӕfellsnes Peninsula. It is a natural reserve with countless small islands and home to thousands of birds, including puffins.
The inner part of Breiðafjörður is the old farm site Eiriksstadir, the home of Eric the Red, the first European to land in Greenland, in the year 984 AD. His son was Leif Ericsson, the first European to land in America, in the year 1000.