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  • Writer's pictureEinar Páll Svavarsson

Örlygshöfn valley and golden beach

Updated: 3 days ago

Örygshöfn West Fjords
Museum at Örlygshöfn valley in West Fjords

Örlygshöfn Cove is one of Iceland's golden beaches that you only see in the West Fjords and Snæfellsnes Peninsula. These beaches are unlike the many black beaches and black sandy coastlines that most tourists find interesting to visit around the island. The cove is at the mouth of a valley with the same name on the south side of the Patreksfjörður fjord. With golden sands stretching for miles, the sight is stunning, especially on a sunny day. The fjord's waters take on a hue of royal blue and display spectacular scenery. It is an excellent spot for photography, as the lagoon that stretches into the valley is often calm. Located across the fjord from Patreksfjörður town, Örlygshöfn Cove is scarcely populated and has only had three farms in the valley for many centuries.

Early settlers that gave the valley its name

Örlygshöfn, mentioned in the book of settlement, was first settled by Örlygur Hrappsson more than eleven centuries ago. Örlygur also gave the Patreksfjörður fjord its name in honor of the holy bishop Patrick in the Hebrides, a foster brother of his father. Bishop Patrick provided him with blessed earth and wood for a new church and plenarium. It is a reminder that although paganism was the main religion in Iceland at the time of settlement until the year 1000, many of the settlers were Christian. However, Örlygur did not settle in Örlygshöfn himself: Four of his fellow travelers who did include his brother and foster brothers. Among them were his brother and foster brothers. The valley has been inhabited since.

A great stopover when visiting the West Fjords

Minjasafn Egils Ólafssonar
Minjasafn Egils Ólafssonar at Örlygshöfn West Fjords

In this small valley, you will find guesthouses, a museum, and a small café. The museum Minjasafn Egils Ólafssoar at the farm Hnjótur is a must-see pit stop. Egill Ólafsson, a farmer at Hnjótur, started gathering artifacts, like clothing, fishing gear, boats and much more, from various places and times around the region from an early age. His efforts developed into a museum. Today, the museum tells a fascinating story about the harsh life and circumstances endured at this remote place on our planet. It speaks of survival and joy among the people who lived through it all by cultivating the land and fishing in the fjord. The road through the valley is also the route to one of the most popular natural wonders in Iceland, the Látrabjarg cliffs. Örlygshöfn is also a good place for horse riding, as the beach provides gorgeous surroundings and a good riding field. Even if you are in a hurry to cast your eyes on Látrabjarg, it will be worth your while to linger around this beautiful cove.

Evenings in the Örlygshöfn Valley and fjord

Viking Ship Örlygshöfn West Fjords
A viking ship in front of Egill Ólafsson muserum in Wesf Fjords

If you are driving back from Látrabjarg in the bright evening on a clear summer day, go slowly, as this place has the most amazing sunsets. During winter, although it is not a particularly great place to visit due to harsh weather, the display of the northern lights is unparalleled. The Örlygshöfn Cove is a great contrast to the imposing beauty of all the steep mountains, sheer cliffs, and raging surges characteristic of the Westfjords. It is a relaxing place, and you don't need a horse to enjoy it. You can walk along the golden sands and listen to the ocean waves gently caressing the shoreline. It is the right place to take a moment to digest all the largeness born of ice and fire thrown at you.

If you're planning to tour Iceland in a rental car, make sure to read this article about the three important things you need to know and the type of car that would be best for your trip!


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