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View from Stykkisholmur to the Breiðafjörður
Some of the largest fjords in Iceland
Breiðafjörður islands with Snæfellsjökull in the background
Breiðafjörður island world
Klakkseyjar, highest islands in Breiðafjörður
Fulmars on an island in Breiðafjörður
Skáleyjar archipelago at low tide

The Breiðafjörður is a very wide fjord in the west of Iceland . It separates the Vestfirðir (Westfjords) region from the Snæfellsnes peninsula .


From Snæfellsnes you can see the coastline of the Westfjords on a clear day, for example from Grundarfjörður , the distance over there is at least 40 kilometers at the widest point.

Hence the name of the fjord: broad fjord .

From the small coastal town of Stykkishólmur there is a ferry connection to the Westfjords.


The landscape in and around the fjord has a number of special features such as silt zones, small side fjords, islets and skerries as well as hot springs in the tidal area near islands.

About half of the tidal area of Iceland is here and the tidal range can reach 6 m. When the tide sets in, a real waterfall arises between some islands , and power plants have already been considered here , such as the La Rance tidal power plant in France.

Geology: volcanism

The bedrock in the area was formed in the late Tertiary by the volcanism of the Rift Zone .

The rift zone stretched directly over it about 14 million years ago and up into the Westfjords, after which it lay over the east side of Breiðafjörður until about 7 million years ago. As in other parts of Iceland, it is a build-up of mainly basalt layers that were deeply abraded by glaciers during the Ice Age .

Today there are still some low-temperature areas with hot springs in the area of ​​the fjord, partly on the islands and partly in the sea, where they become visible at low tide.

plants and animals

The large intertidal zone has significant biodiversity as well as a particularly large number of individual specimens. For example, you can find algae forests and other important habitats for fish and crustaceans . 230 species of tall plants and around 50 species of breeding birds grow in the area. The latter include, for example, the knot , the shelduck , the fulmar , the cormorant , the white-tailed eagle , the eider , the shag , the puffin and the Thor's chicken . BirdLife International has therefore designated 300,000 hectares of the inner fjord as an Important Bird Area (IS006).

Finally, the common seal and gray seal can be found in the fjord and on the islands . There are various types of whales in the sea, such as the white-snouted dolphin or the killer whale and the minke whale .

Economy and ecology

Fishing, tourism and the harvest of algae are important sources of income, as is sheep farming.

Breiðafjörður is the spawning area for some of Iceland's most important commercial fish species.

Transport and traffic

The Baldur ferry crosses the fjord from Stykkishólmur in around three hours. On the south coast of the Westfjords, it docks in Brjánslækur near Flókalundur . From there you can, for example, drive to the Látrabjarg bird cliff (round trip approx. Five hours) or across the Gláma mountains to Ísafjörður .

If the weather conditions permit, you can also drive up the coast in the east of Snæfellsnes to the north by Hvammsfjörður (Eng. Muldenfjord ), the narrowest end of the fjord, along and into the region of the Westfjords, which borders the fjord in the north . The south coast of the Westfjords ( Barðaströnd ) at Breiðafjörður is largely uninhabited, but is of considerable beauty due to some extinct central volcanoes .

Culture and history

The fjord and its surroundings were considered rich in earlier times, actually from the land occupation in the 9th century to the 19th century. It is not by chance that one of the richest men lived on the Reykhólar farm on the Reykjanes Peninsula in the early Middle Ages . The legendary figure Grettir the Strong is said to have stayed with him for a winter.

The island of Flatey is significant . In the Middle Ages there was an abbey of Augustinian canons on it . However, it was not they who wrote the famous Flateyjarbók manuscript . It was only kept in Flatey for centuries. The island was also an important trading center for centuries.

In the 18th century there was an important printing company on the island of Hrappsey , the Hrappseyjarprentsmiðja .


Elliðaey Island in Breiðafjörður

There are three things in the Icelandic landscape that are considered innumerable: the lakes of Arnarvatnsheiði , the mounds of earth in Vatnsdalur and the islands in Breiðafjörður. Their number is estimated at around 3,000.

In earlier times, some of these islands were inhabited for centuries. Today all but one are abandoned. There are still summer houses on some islands, others are used for eiderdown or as summer pastures.

The most important and only continuously inhabited island is Flatey . It can be reached by ferry in summer.

The highest of the islands, Klakkseyjar , reach a height of 95 m.

Other archipelagos or islands are:

Side fjords of Breiðafjörður

Southern side fjords, d. H. The fjords that reach into Snæfellsnes are (vWnO): Grundarfjörður , Kolgrafafjörður , Urhvalafjörður , Seljafjörður , Hraunsfjörður , Álftafjörður .

In the innermost, d. H. easternmost part of Breiðafjörður are (vSnN): Hvammsfjörður , Gilsfjörður , Króksfjörður , Berufjörður and Þorskafjörður .

In the southern West Fjords, then try fjords (of W) are Djúpifjörður , Gufufjörður , Kollafjörður , Kvígindisfjörður , Skálmarfjörður , Vattafjörður , Kerlingarfjörður , Mjóifjörður , Kjálkarfjörður , Vatnsfjörður .

See also


  • Hjalti Kristgeirsson (Ed.): Ferðafélag Íslands Árbók 1989: Breiðafjarðareyjar . Reykjavík (Prentsmiðjan ODDI hf.) 1989. (Icelandic)

Web links

Commons : Breiðafjörður  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Breidafjördur on the website of BirdLife International (English)
Kirkjufell at Breiðafjörður

Coordinates: 65 ° 15 ′ 0 ″  N , 23 ° 15 ′ 0 ″  W.