Snaefellsnes Peninsula is the perfect place to visit if you only have a few days in Iceland. This enchanting area is only around a two-hour drive from Reykjavik, so it is the perfect place for a weekend getaway. The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is often referred to as “Iceland in Miniature” or “Iceland in a Nutshell”. This well-deserved nickname was given to the peninsula because of the diversity of its landscape. The combination of breathtaking scenery, the glistening ice cap of volcano Snaefellsjokull, lava fields, waterfalls, volcanic features, and fishing villages, make Snaefellsnes, Iceland’s newest National Park, the most wonderful place to visit. The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is a legendary area of magic and beauty.
How to get to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula
In order to get to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, you need to either drive the entire fjord of Hvalfjordur, or go through Hvalfjardargong Tunnel, a road tunnel underneath the fjord. For a regular car, it costs 1000 ISK one way, but the price does vary depending on what type of car you are driving. Just follow Route 1 until you get to Borgarnes, and then change to Snaefellsvegur (54) until you reach to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
Eldborg Crater is a great first stop on Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Eldborg rises 60 meters above the surrounding lava in the area. This is a nice hiking area as you can hike all the way around the crater, as well as up the crater. Eldborg Crater creates a strong contrast with the surrounding nature because of its color.
A short five-minute drive from Eldborg Crater, is the tiny natural and geothermal pool Landbrotalaug. This pool is extremely small and it can only fit two or three people, which is what makes the pool so special and romantic. The temperature of the pool is around 36 – 40°C, perfect for a natural hot tub. Landabrotlaug is a well-hidden secret, and it is quite difficult to find. There are no changing facilities in the area.
Hnappadalur Valley – Raudamelsolkelda Mineral Spring
Early in historic times there was a volcanic eruption in Hnappadalur Valley that created the crater Gullborg, and the lava field Gullborgarhraun. The volcano known as Gullborg is a magnificent crater that you should not miss. Gullborgarhellir lava tube is the longest of all the lava tubes in this lava field. The lava tube extends from a pitfall not far from the crater itself. The length of the cave is estimated to be around 670 metres. We suggest that you explore this cave with an experienced guide. Click here for more information on this area.
Hnappadalur valley also boasts from having a mineral well that has the most volume of water in Iceland, the well is named Raudamelsolkelda. At the well you can quench your thirst with natural carbonated water straight from the earth!
Gerduberg is a natural heritage site that is the home to an impressive wall of beautiful basalt columns. The columns reach 14 meters at their highest and around 1,5 meters wide. The columns form geometric patterns in the cliffs. It is magnificent to explore this area because here you can see how powerful and diverse the Icelandic nature truly is.
Budir is a small hamlet in Budarhraun Lava Fields, it is an important site in terms of the history of trade and industry in Iceland. Most notable in this area is the old and stunning Budarkirkja, or Budir Church. The church was built in 1848, and reconstructed in 1987. This stunning black church is the perfect centerpiece in all the surrounding Icelandic nature.
Raudfeldsgja is a gorge that cuts into Botnsfjall Mountain. In the summertime, it is possible to hike into the crack in the mountain wall, which cleaves all the way down to the root of the mountain. Inside of the gorge is a hidden dreamlike waterfall. The hike is well worth your time and effort, since the scenery looks like it is cut straight out of a movie.
Arnarstapi & Hellnar Fishing Villages
Arnarstapi and Hellnar are two old fishing villages on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Arnarstapi used to be an important trading port in the beginning of the 18th century. Arnarstapi was a large community by Icelandic standars with around 150 inhabitants. Nowadays there are not many families that live in Arnarstapi all year round, but in the summertime the place is teeming with both birds and people. There are many summerhouse in the area, and in the summertime, there are many small fishing boats that sail from harbor. The harbor is eye-catching, surrounded by basalt columns, rifts, and hollows.
Hellnar was, for centuries, home to one of the biggest fishing stations in Snaefellsnes. At the beginning of the 18th century, approximately 200 people lived at Hellnar in turf houses and fishermen’s huts, and the site is rich in archaeological remains.
Approximately 0.6 square kilometres of coastal area around Arnarstapi and Hellnar was designated a nature reserve in 1979. Here you will find peculiar rock formations that have been carved out by the surf and have a rare opportunity to inspect flocks of kittiwakes up close.
Walking west along the coast from the harbour, you will see striking cliffs, gorges, rock formations and caves, many of them teeming with bird life. The seaside and the cliffs between Arnarstapi and Hellnar became a Natural Reserve in 1979.
Londrangar Basalt Cliffs
By the town Malarrif you can find the sea stacks Londrangar. Longrangar are a lava neck, formed hen magma on its way up the vent of an active volcano, hardens inside of the vent. The taller sea stack is 75 meters high and the lower one is 61 meters high. Puffins and fulmars settle on these cliffs to have their nests, in the summertime.
Visiting the beautiful Vatnshellir cave offers a unique experience. With total darkness of the lava cave, and the complete silence of the underground, you might experience a heightening of your other senses.
Inside the lava tube there are two main sections. . The upper section has great features and unique formations of lava statues curved on the sides of the lava tube. The lower part of the lava cave which can be reached by a long and narrow staircase takes us deep down underground to a place which was hidden from the outside world for thousands of years. Vatnshellir was created in a volcanic eruption some 7,000 years ago.
When you explore Vatnshellir Cave, you will descend into a subterranean world of stalactites, stalagmites, and strange lava formations. The glow of your headlight may form eerie shapes and shadows, which dance across the walls of the cave. The caving is short, very easy, and suitable for everyone.
Djupalonssandur and Dritvik
The black sand beaches of Djupalonssandur and Dritvik are a great place to make some stops. There used to be fishing operations here in the old days. The debris of two old shipwrecks from some decades ago is still spread along the beach. The unusual cliff formation and black pebbles, mixed with the stark views out to sea, the fascinating histories of shipwrecks and adventure, make these beaches a must visit!
Snaefellsjokull is a snow-capped glacier that covers a volcano beneath. Snaefellsjokull Glacier is impressive and rises to a height of 1446 meters at its highest point. This volcano is one of the most famous sites of Iceland, primarily because of the novel, A Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864) by Jules Verne, in which the protagonists find the entrance to a passage leading to the center of the earth on Snaefellsjokull.
The majestic Snaefellsjokull gives you breathtaking views over the peninsula. People who believe in esoteric matters, say this glacier is surrounded by a unique energy field. There is no doubt that this area holds a peculiar fascination for many and most people find its scenery is tremendously inspiring and compelling. It is a paradise for photographers. Traveling by super jeep is a great way to explore this remarkable area.
This stunning lighthouse catches the eye of every traveler because of its beautiful colors. The lighthouse contrast so well with the Icelandic nature, that it is a great place to take some photographs.
Hellissandur is a small fishing village on the north side of the peninsula. Here there is a long wave radio mast, that is 412 meters high. This radio mast is for long wave transmissions, situated near Hellissandur Plains. Interestingly, this mast was once the highest structure in Europe.
Olafsvik is a charming old fishing village on the north coast of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Olafsvik is Iceland’s oldest trading town that dates to 1687. There is a lot of history in this area. There is a nice swimming pool here that you can take a dip in.
Mount Kirkjufell is one of the peninsula’s most photographed iconic landmarks. This symmetrical mountain towers 463 m (1519 ft) up from the shoreline. Kirkjufell is surrounded by beaches and it has a lovely walking trail around it. If you feel like getting some exercise, you can do a more challenging climb to the top of the mountain where birds and fish fossils can be found.
Kirkjufell is probably the most photographed mountain in Iceland. It’s isolated position jutting out into the sea makes it a focal point for everyone who passes. Nearby is a beautiful waterfall that is perfect for a stop.
Grundafjordur is a peaceful little fishing village that has a very nice view over Kirkjufell. This village has been rising in popularity because of its proximity to Mt. Kirkjufell. Grundarfjordur has a nice swimming pool to relax in after exploring Kirkjufell.
Out of Grundarfjordur, the route lies across a lava field named Berserkjahraun. According to Viking legends, this is the place where two Swedish “berserkers” forged Iceland’s first road and over to the south side of the peninsula through a highland pass. This is a beautiful area with some history.
Stykkisholmur is a town build around a natural harbor by Danish and Norwegian merchants. Stykkisholmur is the largest town on the Snaefellsnes peninsula, even though it is not very large. This charming fishing town is located on a promontory overlooking the beautiful Breidarfjordur Bay. If you wish, you can take a ferry over to the beautiful Flatey Island, from Stykkisholmur.