Iceland in a Mini-Nature - 5 day Self Drive Tour
A photographer's paradise
Explore Iceland’s bountiful natural treasures, including national parks, splendid waterfalls, striking glaciers, impressive volcanoes and hot springs. Here we present you with a tour description to Snaefellsnes in west Iceland for 5 days and 4 nights, where you can find the Hraunfossar Falls.
In the picturesque Snaefellsnes peninsula you'll find the majestic Snaefellsjokull glacier and volcano that has sent lava fields down to the coast. If you love the ocean, and photography, then this is the route for you.
You can pick-up a car in Reykjavik or at Keflavik airport. Your may collect your car in Reykjavik or from KEF International airport (for a small extra charge). It is important you specify which you prefer clearly when you make your rental booking. Click here for information about airport transfers.
For more information about car rentals, please click here.
* The highland part of this tour is only open in the summer only (Jul - Sep) for 4x4 vehicles. If you come at another time you will need to drive by the coastline.
The tour starts as you drive north from Reykjavik, heading through the tunnel at Hvalfjordur fjord to west Iceland to the village Borgarnes. Here you will have the opportunity to visit a swimming pool or just to relax and explore a little. On this part of your route to the Snaefellsnes peninsula you will pass the magnificent Eldborg and even have the opportunity to stop and hike up to the crater. As your journey continues there is the chance to look explore in Hnappadalur, if you are in the mood to enjoy a bath in a natural pool there are two natural hot springs there.
The tour then takes you towards Snaefellsjokull central volcano. The region at Snaefellsnes has a lot to see during winter and summer. Your accommodation will be arranged in the area close to the south coast of the Snaefellsnes peninsula.
The tour continues as you drive to visit Arnarstapi and Hellnar and other countless natural wonders of the Snaefellsnes peninsula. The glacier-topped strato-volcano Snaefellsjokull is renowned for its mystical power. It is one of the most famous sites of Iceland, primarily due to the novel “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” by Jules Verne, in which the protagonists find the entrance to a passage leading to the center of the earth on Snaefellsjokull.
Snaefellsjokull (Snaefell glacier) National Park was established on June 28, 2001. The Park's purpose is to protect and conserve the area's unique landscape, indigenous plant and animal life as well as important historical relics. At the same time, the Park was created to allow visitors easier access as well as improved opportunities to get to know the area.
National parks are amongst Iceland's finest assets and everyone is free to explore them. Park Rangers operate in the area during the summer months, providing information as well as monitoring and tending the area. Visitors are encouraged to contact Park Rangers for assistance or information about the area.
Snaefellsjokull National Park – Iceland's only National Park to extend to the seashore – covers an area of 170 sq. kilometres. The southern boundary of the Park reaches to Haahraun in the region of Dagverdara while the northern part extends to Gufuskalar. The coast is varied and alive with birdlife during the breeding season. The coastal plain is mostly covered by lava which flowed from the glacier or nearby craters. The lava is covered with moss but sheltered hollows can be found in many places, filled with a sizable variety of thriving, verdant plants. The omnipresent Snaefellsjokull glacier towers majestically over the Park, trails of lava and signs of volcanic activity are clearly visible on its flanks. On its north side the Eysteinsdalur valley a path cuts up from the plain encircled by steep and alluring mountains.
The geology of Snaefellsnes Peninsula is diverse with formations from almost every era of Iceland's past. The more prominent formations in and around the National Park mainly date from geologically "modern" times back to the last ice age. The hills to the north of the glacier, around Bardarkista, are of volcanic palagonite tuff, formed during eruptions under the glacier or below the surface of the sea. Svalthufa is most likely the eastern section of a crater which erupted under the sea, while Londrangar is a volcanic plug.
Lava is prominent within the landscape of this National Park with two types present – rough, jagged lava and smooth, ropy lava. Most of the lava emanated from the glacier, from the summit crater or from subsidiary craters on the flanks of the mountain. These lava formations are varied and fascinating, and there is a wealth of caves in the area. Visitors are advised not to enter caves unless accompanied by an experienced guide. Smaller volcanoes – Purkholar, Holaholar, Saxholar and Ondverdarnesholar – are in the Park's lowlands, surrounded by lava.
The Snaefellsjokull glacier is 1446 m (4745 ft) above sea level. The first climber reached the summit in 1754. The mountain is an active volcano, having been built up through numerous eruptions during the last 800,000 years. The summit crater is 200m (650 ft) deep, and full of ice. The glacier has shrunk somewhat in recent years. The flanks of the glacier are particularly attractive with intertwining lava streams forming long "plaits" down the slopes. The latest eruption was very large and took place around 1800 years ago. Light-coloured ash covered the northern half of Snaefellsnes Peninsula and was carried over much of the West Fjords. Lava flowed down the southern slopes of the mountain and the Haahraun lava field was formed during this eruption.
The glacier has been a never-ending source of inspiration for poets and artists from around the world. Indeed, more than a few people say they feel a powerful influence from the glacier and consider it to be one of the world's seven most potent energy centres.
On the route today you will see lots of craters and lava, the Snaefellsjokull glacier nearby, visit fishing villages like Hellissandur, Rif, Olafsvik, Grundarfjordur and Stykkisholmur and it is recommended that accommodation for the night be booked close to this area.
Because of its location, Stykkisholmur became a centre for trade, transportation and services in Breidafjordur early in Iceland’s history. The town is still an ideal destination for those who wish to experience diversity of nature and life on Breidafjordur.
Stykkisholmur is in fact a museum of old houses which have recently been renovated, giving the town a charming look, such as Kuld‘s House, Norwegian house, Egill‘s house, Clause‘s house, Tag and Rig and of course the Old Church. The oldest building, the Norwegian House (Norska Husid), is the Snaefellsnes Folk Museum. Souvenirs and handicrafts are sold there, and there are often special exhibitions put on by the Museum or artists.
The ferry Baldur makes regular journeys over Breidafjordur. In summer, it sails twice a day between Stykkisholmur and Brjanslaekur, with a stop at the of island Flatey where travellers are able to spend part of the day in a peaceful village which has a long and noteworthy history.
The Seatours passenger boats offer trips over a nearby strait between islands and across Breidafjordur from Ondverdarnes to the Latrabjarg bird cliff, passengers are able to learn about the inhabitants of the deep sea, from the smallest creatures to the largest animals on earth. There is a fitness studio and a swimming pool in the Sports Centre, both of which are open all year. The swimming pool contains an enjoyable chute for children, as well as hot pots with certificated pure water which comes straight from the borehole. The water is famed for its healing powers, as it is full of minerals and works well for all sorts of skin problems. In addition to the football field and athletics track, a tarmac basketball field and playing field can be found on the grounds of the primary school and are open to all. Accommodation should be arranged in the area around Stykkisholmur.
Optional: Ferry to Flatey Island (all year)
From your accommodation in the Stykkisholmur area the route will take you to the south part of Snaefellsnes to enjoy the beauty of nature again. From here you head to the town of Borgarnes and on to enjoy a visit Deildartunguhver hot spring which is one of the biggest hot springs in the world ... next, you have the opportunity to visit Reykholt, one of Iceland's major historic sites, a cultural centre of past and present. The cultural heritage of this place is mainly based around the residence of saga writer and historian, Snorri Sturluson, who lived in Reykholt between 1206 and 1241.
The greatest attractions are Reykholt's famous antiquities (pool, passageway, old farmstead and hot water and steam channels dating from Snorri's time), which Snorrastofa and the National Museum of Iceland supervise and introduce to visitors. The main buildings at Reykholt are the old church, built in 1887; the old district school, built in 1931; the hotel facilities, built in the years 1965-88 as student quarters; the new church; and Snorrastofa.
The annual Music Festival and other concerts held all year round in the church, conferences held throughout the year and archaeological excavations all combine to make Reykholt a remarkable cultural centre.
From Reykholt the tour takes you to the Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls before you continue to Husafell where it is possible to enjoy bathing in a nice swimming pool.
You then have the option of driving to Surtshellir lava tube cave, close to Eiriksjokull and Langjokull glaciers, the best known cave in Iceland ... maybe even go in and look around. We recommend booking accommodation in the nearby area.
After breakfast the route takes you up into the highlands ... you will need to take road 550 and drive to Langjokull glacier. It is possible to arrange a ride on the glacier on a huge truck. When you leave Langjokull glacier the journey will take you along the scenic south Kaldidalur road to Thingvellir national park before driving back to Reykjavik. In the evening there is the opportunity to take a walk downtown in Reykjavik, to enjoy one of the many thermal swimming pools, which are often open until 10 PM. Accommodation should be arranged in Reykjavik.
Optional: Drive in a glacier truck on Langjokull glacier
Optional: Snorkeling under the Midnight Sun (May - Aug)
Optional: Dining out in Reykjavik - Restaurants
After breakfast the tour route will take you to explore the Reykjanes peninsula which truly has a lot to offer. Lake Kleifarvatn is particularly picturesque, and there are also the hot springs of Krysuvik or Seltun which are definitely worth a photo stop. Grindavik, a cozy fishing village at the tip of the peninsula, is also well worth exploring. You could also visit Reykjaviknesta where it is good see the Gunnuhver hot springs. The world famous Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa very close to the airport, is a great place to relax before you drive to Keflavik International Airport to drop off your car in good time for your flight after some very good days in Iceland. For this option you need to book car drop off at the airport.
Optional: Blue Lagoon geothermal spa
Do you want a longer self drive tour which includes the Snaefellsnes peninsula? Click here for a 9-day tour.