Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Snaefellsnes Peninsula Travel Guide

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The Snaefellsnes peninsula, nicknamed ‘miniature Iceland’, contains the full range of Icelandic charm within its relatively small boundaries. Fishing villages and dramatic scenery dot the peninsula’s western coast. It’s easy to see why French author Jules Verne chose this place as the setting for his novel ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’. With so much to explore, be sure to dedicate a full day – if not two – to this frosty gem! Our Snaefellsnes Peninsula Travel Guide has everything you need to know to soak up the natural beauty that is so abundant in this region.

Getting to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula

The beautiful Snaefellsnes Peninsula

The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is a two-hour drive from Reykjavik – and takes the scenic route to a whole other level. You can rent a car and travel around the Hvalfjörŏur or via the new tunnel that passes under the fjord. Take Route 1 to Borgarnes and then Snæfellssvegur (Route 54). The peninsula is the smallest National Park in Iceland and is 90 km in length. As you begin your journey around the peninsula, you’ll see the Eldbourg Crater, which rises 60 metres high and is mysteriously dark in colour. But if you want to sit back and enjoy the exquisite views without the hassle of navigating, there are a variety of day tours available!

Snæfellsjökull Volcano

Atmospheric Snæfellsjökull Volcano

The 700,000-year-old Snæfellsjökull volcano is a dramatic feature often depicted in articles about Iceland. At 1,446 metres, it’s the highest mountain on the peninsula. The jökull in its name means glacier, indicating the glacier that is perched atop the volcano. On a clear day, it’s possible to see the ice-capped summit of Snæfellsjökull all the way from Reykjavik! But for a truly unique experience, venture into the Vatnshellir lava tube beneath the glacier and marvel at the total silence of this underground world.

Kirkjufell Mountain

Kirkjufell Mountain on Snaefellsnes Peninsula

The triangular-shaped mountain of Kirkjufell – meaning ‘church mountain’ –  is famous and widely photographed. Enjoy a circular walk around the volcano to the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfalls. Experienced climbers can hike to the top of the mountain, where many fish fossils can be found! Fans of the HBO hit series Game of Thrones will recognize this distinctive symmetrical mountain under its alter-ego moniker: Arrowhead Mountain!

Ytri Tunga Seal Observatory

Ytri Tunga Seal Observatory

As you reach the Snæfellsnes peninsula, head to Gerŏuberg and walk along its impressive basalt wall, marked with intriguing geometrical patterns. At its highest point, the wall is 14 metres high and up to 1.5 metres in width. Then, continue to Ytri Tunga Beach, where you’ll find a colony of seals stretched out on the rocks. Visitors are requested to maintain a distance of 50 metres to avoid disturbing the basking beauties. Afterwards, venture onward to Búdakirkja Church, a small 19th-century wooden church in a lava field with spectacular mountain views. There, you’ll find Lýsuhóll, a village atop lava fields with charming wooden houses and revitalizing hot springs.

Arnarstapi Fishing Village

Arnarstapi Fishing Village

Arnarstapi is a fishing village with black-stoned beaches strewn with remnants from a shipwreck that happened in 1948. During the early 18th century, the village was an important trading post. Villagers used four large stones to test the strength of fishermen who wanted a job. The largest stone is the Fullsterkur (meaning ‘full strength’) which weighs 154 kg, while the second is the Hálfsterkur stone (‘half strength’) weighing 100 kg. The third is the Hálfdraettingur stone (meaning ‘weakling’) which weighs 54 kg. The smallest is the Amladi stone which weighs 23 kg. The translation of Amladi is ‘useless’ – whoever couldn’t lift it became the laughingstock of the village!

Afterwards, embark on the lovely six-kilometre coastal walk from Arnarstapi to Hellnar, passing through lava fields and strange rock formations along the cliffs (created by wave erosion). Additionally, you’ll find lava formations and sea caves, where local lore claims elves reside.

Lôndrangar Sea Stacks

Lôndrangar Sea Stacks

On the coast near Malarrif stands the famous Lôndrangar sea stacks. The two stacks are thought to be the remains of a volcanic crater – 72 metres and 61 metres in height. There is plenty of local folklore around them, most popularly that a group of elves live there. At certain times of the day and from a distance, the stacks look like a tumbledown castle. During the summer months, you can usually see plenty of puffins!

The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is a remarkable place, full of beauty. But if you’re looking to see all the highlights without the hassle, tours and packages allow you to just relax and enjoy. For example, this day tour allows you to take an easy day trip from Reykjavik and see all the peninsula’s wonders in one go. Alternately, make your entire Iceland trip a breeze with this 8-day package that explores this remarkable area and more. Need a place to stay? Here’s a handy list of our favourite hotels in the country. Once you’ve explored this spectacular peninsula from top to bottom, where will you go next? The choice is yours!

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