19 Epic Things to Do on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in Iceland


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They name it “Iceland in Miniature.”

And it truly is. With a crashing shoreline, pure sizzling swimming pools, basalt columns, volcanoes, waterfalls, fluffy horses, and glaciers, the Snaefellsnes Peninsula actually does encapsulate nearly all the things Iceland is understood for all inside a 90-kilometer-long peninsula.

The peninsula not too far north of Reykjavik additionally embodies a number of the non-visual traits of Iceland, too: small, cozy accommodations; recent seafood; an adventurous spirit; and the reminder of simply how wild and harsh Mother Nature can typically be.

Here on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula you possibly can go to black sand seashores bearing the ghostly stays of shipwrecks, stroll alongside coastlines formed by the crashing sea, descend into caves shaped by molten lava, and hike on an enormous glacier that sits atop a dormant volcano.

Stone Bridge in Arnarstapi
Stone Bridge in Arnarstapi
Kirkjufellsfoss in Iceland

I’ve really been to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula three totally different instances within the final decade – twice in the summertime, and as soon as throughout the winter months. And I can unequivocally say that it is one in all my favourite components of Iceland.

Whether it is your first journey to the Land of Fire and Ice or your fifth, it is price attempting to squeeze in a while to expertise “Iceland in Miniature” for your self.

Top issues to do on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula

This record will circle the peninsula going clockwise on Highway 54 (AKA Snæfellsnesvegur), although you definitely might go the opposite method, too.

1. Gerðuberg basalt columns

A person standing on top of the Gerðuberg Cliffs
Gerðuberg Cliffs

One of the primary factors of curiosity on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula is the Gerðuberg Cliffs. These hexagonally-shaped basalt columns had been shaped by rapidly-cooling lava throughout a volcanic eruption 1000’s of years in the past.

The columns rise anyplace from 23 to 46 ft, forming what nearly seems like a wall.

Sunset at Gerðuberg basalt columns in Iceland
Gerðuberg Cliffs at sundown

The columns are straightforward to succeed in; they don’t seem to be far off the primary street, and there is a designated parking space. You may climb as much as the highest of the column wall for some attention-grabbing views.

2. Ytri Tunga seashore

Golden sand at Ytri-Tunga Beach
Ytri-Tunga Beach

This seashore is exclusive in that it has golden sand (as a substitute of black). Walking alongside the seashore and rock swimming pools right here is sweet, and this is among the greatest locations on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula to see Harbour Seals.

There’s a car parking zone right here and a path out to a viewing space. Just word that if there are seals on the seashore, it is best to give them loads of area! They are wild animals, in spite of everything.

3. Bjarnarfoss

People walking towards Bjarnarfoss waterfall
Walking in direction of Bjarnarfoss

The first notable waterfall you will come throughout on this route across the peninsula is among the most spectacular! It’s known as Bjarnarfoss, and is a two-tiered waterfall that falls roughly 260 ft from basalt cliffs.

There’s a big automobile park right here, and a clearly marked path that can lead you to a bridge over the decrease portion of the falls. You can technically climb greater up, too, however be very cautious in case you do.

View of Bjarnarfoss
View of Bjarnarfoss from the bridge

I extremely suggest making a cease right here! I visited later within the day, and we principally had the entire place to ourselves.

4. Búðakirkja

Búðakirkja black church
Búðakirkja black church

Within sight of Bjarnarfoss is one other spot price a photograph cease: the black church Búðakirkja. No one is sort of certain why some Icelanders began portray their church buildings black, however they certain are hanging towards the already-striking panorama.

This one sits on the Búðahraun lava subject simply up the hill from a lodge. (You can drive up the hill to the church, the place there is a small car parking zone.)

5. Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge

Amanda outside Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge in winter
Outside Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge in winter
Amanda inside Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge
Inside Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge in summer season

Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge AKA “the Crack” is an attention-grabbing little gorge with a stream working by way of it.

There’s a brief uphill hike required to get to the mouth of the small canyon, and you will need waterproof sneakers if you wish to transcend the mouth. But I promise it is price it! Inside, the towering gorge partitions are lined in moss.

6. Arnarstapi

Arnarstapi in winter
Arnarstapi in winter

The Snaefellsnes Peninsula has no massive cities. Instead, there are a bunch of little fishing villages dotted alongside the coast. One of those price visiting is Arnarstapi, a preferred summer season escape for a lot of locals and vacationers and historically a decent-sized port in Iceland.

Sights on the town price seeing embrace the harbor, the Stone Bridge, the Gatklettur rock arch, and the Bárður Saga Snæfellsás Statue. Most of those are linked through a well-maintained path of crushed black lava rock.

Gatklettur rock arch in Arnarstapi
Gatklettur rock arch in summer season

In the winter, the city is sort of abandoned. But in the summertime, it is downright bustling. There are a pair accommodations in Arnarstapi, together with a handful of eating places.

7. Arnarstapi to Hellnar coastal path

Hellnahraun lava field on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Hiking by way of the Hellnahraun lava subject

The path that connects the primary websites in Arnarstapi really continues for 1.5 miles alongside the coast and thru the Hellnahraun lava subject to a different small village known as Hellnar.

The hike takes about an hour (you will wish to cease tons for images!), and is crammed with epic views of the coast and some scrambles over lava rocks.

Basalt columns on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Coastal views
Coastal walk on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Coastal path views

This hike is unquestionably price doing when you have time!

8. Hellnar

Hellnar, Iceland
The city of Hellnar, the place the coastal stroll ends

Even in case you do not do the coastal stroll, it is well worth the slight detour to the village of Hellnar. The views from the Hellnar View Point are price it (and the Fjöruhúsið café is beautiful).

9. Lóndrangar

 Lóndrangar rock formations
Lóndrangar rock formations

The cliffs of Lóndrangar rise out of the ocean in a particular form – and the pillars of basalt rock right here are literally the remnants of an historic volcanic crater which have been battered down by the ocean.

The Lóndrangar View Point is linked to a car parking zone, however it’s also possible to see the rock formation from elsewhere within the space.

There’s one other mountain climbing path right here alongside the coast between the Lóndrangar View Point and the Gestastofan Visitor Center close to the Malarrif Lighthouse. The path is a few mile one-way, and takes you right down to the seashore after which up and across the 200+-foot-tall pillars of Lóndrangar.

Parts of this path additionally supply up wonderful views of the glacier-capped Snæfellsjökull mountain.

10. Snæfellsjökull glacier

Snæfellsjökull in Iceland
The mighty Snæfellsjökull

Snæfellsjökull is a 700,000-year-old stratovolcano within the heart of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. It’s additionally the identify of the glacier that sits on prime of the volcano.

You can spot the mountain and get glimpses of the glacier from all around the peninsula (although the glacier is unfortunately receding quickly resulting from local weather change). In the summer season months, intrepid hikers may even climb the 4700-foot volcano. The hike is difficult and takes most of a day, so that you’re inspired to do it as a part of a guided mountain climbing tour like this one.

11. Vatnshellir lava cave

Vatnshellir lave cave
Inside the Vatnshellir lave cave

Fun reality: The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is the setting for the start of Jules Verne’s “A Journey to the Center of the Earth.” In reality, they discover the tunnel to the middle of the earth beneath Snæfellsjökull.

So in case you do not wish to climb Snæfellsjökull, you possibly can go underneath it through the Vatnshellir lava cave.

The Vatnshellir lava cave is in style for a few causes. First of all, it is a cave beneath a glacier that was carved out by molten lava 8,000 years in the past. Secondly, it has quite a lot of legends surrounding it, together with being the house of trolls. And, thirdly, the locals say that that is the place you will discover the passage to the middle of the earth – in actual fact, there’s even a cheeky signal inside pointing the best way!

Ladder in the Vatnshellir lava cave
The stairway down into the middle of the earth

You can solely go contained in the lava tube cave through a guided tour. Tours final about 45 minutes, and embrace mandatory gear like helmets. Booking forward is really useful; excursions are provided each half-hour in the summertime, and hourly the remainder of the 12 months.

12. Djúpalónssandur seashore

Djupalonssandur Beach on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in Iceland
Djupalonssandur Beach

If you need proof of the superior energy of Mother Nature in Iceland, look no additional than Djúpalónssandur seashore. This black sand/pebble seashore on the finish of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula is understood for depraved waves and currents which have claimed a couple of ship all through historical past.

There’s a view level overlooking the realm, in addition to a path main right down to the seashore itself. From the car parking zone, the stroll takes about 10-Quarter-hour every method and takes you down by way of the craggy Aflraunasteinar rock formations.

People walking through the Aflraunasteinar rock formations
Walking to the seashore by way of the Aflraunasteinar

The proof of shipwrecks can nonetheless be seen scattered throughout the extensive swath of black pebbly seashore, and the waves breaking on shore are undoubtedly highly effective sufficient to make you assume twice about getting too shut. (And, severely, do not get too shut.)

Djupalonssandur Beach on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula
The black seashore at Djúpalónssandur

This is among the busier stops on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula (it’s doable for the car parking zone to replenish throughout the summer season months with bus excursions), however do not skip it! It’s price it to attend to see this very distinctive seashore.

13. Saxhóll Crater

Saxhóll Crater
Saxhóll Crater

Want to stand up shut and private with an extinct volcano? You can do it fairly simply at Saxhóll Crater. Visitors can hike into the 100-foot-tall extinct crater comparatively shortly through a set of low-slung steps that curve round its facet.

This does not take too lengthy, making it a preferred cease on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.

14. Skarðsvík Beach

Golden sand at Skarðsvík Beach
Skarðsvík Beach and its golden sand

While black sand seashores get all of the love in Iceland, here is one other golden sand seashore price visiting. You do need to drive down a one-lane street for a bit of methods to succeed in Skarðsvík Beach, nevertheless it’s undoubtedly price it (and likewise tremendous to do in a 2WD automobile).

The seashore here’s a combination of black and golden sand, surrounded by black volcanic rock and cliffs. It’s merely gorgeous!

There’s a small parking space and a pair picnic tables arrange right here.

15. Ingjaldshólskirkja

Ingjaldshólskirkja and stone monuments

Follow indicators to Ingjaldshóll to discover a charming red-roofed church and an attention-grabbing set of stone monuments with gorgeous views.

The historical past of Ingjaldshóll goes again centuries – at the very least again to the 1300s. The church right here was as soon as the third-largest church in Iceland, and nonetheless serves individuals in close by villages.

Outside the church there is a small graveyard, in addition to two stone monuments devoted to Eggert Ólafsson and his spouse Ingibjörg Guðmundsdóttir, who grew up on this space and died tragically at sea in 1798. The monuments had been made by the sculptor Páll Guðmundsson.

16. Svöðufoss

Svöðufoss waterfall
Walking in direction of Svöðufoss

Another waterfall price stopping to see is Svöðufoss on the northern facet of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. A brief, flat stroll from the parking space by way of farm fields will convey you up near this pretty waterfall.

Svodufoss does not appear to have actually been “discovered” but (regardless of there being a longtime parking space and path), making it a enjoyable one to go to. When I used to be there, there have been solely two different {couples} on the waterfall.

Svöðufoss waterfall up shut

The waterfall cascades 30 ft over a cliff of basalt columns (sure, these are a theme right here in Iceland!). On clear days, you possibly can even see Snæfellsjökull rising behind it within the distance.

17. Kirkjufell

Kirkjufellsfoss waterfalls with Kirkjufell in the background
Kirkjufellsfoss waterfalls with Kirkjufell within the background

Heading alongside the northern coast of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, the highest attraction by far is Kirkjufell, or the Church Mountain. This is the cone-shaped mountain you have in all probability seen on all of the postcards.

There’s a car parking zone throughout the street from the mountain with entry a path that can lead you to the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfalls.

Amanda at Kirkjufellsfoss
Me at Kirkjufellsfoss

Just word that this is among the solely locations on the peninsula the place you must pay to park. The Kirkjufellsfoss car parking zone has cameras on the entrance that can take a photograph of your license plate, and also you pay through a machine earlier than you permit. The quantity relies on how lengthy you keep – however you in all probability solely want about half-hour right here.

18. Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum

Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum
Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum

If you solely go to one non-natural spot on this record, make it the quirky Shark Museum in Bjarnarhöfn. Here you possibly can take heed to a brief presentation on how the notorious Hákarl (fermented shark) is made.

Hakarl is the nationwide dish of Iceland, and locals have been consuming it for a whole lot of years. It’s made utilizing the meat of the Greenland shark, which is poisonous to people when recent. But if it is left to ferment after which hung to dry for a number of months, it is suitable for eating.

After this course of, the meat has a definite ammonia-rich scent and style to it. You can attempt it right here on the museum in case you dare.

Drying shark meat
Drying shark meat

The Shark Museum is situated on the farm of one of many final households that produces hakarl commercially to promote throughout Iceland. They use sharks which might be by chance caught in fishing nets (shark looking is not a factor right here any extra), and it is fascinating to be taught in regards to the course of even in case you do not wish to style the meat.

19. Stykkishólmur

View of Stykkishólmur, Iceland
View of Stykkishólmur

Lastly, it is price stopping in Stykkishólmur, the most important city on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. This city has quite a lot of appeal, in addition to an exquisite harbor (which can be the place you possibly can catch a ferry to the Westfjords).

Also price a glance is the Stykkishólmskirkja, a contemporary Lutheran church with a hanging design.


How a lot time do you want on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula?

Ideally you’d enable your self two days to totally discover the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. With two days, you possibly can cease to see all of the seashores, cliffs, and waterfalls, and nonetheless have loads of time for the coastal walks, lava cave tour, and taking your time to benefit from the surroundings.

BUT, if you do not have two days, you possibly can see the vast majority of the highlights right here in only one (very jam-packed) day.

Where to remain on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Staying in a single day on the peninsula is very really useful! A number of accommodations and guesthouses to contemplate embrace:

Snaefellsnes Peninsula road
Driving on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula is epic!

Snaefellsnes Peninsula excursions

The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is inside straightforward driving distance from Reykjavik (2 hours every method), and the roads are well-maintained in good climate. Therefore you can undoubtedly lease a automobile and see the peninsula by yourself time.

If you do not really feel comfy driving your self (or in case you’re going within the winter when the roads is perhaps a bit iffy), there are many tour choices, too. You might do an in a single day tour, or perhaps a day journey from Reykjavik. (I’ve carried out each; clearly the 2-day tour matches extra in, however you continue to see rather a lot on a day journey!)

Have you ever been to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula? If not, is is someplace you need to go to?

Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Iceland


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