Iceland is a country which is well-known for its magnificent nature. The landscapes are so diverse: from glaciers to volcanic grounds and from fjords to black sanded beaches. Iceland has it all! In November 2021 I traveled to Iceland for the first time and visited, among other places, the peninsula Snaefellsnes. In this article, I’ll guide you along the places to visit on Snaefellsnes peninsula.
Snaefellsnes is a peninsula which is located on the western coastline of Iceland, just above the capital Reykjavík. From the airport of Keflavík it’s a 2,5 hours drive to the peninsula and from Reykjavík it’s 2 hours. Snaefellsnes is also called as ‘Iceland in small version’, because it has all nature phenomena Iceland has to offer. Compared to other places in Iceland, like the golden circle or Blue Lagoon, Snaefellsnes is still quite unknown and therefor beautifully pristine.
You can easily spend two or three nights on the peninsula. There are some hotels, guesthouses and holiday homes; located in a town like Stykkishólmur or in the middle of nature. Snaefellsnes has a rough coast line with small fisher towns.
Places to visit on Snaefellsnes
Here’s a list of places you’ll need to visit when travelling to Snaefellsnes. If you have a full, free day on the peninsula, you can drive all the way around and visit all places in one roundtrip. I’ve include the places in the order of south to north.
If you’d like to spot some seals, you should definitely pay a visit to the gold sanded beach of Ytri Tunga. Especially in summer time the chance is bigger to see them. When it’s low tide, the seals can be spotted from the beach when they’re lying on the rocks.
The Bjarnarfoss (waterfall) can be seen on the left photo above. From the main road, you can already see the waterfall, but it’s worth it to drive towards the waterfall. There’s a parking place where you can park your car and there’s a walking path which leads you halfway the Bjarnarfoss. To go all the way to the top, you’ll need to climb the hills, which is more difficult as there’s no path.
Búðakirkja is a small, black and wooden church which is located in Búðir: a really small place where you can only find the church and a hotel (Hótel Búðir). The church is well-known for its photogenic building and environment. The current church was built in 1848, but it has also been rebuilt in 1985-1986. Nowadays, the church is still used for traditional church events, but also for events like destination weddings and music events. Next to the church, it’s also nice to have a look at the colorful lava beach of Búðir.
Arnarstapi – Gatklettur
You should absolutely make a stop at Arnarstapi, a former fisher town. This town is well-known for its basalt formations and rough cliffs. Especially Gatklettur (on the above photos on the left) is beautiful to have a look at. Between Arnarstapi and Hellnar you can make a nice hike of 2/3 hours (return) which leads you through the basalt formations and along the coast. During the hike, you may be able to spot sea birds, but also seals, orca’s and even dolphins if you’re lucky!
Snaefellsjökull – the glacier on Snaefellsnes
If you’re into hiking, you should definitely pay a visit to the glacier Snaefellsjökull, located at the most western part of Snaefellsnes. It’s actually a stratovolcano covered by a glacier. The volcano is still active, but the last eruption was in 1219. in the eponymous national park you can make some nice hikes, but you can also do a glacier hike (with a guide) or a snow mobile tour.
Djúpalónssandur bay offers a beautiful, black sanded beach with pebbles. The beach is surrounded by big lava rocks which are formed by the powers of the ocean and the wind. The water can be very wild in unexpected moments, so please be careful when you’re paying a visit to the beach.
Ólafsvík is a small fisher town located on the northern side of Snaefellsnes. The town is mostly well-known for its whale watch tours. Especially in late winter, spring and early summer you can spot the sperm whales and orcas. Later in summer and autumn you’ll be able to see Minke, humpback and pilot whales (if you’re lucky!).
Would you like to plan a whale watch tour? You can book this through Láki Tours.
Near the town of Grundarfjörður, you can find the Kirkjufell mountain. Together with the Kirkjufellsfoss it’s a beautiful area to spend some time. The mountain has a height of 463 meters. You can walk around the mountain, but you can also hike to the top. When you’re planning on hiking to the top, it’s recommended to book this guided.
Stykkishólmur – ‘capital’ of Snaefellsnes
Although the town of Stykkishólmur isn’t that big, it’s still the biggest town of Snaefellsnes. From here, you can go on a boat tour which leads you along the many islands of the fiord Breiðafjörður. During the boat tour, you’ll see beautiful basalt formations, bird colonies and hopefully whales. Furthermore, from Stykkishólmur you can also take the ferry to the Westfjords.
Have you already visited Iceland and Snaefellsnes? It should definitely be on your itinerary when travelling to Iceland. Let me know your experiences or questions in the comment section below.