Snæfellsnes Peninsula, located in West Iceland, is our favorite part of Iceland, with fascinating and diverse landscapes that are waiting to be explored.
Located just a couple of hours’ drive from Reykjavik, Snæfellsnes is like a miniature version of Iceland, boasting everything from impressive lava fields and otherworldly rock formations to lava caves, black and golden beaches, rich birdlife, charming fishing villages, spectacular mountains, and the majestic Snæfellsjökull, a world-famous glacier.
No matter how many times we drive around Snæfellsnes, we always find something new to appreciate. Snæfellsnes is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Iceland, and we are not saying this just because we live and work here, but because we simply love it! So make sure you visit Snæfellsnes on your next trip to Iceland!
It is possible and quite easy to explore Snæfellsnes on your own in a single day. Nevertheless, if you give yourself a few days, you’ll be able to explore more of the peninsula and uncover its most hidden jewels. There isn’t a bad time to visit Snæfellsnes; the peninsula, just like the rest of Iceland, is gorgeous in all seasons, but our favorite time of the year to visit Snæfellsnes is in the summer, when the Icelandic colors are at their peak and the peninsula is full of birdlife. Not to mention that the weather is usually nicer in summer. Usually… because this is Iceland after all, and the weather can be quite unpredistable, no matter the season.
Places to see on Snæfellsnes
On Snæfellsnes, there are so many places to visit and activities to enjoy!
Kirkjufell, Iceland’s most photographed peak, is also known as the “Arrowhead mountain” from the HBO series Game of Thrones, making it a famous tourist destination. From the nearby parking area, many visitors cross the river to get that classic shot of Kirkjufell behind the waterfall, which is named Kirkjufellsfoss.
Arnarstapi, with its beautiful sea cliffs, the black wooden chapel of Buðir, and the black beaches of Djúpalónssandur and Dritvík are all famous destinations worth visiting on Snæfellsnes. The peninsula is dotted with many lovely fishing villages, the most picturesque of which is probably Stykkishólmur. Located on the northern side of the peninsula, Stykkishólmur has a lot of brightly colored houses, a lovely port, and a picturesque red lighthouse from where we love to go look at the sunset.
Snaefellsnes has a wide variety of attractions, some of which are well visited and hence frequently crowded, while others are less frequented and more peaceful. Trying to list them all would be ridiculous. Nonetheless, we will talk about two of our favorite spots, both of which you should visit if you find yourself in Snæfellsnes.
Lava Field of Bersekjahraun
Berserkjahraun is by far one of the most fascinating places in Snæfellsnes, or so we beliieve. Inexplicably, we find great beauty in moss-covered lava fields. The spectacular lava formations, the bright colors of the rocks, and the varying hues of green of the moss covering them always leave us in awe when we visit this place. In the summer, the contrast between the various greens of the moss, the black and red lava, and the blue skies creates quite magnificent and enchanted views.
Berserkjahraun Lava Field: A Look Back in Time
Located between Stykkishólmur and Grundarfjörður, the 400-year-old lava field of Berserkjahraun takes its name from a story narrated in one of the Icelandic Sagas. If you are unfamiliar with the Icelandic Sagas, they tell the stories of the early settlers of Iceland, stories filled with bloodshed, intrigue, and romance. Berserkjahraun’s story is one example.
The story, whicih is hardly a happy tale, recounts that two Swedish berserkers carved down the path that today allows vehicles to traverse the lava field. One of the berserkers had his heart set on marrying the daughter of a farmer who lived on one side of the lava field. Unhappy about this, the farmer agreed to give the man his daughter’s hand in marriage provided the two berserkers could first carve a route across the lava field, connecting his property to his brother’s land on the other side of the lava field. Despite it being deemed an impossible task, the two berserkers were able to complete the trail very fast. However, instead of honoring his pledge, the farmer then murdered the two Swedes and buried them in the lava field. Believe it or not, a grave has been found with the bones of two very big men…
Visiting Berserkjahraun lava field
The way across the lava field is a gravel track that is not difficult to drive on. You will see mountains, lava formations, old craters and small lakes along the way. The roadway is pedestrian and vehicle-friendly and there are a few spots along the way from where you can really get fantastic views over the surrounding lava field and feel one with this spectacular nature.
To visit Berserkjahraun, you can join one of our tailored private tours and enjoy the beauty and tranquillity of the field.
If the stench of fermented shark, hákarl in Icelandic, doesn’t put you off, you may visit the Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum just across the lava field. This is the only place in Iceland where this classic Icelandic delicacy is still produced, and it may be worth a visit if you are in the area. Here you will learn all about this old Icelandic tradition and get to taste the infamous Hákarl.
Snæfellsjökull is a glacier-capped active volcano on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula’s most western part, within the Snæfellsjökull National Park. This mountain-volcano-glacier is around 800,000 years old and reaches 1.446 meters (4.744 feet) above sea level. It may even be seen from Reykjavik, 120 kilometers distant, with clear skies! While it is an active volcano, Snæfellsjökull doesn’t erupt very often. The latest eruption was about 1750 years ago, so exploring the area is very safe.
The mountain is one of the most renowned landmarks in Iceland, due largely to Jules Verne’s novel Journey to the Center of the Earth, in which the mountain is claimed to conceal a passage going to the core of the earth. Making the mountain even more special, Snæfellsjökull is considered a place of great energy, power and magic, and some New-Age gurus believe it represents the heart chakra of the planet.
Remember that glaciers are dangerous if you decide to visit one. If you want to safely explore one of Iceland’s most fascinating glaciers, it’s best to go on a tour or hire a private certified guide. If you’re lucky, you could even uncover the entrance to the Earth’s core! If you do, please come back and let us know!
In the summer and with good weather, a snow-cat trip of the glacier may be available.
If going on the glacier isn’t for you, don’t worry, Snæfellsjökull is stunning from whichever direction you lok. The glacier can be seen from the road as you go around Snæfellsnes. It is not unusual for clouds to cover the top of the glacier, and sometimes there are so many clouds that the entire glacier is covered, and you would not believe it is there! From Arnarstapi, Hellissandur, or Ólafsvík, you can get great panoramic views of the glacier and capture some excellent photos of it. Our favorite photo opportunity? It must be from Svöðufoss, a relatively unknown waterfall on Snæfellsnes with Snæfellsjökull in the background.
There is also an exciting mountain pass, an F-road, that cuts Snæfellsnes from north to south and runs along Snæfellsjökull. On a private tour of Snæfellsnes, while we are not able to drive on the glacier itself with our jeep, we can absolutely drive on that F-road and take you close to the glacier, while also giving you fantastic views of the surrounding area.
Visit Snæfellsnes soon!
Snæfellsnes Peninsula is a must-see for everyone traveling through or considering a vacation to Iceland. There’s a lot of fantastic attractions to see and activities do on this peninsula. Driving about and discovering all of its secrets, while exploring waterfalls, lava caves, lava fields, volcanic craters, golden and black beaches might take many days. But, if time is of the essence, you can see the essential attractions in a single day.
On Snæfellsnes you can get a taste of the stunning Icelandic nature and experience the magic of this beautiful country.
So don’t wait and start planning your trip to Iceland and come visit wonderful Snæfellsnes Peninsula.