Snæfellsnes, what is it? The Snæfellsnes peninsula has many unique attractions. Snæfellsnes peninsula is known as Iceland in Miniature. Learn more about the stunning location in west Iceland.
The word Snæfellsnes might seem small for foreigners, but it is less so when it is analysed. In English, Snow Mount’s Peninsula is an appropriate name for a long peninsula that features a volcano headed with a glacier on its tip.
The words aren’t too different from English – ‘Snæ’ signifies snow, ‘ ‘ fells’ means’ mountain’ or ‘hill’ in old English, and the Icelandic word ‘nes’ seems to be an abbreviation of the longer term ‘peninsula’ in English.
Snæfellsnes peninsula has various features. It features black and white beaches, a volcano and a glacier, lava fields, waterfalls, craters, caves, scenic mountains, villages and towns, and beautiful views along the coastline.
How to Get to Snæfellsnes Peninsula?
You can easily access the Snæfellsnes Peninsula by driving.
You can drive from the international airport in Keflavik. It is about a 2.5 to 3 hours drive.
You can drive from the capital city of Reykjavik to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. It is around a 2 to 2.5-hour drive.
From the Golden Circle:
You can drive from the Golden Circle to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. It takes about 2 to 3.5 hours.
When is the Best Time to Enjoy Snæfellsnes Peninsula?
June to August are the perfect months to visit Iceland. Summer months are considered the top season. Autumn is also a good choice when sunset is around 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. Spring can be a good decision if you want to enjoy the sunshine away from the crowds.
What Are the Top Attractions in Snæfellsnes Peninsula?
- Snaefellsjokull National Park
Iceland features three national parks. Snaefellsjokull National Park is the midsized one. Also, It goes around the Snæfellsjökull glacier and stretches to the seashore.
This National Park extends to 170 square kilometres. Also, It features many beautiful attractions, numerous pregnant with folklore. The most well-known example is a saga describing the adventurous tales of Bárður Snæfellsás. Also, Several structures and names in the National Park are devoted to this half-man, half-troll.
Snæfellsjökull is the park’s main attractions. It is 1446-metre tall. It lies on top of a 700,000-year-old stratovolcano. The glacier is decreasing in size and is currently about 12km2. For the first time in transcribed history, the summit was ice-free in the summer of 2012.
Many people speak about feeling very strong energy surrounding the volcano. People believe it to be one of the world’s greatest and strongest energy fields. People also expected Aliens to land on the summit of the glacier on November 5th, 1993, at 9 p.m., and hundreds of people gathered to welcome them, but it was in vain.
- Kirkjufell Mountain
Kirkjufell is an iconic mountain in Iceland. It was described in Game of Thrones as “A mountain shaped like an arrowhead”. It always attracts photographers and nature enthusiasts to visit it.
The mountain is only 463 metres. Although the hike up takes around 1.5 hours, one way, it is very challenging and has been confirmed fatal for inexperienced hikers in the past.
From one unique angle, the mountain is triangular-shaped. However, looking at it from the nearby Grundarfjörður town, it is considerably more comprehensive, with more of a trapezium shape.
The most famous spot to photograph is by the side of the road, featuring its iconic triangular shape and where a small waterfall called Kirkjufellsfoss drips down facing the hillside. This waterfall is the ideal foreground, with Kirkjufell casually filling in the background.
This location, and all other locations on Snæfellsnes peninsula, is common all year round, when it’s shielded with snow and contains dancing auroras overhead, or when it’s coated in green and soaked in the Midnight Sun in the summertime.
- Arnarstapi & Gatklettur
Arnarstapi is a small settlement beside the pyramid-shaped mountain Stapafell. Arnarstapi used to be a significant trading post with a much larger population. Now it only contains very few houses, an information centre and a small port for small boats. In addition, it features a sculpture of Bárður Snæfellsás.
Arnarstapi has exquisite seaside views and interesting rocks in the sea surf and is surrounded by an enormous lava field. A colony of Arctic Tern lives in the tiny hamlet. Also, You can enjoy a stroll along the seashore and explore the lava formations and the rich birdlife.
Gatklettur, or Hole Rock, is the most well-known rock formation in the area. The name is due to the giant hole through the rock, which looks astonishing in pictures as the waves crash through it. It is also more breathtaking in person as you can stare out to sea whilst listening to the quietness around.
The cliffs and the seaside between Arnarstapi and the close hamlet Hellnar were declared a Natural Reserve in 1979 and are currently a part of Snæfellsjökull National Park. The stroll from Arnarstapi to Hellnar is around 30 minutes one way, and it is highly suggested.
Hellnar is a small village on the southern coast of Snæfellsnes, famous for its stunning seaside with impressive cliffs and views of the Snæfellsjökull glacier. Outside, you can enjoy the Icelandic band ‘For a Minor Reflection’ playing live music by the surf at Hellnar’s pebble beach.
You can also find a small café, Fjöruhúsið. It is the ideal location to enjoy the scenery over a cup of coffee or hot chocolate with some delicious homemade cake or soup on sunny days. The café only operates during summertime.
- Djupalonssandur Black Beach
Reynisfjara on Iceland’s south coast is the most well-known black beach in Iceland, but Djúpalónssandur rivals it in danger and beauty. This fabulous beach contains both black sand and perfectly round black stones.
Djúpalónssandur means Deep Lagoon’s Sand since nearby you can see the lovely Deep Lagoon or Djúpalón. Despite the name, the lagoon is just 5 metres deep.
You can also explore the ruins of a British trawler, The Epine GY7, which was destroyed east of Dritvík cove on March 13th 1948. Fourteen men passed away, and five were rescued by the Icelandic search and rescue teams from neighbouring towns. The iron ruins were kept as a memoir of the lives lost.
Like at Reynisfjara, the surf is fatal for visitors, with sneaker waves appearing suddenly and grasping anyone with them that doesn’t remain a safe distance away.
Lóndrangar is two remarkable pinnacles by the seashore of Snæfellsjökull National Park. The taller rock is 75 metres, while the smaller one is 61 metres tall. In addition, birdlife is rich in the region, and the scenery toward Snæfellsjökull glacier is stunning.
You can walk up to these high rocks and read the story about one of them, which is told to be a troll man. His troll wife is found a little further along the coastline. These pinnacles have been mounted; the taller one was first climbed in 1735, but no one climbed the smaller one till 1938.
Stykkishólmur is said to be the largest town on the Snæfellsnes peninsula. It is a fishing town, and several boat trips run from Stykkishólmur to the wide Breiðafjörður fjord, such as the ferry Baldur that crosses Breiðafjörður to get to the Westfjords. On the way, the ferry has a stop at the quiet Flatey island, a favourite spot amongst many residents that is believed to be a hidden gem.
Stykkishólmur is another spot that has gained fame through film, although it was used to represent Nuuk in Greenland in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. All the shots in this clip are taken in Stykkishólmur; however, the icebergs are artificial.
Since Stykkishólmur is the biggest town in the area, it is your best chance to find grocery shops, restaurants, bakeries, and accommodations. Thus, if you’re staying a few days enjoying Snæfellsnes, you might want to buy food.
- Raudfeldsgja Ravine
It is a stunning ravine with a little waterfall inside. To reach the waterfall, you need to climb through the river and up some smaller waterfalls. You will be given a rope.
It is also recommended to have warm and waterproof clothes as you will get cold and wet. Be ready with dry clothes to put on once you come back. It’s not a good idea to try to go canyoning during winter.
You do not need to go canyoning to the waterfall; go as far as you feel secure and come back. Hiking up to the canyon from the parking lot is a lovely experience, and you will also have spectacular views over Faxaflói Bay towards Reykjavík.
- Vatnshellir Cave
Vatnshellir is an 8000-year-old lava cave you can enter on the Snæfellsnes peninsula. You can only get into it with a guide, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. To get into it, you descend a spiral staircase, deep 35 metres into the ground. Then, you will go behind the flow of the ancient lava for approximately 200 metres and enjoy the colourful lava.
The cave has only been available to the public since 2011.
It is not a challenging walk, though the surface is a little rough and sometimes sharp. So, it is recommended to put on good hiking shoes and warm clothing. A helmet and a torch are provided for the tour, lasting around 45 minutes.
- Olafsvik Town & Grundarfjordur Village
You can also go whale watching from both Ólafsvík and Grundarfjörður, two small towns that are somehow near each other on Snæfellsnes northern coastline. Ólafsvík is the little larger town since it holds just more than 1000 inhabitants, but Grundarfjörður holds around 870 inhabitants.
Both towns feature campsites, hotels, guesthouses, grocery stores, cafés or restaurants, gas stations, swimming pools, horse rentals and 9-hole golf courses.
The stunning waterfall Bæjarfoss is close to the town of Ólafsvík. You can also see the mountain Kirkjufell from the city of Grundarfjörður.
- Ytri Tunga Beach
Seals are often found along the white beaches of Ytri Tunga, with a breathtaking background of Snæfellsjökull glacier in the distance. Recently, this location has become increasingly famous for stopping, both because the seals are great models for enthusiastic photographers and because the beach offers outstanding beauty.
- Bjarnafoss Waterfall
A spectacular waterfall flows down the mountainside on the southern coast of Snæfellsnes peninsula. While driving on the peninsula’s south coast, you can see the watery mist from the waterfall for a long time before you see the waterfall. Although it is not one of Iceland’s most well-known waterfalls, it is worth a visit since the walk to it is both undemanding and scenic.
- Budir Black Church
Búðir is a small hamlet made up of a boutique hotel and a black church. The iconic black church and lovely surroundings attract travellers, although a few buildings exist in the area.
Búðir church was first built in 1703, but it, unfortunately, decayed. It was reconstructed in 1848 in today’s form but a different location. In 1984, it was repositioned in one piece from its old spot by the old graveyard to its present location. Búðir church is a listed building possessed by the National Museum of Iceland.
- Lysuholslaug Swimming Pool
This warm countryside swimming pool is famous for having fresh and natural mineral water. The water is murky because of its richness of green algae, which makes the pool green.
It should in no way be unappealing as the mineral-filled pool is supposed to be very healthy and relaxing for the body, similar to the water of the Blue Lagoon in the southern part of Iceland.
The water ranges from 37° to 39° Celsius. The pool only operates during summertime, from June to mid-August, from 11:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
- Ondverdarnes and Svortuloft Lighthouse
The westernmost point of Snæfellsnes is named Öndverðarnes. The picturesque black cliffs in the area are called Svörtuloft, which means Black Ceiling.
The cliffs were created when hot lava was out from Snæfellsjökull volcano to sea, and then the violent waves of the Atlantic ocean cut off the outer rocks, leaving the cliffs behind.
These cliffs are only called Svörtuloft on the sea, but on land, they are called Nesbjarg, which means Peninsula Cliff, and Saxhólsbjarg, meaning Knife Hill Cliff.
- Irskrabrunnur & Gufuskalavor Archaeological Site
Írskrabrunnur translates to “Irish Well”, and that’s just what it is, an ancient Irish well that probably goes back to the settlement of Iceland. It is a preserved archaeological site with an impressive history for anyone interested in Iceland’s history.
You can also find an Irish Shelter, Írskrabyrgi, and Gufuskálavör is just a few hundred metres away. At Gufuskálavör, you will find an old fishing station that goes back to the 14th or 15th century, with remains of farms and fisherman huts.
Best Hotels in Snæfellsnes Peninsula
- Fosshotel Hellnar
It is a 3-star hotel located in Brekkubær, 356 Hellnar, Iceland. The hotel offers free private parking, wifi and a bar. Also, it features various amenities, including a sun terrace, hiking, a restaurant, daily housekeeping, a tour desk, and more.
The hotel also features packed lunches, a smoke alarm, key access, facilities for disabled guests, non-smoking rooms, fire extinguishers, CCTV outside the property, and CCTV in standard rooms.
The hotel also has various room types for travellers. Most rooms feature a flatscreen tv, free wifi, a private bathroom, balcony, toilet, shower, hairdryer, complimentary toiletries, and more.
- Welcome Hotel Hellissandur by Snæfells Glacier National Park
It is a 3-star hotel located in Klettsbúð 9, IS-360 Hellissandur, Iceland. The hotel offers free private parking and free wifi in public areas. Also, it features various amenities, including family rooms, non-smoking rooms, express check-in and check-out and more.
The hotel also provides many activities such as cycling, hiking, fishing and golf. It also features heating, soundproof rooms, facilities for disabled guests, a lift and more.
The hotel has various room types for travellers. Most rooms feature a private bathroom, flat screen tv, soundproofing, toilet paper, toilet, shower, hairdryer, complimentary toiletries, and more.
- Fosshotel Stykkisholmur
It is a 3-star hotel located in Borgarbraut 8, 340 Stykkishólmur, Iceland. The hotel offers free parking and free wifi in the hotel rooms. Also, it features daily housekeeping, a tour desk, a wake-up service or alarm clock and more.
The hotel also features a business centre, a 24-hour front desk, meeting or banquet facilities, a bar, a restaurant, packed lunches, fax or photocopying, hiking and a golf course.
The hotel has various room types for travellers. Most rooms feature a private bathroom, flatscreen tv, free wifi, complimentary toiletries, towels, toilet paper, hairdryer, tea or coffee maker, electric kettle, clothes rack and more.
- North Star Hotel Olafsvik
It is a 3-star hotel located in Olafsbraut 20, 355 Ólafsvík, Iceland. The hotel offers free private parking and free wifi in public areas. The hotel features various amenities, including a beachfront, seating area, desk, express check-in and check-out and more.
The hotel has various room types for travellers. Most rooms feature an ensuite bathroom, flatscreen tv, complimentary toiletries, seating area, wardrobe or closet, bath or shower, toilet paper, clothes rack, linen, heating and more.
- Kirkjufell Hotel by Snæfellsnes Peninsula West Iceland – Grundarfjordur
It is a 3-star hotel in Nesvegur 8, 350 Grundarfjordur, Iceland. The hotel offers free private parking and free wifi in all areas. Also, it features various amenities, including a dining area, seating area, desk, luggage storage, and more.
The hotel also features various activities, including horse riding, hiking, and a golf course. It also features a smoke alarm, fire extinguisher, security alarm, key access, non-smoking rooms, facilities for disabled guests, soundproofing, heating and more.
The hotel has various room types for travellers. Most rooms feature an ensuite bathroom, flatscreen tv, free wifi, toilet, bath or shower, towels, dining area, seating area, sofa bed, clothes rack, desk, sofa, hand sanitiser and more.
Best Restaurant in Snæfellsnes Peninsula
- The Grill House (Grillhúsið)
It is an ideal place to get a delicious meal before a long trip. It is situated next to the gas station. The restaurant appears like a classic American burger restaurant, inside and out.
It serves a friendly grill and fast food. As well it offers delicious and fresh food. The menu has hamburgers, sandwiches, grilled chicken, steaks, pork, pizza, pasta, and fish.
It is located in Brúartorg 6, Borgarnes. Working hours are every day from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- Rjukandi Cafe and Restaurant
It is a hidden gem and a spectacular place to start or end your trip around the Snæfellsnes peninsula. It serves local food, homemade cakes by the housewife, and a rich and delicious lunch.
It is located in Vegamót, Snæfellsnes. It is open for clients daily from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
The restaurant is super cosy, and the atmosphere is intimate and friendly. The guesthouse lies in a spectacular setting, in the shadow of the magnificent Snæfellsjökull glacier, making the sceneries from every window priceless.
It serves fresh catch of the day, including cod, monkfish, catfish and Icelandic lamb, which also play the most fantastic role on the menu.
It is located in Langaholt, Gordum Stadarsveit, Snaefellsbaer. It works every day from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Hraun Veitingahús
The ‘Lava restaurant’ is a budget-friendly restaurant near the harbour in Olafsvík. The small, wooden house features a warm, cosy atmosphere with a beautiful view from the terrace. Also, it serves hamburgers, fresh seafood, pizza, and lamb steaks.
It is located in Grundarbraut 2, Ólafsvík. It works from Monday through Thursday, from 12:00 noon to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. On Friday, it works from 12 noon to 3 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. On the weekend, it works from 12 noon to 3 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Snæfellsnes peninsula is famous as Iceland in Miniature. It features many attractions, including black and white beaches, a volcano and a glacier, lava fields, waterfalls, craters, caves, villages and towns. It also has various restaurants to enjoy your meals. There are many accommodation options for spending the night.
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