Snæfellsnes is a long peninsula in the western part of the country and my favorite place in Iceland. I have chosen 12 stops in Snæfellsnes you should not miss when coming to the west!
Snæfellsnes peninsula has become a popular destination in Iceland because of its geological uniqueness, breathtaking lava fields, beautiful waterfalls, secretly placed geothermal hot springs and endless beaches. With Snæfellsjökull on the westernmost tip of the peninsula, it has inspired many travelers and it is truly considered to be a miniature of Iceland.
Stykkishólmur is the biggest town in the Snæfellsnes peninsula. As a harbor town, it serves as a center of tourism with many services such as museums, restaurants, cafés, hotels and guesthouses. A short walk to the light house offers a beautiful view on the harbor and old town of Stykkishólmur.
Kirkjufell mountain is located in the northern part of Snæfellsnes, close to the town of Grundarfjörður. Being one of the Game of Thrones filming locations, Kirkjufell mountain is thought to be the most photographed mountain in Iceland. Many people come to Snæfellsnes to capture one of the most amazing sceneries you can possible find in Iceland – two beautiful waterfalls called Kirkjufellsfoss with Kirkjufell mountain in the background.
Snæfellsjökull National Park is located around the Snæfellsjökull glacier, in the western part of Snæfellsnes peninsula. Snæfellsjökull is an old strato-volcano which top is covered by a glacier. Snæfellsjökull is known as one of the most famous Icelandic wonders and by some considered to be one of the great energy centers of Earth.
It has also inspired novelists such as Jules Verne in his novel Journey to the center of the Earth or the Icelandic Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness who wrote a famous novel that revolved around the glacier called Kristnihald undir jökli. Snæfellsjökull National Park is almost entirely formed by lava fields and mostly covered by moss.
If you are interested in further exploring of this famous glacier, there are several hiking paths around Snæfellsjökull and on the coastline. However, it is not suggested to hike to the top of the glacier on your own! During the summer season, it is possible to join a guided tour which will bring you to the top of Snæfellsjökull with a snow cat. For advanced hikers and adrenaline seekers, more challenging glacier hiking adventures are also organized by professional tour guides.
Skarðsvík is among few golden beaches in Iceland and it should be your first stop in Snæfellsjökull National Park. In Iceland, people are used to black sand or pebble beaches, which makes Skarðsvík a very unique place in Snæfellsnes.
Saxhóll is a volcanic crater located right at the entrance of the Snæfellsjökull National Park. In 2016 steps were put up to protect the crater, therefore now it is very easy to climb up and enjoy the view from the top of Saxhóll.
Vatnshellir Cave is a 656ft (200m) long lava tube which is formed by volcanic eruption. To enter the cave, you have to buy a ticket at the ticket office in from of the cave or online with Travelade and join the guided tour. Vatnshellir Cave is thought to be the entrance point in the famous novel Journey to the center of the Earth by Jules Verne.
Djúpalónssandur is a black pebble beach situated in the western part of Snæfellsjökull National Park, only a short drive from the main road. After leaving your car at the parking lot, you can take several hikes around the coast and explore different rock formations of the area. As anywhere else in Iceland, it is important to respect the nature and do not underestimate its power. It is very dangerous and not suggested to swim there since the waves can be very strong and unpredictable.
Djúpalónssandur is one of the most famous elf-locations and there are many sagas and tales taking place around this dramatic black pebble beach. I have also written a separate article on Djúpalónssandur which describes all the important sightseeings.
Lóndrangarand and Þúfubjarg are two majestic cliffs in the south-west of Snæfellsjökull National Park, not far from Djúpalónssandur. The cliffs are situated very close to the main road, so you can take a quick break and enjoy the impressive view from the coast. There is a possibility to take a short hike through lava fields to the lighthouse and the Snæfellsnes Visitor Center located at Malarrif.
Hellnar, a former fishing village, today mostly functions as touristic location with a restaurant, café and hotel. If you walk down to the sea, you will not miss a beautiful rock arch which is the main attraction in Hellnar. I would definitely recommend to take a short (1.6 mi/2.5 km) hike between two villages Hellnar and Arnarstapi. The hiking path lies along the coast and you will hike through beautiful lava fields. The hike itself takes approximately 45 minutes one way and ends up in my favorite place in Snæfellsnes - Arnarstapi.
A former fishing village of Arnarstapi has, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful harbors in Iceland. You can leave your car at a parking lot by a big stone sculpture of Bárður Snæfellsás and walk to a view point or grab a cup of coffee in one of the coffeehouses nearby. The walk in Arnarstapi offers breathtaking views of both cliff formations by the sea and Stapafell volcano mountain in the background. The must-see in Arnarstapi is a beautiful rock formation called Gatklettur.
Rauðfeldsgjá is a narrow gorge located in the south-west of Snæfellsnes, just a couple of minutes driving from Arnarstapi. Rauðfeldsgjá gorge lies between two cliffs and extends about 130 ft (40m) into the mountain. When entering the canyon, you should beware of a slippery terrain and occasional streams of water. It is suggested to wear waterproof clothes and good hiking shoes if you want to explore the canyon properly.
Búðakirkja is a famous black church which is considered to be one of the most photogenic places in Iceland. The black color of the church attracts many tourists especially in the winter time when snowy surroundings make it look like a fairytale.
Ytri-Tunga is a sandy beach in the southern part of Snæfellsnes which is mostly known as a great seal spotting location. I managed to see some seals every time I went to the beach, but the best time for visiting is definitely during the summer season.
Snæfellsnes peninsula is a magical place and a real Icelandic wonder. This 56 mi (90 km) long peninsula is situated in western Iceland and has approximately 4000 inhabitants. A few small villages are located on the south coast and more populated fishing villages (Stykkishólmur, Grundarfjörður, Ólafsvik, Rif and Hellissandur) are on the north side. Furthermore, Snæfellsjökull National Park with the famous Snæfellsjökull Glacier is for many people the main reason for visiting this stunning peninsula.
If you are driving from Reykjavík, take the road number 1, direction Borgarnes. In Borgarnes, head to the road number 54 which goes directly to Snæfellsnes.
There are several hotels, hostels, guesthouses and camping sites in the region of Snæfellsnes. Check your future accommodation here .
The best travel recommendations come from locals. Check out these Wanderguides from Iceland by locals sharing their travel tips and hidden gems.