Snæfellsnes Peninsula may be quite the mouthful to say, but it is a name to remember as this region is one of the most geographically diverse in Iceland. Adding to the wonder of Snæfellsnes peninsula, this region is rich in culture and history with many of the Icelandic sagas taking place here. So while you visit the natural wonders in the area on one of our tours you will be learning a bit of Icelandic history at the same time, an epic way to spend the day exploring Iceland.
Now that you have Snæfellsnes peninsula on your Iceland itinerary we have a complete guide to help you make the most of the time in this stunning region. Information on where to visit, unique experiences to have, insider tips and more, we’ve got you covered in this guide.
What is the Snæfellsnes Peninsula?
Located in the west of Iceland, Snæfellsnes peninsula is a 90 km long region that is often referred to as “Iceland in Miniature”, a nickname earned by the diverse nature found here. And when we say diverse nature we mean it! From vast valleys to fjords, beaches to caves, lava fields to glaciers, and let’s not forget the charming fishing towns, you will find all this and more in the peninsula.
An added bonus to visiting Snæfellsnes peninsula, many of the attractions in this region have yet to attract the mass crowds that you will find in popular routes such as the Golden Circle and the South Coast. So if you are looking to steer away from larger crowds, but don’t want to drive for hours on end to a remote part of the country, this is the perfect area to explore.
How to Visit the Snæfellsnes Peninsula?
Snæfellsnes peninsula is a region that can easily be explored on your own if you have a car rental. The road around the peninsula is well maintained with top attractions clearly marked making it easy to navigate on your own. This region can be easily accessed year-round, but, as always when it comes to traveling around Iceland, be sure to check the weather before your trip to ensure no nasty storms are headed that way.
Snæfellsnes peninsula is approximately a two-hour drive away from Reykjavik, making it a great option for a day trip from the city. However, if possible we recommend spending more than just one day in this region to fully appreciate the diverse nature here as there is a lot to explore in
the peninsula. If you are planning on making this a day trip give yourself approximately 12 hours for exploring around all the stops. It takes 6 hours alone just to drive the full loop, so it will make for a long action-packed day.
In short, if you have more time to spend exploring the Snæfellsnes peninsula, do it!
Area around Arnarstapi
Places to See
With such diverse nature in the region you can only imagine the endless options of stunning places to see in Snæfellsnes peninsula. You can easily be on a white sand beach one minute, drive ten minutes up the road and be looking out at what seems like a never ending lava field, and then turn the corner and see a waterfall. Whatever type of nature you are after you can be sure to find it in Snæfellsnes peninsula.
To help get you started on some ideas of what to see on your Snæfellsnes peninsula road trip here are a few of our favorite stops to make in the area. This list alone shows you how diverse nature in this area is!
One of the first locations you will come to when you arrive in Snæfellsnes is Gerðuberg Cliffs. Here you will find a half a kilometer cliff with hundreds of basalt columns standing side by side each ranging from 12-14 meters high. The unique formations of the columns is a sight to be seen.
If you are looking to view a volcanic crater while in Iceland Saxholl is a great place to do so. Easily accessible and with just a short climb to the top, Saxholl has the added bonus of beautiful panoramic views overlooking the tip of the peninsula.
Arguably the most recognizable place in Snæfellsnes peninsula is the 463 meter high mountain Kirkjufell. This uniquely shaped mountain is said to be the most photographed mountain in Iceland. Adding to the beauty is the two little waterfalls located on the south side of the mountain. And for any of you Game of Throne fans this is one of the filming locations you will definitely recognize from the series.
A 4,000 year old lava field, this landscape will have you feeling like you are on another planet! One of the most impressive lava fields in Iceland, be sure to stop here to fully take in the vast expanse of the moss covered lava field.
One of three black churches in Iceland, Búðir church has become one of the iconic locations of Snæfellsnes. A favorite location for photographers, it is a dramatic sight to be seen as the single black church stands out in nature.
One of the natural wonders of this region, Rauðfeldsgjá is an impressive gorge that is possible to walk back into during the summer months. A unique geological attraction, Rauðfeldsgjá is also a location of one of the Icelandic sagas, Saga Bárðar Saga Snæfellsás, making it a fun stop for those who enjoy learning a bit of history while they travel.
Located along the northwest tip of the peninsula is Skarðsvík, a small, but beautiful, white sand beach. A white sand beach is probably not what you would expect to find on the volcanic island of Iceland! The contrast of the white sand against the black lava rocks is a stunning sight to see
Charming fishing towns can be found all around Iceland, the Snæfellsnes peninsula included. But there is one such fishing town in Snæfellsnes peninsula that really stands out, the colorful town of Stykkishólmur. Stop here for a meal of fresh seafood in one of their cafes, and be sure to walk up Súgandisey cliff for an incredible view over the harbor and across the ocean where on a clear day you can see the Westfjords.
Activities to Do
Now that you have a full list of places to visit let’s talk about all the activities you can get up to in this region. Whether you are an adrenaline seeker, or enjoy learning about the history of the area, there is an activity to suit your preferences in this region. Below are a few different type of activities we recommend enjoying in Snæfellsnes peninsula.
Hiking is a must do activity all over Iceland and Snæfellsnes peninsula is no exception. From flat walking trails to steep paths there are all kinds of options for those looking to get a hike in while in the area.
A few hiking trails to check out are:
Hellnar to Arnarstapi Walking Trail
This 2.5 km easy hike takes you between the two fishing villages of Arnarstapi and Hellnar. The trail between the villages will take you along the sea and through a lava field, be sure to keep a look out for the famous Gatklettur arch, a natural formed stone arch found between the two villages.
A 5 km round trip hike that will take you through a lava field and up the beautiful formed volcanic crater that is 60 meter high. The majority of the hike is through a flat field but be prepared for a steep ending as you climb up to the top of the crater.
Snæfellsjökull Glacier Summit
For those hiking enthusiasts looking for a memorable experience, a hike up Snæfellsjökull Glacier to the summit is the hike for you. If you do want to do this hike please keep it safe and join a tour with an experienced guide.
Looking for more hiking options for this region? Check out our post here with a round up of some great short hiking trails to enjoy in West Iceland.
Join a Tour
If group tours are more your thing be sure to join one while in Snæfellsnes peninsula. Tour options in this area range from going horseback riding to kayaking in the bay, and one of our favorites, exploring inside an 8,000 year old lava tube at Vatnshellir Cave.
Find even more tour ideas from our partners here and start dreaming about your one-of-a-kind adventure.
Have a Unique Experience
While we think a visit to Iceland is a unique experience in itself, on the Snæfellsnes peninsula you will find a few different activities that can only be experienced in this region. And who doesn’t love experiencing something new? Below are a few of our favorite unique experiences to be had in this region.
See how Icelandic skyr is made at Erpsstaðir Farm
The famous Icelandic skyr is a must try while in Iceland but how about taking it a step further and learning about how this delicious dairy product is made? A visit to the family operated Erpsstaðir Farm will give you an insider look to dairy production in Iceland as well as letting you get to spend some time with the adorable animals on the farm. Complete the visit by enjoying one of their tasty dairy treats, we recommend trying the ice cream and of course the skyr.
Try fermented shark at Bjarnarhöfn Museum
The idea of trying fermented shark may either intrigue you or totally gross you out, but hey when in Iceland right? A taste of fermented shark can be saved for those with an adventurous palate, but a stop here can be fun for all as you will learn all about the Greenland shark in this charming little museum.
Enjoy a glass of carbonated water from Ölkelda mineral spring
Did you know that you can drink carbonated water straight from a natural mineral spring? Probably not something you hear about too often, but at Ölkelda mineral spring you can have a refreshing drink and unique experience all in one stop. The water from the spring is said to have healing properties so make sure to make a stop here to enjoy your own glass.
Tips for Traveling in this Area
Now that you know how to reach Snæfellsnes peninsula, and have a list of places to see and activities to do while in the region, let’s finish this guide off with a few helpful tips. These short and simple tips will help you make the most of your time visiting Snæfellsnes peninsula.
- Bring some snacks and water. The options for dining are far and few between in this area so it is a good idea to have some snacks and water on hand.
- Map out must visit locations before your trip. If you only have one day to spend in this region it is helpful to write down locations that are must sees for you and then map out where they are along the route so you can better plan out your day. Google maps is a great way to plan out your day if your looking for a resource to use.
- Wear proper attire. This region involves a lot of walking on different terrain, having a pair of sturdy shoes will make the exploring much more comfortable. And don’t forget to pack layers, you will be outside exploring for all of these stops so have enough clothes to keep you nice and warm.
You are now ready to explore Snæfellsnes peninsula like a local!
Interested in learning more about this diverse region in Iceland? You can find our other posts on West Iceland here. And be sure to share your Snæfellsnes peninsula pictures with us on Instagram with the hashtag #HeyIceland so we can follow along!