The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is a breathtaking place. It’s only a couple of hours from Reykjavik by car, and it’s a must-see destination for nature lovers. You’ll find countless volcanoes, glaciers, fjords, mountains, and towering sea cliffs on the peninsula. So while it’s possible to go there for a day trip, you’ll have a much richer experience if you can set aside a few days to explore.
This article will tell you about 10 of the most beautiful places to visit in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. There are countless natural attractions in the area, though, so keep an open mind and see how your visit naturally progresses.
10 Beautiful Places To See In Snæfellsnes Peninsula
You’ll find the beautiful Kirkjufell mountain on the North Coast of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Game of Thrones fans may recognize this filming location from series 6 and 7! But you don’t have to be a TV buff to see why this is one of the most photographed locations in the country. There are crystal clear waterfalls and a tranquil lake just a stone’s throw away, making for a spectacular landscape combined with the sharp mountain peak.
Experienced mountaineers can take the steep mountain trail to summit Kirkjufell in a couple of hours. But you’ll need the right weather, safety equipment, and possibly to hire the services of an expert local guide. In recent years, tourists have died on the mountain as the trail is too challenging for most walkers. (It’s more of a climb than a hike!)
If you’re sure-footed and take your time, the views from the top are beautiful. There are ropes to help guide you on the way up, but you will be essentially free climbing for short stretches of the route, so don’t attempt this one with children. Instead, you can take the 3 hours trail at the base of the mountain, which is still stunning and safe for all experience levels.
The Arnarstapi Cliffs are a sight to behold. The cliffs vibrate with sea birds in summer, and the volcanic columns are equally impressive year-round. Gatklettur Sea Arch is a gorgeous spot, which you can check out while you are in the area.
If you want to stretch your legs, there is a lovely hiking trail just shy of 2.5km that you can take along the cliffs, but watch your step and make sure you have a head torch if it could get dark. So long as you take your time, it’s an accessible hike for all levels. And the views are amazing!
The closeby Arnarstapi village is small, but there are a couple of places where you can grab a coffee and a bite to eat. So it’s worth stopping in the area for a refuel, even if you don’t plan on spending very long exploring the coastline.
Djupalon is a black sand and pebble beach with stunning rock formations for you to explore. You will find pieces of an old British shipwreck on the coast. Many people died in the wreck, so it is respectful to leave the iron pieces and not try to take them away with you. The sea currents are powerful and unpredictable here, so you shouldn’t attempt to get into the water or get too close to the shoreline. But that doesn’t mean there is no fun to be had! You can check out the lifting stones, boulders of different weights that fishermen had to lift to prove their strength to the captain. There’s also a pretty little cove called Dritvík that you can hike to, which is a lovely way to spend a couple of hours if the weather is reasonable.
Talking of beautiful beaches, you can’t leave the peninsula without visiting Ytri Tunga! The golden sand on this beach is unique for Iceland, and you’ve got a good chance of seeing seals while you are there. Make sure you give the animals plenty of space, especially if they have young pups. If you get too close, the mother may abandon her young. (If you’re wondering, 50 meters is a good guide to go by, so don’t hesitate to bring a pair of binoculars to get a closer look.) Low tide is the best time to come. The seals tend to hang out on the exposed rocks when the water recedes.
Berserkjahraun Lava Field
Geology lovers should swing by the Berserkjahraun lava field, created by volcanic eruptions 4000 years ago. The landscape is bleak, but it has a beauty to it. Many people compare it to the surface of a planet like Mars due to the rocky ground and colorful minerals. After taking a gravel road towards the lava field, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful views of volcanoes and black sand beaches. You won’t find any infrastructure in the area, but it’s a peaceful and otherworldly place to bring a picnic or a flask of coffee.
From Stykkisholmur harbor, you can head up the hill to see the lovely views from Súgandisey Lighthouse. You can look down on the beautiful colorful houses of the town and get blasted by the wild ocean wind. When you’re done, head back into town for a hot drink and a snack, or check out the unusual architecture of the village church.
If you’re seeking a real adventure, you’re going to want to head to Snæfellsjökull Glacier. This famous ice cap lies on top of an ancient volcano, and it’s a wonderful place to explore with an experienced guide. Experienced hikers can arrange to summit the glacier, or you can join a snow-cat tour if you want to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. The Snæfellsjökull Glacier is still officially active, though it hasn’t erupted for hundreds of years.
Bjanarfoss is a lovely, underrated waterfall on the Snæfellsnes peninsula. You can park near the waterfall foot and explore the safe but steep hiking trail, which takes you to a small bridge right in front of the falls. The water, green hills, and patches of forest make a lovely place to stop for a picnic, and you won’t find as many other tourists as you would at many nearby attractions.
Vatnshellir, on the other hand, is pretty popular with tourists. But with good reason. Vatnshellir is a breathtaking lava cave that was formed around 8000 years ago. You descend a steep spiral staircase into the ground until you reach the cave floor 35 meters below ground level! You’ll have to wrap up warm with gloves and sturdy hiking boots and make sure you book onto one of the guided tours. (For your safety and to preserve the cave, it is no longer to visit Vatnshellir without a guide1)
As your guide lights up the cave walls with a flashlight, you’ll see all the different minerals that splash color through the darkness. You’ll also see rock formations like stalagmites and stalactites, and your knowledgeable guides will explain how they came to be! A tour of the cave typically takes around 45 minutes.
If you’d rather keep your head above ground, don’t hesitate to check out the town called Grundarfjordur. This is one of the best places to see killer whales in the winter months, and you can take a whale-watching trip right from the harbor. The saga center is a small museum in town where you can learn about the olden days. It’s only a small collection, but some interesting historical photos and a pretty wooden fishing boat will help you understand the town’s history. There is also a small public swimming pool where you can sit in a hot tub with a view of the mountains. There are certainly worse ways to spend a day on vacation!
If your time in Iceland is limited, you probably want to focus on an area close to Reykjavik, like the South Coast or the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. The Peninsula certainly has plenty to keep you busy, and it’s fondly known as “little Iceland” due to the varied landscapes and outstanding natural beauty.
If you’d like more information to help you plan a trip to Iceland, don’t hesitate to check out the rest of our travel guides and hand-picked tours. We hope you found this article helpful, and we look forward to welcoming you to Iceland soon!