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Your Ultimate Travel Companion For the Snæfellsnes Peninsula


snæfellsnes peninsula

Nicknamed ‘Iceland in Miniature’, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula has almost all of Iceland’s unique geological features. Located in West Iceland, it includes glaciers, volcanoes and even black sand beaches. This beautiful area of Iceland can be explored in a one or two-day trip from the country’s capital, Reykjavík.

Find out all the must-see places to include in your Snæfellsnes Peninsula self-drive tour itinerary. With our complete guide to this stunning region, you'll get travel tips to make sure your dream Iceland adventure becomes a reality! We’ve also included some fun facts about this beautiful peninsula, along with our top 10 Snæfellsnes Peninsula things to do. This way, you can make the most of your time at Snæfellsnes.

Where is the Snæfellsnes Peninsula Located?

First of all, where exactly is the Snæfellsnes Peninsula? The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is in Western Iceland, situated between Reykjavík and the stunning natural area of the West Fjords. The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is around a 2-hour drive from the capital of Reykjavik.

snæfellsnes peninsula

Cool Facts About the Snæfellsnes Peninsula

  1. The stunning Snæfellsnes Peninsula extends around 90 kilometers.
  2. Did you know that the Snæfellsnes Peninsula is believed to be the birthplace of the important historical character, Bolli Bollason, from a famous Medieval Icelandic saga about Iceland’s settlement?
  3. The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is a Platinum Certified Earth Check destination. That means this beautiful area of Iceland is a champion of both local and tourist sustainability.
  4. This beautiful area was actually the first in Europe to receive an Earth Check certification, and only the fourth in the world!
  5. The Snæfellsnes Peninsula has a sparse population of only around 5,000 people.
  6. Set on the western edge of the peninsula, the famous glacier-topped Snæfellsjökull Volcano last erupted 2,000 years ago. 
  7. Jules Vernes’ 1864 classic book, Journey to the Center of the Earth, was set in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula at the crater of Snæfellsjokull Volcano.
  8. No stranger to our TV screens, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula was used as a backdrop in the Game of Thrones series.
  9. One of, if not the most, photographed mountains in all of Iceland is located in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. That's the unique and striking Kirkjufell Mountain.
  10. Established in 2001, Snæfellsnes National Park extends around 170 square kilometers at the westernmost tip of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

Kirkjufell Mountain

Snæfellsnes Peninsula Itinerary: Whole Day Self-Drive Tour

Wondering what to include on your Snæfellsnes Peninsula itinerary? Here are the top unmissable sights for your Snæfellsnes Peninsula self-drive tour. We’ll assume you’re starting in the capital of Reykjavik and spending one full day exploring the beautiful Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Let’s hit the road!

  • Drive from Reykjavik to Gerduberg Cliffs. We’ll start our day of adventure at the amazing Gerduberg Cliffs at the base of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. You’ve just got to see these amazing hexagonal basalt rock columns!
  • Head west along Route 54 to Ytri Tunga Beach – If you’re lucky, you may spot some of the seals that call this remote beach home.
  • Continue to Bjarnafoss Waterfall. You can take a short hike from the parking lot to view this beautiful waterfall from uphill.
  • Arrive at Budakirkja. Take the road heading south for a short 5-minute drive to arrive at this striking 19th century black church set among lava fields.

Iceland's black church

  • Explore Raudfeldsgja Gorge. From here, it’s a 15-minute drive to the amazing canyon and waterfall at Raudfeldsgja Gorge. 
  • Quick detour to Snæfellsjökull Volcano and Songhellir Cave. You’ll need a 4x4 Iceland car rental to take the 20-minute drive down the F-road F570 to reach the crown jewel of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula: the glacier-topped Snæfellsjökull Volcano. On the way, you’ll pass Songhellir Cave.
  • Relax at Arnarstapi Beach. Next, it’s time to explore the lovely fishing village of Arnarstapi, along with the beach, coastal cliffs and port. Make sure to visit the stone bridge and the incredible Gatklettur stone formation in the water.
  • Head to Hellnar. The next viewpoint along the coast is the scenic Hellnar, which only takes around 7 minutes to reach.
  • Soak in the views at Londrangar Basalt Cliffs. A further 7-minute drive will take you to the stunning Londrangar Basalt Cliffs, set among lush greenery and ocean waves.
  • Discover an ancient lava tube at Vatnshellir Cave. Only 2 minutes up Utnesvegur road, you’ll arrive at this 8000-year-old lava tube. You’ll need to take a guided underground tour if you want to discover this amazing place for yourself. So, remember to book your Vatnshellir Cave tour in advance.
  • Admire Djupalonssandur Beach. Take a 6-minute drive up the road to the black volcanic sand Djupalonssandur Beach, which also features a British shipwreck from 1948.

Snaefellsnes black sand beach

  • Drive north to Saxholl Crater. A quarter-of-an-hour drive north will lead you to Saxholl Crater. There, you can take an easy and quick trip up the staircase to the top of this impressive crater. You’ll be rewarded with an amazing view of the surrounding cliffs and Snæfellsjökull!
  • Skardsvik Beach and nearby lighthouses. The beautiful golden-sanded Skardsvik Beach is 11 minutes from Saxholl Crater and requires a 4x4 drive to reach. Here, you can also visit two nearby lighthouses, Ondverdarnes Lighthouse and Svortuloft Lighthouse. The latter is located at the very western tip of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
  • Have a bite to eat in Hellissandur. Next up, let’s have a quick break and lunch stop at the beautiful village of Hellissandur, which is 8-minutes drive to the east from Skardsvik Beach. Here, you’ll find some inspiring street art and stunning views of the ocean.
  • Enjoy the majesty of Kirkjufell Mountain and Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall. Another of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula’s crown jewels, Kirkjufell Mountain, can be found 26 minutes up the coast, back on Route 54 towards the east. Across the road, you’ll also find the amazing Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall.
  • Head to Grundarfjördur town. Just 3 minutes up the road, you’ll arrive at Grundarfjördur town. There you can enjoy another amazing view of the distinctive Kirkjufell Mountain from a special observation deck at the edge of the water.
  • Berserkjahraun Mountain and Lava Field. The penultimate stop on our amazing Snæfellsnes Peninsula self-drive tour itinerary is the impressive Berserkjahraun Mountain and Lava Field, which was created 4,000 years ago!
  • Drive up to Stykkisholmur fishing village. A further 18-minute drive will take you to the charming Stykkisholmur fishing village. This is the last spot on our Snæfellsnes Peninsula itinerary. Here, you can soak in the views of the beautiful marina, visit the lighthouse, art museum and striking church, and even have a game of golf!
  • Head back to Reykjavík or onto the West Fjords. Congratulations! You’ve reached the end of our unforgettable Snæfellsnes Peninsula full-day tour. Want to continue the adventure? Head onto Route 60 towards the West Fjords for an amazing trip extension in this wild, beautiful and even more remote area of the country. Otherwise, we can head back to Reykjavík for more fun Iceland adventures!

 snæfellsnes peninsula itinerary

Guided Snæfellsnes Peninsula Tours

If you want to sit back, relax and be driven to and around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula on a guided tour, here are some options for you to check out:

  • Snæfellsnes Peninsula full-day tour from Reykjavík. Looking for a full 11-hour day of adventures in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula starting from Reykjavík? Then, this tour is for you! You’ll take a guided tour around some of the highlights of Snæfellsnes, learning interesting facts about your surroundings along the way.
  • Snæfellsness Peninsula and Kirkjufell small group tour from Reykjavik. This tour also lasts 11 hours and takes you around the best bits of this incredibly scenic area in just one day. You’ll be part of a small group heading to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula from Reykajvik.
  • 2-day Snæfellsness Peninsula tour. If you want to take a bit more time exploring the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, this 2-day tour could be for you. This small group tour, of course, includes all the Snæfellsnes highlights, as well as one night’s accommodation, plus breakfast.

10 Top Snæfellsnes Peninsula Things to Do

You’ll have your pick of fantastic things to do and see in the incredible natural surroundings of Snæfellsnes. So, what would we say are the top unmissable activities to add to your Snæfellsnes Peninsula things to do list? Find out with this rundown of our favorite Snæfellsnes Peninsula things to do. We can guarantee there’s something for everyone!

1. Hike Up a Glacier at Snæfellsnes National Park

One for keen hikers, the 760-meter ascent up the magnificent, glacier-topped Snæfellsjokull Volcano takes around 5 to 6 hours. You’ll need a full day for this adventurous Snæfellsnes Peninsula activity.

Glacier hiking in Iceland

2. Enjoy a Whale Watching Boat Tour in Olafsvik

You have the chance to see many whale species on a whale watching boat tour from Olsavik, including orcas and humpback whales. The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is one of the best places in Iceland to spot whales!

Olafsvik, Iceland

3. Take a Puffin Tour in Grundarfjordur

Birdwatching enthusiasts will love taking a puffin tour from Grundarfjordur to Melrakkaey island. This tour is available between June and August, with the exact timings being dependent on when the puffins leave the island.

Puffins in Iceland

4. Experience the Northern Lights or Midnight Sun 

Whichever time of year you choose to visit the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, you’re in for a treat, as you can view one of two stunning natural phenomena. If you visit the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in winter, you’ll have an amazing chance to experience the incredible Northern Lights. In summer, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula is the perfect place to enjoy the Midnight Sun. It’s a win-win!

Northern lights in Iceland

5. Sample an Icelandic Delicacy at Bjarnarhofn Shark Museum

Here you can learn all about the biology of sharks, and the historical importance of sharks in Icelandic life. Also, the process of fishing for and preparing shark meat. At Bjarnarhofn Shark Museum, you can even taste the Icelandic delicacy of hakarl (fermented shark meat) for yourself.

Iceland's shark museum

6. Go Horseback Riding at Snæfellsnes

You can take a guided horseback riding tour in Snæfellsnes for an amazing view of the picturesque natural surroundings atop a special Icelandic horse. These tours usually only run in the summer months, from around June to September.

Horse riding in Iceland

7. Do Some Seal-Spotting at Ytri Tunga Beach

Ytri Tunga Beach is an amazing location for spotting seals. The best time to spot the seals here is between May and July, when the tide is low. This is when you’ll often see the seals lounging around on the rocks and beach, soaking in the sunshine.

Seal spotting in Snaefellsnes Peninsula

8. Take a Trip to Kirkjufell Mountain

While in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, visiting Kirkjufell Mountain is a must! Standing at just over 460 meters tall, this uniquely-shaped mountain is one of the most photographed in Iceland.

Kirkjufell mountain

9. Explore Stykkisholmur Fishing Village

As well as all the breathtaking geological features to be found around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, there are also some quaint, traditional Icelandic fishing villages to visit. One such location that we highly recommend is the lovely Stykkisholmur Fishing Village in the far south of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

Stykkisholmur, Iceland

10. Go Underground to Discover an Ancient Lava Tube

How does a guided subterranean tour towards the center of the Earth sound? You can descend into an 8,000-year-old lava tube at Vatnshellir Cave. You'll take the very path the lava took whilst marveling at this incredible geological formation. Make sure to book in advance!

Lava tube Iceland

What’s Next on Your Icelandic Adventure?

Wondering where to head after your tour of the beautiful Snæfellsnes Peninsula? We recommend the incredible Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon in Southern Iceland.

This unmissable natural lake formed from glacial meltwater is quite easy to reach. Simply take the main Iceland Ring Road, Route 1, past Reykjavík and towards the southeast. Make sure to bring your camera to capture the breathtaking sight of massive icebergs floating across Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon.

Snæfellsnes Camping Sites

Want to camp out as you take your tour around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula? Camping is a great way to get up close to nature and experience a few refreshing nights sleeping underneath the stars. The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is an amazing place to enjoy your camping adventure in Iceland. There's a wide range of well-serviced Snæfellsnes camping sites to choose from.

Whether you’d like to spend one night camping at the Snæfellsnes Peninsula to break up your day of traveling, or you want to spend a few days exploring every nook and cranny of this amazing area of Iceland, a Snæfellsnes camping trip could be perfect for you!

Here are some of our favorite Snæfellsnes Peninsula camping sites to give you some inspiration:

Camping at Snaefellsnes, Iceland

  • Snorrastadir campsite. This Snæfellsnes camping site is the ideal base for taking the popular hike to the volcanic crater of Eldborg. Here, you’ll find all the necessary services you need, including sanitary and cooking facilities.
  • Grundarfjordur campsite. Set among lush green mountains next to the coast, this Snæfellsnes camping site is in a great location in the middle of the northern part of the peninsula. Perfect for excursions either to the east or west, this Snæfellsnes camping site even has a swimming pool!
  • Arnarstapi campsite. This camping area is a lovely place to relax after an energetic day of exploring at Snæfellsnes. It has all the necessary facilities and a brilliant location on the coast of Arnarstapi.
  • Hellissandur campsite. A great Snæfellsnes campsite for spending the night after exploring the western side of the peninsula. You’ll find a service area and places to pitch your tent or park your campervan among these impressive lava fields.
  • Olafsvik campsite. You’ll find all the services you need at this campsite, including electricity and running water. This Snæfellsnes camping area is a great base for exploring the fishing town of Olafsvik.

When is the Best Time to Visit the Snæfellsnes Peninsula?

We recommend late spring, summer and early autumn as the best time to visit the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. That's due to the longer daylight hours and better weather. These factors will ensure you can soak in all the beautiful sights that the Snæfellsnes area has to offer, and you won’t be limited by the shorter winter days.

Iceland sees an average of 4 to 5 hours of daylight in winter, whereas this shoots up to around 21 hours of daylight in the middle of summer! Between May and September is a great time to visit the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

Snæfellsnes Iceland activities

However, if you do plan to visit in winter, you can make the most of this time by enjoying a Northern Lights hunt in Iceland. The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is an amazing place to watch this dazzling light show dance across the sky.

That's because there are many remote natural areas far away from light pollution, giving you a brilliant chance of catching this phenomenon in person!

Top Travel Tips For the Snæfellsnes Peninsula

When heading to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, it’s best to be prepared and plan ahead to make sure you have the best possible experience. Our top Snæfellsnes Peninsula travel tips are here to help:

  • Set off early. Beat the crowds by setting off from Reykjavik early on in the day. This is especially relevant if you’re planning to take your Snæfellsnes Peninsula self-drive tour during the peak tourist season in the summer months. Get a head start by setting off in the morning, say between 7 to 9am, to enjoy the spectacular scenery in peace and quiet. You’ll notice more and more visitors arriving in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula from around 10am onwards.
  • Check weather and road conditions. As always in Iceland, it’s important to keep an eye on current weather and road surface conditions to make sure your route is clear and safe. We recommend checking the local weather forecast for the day and current Iceland road conditions before setting off. You’re more likely to enjoy clear, bright days during the summer, but it’s always important to check, as Iceland’s weather can be famously changeable.
  • Wear waterproof clothing. Yes, we know that it’s summer and the sun is shining, but a sudden downpour could be closer than you think! A waterproof jacket is a must for any outdoor exploring in Iceland. Even if you keep it in your bag for emergencies, bringing a waterproof jacket could help keep you comfortable and dry when touring the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. It’s also an essential item for exploring any waterfalls, as you can quickly get soaked by the waterfall’s spray! Waterproof shoes are also recommended.

What to wear to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula

  • Pack extra food and water. While there are towns and villages around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula that you can visit to sample some local cuisine, many of the most famous attractions and natural wonders are fairly remote and certainly don’t have any restaurants nearby! That’s why we recommend packing some of your favorite snacks and enough water to keep you going throughout your day of exploring. You never know when you’ll need that extra granola bar!
  • Plan beforehand. We recommend having at least a rough plan of your day and a list of the places you definitely want to see at Snæfellsnes. This will make sure you can fit in all your must-sees on your Snæfellsnes Peninsula self-drive tour and work out the best and most effective route to visit them all. Creating a Snæfellsnes Peninsula itinerary can be super fun and build up the excitement for this magical day of exploring! Feel free to use our ready-made Snæfellsnes Peninsula tour itinerary for your trip.
  • Learn the correct Snaefellsnes pronunciation. This one’s just for fun! We know Snaefellsnes can be a bit of a mouthful for non-Icelandic speakers. If you’re curious about the correct Snaefellsnes pronunciation, let’s demystify it for you; Snaefellsnes is pronounced ‘Snaiy-fell-snes’. Now you’re all set for your perfect Snæfellsnes Peninsula tour!

Get Packing for Snæfellsnes!

Inspired to take your very own Snæfellsnes Peninsula road trip? Get packing and hit the road, ready to explore this incredibly beautiful area of Iceland.

If you’re looking for an affordable car rental in Iceland to give you the ultimate flexibility and freedom to explore Snæfellsnes and beyond, check out our range of cars available to pick up from Reykajvik. Take your pick and let’s get this once-in-a-lifetime adventure started!