One of the highlights of Icelandic nature is Snaefellsnes, a peninsula in the west of Iceland, less than a two-hour drive from the capital, Reykjavik. This 90 kilometer long peninsula is extremely diverse. You will find waterfalls, spectacular mountains, dramatic cliffs, lava fields, sandy beaches, beautiful fishing villages, hot springs and volcano craters. It is not for nothing that Snaefellsnes is popularly referred to as “Iceland in the small.” If you don’t have much time to discover Iceland, this is a beautiful area to explore. Don’t miss the sights below!
Rock formations at Arnarstapi and Hellnar
Your eyes will be short on a tour of the peninsula. You drive there along the rugged coastline and old fishing villages. One is the village of Arnarstapi, located in the south coast, a former trading post. Drive to the sea here and you will be rewarded with a fantastic view. Along the coast you will find beautiful basalt formations, including the photogenic rock arch below. Hundreds of birds nestle in the cliffs and fly around. The water here is so intensely blue and with the snow and mountains in the background, that produces very special pictures. You can also take a nice walk along the coast to the nearby village of Hellnar.
If you don’t have much time in Iceland, you can best discover this peninsula.
When you enter Snaefellsnes from the south (route 54), the Eldborg crater is probably your first stop. This 60 meter high crater was created around 6,000 years ago during a volcano eruption. In about 45 minutes you walk up to the crater, from where you have a beautiful view of the surroundings. You can also choose to walk around the crater, so you will be on the road a little longer.
The Eldborg crater is 50 meters deep, with a diameter of 200 m, the last eruption was around 5,000 to 6,000 years ago. This is a nice walking area, because you can walk all the way around the crater, but you can also climb the top. Eldborg, the name that literally means the “Fort of fire”, stands in strong contrast to the surrounding nature due to its dark color. The walking tour around Eldborg is approximately 6 km.
The city of Ólafsvík
Ólafsvík is a town on the north side of the Snaefellsnes peninsula, close to the Snaefellsjokull glacier. It has a large fishing port. Boat trips to spot whales and orcas also depart from here. It is nice to just drive through the village with the colored houses. One of the eye-catchers in Ólafsvík is the white, modern church, built in 1967. Not quite my taste, but still worth a look.
You can’t miss it on the Snaefellsnes peninsula: the Snæfellsjökull, a glacier that lies in the crater of a 1446 meter high volcano. On a clear day you can see the volcano from Reykjavik. It is possible to walk to the top of the glacier. This will take you around 4 to 5 hours for the outward journey and you will of course have to go back. You can reach the glacier with an off-road vehicle via the F570, a road that is often inaccessible in winter because of the snow. Moreover, most cars are not insured to drive on these roads. Not in the mood for a long walk or dangerous drive? Then you can book a snowmobile tour from Arnarstapi, which will take you to Snæfellsjökull.
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