An area as intriguing as its name, the Snæfellsnes peninsula is the jewel of West Iceland and one of the most beautiful regions in the country.
You’ll find some of Iceland’s most stunning attractions – glaciers, mountains, charming little fishing towns, beaches, iconic churches, and so much more – all packed into this little stretch of land!
Once ranked as one of the top regions in the world to visit, West Iceland is truly spectacular!
Snæfellsnes certainly lives up to the hype, and narrowing down a list of favorite places is easier said than done!
Yet, I’ve managed to compile a list of top attractions, things to do, dining, and accommodation options and even a few hidden gems.
Should you include the Snæfellsnes peninsula in your West Iceland itinerary?
Keep reading to find out! 😉
Table of Contents
- Is Snæfellsnes Worth It?
- Snæfellsnes Peninsula Weather
- Snæfellsnes Peninsula to Reykjavík
- Top 10 West Iceland Attractions on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula
- Accommodation: Snæfellsnes Peninsula Hotels
- Dining Options
- Snæfellsnes Peninsula: Things To Do
- Planning A West Iceland Trip?
Is Snæfellsnes worth it?
… does cheese go well with a baguette?
(Psst: the answer is heck yes!)
Snæfellsnes peninsula has to be, without question, on your West Iceland itinerary.
It’s nicknamed “Mini Iceland” because you’ll find a little something of everything Iceland has to offer here.
These are a few reasons to include it in your travel plans:
Diverse landscapes: From glaciers and fjords to waterfalls and lava fields, it’s an incredible way to experience Iceland in all its glory. When driving around Snæfellsnes peninsula, Iceland, you’re sandwiched between mountains on one side and the ocean on the other, making it a spectacular experience from start to finish!
Proximity to Reykjavík: Snæfellsnes is a relatively short drive from the capital, and you could technically cover it in a day, especially if there are only a couple of specific places you want to see.
Accessibility: Each season has something unique to offer, and if you thought there wasn’t much to see in Iceland in the winter, think again! The roads are paved and accessible year-round, making Snæfellsnes perfect for your winter itinerary.
Snæfellsnes Peninsula Weather
I’ve been lucky enough to visit Snæfellsnes numerous times, and you can never quite know what to expect!
The first time I went was all gray skies and rain. But on the second trip, we lucked out with near-perfect weather (for Iceland, that is).
What a difference sunshine and a blue sky can make! It was like seeing everything for the first time, it looked completely different.
The rainiest months are September and October.
However, if you end up in Snæfellsnes on a cloudy day, don’t fret, it’s still beautiful!
Average Temperatures in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Temperatures range from 10 to 13 degrees Celsius (50-55 degrees Fahrenheit) in July, the warmest month.
The coldest month is December and you can expect temperatures to dip from -1 to 1 degree Celsius (30-33 degrees Fahrenheit).
Snæfellsnes Peninsula in Winter
In wintertime, you can expect snow, but the roads are maintained well and Snæfellsnes is accessible year-round.
However, the weather in Iceland is very temperamental and can change at the drop of a hat which can affect accessibility.
So, always check road and weather conditions before heading out for the day.
Just a heads-up: daylight hours in winter are limited, so I’d consider adding a day or two to the itinerary if you want to see most of the attractions.
If you’re wondering what it’s like to experience the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in winter, check out the blog post below👇
➡️ READ MORE: Winter in Iceland – Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Snæfellsnes Peninsula to Reykjavík
It’ll take about a 2-3 hour drive to get from Snæfellsnes Peninsula to Reykjavík.
It’s a beautiful route and you’ll want to stop, absorb the scenery, and capture some photographs.
If you start your journey from Reykjavík, head north on Route 1 then enter Road 54 and decide which sights you want to see first.
If you’re headed to Gerðuberg first, when traveling on Route 54, continue past Road 571.
Drive approximately 7 km/4 miles, and you will notice a turn for Ytri-Tunga Farm (almost directly across from Route 567 to Hótel Eldborg.)
Take the farm road, and you will find the basalt columns on the left.
Top 10 West Iceland Attractions on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula
There are so many West Iceland Attractions that this list doesn’t even scratch the surface!
But you’ve got to start somewhere, right?
So, if you’re looking at the Snæfellsnes peninsula map, let’s start north and head south of the peninsula to find out what they are:
1. Gerðuberg Basalt Columns
This would be the first stop when driving to the Snæfellsnes peninsula from Reykjavík.
The Gerðuberg basalt columns are huge hexagonal rock structures that are not only impressive looking, but also fun to climb.
You don’t need to spend too much time here but you can capture some great photographs. It’ll also leave you scratching your head, thinking how Mother Nature did it!
Stykkishólmur is a tiny little town on the north coast of the peninsula and one of my favorite towns in Iceland.
Everything about it is adorable from the fishing harbor to the little orange lighthouse at the top of the cliff!
Did you know that a scene from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was filmed in the yellow building next to the harbor? Now you know. 😄
I suggest walking up Súgandisey Cliff for unbeatable views of the harbor and the North Atlantic. You may even see the West Fjords if it’s a clear day!
Dining: You’ll want to check out these two places in Stykkishólmur:
- Opt for dinner at Narfeyrarstofa for a delicious meal prepared with fresh and local ingredients – keep in mind that open times may vary depending on the time of year.
- Nesbrauð Bakari for coffee and a kleina, the famous Icelandic donut.
3. Kirkjufell Mountain and Falls
This is a stop you probably already have on your itinerary. Kirkjufell means ‘church mountain’ and is shaped like a pyramid.
On the south side of the mountain is Kirkjufellsfoss – two perfectly placed, picturesque waterfalls.
Kirkjufell is the most photographed mountain in all of Iceland, and it’s easy to see why!
Pro tip: Drive through Kolgrafafjörður for some incredible views. There’s a bridge running through the fjord, with mountains surrounding you. But be warned – it’s so beautiful it might make you cry!
As you round the corner of the peninsula and head into Snæfellsjökull National Park, you’ll find Skarðsvík beach.
Iceland is known for its unique and stunning black sand beaches, but Skarðsvík is a white sand beach at the tip of the peninsula.
We caught the sunset here and it was amazingly beautiful.
As we head into the south part of the peninsula, you don’t want to miss Djúpalónssandur, a classic Icelandic black sand and pebble beach.
Once a bustling harbor for numerous fishing ships, the beach now only holds the rusted remnants of an old fishing vessel.
On the walk to the beach, you’ll find four lifting stones of various weights.
Fishermen used these many years ago to test their strength to qualify men to work on the fishing boats.
You can test it out, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you have a bad back! 😉
Lóndrangar, another iconic landmark in West Iceland, features uniquely shaped basalt structures protruding from the sea. These formations are the remnants of a volcanic crater eroded by the waves.
I highly recommend viewing it at sunset – isn’t everything better at sunset?
Even though you can see this from the road, it’s worth taking the time to walk down by the sea to get a better look!
Pro Tip: You can also drive down to Malarrif and take a short walk from there to the rock formations and back. It’ll take about an hour.
7. Arnarstapi to Hellnar Walking Trail
This has got to be one of my personal favorites!
Hellnar and Arnarstapi are small towns on the south coast of the Snæfellsnes peninsula.
There is a walking trail that runs through a lava field between the glacier and jagged cliffs into the ocean.
No, I’m not kidding – it sounds too good to be true, but it’s wonderful!
Dining: I suggest parking in Arnarstapi and walking towards Hellnar. Fuel up at the Fjöruhúsið café (it’s so small and adorable that it doesn’t even have a website!) You need to experience this! Important note: Fjöruhúsið has seasonal hours and is usually closed in the winter!
I love their chicken quiche and my husband Bobby always gets the homemade waffle. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with either.
Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge is a hidden gem that you probably wouldn’t even notice if you didn’t know to look for it.
You’ll stop at a tiny parking area, then walk up the hill for about 20 minutes. After which you’ll arrive at the gorge where you can walk in and there’s water flowing down the rocks.
Is Iceland a fairytale? Yes, ABSOLUTELY!
So if you’re like me and think waterfalls inside caves are cool, you’ll want to check this out. It’s gorge-ous.😄
9. Berserkjahraun Lava Field
This place looks like The Land Before Time was filmed here! The huge lava field is one of the best in Iceland and with those red mountains in the background – it’s stunning!
Don’t just drive by, pull over for a proper look.
Another iconic part of West Iceland is Búðir and the black church, Búðakirkja.
The church is right on the water with a big mountain behind it and a graveyard in front.
On one visit, I saw a wedding set up in Hótel Búðir, and it looked so pretty. Could you imagine how beautiful the wedding photos would be? 😍
Pro Tip: This area also offers beautiful opportunities for photographs of Snæfellsjökull Glacier.
Accommodation: Snæfellsnes Peninsula Hotels
If you’re touring the area over a few days and looking for Snæfellsnes peninsula Hotels, then the towns of Grundarfjörður and Arnarstapi are good options. They’re conveniently located so it won’t matter if you’re visiting the north or south of the peninsula if you decide on staying in either one of these towns.
Hestaland: It’s located about 2 km off the Ring Road on an Icelandic Horse farm, with great views of the mountains. You can either opt to stay in the guesthouse or private cabins. Hestaland Accommodations has clinched numerous excellence awards from both Kayak and Hotels Combined.
Hótel Búðir: If you’re staying at Hótel Búðir, you can choose a room that either overlooks the black church, sea, glacier, or lava fields. They also have a restaurant where they get their ingredients from local farmers. I was fortunate enough to stay at this beautiful hotel. To find out more, check out this blog post:
Pro Tip: There are so many great spots to explore in the Snæfellsnes peninsula, so I recommend taking at least two days to see it all. You’re not giving this beautiful area justice if you squeeze it all into a day and rush through it.
There are surprisingly few dining options in Snæfellsnes, considering it’s such a popular tourist destination.
Your days will be jam-packed with activities, so come prepared with lunch that you can eat on the go, in the car, or out looking at the scenery! #BestPicnicScenesEVER 😍
I’ve already mentioned a few dining spots in this list, but they’re so good that they’re worth repeating.
Here’s a quick rundown of the stops where you can expect to find restaurants as well as some options:
- Stykkishólmur: Narfeyrarstofa and Nesbrauð Bakari
- Hellnar: Fjöruhúsið Café
- Grundarfjörður: Bjargarsteinn
- Arnarstapi: Stappin
Let the feast begin!
Snæfellsnes Peninsula: Things To Do
As you can see, there are plenty of things to keep you busy on your visit to Snaefellness. But just to ensure your adventure is nothing short of extraordinary, here’s an extra serving of things to do.
There are many places in the Snaefellness peninsula to do horseback riding, but I’ve used Lysuhóll multiple times and had a wonderful experience.
You can tailor your adventure by choosing the duration of the ride.
One option takes you for a ride along the beach, while the other takes you through a lava field at the base of the mountains. Either way, the scenery is unbelievable!
Note: It is advised to book in advance, especially during peak tourist season.
Hestaland, located around 17km (11 mi) from the town of Borgarnes, also offers a variety of trails, tour rides and workshops.
If you want to know more about Icelandic horses and what Hestaland offers, I made a video all about it below👇
Snæfellsjökull Glacier Tour
Fun fact – did you know that Snæfellsjökull was the inspiration behind Jules Verne’s book, Journey to the Centre of the Earth? Once you see it you can understand why!
If you’re spending extra time here and feeling super adventurous, you can book a tour to go up to the glacier. It’s definitely on my bucket list!
Ever wish you could take a journey into the heart of an 8,000-year-old lava tube?!
Then you’re going to want to visit Vatnshellir Caves, an incredible geological phenomenon along the Snaefellsnes peninsula!
The Vatnshellir lava tube was created 8,000 years ago in a volcanic eruption when a nearby crater exploded. As you venture 35 meters below the surface, the vivid colors and unique rock formations tell a story of Earth’s fiery past. 🔥
I highly recommend taking a tour to check out this natural wonder! The tour is fairly accessible for most – just keep in mind you’ll need to be able to descend via a fairly steep spiral staircase.
➡️ LEARN MORE: Snaefellsnes Vatnshellir Cave Tour
Snæfellsnes Peninsula Tours
There are a bunch of incredible Snæfellsnes tours to choose from. No matter your style, there’s seriously something for everyone!
Whether you’re into private tours, all-in-one adventures hitting the big attractions, or cruising the area in a monster truck – take your pick!
Check out the 👉 Snæfellsnes Tour Page to find the perfect fit for you!
Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum
If you’ve ever wanted to try Hákarl or fermented shark, this is your chance. The entrance fee is about $10, which gives you access to the museum where you learn about fishing history in Iceland. They also teach you how they ferment the shark and then you get to taste it for yourself!
Planning A West Iceland Trip?
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✅With a guided itinerary for Golden Circle, Snæfellsnes, and South Coast, to name a few?
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… then you’re going to need this 👉 South + West Travel Guide!
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“This is the absolute best resource for Iceland planning, I’ve sent so many people here!… Her ebooks and maps are THE BEST for making sure you don’t miss the beautiful spots around the country! Thanks, Jeannie!”
So, if you’re visiting the Snæfellsnes peninsula in Iceland, prepare to be swept away.
And not by the strong Icelandic wind! But by the truly breathtaking sights – some of Iceland’s best!
Let’s just say a trip to Snæfellsnes will not leave you disappointed.😀