The Best of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Updated: May 5
The beautiful Snaefellsnes Peninsula reaches out into the North Atlantic Ocean on the far western edge of Iceland. The peninsular is named after its most dramatic feature. The colossal ‘Snow Mountain’ that on a clear day can be seen over the bay from Reykjavik. Snaefellsnes is often referred to as Iceland in miniature. This is because of the sheer variety of landscapes that can be found there. Here you will see mountain peaks and glaciers, waterfalls and fjords. As well as fascinating volcanic rock formations and cave networks spreading out around its wild Atlantic coastline.
The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is just a short two-hour drive from Reykjavik. It takes a similar amount of time to drive there from Keflavík International Airport too. This makes it a great destination for a road trip from the capital. Many travellers spend a few days in the capital and then hire a motorhome and head to Snaefellsnes to explore the wilds of Iceland for a few days. It is also possible to take a day tour there. However, there are so many sights to see and places to visit that we much prefer the option of spending a few days there.
There are several good campsites dotted around the peninsular so you could easily hire a motorhome and explore. However you choose to travel this article will guide you through the very best of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. We have included the top sights to see and some of the more frequently asked questions about travelling here.
What is the best time of year to visit the Snaefellsnes Peninsula?
Actually any time of year is a good time to visit. The extreme weather in Iceland means that in winter much of the island can be a no-go area for self-drive travellers. However road trips to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in winter are still quite doable. The roads leading there are well travelled and if you have winter tyres then the majority of the roads across the peninsular should be open to you. The landscape will be even more magical with a dusting of snow. You’ll also have the opportunity to see the Northern Lights away from artificial light and within some beautiful settings.
The summer months are the busiest time to travel in the area and in Iceland as a whole. However it never gets uncomfortably busy here. Summer is the best time of year to hire a camper van and take a road trip. The weather is at its mildest and most settled and the midnight sun provides plenty of daylight to explore in.
Highlights of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Snaefellsjökull National Park
Taking up a large area of the western portion of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula this is one of the three national parks in Iceland. The majority of the time you spend on the peninsular will be within the park or very close by it. With its waterfalls, hot springs and lava tubes there is much to do here which we will cover as we go.
Exploring the coastline
Driving along the south coast from the direction of Reykjavik you will find Ytri Tunga beach. For many this is their first stop on the peninsular. This beautiful stretch of golden beach is unusual in a country famed for its volcanic black sand beaches. It makes for a lovely stroll after your drive. In season it is often possible to see seals lolling on the beach here too.
Dotted around the coastline and into the national park are several small towns and fishing villages. There is a great hike from the hamlet of Hellnar that takes you along the rugged Atlantic coastline. Here you can see moss covered lava fields, caves and volcanic rock formations.
There is a great campsite close to the golden sand beach of Langaholt. This makes a perfect place to stop and camp if you are exploring by motorhome rental or if you are tent camping. In summer visitors often take Icelandic horse riding tours across the beach. The views across the sea to the Snaefellsjökull Glacier are lovely.
Snaefellsjökull Peak and Glacier
This 700,000-year-old volcano is topped by a glacier and gives the peninsular its name. Jules Verne made the mountain famous when it featured in his novel Journey to the Centre of the Earth. The awesome peak is within the bounds of the Snaefellsjökull National Park. There are regular day tours that you can join to hike up to the glacier.
Djúpalónssandur Black Sand Beach
This is quite a popular spot on the peninsular with its lava tubes and towers and black sands. You will be able to pull up at the parking lot and then follow one of the hiking trails down to the beach. It is well worth visiting for its bizarre rock formations and expansive views.
This impressive waterfall is not as well visited as many of the waterfalls in Iceland. Often you might have the whole place to yourself. You will be able to see the falls from the road (54), but you can also park up and take a short stroll to see it up close if you feel like some fresh air and a walk.
Budir Black Church
This small wooden church is a popular destination on the peninsular and one of Iceland's many churches. It is unusual in its colour. The black paint of the church contrasts beautifully with the surrounding landscapes and makes a great photography location. The views of the nearby lava fields, and its dramatic coastal setting are just stunning.
Kirkjufell Mountain and Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall
Game of Thrones fans will be excited by this one. The distinctive peak of the Kirkjufell Mountain was featured in Season 7 of the popular TV series. Fans will easily recognise the arrowhead shaped peak. It is a stunning sight and is often photographed with the lovely Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall in the foreground.
Hot spring pools and a hot pot!
No Icelandic travel experience would be complete without a good soak in a hot spring pool. Our two favourites on the peninsular are the Lýsuhólslaug mineral water pool and the Landbrotalaug Hot Pot. Lýsuhólslaug is a man-made geothermal pool in the south of the peninsular not far from the golden beach ofLangaholt. The other is a tiny hidden natural hot pool. This one is just big enough for one or two people and it really is out in the wilds. There are no changing facilities here and not much signage. The Landbrotalaug Hot Pot is not far from the Eldborg Crater.