Snæfellsnes, Iceland in miniature
Snæfellsnes Peninsula, located in the West of Iceland is by far one of my favorite places in Iceland.
This peninsula, located a couple of hours’ drive from Reykjavik, is like a miniature version of the whole country and has everything Iceland has to offer: impressive lava fields, out of this world rock formations, lava caves, black and golden beaches, birdlife, charming fishing villages, spectacular mountains and a world-famous glacier, the majestic Snæfellsjökull.
No matter how often I visit Snæfellsnes, I never get tired and I always discover something new. I believe Snæfellsnes is a special place you cannot miss if you are visiting Iceland.
It is easy to explore Snæfellsnes on your own in just one day. However, with a few days, you will be able to see more of the peninsula and discover its most hidden gems.
Just like Iceland, Snæfellsnes is beautiful in every season but my favorite time of the year to visit the peninsula is the summertime, when the Icelandic colors are at their best and you also have the chance to take a snow-cat tour on Snæfellsjökull.
Places to see on Snæfellsnes
There are so many places to explore and activities to do on Snæfellsnes!
One of the most popular places to visit is Kirkjufell, Iceland’s most photographed mountain, also featured in the HBO tv series Game of Thrones as the “Arrowhead mountain". A parking lot is located just opposite the mountain and it is popular to cross the bridge over the river and take the iconic picture of Kirkjufell with the waterfall (Kirkjufellsfoss).
Other popular places include Arnarstapi with its lovely sea-cliffs, the black wooden church of Buðir and the black beached of Dritvík, to name a few.
The peninsula is dotted with lovely fishing villages, the most picturesque of which is probably Stykkishólmur. Located on the northern side of the peninsula, Stykkishólmur has a lot of colorful buildings and a lovely harbour from where I have seen some of the most beautiful sunsets in Iceland.
There are many places you can visit on Snæfellsnes, some very popular and often crowded, and some off the beaten track. It would be impossible for me to name them all here. However, I am going to tell you a bit more about two of my favorite locations, that you really should not miss on your visit to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
Bersekjahraun Lava Field
One of my absolute favorite places on Snæfellsnes is Berserkjahraun lava field.
I must admit I have a thing for moss-covered lava fields, for reasons to me still unknown. I am fascinated by the striking lava formations, by the different colors of the rocks and by the shades of green of the moss covering them. In the summertime, the contrast between the different greens of the moss, the black and red lava and the blue skies create landscapes that are really magical.
The history of Berserkjahraun lava field
Berserkjahraun, located between Stykkishólmur and Grundarfjörður, is a 400 years old lava field that gets its name from one of the Icelandic sagas.
According to the saga, the path that now cuts through the lava field and makes it possible to drive through it was built by two berserkers from Sweden. One of these berserkers was in love with the daughter of a farmer that lived on one side of the lava field and asked for her hand in marriage. The farmer agreed on the Swede having his daughter’s hand only if the two berserkers could first create a path through the lava field to connect his farm to that of his brother that lived on the other side of the lava field. Although this was considered an impossible task, the two berserkers were able to complete the path quite quickly. At that point the farmer, instead of keeping his promise, killed the two Swedes and buried them in the lava field.
Not a very pleasant story after all....
If you are not familiar with the Icelandic Sagas, they tell the stories of the first settlers of Iceland with plenty of violence, intrigue and romance. The saga of Berserkjahraun is just one example.
Visiting Berserkjahraun lava field
The path that cuts through the lava field is a gravel road that is not hard to drive on. Along the path, you will pass mountains, lava formations and even a couple of tiny lakes.
You can either drive or walk along the path.
Snæfellsnes Excursions offers two tours that include a visit to Berserkjahraun lava field.
The Glacier and Lava Tour is a 4x4 tour operated in the summertime that offers the opportunity to visit the lava field, as well as other lava formations and volcano craters on the peninsula. On this tour you will also join an exciting snow-cat ride on Snæfellsjökull, a glacier made famous by the novel Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne.
If you are visiting Snæfellsnes in the winter, you could join the Shark and Lava Winter Tour to explore Berserkjahraun lava field covered in snow, when it becomes a winter wonderland! You will also get to visit the shark museum and taste the traditional Icelandic fermented shark, if the smell doesn’t scare you away.
Berserkjahraun is a special place that I really love visiting and where I feel a special connection with the Icelandic nature. I would highly recommend you come see it while you are in Iceland.
Snæfellsjökull is a glacier-capped active volcano situated in the most western part of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, within the Snæfellsjökull National Park.
This mountain-volcano-glacier is about 700.000 years old and rises 1.446 m (4.744 ft) above sea level. With clear skies, it can even be seen from Reykjavik, 120 km away!
Although it is an active volcano, Snæfellsjökull’s last eruption happened about 1750 years ago so you will be safe if you decide to take a hike or a tour on the glacier.
The mountain is one of the most famous places in Iceland, mostly thanks to the novel Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne, in which the mountain is said to hide a passage leading to the center of the earth.
Moreover, Snæfellsjökull has always been considered a place of great energy, power and magic, and is a popular place to visit for new agers.
If you decide to visit the glacier, keep in mind that glaciers can be dangerous. Do not climb on the glacier by yourself but join guided tours or hire expert guides to make sure you explore one of Iceland’s most intriguing glaciers safely. If you are lucky, you might even find the entrance to the center of the earth! If you do, make sure you come back to let us know!
If you are in good shape, Snæfellsjökull is not a very hard glacier to hike. However, what is amazing about this glacier though is that it can easily be climbed without any effort with a snow-cat tour. After a drive to the foot of the glacier, a snow-cat slowly takes you up on the glacier, giving you all the time to take in the beautiful view, breathe the fresh air and take some very nice pictures. This snow cat tour gives you a chance to explore one of Iceland’s most famous glaciers without effort and is excellent for people of all ages.
Snow-cat tours are run in the summer, with the proper ice and weather conditions. It is not always possible to reach the top of the glacier, depending on the crevasses present on the ice, but the snow-cat will take you as high up as possible.
A snow-cat tour on Snæfellsjökull really is a great experience that enables you to visit one of Iceland’s most famous and beautiful glaciers in all comfort. The views over the surrounding Snæfellsnes Peninsula from the top of the glacier are just spectacular and will make up for an unforgettable experience.
If you are traveling around Snæfellsnes in the summer and are looking for something a little different to do, I would really recommend a snow-cat tour on the majestic and mystical Snæfellsjökull.
Check out our Snæfellsjökull snow-cat tour and feel free to contact us if you need more info!
Visit Snæfellsnes soon!
If you are in Iceland or planning a trip to Iceland, make sure you include Snæfellsnes Peninsula to the places you are going to visit. This peninsula is just great, and it has so much to offer. You could easily spend a few days driving around, exploring its most hidden lava caves, waterfalls, lava fields, volcano craters, golden and black beaches. If you have a tight schedule, however, one day would suffice to see the main sights.
On Snæfellsnes you can get a taste of the stunning Icelandic nature and experience the magic of this beautiful country.
Please let us know in the comments if there are places you would like to know more about.
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