Snaefellsnes Peninsula is a region in western Iceland famous for its beautiful landscapes and natural sights. There are many things to see and do in Snaefellsnes – from mountains and volcanoes, to waterfalls, scenic beaches and dramatic cliffs. Whether you are travelling around Iceland or just having a few days in Reykjavik the Snaefellsnes Peninsula is a must see destination in Iceland. In this article we’d like to share the itinerary for a Perfect One Day Trip to Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
How to get to Snaefellsnes Peninsula
The easiest way to see Snaefellsnes Peninsula is by car (you can rent a car at Reykjavik via Rentalcars.com). If you are travelling from Reykjavik take the Ring Road (route 1) until you reach Borgarnes and then turn onto Route 54. It takes about 2.5 hours to reach western part of the peninsula.
Always check road conditions and weather alerts, especially during colder months of the year. Use road.is and safetravel.is to find out the road conditions and weather alerts before you drive. Don’t forget to keep headlights on when driving – that’s required at all times and all year round in Iceland.
Alternatively you can visit Snaefellsnes Peninsula on a group bus tour. Here are few options to pick from:
We visited Snæfellsnes Peninsula in summer as part of our Road Trip Around Iceland. Thanks to Iceland’s long daylight hours in summer, we’ve seen everything on our itinerary within just one day. If you plan to stay a night in Snaefellsnes Peninsula we recommend booking well in advance as there are not that many options for accommodation in Snæfellsnes.
Here are the top things to see and do on a Perfect one day trip to Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss
One of the most popular places to visit in Snæfellsnes Peninsula is the mountain of Kirkjufell.
Kirkjufell is a 463 m high mountain on the north coast of Snaefellsnes peninsula, near the town of Grundarfjörður. It’s the iconic mountain you’ve seen on many postcards, souvenirs and ads about Iceland.
Name of Kirkjufell translates to English as ‘Church mountain’, as apparently its shape resembles a church. In the olden days it was also called ‘the sugar top’ by Danish sailors.
The lowest part of Kirkjufell is believed to be formed more than one million years ago – early in the Ice Age. It contains fossils of the organisms that lived during the Ice Age. The upper part of the mountain formed during later periods of the Ice Age with lava layers stacking on top of each other, and later formed by glacier erosion.
Park the car at Kirkjufellsfoss Parking Lot and walk towards a small waterfall – Kirkjufellsfoss. There are few nice spots with the views to Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss.
It’s a nice place to walk around and simply admire the views and the nature. We came to Kirkjufell early in the morning and there were very few other people. We enjoyed our morning coffee in that beautiful spot, spent some time walking around and taking pictures, and then went off to the next destination on our perfect one day trip to Snaefellsnes Peninsula – Ondverdarnes.
Ondverdarnes, Svortuloft Lighthouse and Skarðsvík Beach
Ondverdarnes is the westernmost point of Snaefellsnes peninsula and in the olden days it was a center of the fishing industry. It is a long narrow piece of land surrounded by large lava fields on one side and the Atlantic ocean on the other side.
At the southern point of Ondverdarnes stands Svortuloft Lighthouse – a 6 meter tall bright orange building. The road to the lighthouse is narrow and windy – take extra care when driving – and ends with a tiny parking lot. Walk to the Svortuloft Lighthouse to enjoy the views over the coastline’s cliffs and the ocean.
Another point of interest in Ondverdarnes is Skarðsvík Beach. It’s one of the few beaches in Iceland that have yellow sand. Make a stop there to stretch your legs on the way to Svortuloft lighthouse.
Djupalonssandur beach is marked on Google Maps as ‘black-sand beach with a shipwreck’. But it’s much more than that. There are pretty cool rock formations, black sand and pebbles, a small lagoon and nice surrounding cliffs.
From the carpark make your way to the beach via a narrow pathway among the rocky formations. Among others there is a nice big lava rock with a hole in the middle – called Gatklettur rock.
You can take a pathway to the right to enter the beach from the side of a small lagoon – Djúpulón (Deep Lagoon). Turn back and admire the views over the lagoons and lava formations towards the Snæfellsjökull volcano:
As you enter the beach you will notice four distinctive stones of different sizes laying together. They are Aflraunasteinar – Steinatök or Icelandic lifting-stones. It was a tradition in Iceland to measure the strength of fishermen by lifting the heavy stones.
Another thing you will notice is the old and rusty pieces of metal spread all over the beach. Those are the remains of a British trawler, which was wrecked in the area in 1948.
If you visit with children they would love to play with pebbles and explore fancy rock formations on the beach.
We really liked Djupalonssandur beach and it easily became one of our favourite places in Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
Next point of interest is Londrangar. Londrangar is a pair of rock pillars on the southern coast of Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Park your car at the Lóndrangar Parking and take a short walk to the viewing platform above the cliffs.
Londrangar pillars and the surrounding cliffs are inhabited by birds. Local legends say that the area around Londrangar is also inhabited by elves. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen any elves but at least we’ve watched wildlife birds from the viewing platform.
Another option to see Londrangar pillars is to park at Snaefellsjokull National Park D.I.O and walk towards Malarrif lighthouse. From there you will see the pillars from their western side, or walk further all the way to Londrangar to see them up close.
Arnarstapi is a small village a short drive from Londrangar. It’s a popular tourist destination for its bizarre rock formations on the coast, one of which is Gatklettur – a stone arch or a bridge naturally formed due to erosion.
When in Arnarstapi check out a statue made of stacked up rocks – Bárðar Saga Snæfellsáss Statue, and find a monument to Jules Verne. Did you know that in the famous book ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ by Jules Verne the author used the site of Arnarstapi and Snæfellsjökull volcano as the entrance to the Earth’s core?
We stopped in Arnarstapi for a short coffee and snacks break. You will find a few places to eat and stay in Arnarstapi if you plan to spend the night in Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
Rauðfeldsgjá ravine is a high and narrow gorge not far from the small village of Arnarstapi. The ravine in the mountain is quite big and tall and it can be seen from the road.
Park at the carpark and walk towards the Rauðfeldsgjá ravine. We would recommend waterproof shoes when visiting this place as you have to walk over a water stream to get inside the ravine.
To walk in we had to jump from stone to stone in the stream of water coming from the ravine. Passing the narrow opening we entered the first chamber of the ravine. In order to go further you have to climb a few meters following the path of the water. We weren’t prepared to get completely wet, plus the climb didn’t look like a good idea to do with kids and so we didn’t go further.
Even if you are not planning to go further inside the Rauðfeldsgjá gorge, the place and the views from there to the valley below are still worth the visit.
Bjarnarfoss waterfall is a tall cascading waterfall in the southern part of Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
It’s very close to the main road and seen from afar. Park the car at the carpark and follow the walking path to the base of the waterfall.
It is possible to climb all the way up to the basalt pillars (which we didn’t) to get up close to the waterfall. A little down the hill you will find a few picnic tables.
Ytri Tunga beach
If you want to see Icelandic seals in the wild then head next to Ytri Tunga beach.
Here, on the rocky beach a short walk from the carpark you can watch seals lying around in the distance. Please don’t try to come too close to the seals. Firstly to respect the wildlife and secondly because seals can attack if frightened. It’s a good idea to bring binoculars or a camera with a zoom when visiting Ytri Tunga beach.
A visit to Ytri Tunga beach concludes the trip around Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Start making your way back to Reykjavik.
The basalt columns of Gerðuberg
On the way back to Reykjavik make a stop at Gerðuberg. Gerðuberg is a cliff with a long stretch of basalt column formations.
From the main road turn left (towards Gerðuberg car park) and drive a few more minutes on a gravel road. Basalt columns of Gerðuberg can be seen from the road, but you can also climb the hill to see them up close.
That was our Perfect one day trip to Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Snæfellsnes Peninsula is a beautiful region in Iceland with so many things to see and do. It makes a perfect one day trip from Reykjavik, especially in summer months when the days are long.