Snaefellsnes Peninsula Iceland in a Nutshell

This 90- km long peninsula comprises a world of diversity. Friendly towns and villages, spectacular mountains, a multitude of bird species nesting on treacherous cliffs, beaches of sand and pebbles popular among horsemen and rock skimmers, remnants and relics scattered here and there of times and ways of life long past. Saga sites and hiking trails.

The Snaefellsjokull National Park is at the westernmost part of the peninsula, including the mystical glacier Snaefellsjokull, as well as other unique sites such as Djupalonssandur, Thufubjarg and more.

In 2008, the communities of Snaefellsnes Peninsula were the first in Europe to receive certification from Green Globe, an international benchmarking system for sustainable travel and tourism.

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Snaefellsnes Peninsula
GPS Points N64° 52' 16.477" W23° 1' 11.711"
Postal codes

340,350,355,356,360

Population

3700

Travel directory for Snaefellsnes Peninsula

The official travel index of Iceland

Bed & Breakfast
Nature
Gatklettur - Arch Rock

Gatklettur - Arch Rock - is a cliff with a circular arch. Rock Arch shows how distinctive wave action has eroded the rocks into arches and beautiful swirled patterns.

There is great birdlife around the cliffs and pretty flora surrounding the area.

Nature
Bardarlaug pool

Bardarlaug at Hellnar is a crater pool and said to have been the bathing pool of the Bardur Snaefellsas.

This demi-troll, instead of dying like ordinary people, made his home in the Snaefellsjökul glacier according to the local legend. Bardur is the patron of the glacier and was said to have had psychic abilities; e.g. being able to communicate with the hidden people.

A big statue of Bardur by the artist Ragnar Kjartansson can be seen at Arnarstapi.

Nature
Londrangar basalt cliffs

Uniquely-formed remnants of ancient basalt volcanic dikes sticking out from the sea.

Londrangar and the hill Svalthufa are the remains of a crater, which has been eroded to its present form by the sea.

The farmers in the area never made or make hay on the hill, because it is said to belong to the elves living in the area.

Younger lava fields surround this old crater ruin. The higher pillar (75m) was first climbed in 1735 and the lower (61 m) in 1938.

Below the hill you may find Thufubjarg cliff where according to a folktale the poet Kolbeinn Joklaskald had an encounter with the Devil.

On these cliffs, puffins and fulmars have their nests.

History and Culture
Ingjaldshóll

This former parsonage and estate between the villages Hellissandur and Rif was the common assembly site of the parish in the past.

The present church was built in 1903 and is the oldest concrete church of the country, perhaps even the world. When it was built, it received a replica of the altarpiece of the Lutheran Cathedral of Reykjavik.

History and Culture
Fiskibyrgi

Near Gufuskalar on the uttermost part of the Snaefellsnes peninsula, there was one of the many winter fisher villages consistant in Iceland in former times.

If you come from Hellnar and look at the lava fields at your right, you may disover the ruins of some 200 very small stone buildings which were used to dry and stock the fish. Their age is estimated at 500-700 years.

It is a 10 minutes walk from the road to one of the ruins which is still in so good condition that you can crawl inside. There, to your surprise, you may find the ceiling high enough for an adult to stand upright.

Nature
Vatnshellir Cave

Exploring Vatnshellir cave is truly amazing and unforgettable experience. This 8000 year old lava tube reaches over 200 meters and goes 35 meters below the surface.

During summer, guided tours are offered from 10am-6pm. During wintertime 2 tours a day are offered. Please check on the website www.vatnshellir.is.

All guests will be equipped with flashlights and helmets.

Hiking shoes and warm clothes reccommended.

10 minute drive west of Arnarstapi. 25 minute drive south of Hellissandur.

Further info: vatnshellir@vatnshellir.is www.vatnshellir.is +354-665-2818

Nature
Snaefellsjokull glacier

The Snæfellsjökull glacier is 1446m above sea level. The glacier is an active volcano, having been built up through numerous eruptions during the last 800,000 years. Many believe the glacier to be one of the seven main energy centres of the earth and its mystique is noticed by many. The glacier plays big role as the Center of the Earth in the novel Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864) by Jules Verne. Snæfellsjökull is a part of the Snæfellsjökull National Park which was established on June 28, 2001. The Park's purpose is to protect and conserve the areas unique landscape, indigenous plant and animal life as well as important historical relics. At the same time, the Park is meant to allow visitors easier as well as improved opportunities to get to know the area.

History and Culture
Songhellir, cave

Songhellir is a famous cave. The name means the cave of songs. It is well known because of its echo.

Nature
Saxholl crater

Saxholl is a crater which is easy to climb. There is a great view over the area from the top.

Nature
Arnarstapi

Arnarstapi was an important trading post in the past and had a much bigger population than it has now.

Columnar basalt, ravines and grottoes surround the Arnarstapi pier. There is good anchorage for small boats.

There is quite a large arctic tern colony in the village itself. A walk along the coastline is recommended to watch the birds and the magnificent lava formations. The seaside and the cliffs between Arnastapi and Hellnar have been made a Natural Reserve in 1979.

A very interesting old path follows the coastline where you can see old lending places of fishermen, lots of birds, like the kittiwake, the Arctic tern and the fulmar and pass through a lavafield. If you take a guided tour, you will also hear a ghost story.

A sculpture of Bardur Snaefellsas by Ragnar Kjartansson stands by the beach at Arnarstapi.

Nature
Helgafell Holy Mountain

Holy Mountain, 73 m with a breathtaking panoramic view across Breiðafjordur Bay. A viewing dial is at the top.

Folklore advises anyone climbing the mountain for the first time to start north of the church at the grave of Gudrun Osvifursdottir (heroine of Laxdaela Saga, died 1008) and three wishes will be granted when ascending the mountain without looking back or speaking. The wishes have to be of good intent, and the wisher tells no one and faces east when making them!

A small remnant of a wall on the mountain top is dated 1184 and was part of a nearby monastery built at this time.

History and Culture
Stadarstadur

Ari-the-Wise served as a priest at Stadastadur from 1067-1148. He is well-known for his Book of Icelanders, the first work of history written in Iceland.

The place is also the setting of a very known novel by the Nobel price winning Icelandic author Halldor Kiljan Laxness: "Under the glacier".

Nature
Kirkjufell mountain

Grundarfjörður's beautiful landmark is the most photographed mountain in Iceland. Its isolated position jutting out into the sea makes it a focal point for tourists and seamen alike. Surrounded by beaches, Kirkjufell has a lovely walking trail around it as well as a more challenging climb up to the top where bird and fish fossils can be found (guide is recommended).

Nature
Hellnar

For centuries, Hellnar was among the largest fishing villages beneath the Snaefellsjokull ice cap.

Valasnos, a freestanding rock, extends east of the bay. One of Iceland's most peculiar caves, Badstofa, is there. It is known for its special light exposure and colourful interior.

A cold water spring is to be found at the lava's edge. It is dedicated to the Holy Virgin, because it is said she had appeared here once.

The Hellnar church was built in 1945 on a picturesque site where a church was first raised in 1833.

Hotel, café and visitor´s Centre of the National Park Snæfellsjökull.

Nature
Ytri Tunga

The beach near the farm Ytri-Tunga is a well-known seal colony. The best time to see seals there is in June and July.

Nature
Drapuhlidarfjall Mountain

Drapuhlidarfjall Mountain is beautifully colourful. It is composed of sulphur, basalt, jasper, rhyolite and lignite. As usual with lignite deposits, fossiled plants and petrified wood can be found. Drapuhlidarfjall is 527 m high.

Nature
Djupalonssandur & Dritvik

Djupalonssandur is a beautiful pebbled beach, with a series of rocks of mysterious form emerging from the ocean.

It is one of the few areas that lead down to the sea along this coast with its high dramatic cliffs. Watch out for the famous ghosts roaming the place!

The rests of a shipwreck can be seen on the beach. On the beach there are also big stones which people tried to lift and test their strength in the days of the fishing stations: Fully Strong 154 kg, Half-Strong 100 kg, Weakling 54 kg and Bungler 23 kg. Weakling marked the frontier of wimphood, any man who couldn't lift it was deemed unsuitable for a life as a fisherman.

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West Iceland

Towns & Villages

The population centres in West Iceland are as varied as they are many. Ten places have over 50 residents and Akranes is the most densely populated with 6,500 inhabitants. 

All of the larger communities put ever-increasing emphasis on dynamic tourism where a wide selection of recreation and services are offered.   

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Map Hellissandur, Rif Grundarfjörður Stykkishólmur Búðardalur Dalir Arnarstapi Hellnar Snæfellsnes Bifröst Húsafell Reykholt Borgarfjörður Hvanneyri Borgarnes Hvalfjörður Akranes Ólafsvík