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Nature

Akrafjall Mountain

Akrafjall is a picturesque mountain close to Akranes. The mountain offers one of the best views in West Iceland across Faxafloi Bay and a panoramic view from Reykjanes to Snaefellsjokull Glacier.

The mountain was smoothed on the top by a glacier and surrounded by water during the Ice Age.

It is easy to ascend the mountain from the Akranes Water Works car park, where a sign points the way to Haihnukur (555m), the shoulder on the right side of the mountain seen from Akranes. A visitor's book is at the top. A somewhat longer hike takes you to the highest peak in the range, Geirmundartindur (643m).

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.

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.

Barnafoss, Children's Falls

The meaning of this waterfall translates into "Children's waterfall", but the signs here indicated that there was a saga describing why it got this name. The saga said that there were two children in the Hraunsás household who were supposed to stay home while the parents went to church for Christmas Mass. When the parents returned from mass, they discovered that the children had disappeared (possibly because the children got bored and decided to go out).

They then followed the children's tracks to this waterfall at the stone natural bridge where the tracks disappeared. The mother concluded that the children must have fallen into the river and drowned. Then, the mother had the arch destroyed in order to ensure no one else faces a similar fate. I've seen some accounts say it was by spell or curse, which induced the bridge's collapse by earthquake. In reality, natural bridges usually collapse over time, and given the powerful erosive forces from the rapidly moving river that undercut whatever was supporting the bridge, that could very well have been the fate of the natural arch here.

Baula

Baula is a volcanic mountain of a very special pyramidic form. It measures 934 m in height. The mountain is a 3 million years old intrusion, consisting of liparit stone.

For people in good shape, it is well possible to hike up on the mountain from Bjarnardalur, road number 60. But its sides are very steep and there are big and loose stones on the way. On the other hand, the view of the top is very rewarding and you can write into a guestbook there.

Bjossarolo - playground

Bjossarolo is a playground for children in Borgarnes, not far from Edduveröld or the Settlement Centre .

It was constructed by Bjorn Gudmundsson, a man who was ahead of his time and thought about recycling. He used exclusively things that had been thrown away to build up this special place. At the playground there are for example swings, slides, an old boat, a castle and a lot more in a hollow enclosed by rocks not far from the sea.

And on going there you could look for shells or nice stones on the beach. The small, but very pretty park Skallagrimsgardur is not far away. There you can even find the grave of a saga hero!

Blautos

Blautós og Innstavogsnes

At the north western rim of the town Akranes is the estuary nature reserve Blautós and Innsatvogsnes. The river Berjadalsá runs out of the western part of mount Akrafjall and mouths into the cove. The area has an abundance of bird life and is amply vegetated. The landskape is spectacular and has interesting geological formations from the last glacial periods.

The area is used for recreation as it is close to the centre of the town Akranes and the recidents have their stables by the cove Innstavogur.

Many migration birds stop at the area and some birds breed there. Brant gees stay at Blautós and Innstavogsnesi during spring and autumn. It is estimated that about a quarter of the entire brant geese species come by in Blautós and Innstavogsnes and the reserve Grunnafjörður on their way between their winter quarters in Ireland and breeding grounds in Canada.

There are eider ducks breeding in the area and the eider farmers are free to continue their tradition of collecting the eiderdown in early summer.

The area is important as an informative area but also as a recreational area for hiking and riding.

Brakarey Island

Brakarey is connected to the mainland by a bridge. The island was named after Egill's nanny and Skalla-Grimur´s slave Thorgerdur brak, after Skalla-Grimur killed her and she drowned in the sea near it. From the island is a great view over Borgarfjord.

Breid

Breið is the west part of Akranes and the location of the fishing history of the town. There are two lighthouses open to the public as well as a view point. . For more information contact Akranes Information Office, tel: +354 433 1065, e-mail info@akranes.is.

Breidafjordur

Breiðafjörður is a large shallow bay, about 50 km wide and 125 km long and located in the west of Iceland. It separates the region of the Westfjords (Vestfirðir) from the rest of the country. Breiðafjörður is encircled by mountains, including glacier Snæfellsjökull the Snæfellsnes peninsula on the south side and the West Fjord peninsula to the north. Another interesting feature of the bay is that the northern tip was formed about 15 million years ago, whereas the southern end at Snæfellsnes was formed less than half that time ago.

Dagverdarnes

Takes its name "Breakfast Ness" from the fact that Auður the Deep-minded, one of the first settlers, stopped to rest there one morning while searching for a place to make her home.

There is a little church at Dagverdarnes dates from 1934.

Deildartunguhver thermal spring

Deildartunguhver highest flow hot spring in Europe !
Deildartunguhver is Europe's most powerful hot spring. It provides 180 l/sec of 100°C hot water.
Most of the water used for central heating in the towns of Borgarnes and Akranes is taken from Deildartunguhver. The hot water pipeline to Akranes is 64 km long, the longest in Iceland and the water is about 78 - 80 degrees when it reaches Akranes. If you take a shower anywhere within a 65 km radius of the spring, you have already bathed in the hot water from this powerful spring!

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.

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.

Einkunnir

Einkunnir is a 270 ha country park, protected for recreational use and the preservation of the typical landscape of the area. The areas' main characteristics are its rocky islands or bluffs that rise from the areas' vast flat wetlands.

Please follow the marked trails whenever possible. Do not drive off-road, damage geological formations or vegetation. Do not disturb the wildlife or light fires in vegetated areas. Please take your litter with you when you leave.

Eldborg Crater

A beautifully-formed crater rising 60m above the surrounding lava.

The spatter cone is the largest crater along a short volcanic rift, 200 m in diameter and 50 m deep. Its last eruption was about 5000-6000 years ago. According to medieval chronics there was also one around the time of the colonisation of Iceland about 1000 years ago, but today it is known that it came from another of the many craters of the valley Hnappadalur which are part of the volcanic system Ljosufjoll, the mountains of the light.

It is easiest to approach Eldborg from Snorrastadir on its southern side, walking 2,5 km through the shrub-covered lava field. It is possible to walk all the way around the crater as well as up it.

Flatey Island

Beautifully kept old houses in cheerful colours line the dusty path through the settlement of Flatey island. Walk through it, and at the end of the settlement, the path becomes even narrower and more crooked, taking you through a dense population of birds, consisting mainly of Arctic terns. Two families stay on the island throughout the winter, but many more migrate during the summer, mainly for leisure but also to serve tourists.

In a charming way, it feels very much like a movie set. And so it is. Many movies are set on the island, most notably The Honour of the House based on a short story by Nobel Prize winner Halldór Laxness, and White Night Wedding, a movie by Baltasar Kormákur. In fact, Baltasar's father painted the unusual altar piece in the island's church, making it worthy of a visit.

In summertime, a ferry goes to Flatey twice a day from Stykkishólmur and Brjánslækur, and, albeit less frequently, a passenger boat offers connection to Reykhólar.

Garðalundur park

Garðarlundur country park, protected for recreational use and the preservation of the typical landscape of the area. The areas' main characteristics are its rocky islands or bluffs that rise from the areas' vast flat wetlands.

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.

Geirsholmi

During the Sturlung Age 1220 - 1264, a company of men led by Svarthofdi Dufguson, a follower of Sturla Sighvatsson used the island Geirsholmi as a base for raiding the surrounding countryside.

The tourist service at Bjarteyjarsandur nearby offers storytelling trips about Geirsholmi.

Gerduberg basalt columns

An impressive wall of beautiful basalt columns, forming geometric patterns in the cliffs.

Glanni Waterfall

The Glanni Waterfall on the Norðurá River is said to be the dwelling place of elves and trolls. However, during our visit, we noticed that this waterfall was situated near a golf course nearby an old lava flow (called the Grábrókarhraun lava field) and the hamlet of Bifröst. The falls was one of those wide river-type waterfalls that we saw quite a few of in the country, but this one segmented into at least three side-by-side drops as well as each one having multiple tiers.

Glymur

Iceland's tallest waterfall, is located in Botnsdalur valley, Hvalfjörður. Leading up to it is a fabulous hiking path that should only be attempted by those not daunted by heights or challenging hikes. Glymur is in the river Botnsá that runs out of Hvalvatn, which is a lake closed by molten lava, some 160 metres deep. In Hvalfjordur in West Iceland you can stand in awe before Iceland's highest waterfall. Standing by the fall you'll have a good view of the surrounding landcape, which is is particularly attractive, as Hvalfjordur is widely considered one of Iceland's most beautiful fjords.The walk, approximately 4 hours roundtrip, will take you from the trailhead at Botnsa river through spectacular scenery including a rock arch and will have you crossing a crystal clear river on a strategically placed log.

Grabrok Crater

The largest of three craters in a short volcanic fissure.

Beautiful scenery over Borgarfjordur is from the top of the Grabrok crater. Mt. Grabrok can be ascended by a marked trail from the main Ring road no. 1.

Grundarfjörður

Home to Mt Kirkjufell

Though Grundarfjörður is not the most well-known town in Snæfellsnes, its mountain is certainly one of the most famous mountains in Iceland, if not the world. It is not unusual for photographers from all over the world to make their way to Grundarfjörður for the sole purpose of photographing this unique landmark which has even starred in a number of films, most recently The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

Once the increasing number of visitors have had their fill of Kirkjufell, they quickly discover that there is a lot more on offer in Grundarfjörður than merely magnificent mountains. Nature abounds, with vibrant birdlife, spectacular waterfalls, great hiking trails and exciting marine visitors such as seals and whales putting in an appearance every now and then. During the long summer days, there are daily boat trips where visitors can go deep sea fishing, see puffins and other beautiful birds and perhaps even catch sight of a whale or two.

Grundarfjörður is conveniently located in the middle of Snæfellsnes and provides easy access to Stykkishólmur, Snæfellsbær and the Snæfellsnes National Park. There is a great selection of accommodation available, with a high quality hotel and hostel, two guesthouses, a farm holiday guesthouse and a campsite by the swimming pool.

The swimming pool with its hot tubs is just one of a number of exciting services around the town. There is also a golf course, a family restaurant, a hotel restaurant, a coffee shop in the culture and heritage centre (where the information centre is also located), horse rentals, a pharmacy, a liquor store, a dry cleaning and laundry service and a well-stocked grocery store.

Though most visitors to Grundarfjörður arrive by road, there are also thousands that come by sea. Grundarfjörður Harbour makes every effort to make a cruise ship's visit comfortable and memorable for passengers and crew alike and as a result the number of cruise ships visits have increased from 2 in 2001 to no fewer than 18 scheduled for this summer.

During summer the town truly comes alive in a number of different ways. The local Viking Association are building up a Viking "village" in the centre of town and Viking-age re-enactments are often the highlight of the day for cruise ship passengers.

During the town festival, Á góðri stund, which is held the last weekend in July, the town literally changes colour when inhabitants and their guests decorate their houses in red, blue, yellow and green and indulge in a range of activities for all the family, from art exhibitions to fighting Vikings to concerts on the pier.

From Mt Kirkjufell to the sea, Grundarfjörður welcomes all its visitors equally. See you in summer!

Gudrunarlaug

According to Laxdaela saga, Gudrun Osvifursdóttir used to dwell by a geothermal pool in Laugar in Saelingsdalur. The pool is mentioned in Sturlunga saga and it seems to have been used a great deal.

The pool is believed to have been destroyed in a landslide. In 2009 a new pool was built near to the location where the old pool is thought to have been situated and named Gudrunarlaug.

A changing facility, referred to as a "house of modesty" in Icelandic, was also built at the same time.

Hafnarfjall mountain

The mountain Hafnarfjall near Borgarnes is part of the same extinguished central volcano as Skardsheidi and is also about 4 million years old.

The mountain is 844 m in height and its sides are rather eroded. Most of the mountain consists of basalt, but on the north side there is a small crag, which is made of granofyr. The name "flatfish" indicates its form. Let the children discover it!

On the foot of the mountain is a small forest of birch trees where the authorities of Iceland practice reforestation. It is possible to hike up the mountain beginning near the bridge over the fjord at Borgarnes.

hallmundarhraun lava field

Hallmundarhraun includes the longest and largest caves in Iceland.
Hallmundarhraun lava field was formed in giant eruption close to the Langjökull glacier around the year 930 and is 8-9 cubic kilometers. Hallmundarhraun includes three caves Surtshellir/ Stefánshellir they are together 3500 meters, longest lava cave in Iceland. Viðgelmir lava tube is the largest of all lava caves in Iceland the tubes volume is well over 150,000 cubic meters.

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 walk straight up without looking back or speaking and three wishes will be granted. 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 a part of a nearby monastery built at this time.

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.

Húsafell

Husafell nature is characterized by dense woods, lava formations, crystal-clear mountain springs, hot water, magnificent ravines, glaciers, rushing glacial rivers and an extraordinary animal and birdlife.

Jorfi

Proverbial for its wild gatherings every autumn, which were eventually banned in 1708.

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).

Klofningur mountain

From the mountan Klofningur is a panoramic view over Breidafjordur Bay, Snaefellsnes Peninsula and Bardaströnd. Viewing dial.

It is possible to hike up the mountain from the farm Stakkaberg.

Krosshólaborg

Auður djúpúðga ( Auður the Deep minded) was one of the settlers in Dalir. She was a Christian and had a cross raised at Krosshólaborg, where she went to pray. Her descentants considered Krosshólaborg a holy place. Women in Dalir set up a memorial of Auður, a stone cross in 1965. The remains of Auður´s first farm, Auðartóftir, are nearby.

Krosslaug-natural pool

Krosslaug is in the area of Reykir in Lundareikjadalur and is about 50 meters above the road. The pool is small but the heat of the water is about 42°C. there is a myth stating a healing power of the water in the pool. The surrounding is beautiful and the pool is pretty clean for a natural hot spring.

Langisandur

The coastline around Akranes is rich with bird life and there are many different types of beaches along the coast. One of these is Langisandur, a sandy beach and one of the most popular outdoor areas of Akranes. Langisandur is one of three Blue Flag beaches in Iceland. Guests are welcome to join the local Sea Swimming Club at Langisandur Beach three times a week. More information at the Akranes Tourist Information Office, e-mail info@akranes.is, tel: +354 433 1056.

Langjokull Glacier

Langjokull Glacier is the second largest glacier in Iceland, and is approximately 18 km from Husafell (tourist resort).

Excursions onto the glacier are offered from the base of the glacier. On a clear day the view from the glacier is beyond compare.

Lava Waterfalls

Hraunfossar - Lava Falls - are beautiful and unusual natural phenomena. Clear, cold springs of subterranean water seep through the lava and run as tiny waterfalls and rapids into the Hvita River.

Hraunfossar have been protected since 1987.

There is a viewpoint at the car park offering an amazing view over the Lava Falls and Hvita River.

A coffee shop at the waterfalls is open during the summer months.

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.

Longufjorur Beach

Longufjorur is a light sandy beach on the south shore of Snaefellsnes peninsula. This beach is perfect for horseriding with a guide.

Olkelda mineral spring

At the farm Olkelda, near Stadarstadur, in the south of Snaefellsnes, there is a mineral spring with carbonated water.

Mineral springs are said to have healing properties, so feel free to take a sip.

The farmhouse is named Olkelda which means mineral spring in Icelandic.

Paradise Hollow

Paradise Hollow is a beautiful small oasis near the impressive waterfall Glanni.

There is a walking path from the car park to Paradise Hollow and the waterfall. A viewing deck offers a good view of the Glanni waterfall.

A coffee shop is open during the summer months.

Saxholl crater

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

Skallagrimsgardur

In the heart of Borgarnes is Skallagrímsgarður, a small public park which is ideal for a picnic. The park plays an important role in Egil's Saga, as the burial mound of Skallagrímur Kveldúlfsson, Egil's father, is situated there. It is a good idea to relax in Skallagrímsgarður after a visit to Borgarnes swimming pool which is next to the park.

Skessuhorn

Skessu­horn (967 m) is a particularly impressive and outstanding peak when the range is viewed from the north. Skessu­horn is located in Borgarfjörður it takes 5-6 hours to hike the mountain and you will need good equipment.

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.

Stálpastaða forest

Stálpastaðir, the farm is abandoned but there are many birch-bushes. Haukur Thors gave the land to the Forestry Service in 1951, since when it has been protected and used for the rather successful cultivation of evergreens.

Stapafell

Stapafell is a volcanic mountain on the south side of Snæfellsjökull. This palagonitic pyramide is 526 m in height og rather eroded at the sides.

On the top of the mountain is Fellskross, which was a sign of holy powers at the times of the vikings. It is said that the mountain is home of hidden people, also called elves.

Staupasteinn

A goblet-shaped rock and popular resting place for tourists. Close to Hvammsvik on the old national road around Whale Fjord.

An elf by the name of Staupa-Steinn has his home in this rock. Not everyone can see him. He is described as having long hair, a beard and being a kind, gentle man who loves to play ball with children who are picnicking in the area.

Beautiful view. Protected since 1974.

Surtshellir Cave

Surtshellir is Iceland´s most well-known lavacave, once inhabited by outlaws and sheep rustlers.

It is an enormous lava tube which is easily explored if the right gear is used.

The cave is 1310 m long and 8-10 m high, but at the west end it is only 2-4 m high. Walking in the cave is made more difficult by large rocks that have fallen from the roof. The interior of the cave contains "lavacicles" and ice formations.

Troll Waterfalls

The Troll Waterfalls of the Grimsa river. There is a clear formation in the form of a troll face in the cliff by the river bank.

Take the troll walk and learn about trolls, folk tales and places that connect to the nature and scenery at Fossatun.

An extraordinary view and good spot to see the Skessuhorn mountain peak. Excellent for witnessing jumping salmon in the summer.

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

Vidgelmir Cave

Víðgelmir is the largest of all caves in Iceland, 148,000 cubic metres, and one of the largest lava caves in the world. It has beautiful ice formations and deep inside there are lava stalactites and stalagmites.

Bones and jewelry from the viking age are a part of the archeological remains found in the cave in 1993. It has been preserved since 1993 and entrance is only allowed with proper guidance. Guides from "The Cave" arrange short (1,5 hour) and long (4 hours) tours. Please contact The Cave for information, availability and schedule.

Víðgelmir lava cave is considered by specialists to be one of the most remarkable caves on earth.

Whale Fjord

Whale Fjord (Hvalfjord) is 30km long and 84m deep.

Whale Fjord was the site of much British and US military activity during World War II. Some ruins from this period can still be seen in the fjord.

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.

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