Iceland has many regions and places that offer visitors breathtaking sceneries. Exciting activities and amazing attractions in these regions are also guaranteed. The Snæfellsnes Peninsula with its Snæfellsnes National Park is definitely one of them.
In this article, we tell you everything you need to know about this extraordinary place. We'll give you the perfect Snæfellsnes Peninsula itinerary to explore the area in just one day.
The Snæfellsnes Peninsula
The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is a region in West Iceland, located right between Reykjavík and the Westfjords. The area is renowned for its incredible beauty. It’s often called “miniature Iceland” because the region is like a snapshot of everything that’s wonderful on the island. From black sand beaches, majestic mountains, roaring waterfalls, to slumbering volcanoes – you name it! Snæfellsnes has got it.
The word itself translates to Snow Mount’s Peninsula. For those visitors who are still concerned about the Snæfellsnes pronunciation, we got you. It is pronounced Snaiy-fell-sness.
Snæfellsnes Peninsula One Day Self-Drive Itinerary
A day trip from Reykjavík is probably the best option to visit the Snæfellsnes Peninsula if your days in Iceland are limited. Here’s an itinerary that will allow you to see all the main attractions that Snæfellsnes has to offer in just one day. Approximately 5 hours of driving and add another 4–5 hours at all the stops:
Initial Start from Reykjavík. If you’ve just arrived on the island and spent the night in Reykjavík, you’ll need to drive roughly 2.5 hours from the capital city to Grundarfjördur.
The Adventure Officially Begins at Grundarfjördur. Start driving in a counter-clockwise direction from Grundarfjördur.
First Stop Kirkjufell. Your first stop will be at Kirkjufell where we highly recommend that you take some sunrise photographs.
Hellisandur. From there you can go to admire the street art in Hellisandur.
Skardsvik Beach, Ondverdarnes Lighthouse & Svortuloft Lighthouse - for 4x4 only. Skardsvik Beach, Ondverdarnes Lighthouse & Svortuloft Lighthouse. These stops are only for those with a 4x4 vehicle. If you only have a 2-wheel drive, skip these and continue on to the next ones.
Saxholl Crater. Take a hike up Saxholl Crater for breathtaking views of Snæfellsjökull National Park (one of Iceland’s most prestigious national parks).
Djupalonssandur Beach. After this, you can allocate 1-2 hours for Djupalonssandur Beach.
Vatnshellir Cave. The following stop can only be done via a guided tour, so remember to book your spot well in advance; Vatnshellir Cave.
Londragar Cliffs. Stop at the viewpoint at Londragar Cliffs.
Hellnar. Stop at the next viewpoint, which is Hellnar.
Arnarstapi Coastal Cliffs & Port Arnarstapi. From there you can go to visit the Arnarstapi Coastal Cliffs and Port Arnarstapi.
Raudfeldsgja Gorge. Go and explore the Raudfeldsgja Gorge, but don’t stay too long.
Budir Black Church. Work in a quick stop at Budir Black Church.
Bjarnafoss Waterfall. Visit Bjarnafoss (this waterfall can either be viewed from the parking lot or you can get up close and personal by taking a short walk uphill).
Ytri Tunga Beach. Stop at Ytri Tunga Beach (if you’re lucky, you might see some of the renowned local seals).
Grundarfjördur. Head back to Grundarfjördur.
Best Things to Do in Snæfellsnes
With a region as incredible as Snæfellsnes you’ll have your pick of natural wonders and local attractions and activities. These are some we consider must-visit spots:
Whale Watching in Grundarfjördur
Whale watching is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially between April and September. That's when many migratory species also call Iceland home. You’ll be able to spot whales such as Minke Whales, Orcas, and even Blue Whales.
Horseback Riding at Tradir
If you don’t know, the island boasts its very own breed of horse called the Icelandic Horse. They are known for their friendly nature, almost pony-like physique, and extra gait called the tolt. Now you can get to experience what it feels like to ride one of these magnificent creatures.
The Arnarstapi Cliffs
Dramatic cliff faces and basalt columns are at the order of the day here. It is an especially fascinating place when you dive into the Hidden Folk folklore of Iceland. So, if you hear singing, you might not be alone…
Djupalonssandur Black Sand Beach
The island is famous for its black sand beaches due to the volcanic activity in Iceland. This is one of the black sand beaches you can take a stroll on.
What makes Skardsvik Beach special in Iceland is the fact that it’s not a black sand beach. It’s one of the few golden sand beaches you can visit here on the island.
This is certainly no ordinary lighthouse, not in aesthetics anyway. If you’re expecting an old-school white lighthouse, you’ll understand why this stubby, bright orange lighthouse is such a popular attraction.
What could be more impressive than a 7000-year-old volcano topped with snow and ice? It can sometimes be seen all the way from Reykjavík, but it’s always better up close and personal.
Budakirkja aka the Black Church
This little black church situated in a vast lava field is the subject of many a photograph. It has a sense of mystery to it, and on overcast days it looks downright ominous.
Ytri Tunga Beach
This is the one beach in Iceland that’s claim to fame doesn’t lie in the color of its sand, but the playful (or lazy) residents - the seals.
The fishing town of Stykkisholmur & its Sugandisey Island Lighthouse
This quaint little fishing town has an eco-friendly way of doing things. It’s a wonderful little town to explore and while you’re at it, you can visit the Sugandisey Island Lighthouse and enjoy the magnificent views.
The Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum
The Icelanders have quite an interesting history with sharks. You might even have already been offered some fermented shark by the time you reach the Bjarnarhöfn Shark museum. Here you will learn all about the relationship between sharks and the locals through the ages, as well as what can be found on the local menu.
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon - South Iceland
The lagoon is not in the Snæfellsnes peninsula, but whilst you’re in the South Coast, you might as well. The Jokulsarlon lagoon is truly a sight to see. We highly recommend going on one of the boat tours that can get you within touching distance of the icebergs floating in the lagoon. Some will take you close to the glacier itself as well.
Where to Stay in Snæfellsnes
There are plenty of types of accommodation one can find all over the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. And, luckily, all suitable for all sorts of preferences and budgets. So, if you are planning on extending your Snæfellsnes trip by staying overnight, these are some of the places that come highly recommended:
Helgafell 2 in Stykkisholmur
Vatnsas 10 in Stykkisholmur
Apartment in Hellnafell, Grundarfjördur
Kirkjufell Guesthouse in Grundarfjördur
Hellisandur Campsite (one of the best places to go Snæfellsnes camping)
Hotel Budir on the South Coast
Fosshotel Hellnar on the South Coast
Arnarstapi Hotel (walking distance to the cliffs!)
Hotel Rjukandi in Vegmot
Top Tips for Visiting Snæfellsnes
Is this your first time to the island, or the first time you’re including the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in your trip itinerary? The following helpful tips will help you have a safe and memorable trip:
The Best Time to Visit Snæfellsnes
It’s hard to take on a Snæfellsnes Peninsula full-day tour or a full-day, self-drive itinerary when you have just 4 hours of daylight. And this is exactly what the situation is in mid-winter in Iceland. That’s why we’ll always recommend that you leave your Snæfellsnes exploration for the warmer months. More especially in summer, where you can expect 20+ hours of daylight.
Avoid the Crowds
As much as the summertime is the ideal time for your Snæfellsnes trip, it’s also the busiest time on the island. That’s why you’ll need to get an early start to try and stay ahead of the crowds that usually become more and more from 10am.
Keep a Close Eye on the Weather & Road Conditions
The local saying says, “you can experience all four seasons in a day in Iceland”. So, with that in mind, it’s important to always keep an eye on the Iceland weather forecast and the Iceland road conditions. These weather conditions and other unforeseen circumstances can cause sudden road closures. That can severely impact driving in Iceland, so always be prepared.
Remember Road Trip Snacks, Water & Lunch
Exploring the Snæfellsnes Peninsula is a full-day outing (if you don’t plan on extending it even further), so you’ll need to plan accordingly. Whether on a self-drive or guided tour, someone is not going to keep you stocked up on snacks or provide you with lunch. So, it needs to be on your road trip packing list.
We always tend to pack a little extra just in case something goes wrong and we need to “survive” a couple of extra hours. We’re not planning on being stranded next to the road without some treats.
Keep Waterproof Gear Close
Your raincoat, waterproof jacket, waterproof pants, etc. always need to be within arm’s reach in Snæfellsnes. This ensures that you don’t get wet when there’s some unexpected rainfall. But let's not forget about getting drenched by the waterfall’s mist and spray!
Best Snæfellsnes Tours from Reykjavík
We believe the best (and most affordable) way to explore the Snæfellsnes Peninsula is by road-tripping it yourself. But, are you yearning for some local knowledge from an experienced guide and have some money to burn? The following guided tours of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula are the go-to option. These all depart from Reykjavík and are highly recommended:
Start Your Snæfellsnes Peninsula Journey Today!
Now you know everything from where the Snæfellsnes Peninsula is located to what itinerary to follow and tours to take. There’s no reason to put the trip of a lifetime off any longer. Rent a car in Iceland and hit the road!