The mountain and waterfalls of Kirkjufell in Winter are a jewel of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula and of Iceland. This is a place not to be missed: a unique shape, frozen parts on the waterfall and the openness of the area. Below is my guide to help you plan your visit.
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Why visit Kirkjufell in Winter
Kirkjufell is the most photographed mountain in Iceland. It has a unique shape that is quite fascinating to watch.
And bonus! On the other side of the road you can find 2 waterfalls which are creating a wonderful foreground.
The whole landscape feels magical. One of the best in Iceland. Have a look:
Want to see more? Below is a short video of what a visit to Kirkjufell looks like in Winter.
More photos in Winter after the planning tips.
Or if you want to see it in Summer, head to this article.
Planning Tips - Kirkjufell Iceland
How to get Kirkjufell
- Located on the North Coast of the Snaefellsnes peninsula, WestCoast of Iceland (see the map below)
- The closest little town is Grundarfjordur only 2min drive away
- On Road 54
- Reykjavik to Kirkjufell = 2h30
- Borgarnes to Kirkjufell = 1h20
- Thingvellir to Kirkjufell (if visiting after the Golden Circle) = 2h30
Kirkjufell and all my favorite locations are included in my Iceland Winter road trip guide to help you plan your itinerary:
Plan your perfect trip to Iceland in Winter!
- 7 easy-to-plan Maps
- 100+ scenic locations
- Winter Accessibility + Planning Tips
- 110+ large photos to decide where to go
- GPS coordinates direct to the carparks
If you don't want to drive, you can find organised tours from Reykjavik for 1 or 2 days - Check out the options
Accessibility in Winter
- The road around the peninsula head and the carpark are cleared to allow access
- However there is a mountain pass on road 56 to reach the North Coast of the peninsula. The road may be closed in case of snow and wind - check out the status on road.is
- As it is a very touristic spot, they clear the marked walking paths - but it can always get icy, so carry spikes (see options) that you can add on your shoes at any time
- There is a large carpark on the South side of the road (opposite the mountain)
- No toilets or any facilities at the waterfall. But Grundarfjordur is only a short drive away
- Plan 30min to admire the waterfalls and the mountain. More if you enjoy photography
- It is only a 5min walk from the carpark to the bridge
Need to rent a car for your road trip in Iceland?
You can choose from some great local companies!
- I selected Route 1 car rental (and paid entirely for it). I really enjoyed their service to drop and pick up the car, as well as all their advice before going on the road - Check out prices and car availabilities
- Otherwise you can compare the vehicles and prices from local companies on this practical website
Where to stay in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula
If you want to get a chance to see the sunset , the sunrise or the northern lights over Kirkjufell, the best option is to stay in Grundarfjordur
- I have stayed at 2 accommodations on the Snaefellsnes peninsula near Kirkjufell:
- Hotel Framnes : The location was great by the water - Check out photos and book
- The Old Post Office Guesthouse was a cheaper option with shared bathroom. It was comfortable, clean and very well located - Check out photos and book
- or Check out the accommodations in Grundarfjordur
Otherwise you can stay in Borgarnes for 2 nights and tour the peninsula over 1 day, doing a loop. Check out the accommodations in Borgarnes.
Driving to Kirkjufell - Winter accessibility
The mountain of Kirkjufell is recognizable from the distance.
You can already stop on the side of the road to admire its unique shape.
Its name means the Church Mountain because of its shape. It stands 463 meter (1519ft) high.
From the road, as you approach, you can also notice the 2 waterfalls and the bridge above (if you are coming from the East).
In that case, the carpark is after driving past the waterfalls.
The carpark is easy to spot from the main road and just next to it.Then the path is clear to the waterfalls (photo below taken as I was walking back to the carpark).
The walking paths to from the carpark to the bridge and on both sides of the waterfalls are maintained in Winter.
However, it still is winter. With the number of people visiting the snow is pressed and becomes slippery. I decided to wear my crampons because I am not the most stable person. But others were doing fine without.
Please don't be stupid!
I saw people leave the trail to get closer to the top waterfall and photograph the ice. This is not recommended.
But on top of that I saw one trying to get closer to the right side of the waterfall. I tried shouting to tell him to stop but he could not here and partially fell into the water... because below a waterfall, there is a river even if it is hidden by the snow!!!
From the bridge - Winter scenery
Before you can admire the waterfall, you arrive on a bridge over the river, just above the first waterfall.
I know you are in a hurry to see the famous view, but take the time to stop here. On a clear day the view is majestic. A Winter Wonderland.
The waterfalls are on the Kirkjufellsa river, which flows from the Snaefellsjokull glacier.
Top waterfall - Kirkjufellsfoss in Winter
The waterfalls are called Kirkjufellsfoss, which means waterfall of Kirkjufell...
They are both around 5m (16ft) high. So not spectacular... but the interest is the combination with the mountain.
The panorama below gives you a better idea of the whole area and what you could see. And you can imagine below, where the people started advancing and one fell into the water.
In Winter Kirkjufellsfoss partially freezes. Big chunks of ice and well as icicles form on the rock wall.
And part of the river is covered with some ice and snow so seem to be disappearing.
If you keep walking down you can see the second waterfall of Kirkjufell. Like the first one it partially freezes in Winter.
Depending on the temperature and if it has snowed before, the pool below it can have ice and the blue can be more intense. I love it!
And you can find a position where you can enjoy both waterfalls and the mountain. Use the panorama function of your phone to capture the whole view!
Other side of the bridge - upper waterfall of Kirkjufell
You can also walk down on the other side of the bridge.
This allow you to enjoy another view of the waterfall with the Helgrindur ridge behind.
However no more view of the Kirkjufell mountain from this side.
- How to pronounce Kirkjufell?
check it out here
- What does Kirkjufell mean?
"Kirkja" is the Icelandic word for church. And "Fell" means mountain. Therefore it is the "Church Mountain", because of its shape.
- Is Kirkjufell accessible in Winter?
As you can see in the article above: yes, absolutely.
- Is Kirkjufell a volcano?
No, it is not. Many mountains are volcanic in Iceland, but not this one. Just the work of time with sediments and erosion.
- So how was Kirkjufell formed? (Geology)
Kirkjufell is a stack of layers of sedimentary rocks from glacial and interglacial stages. At the base is Tertiary Lava. And then it alternates between Sandstone, and Quaternary lava. At the top is tuff (a geological profile is available at the bottom of this article).
And then during the last Ice age, erosion shaped it. Its side are so steep because it was a high rock pressured between 2 glacier tongues.
- Was Kirkjufell a filming location in Game of Thrones?
Yes, it is referred to as the Arrowhead mountain.
- Can we see the northern lights at Kirkjufell?
Yes, this is a great location as the view is facing North. However you still need a clear sky, a sun activity before for the conditions to be optimal (see my article about the northern lights).
Want to see more of ICELAND IN WINTER
Inspired to visit?