The magnificent mountain of Kirkjufell Iceland is the icon of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. With its waterfall Kirkjufellsfoss, it attracts nature lovers and photographers. There is something special about the shape, location and colors of the Kirkjufell Mountain: green in summer, orange in winter, white with snow, under the northern lights, at sunrise, at sunset...Magical! Don't miss it on your Iceland road trip.
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About Iceland's Mount Kirkjufell
What is Kirkjufell?
Kirkjufell is a 463 meter high mountain on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Because of its shape and stand alone location by the sea with waterfalls close by, it has become one of the most iconic landscapes in Iceland (and one of the most photographed).
Its name means "Church Mountain".
I really enjoyed it, and visited it under many weather condition. I was always magical, so I selected it in my Top 10 Iceland Landscapes.
Where is Kirkjufell located?
It is located on the North Coast of the Snaefellsnes peninsula (see the guide), just West of Grundarfjordur, one of the main towns in the region.
How was Kirkjufell formed? What type of Mountain is Kirkjufell? (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.
Another fact about Kirkjufell...
The location was also made famous by Game of Thrones
About the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfalls
Foss means waterfall in Icelandic. They are located on River Kirkjufellsá flowing from the Sbaefellsjokull glacier over the Helgindur ridge.
Both steps of the waterfall are not very high (it reaches around 5 meter in height) but the interest is the combined view with the mountain behind.
How to get to Kirkjufell Iceland
- On road 54, the circular road aorund the Snaefellsnes Peninsula
- Just 2 minute drive past Grundarfjörður towards the West, you will find a small parking area;
Attention, surprisingly it is located on the side of the road opposite to the mountain.
- Reykjavik to Kirkjufell - 2h15 drive via sealed roads
- Thingvellir to Kirkjufell (if you want to do both Golden Circle and Snaefellsnes) - 2h30 drive
- The drive is easy, with one lane in each direction and wide enough roads
Kirkjufell Mountain, with its GPS coordinates, is included in my eBook:
This location, along with many other beautiful places, is included in my eBook: The Road Trip Guide - Iceland.
It is a practical tool to plan your trip with maps, photos, planning tips, GPS coordinates...
Organized tours - Reykjavik to Kirkjufell & Snaefellsnes
Another option is to opt for a day trip from Reykjavik, where you just sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery. There are tours taking you to all the main attractions on the peninsula:
Tips for Visiting Kirkjufell and its waterfall
- WALK to the view - 5 min walk from the parking to the famous view - From the car park a trail climbs to a bridge over the river and you can then walk down to get the famous views of the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall and the mountain
- NOTE TO SELF - Wear good shoes as it gets very muddy and get layers. The weather is not always comfortable. During one of my visit, it was windy cold and very difficult to do anything - see photo, I know it is scary, but it is not always like that 🙂 - Check out my complete article with detailed suggestions and tips on what to wear and pack for Iceland to stay warm and comfortable
- BASE WALK - The West Iceland tourism board indicates that you can walk around the base of it. It can be a family walk and takes 3 hours
- KIRKJUFELL HIKE - Can you climb kirkjufell? Yes, it is possible to hike to the top of Kirkjufell (Kirkjufell hike). It is a difficult hike with very steep sections. Do not go by yourself (it can be very dangerous). Hike an experienced guide that can take you through the right tracks.
Best angles to Photograph Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss Iceland
In any weather, the place keeps its magic!
However know that Kirkjufellsfoss is a photographer magnet – don’t expect to be alone!
The various angles to photograph Kirkjufell:
- With the waterfall: top or lower sections, see the panoramic above where you can see both
- With the reflection on the lake: at the bottom of the waterfalls there is a lake. When it is completely calm, it shows an almost perfect mirror image of the Kirkjufell.
- Apparently you can go on higher ground for an interesting perspective without the waterfall. I have not tried considering the weather.
- And you can see Kirkjufell on both side from Road 54 that goes along the North Shore of the peninsula
With both sections of the waterfall:
With the lake:
Driving from the East
And as you drive on Road 54 on the Snaefellsnes peninsula towards the town of Grundarfjordur, you can get nice views of the surprising mountain:
The following shot with the rainbow was taken from the town of Grundarfjordur near hotel Framnes. But just with my iPhone because it was pouring rain.
Driving from the West
Best time to Photograph Kirkjufellsfoss and Mt Kirkjufell
Sunrise and Sunsets at Kirkjufell
Of course, like anywhere, the best times are sunrise and sunset. Because of its location facing North and the openness of the area, it is really good for both conditions.
Sadly I did not get much colors the many times I went...
Northern Lights at at Kirkjufell
Kirkjufell Iceland is a good location for aurora borealis as the position from the waterfall is facing North. Sadly, there were no clear sky when I was there. Learn more about tracking and photographing the northern lights on my special article.
Surroundings of Kirkjufell Mountain
Below is the view from the waterfall Towards Grundarfjordur
Kirkjufell in Winter
Kirkjufell Iceland is as magic Winter as it is in Summer. Below is a picture to prove it.
You might be lucky to see it under the snow.
The road to get there is normally cleared.
The waterfalls normally don't freeze.
If you are planning a trip to Iceland in Winter, check out my planning guide.
Kirkjufell Accommodation - Grundarfjordur
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