With a great variety of landscapes and attractions, the Snaefellsnes Peninsula is often considered as the Iceland in miniature:
fjords, volcanoes, lava fields, lakes, waterfalls, glacier...
Below is my guide and Snaefellsnes Peninsula map to help you select the best things to do and plan your itinerary.
Before all my photos + tips, here are my favorites to plan your Summer Iceland trip:
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Why visit the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in Iceland ?
The Iceland in miniature...
Located only 2 hours Northwest of Reykjavik, the Snaefellsnes Peninsula is a popular destination in Iceland, easy to access.
On this small land surrounded by sea, the visitor can see a great variety of landscapes: majestic Fjords, Lakes, rushing Waterfalls, sea pillars, fascinating lava fields, perfect volcanic cones, basalt formations... and even a glacier (Snaefellsjökull).
Because of this mix of scenery in a small region, it is often referred to as the Iceland in Miniature.
Video - Virtual tour
Below is my short video with the beautiful landscapes of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula including waterfalls, lava fields and formations, fjords and a glacier.
By the way before we continue, you might want to hear how to pronounce the word Snaefellsnes, because it would be easier to read this guide - you can listen here.
More photos after the planning tips.
Snaefellsnes Peninsula Map
- The peninsula is 90km long
- Road 54 is the road going all around the peninsula. But part of it to the North East is unpaved, so you can use Road 56 to cut through. Road 56 is stunning.
- The West tip is where the glacier and the Snaefellsnes national park stands.
Map of Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Below is a map of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula Iceland with some of the best things to do. I hope it helps you get orientated.
The updated and improved version of my map, plus maps of all the other regions and detailed pages on all my favorite locations can be found in my eBook:
Plan your dream road trip in Iceland
Snaefellsnes Peninsula Tours and Self-Drive - How to get there?
How to get to the peninsula?
- The Snaefellsnes Peninsula Iceland is located Northwest of Reykjavik
- The main towns on the North shore are Grundarfjordur and Stykkisholmur
- The main towns on the South shore are Hellnar / Arnastapi
- It is a 2h20 drive from Reykjavik to Snaefesllnes' Grundarfjordur
- The peninsula is normally accessible in Winter and a great place to visit with small group tours from Reykjavik (see my article How to visit Iceland in Winter)
How long to plan to visit Snaefellsnes?
Since it is quite smaller than the other touristic regions of Iceland, you can cover it in a shorter amount of time. You can already see a lot in one day. But if you can, I recommend enjoying it on at least 2 days.
Option 1 - Self-drive around Snaefellsnes
For the freedom of stopping wherever you want and spend more time in the places you really enjoy, renting a car is the best solution. Driving on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula is actually really easy. There is a road all around and one to cross in the middle, both in good condition.
2WD is OK for most of the region, but there is one road off the beaten track that I really love. It is an easy drive, but it requires a 4WD.
And you can read my articles about
Need to rent a car in Iceland?
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Option 2 - Snaefellsnes Peninsula Tours
Considering the amazing landscapes everywhere, joining an organized Snaefellsnes day trip is a good idea. This way you can remain the whole time the nose against the window. And in Winter it can really be great not to worry about driving.
A day tour to Snaefellsnes is one of the best day trips from Reykjavik. Here are some options:
- A day Summer tour in a Minibus from Reykjavik including most of the main attractions - Check out program and book
- An all year tour from Reykjavik to the Snaefellsnes National Park with a maximum of 15 people - Check out program and book
- Photography Day Tour to capture the best of the Snaefellsnes peninsula - Check out program and book
- 2 day Snaefellsnes tour - Check out program and book
Snaefellsnes Itinerary Tips
If you have decided that you want to visit on your own, you can go further and check out my map and list of things to do in Snaefellsnes to set up your itinerary. But first, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Clockwise or Anticlockwise? I want to say both... lol - I did it many times in all directions - I particularly like the views of the South Shore anticlockwise and also the middle road 56 from South to North (so clockwise). I also like arriving on Kirkjufell from the East (clockwise)
- Timing - Kirkjufell is a fantastic location for sunrise, sunset and Northern lights (because it faces North). For more comfort, try avoiding the place during 10am and 3pm when all the day tours are visiting
- Overnight - Kirkjufell is my absolute favorite location on the peninsula, so I recommend staying in Grundarfjordur right next to it, to go as many times as you want and during the best lights. You can check out the best accommodations in Grundarfjordur, or wait for later in the article when I introduce accommodation options.
What to pack
6 Best things to do in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Below are my favorite places to see and things to do in the Snaefellsnes peninsula Iceland, the classic stops on any road trip:
1. Kirkjufell and its waterfalls
Kirkjufell is the icon of the Snaefellsnes peninsula Iceland. It is one of the most photographed mountains, with its mesmerizing shape and 2 waterfalls.
It is particularly great under the Iceland Northern Lights...
There is something special about the 463m (1519ft) high mountain. It has a unique shape and its name means the church mountain.
- Carpark clearly marked and maintained next to the main road, West of Grundarfjordur
- No facilities
- Walking paths on both side of the waterfalls
- Plan 30minute to 1h depending on your love of photography
More Photos and Info on my article about Kirkjufell
2. Londrangar lava field
At the South West point of the peninsula you will find Londrangar beach and its strange cliffs. You can walk a well-maintained path to platforms with nice views of the cliffs or walk towards the cliffs via the lava field (right from the parking facing the ocean).
- Large carpark easy to access
- Well-maintained walking path to the main views
- Plan 20min to walk around the path, more if you explore around
This is a typical Icelandic church in its shape but the black color is quite unique. This is an easy stop, not far from the main road, and whit the glacier in the background on a clear day.
- Very short detour from the main road
- 5min stop
4. Viewpoint on road 56
At the Northern end of Road 56 (see map above point 13), there is a small carpark with a viewpoint. This is one of the most beautiful I have seen with water, green mountains, black and red ones as well as the Beserkjahraun (lava field). I recommend walking down and, on your left, you will find a waterfall. Yes, I know, another one… but this makes this location very diverse.
- By the side of the road
- Easy stop
Another coastal area to explore with interesting lava formation such as the Gatklettur Arch, a bridge and some columns.
Plus it offers wonderful views of the Arnarstpi mountain.
- Well maintained path along the cliffs with views of the different lava formations
- Plan 1h to enjoy the whole walk and return to your car
- Restaurants and cafés in Arnarstapi
6. Vatnshellir Cave
If you enjoy going underground, you can visit the Vatnshellir cave not far from Londrangar. If you are limited in time this is a great option to see a lava cave (however If you are exploring more of Iceland, I recommend Vidgelmir on the Silver Circle instead).
Note that this visit is not for people with vertigo or knee problems. There are 2 very impressive staircases to go down and back up!
Book your visit
8 Attractions off the beaten path on Snaefellsnes
Below are other places to visit on the Snaefellsnes peninsula Iceland. Those are more off the beaten track for those of you who have more time to spend there.
This road was recommended to me by a local. And I am grateful for it. It was one of my favorite drives in Iceland.
It is a gravel road loop, off road 54 leading to lakes and a rugged and colorful lava field.
More Photos and Info on my article about Berserkjahraun
8. F570 and Snaefellsjokull glacier (4WD only)
Some organized tours can take you on the Snaefellsjokull glacier. But if you feel adventurous and are driving a 4WD, have fun and get up close to the glacier on the F570 road.
More Photos and Info on my article about F570 and Snaefellsjokull
Gerduberg on road 54 (Ytri-Raudamelur) at the beginning of the peninsula consists in an impressive wall of basalt columns with a volcano behind. Unless it is very foggy, you cannot miss it from the road. However please note that, although the GPS says that you can do a loop back on the main road, this is actually private property. So you cannot continue behind the volcanic cone.
10. Raudfeldsgja Canyon
A very narrow canyon. If you are not claustrophobic, you can even enter. Good footwear is needed.
11. Saxholl Crater
One of my favorite things to do was climbing the Saxholl crater. However I have to admit that your experience will depend on the conditions. Do no climb in case of very strong wind!
On a clear day, you can enjoy the lava around and inside the crater and immense views of the whole area with the glacier in the background.
12. Ytri Tunga beach
On the peninsula, your best bet ton see widllife is the beach of Ytri Tunga. You may see seals relaxing on the rocks.
Bring binoculars (see my buying guide). I did see seals but I have no photos because I was too far away. I could have walked to be closer, but the terrain was not easy and I was tired.
Plan 15min to 1h
13. Londrangar Lighthouse
Most people stop at the lava field viewpoint, but you can also stop on the other side of the plugs where the lighthouse is.
There is a small museum if you wan to learn more about the geology, flora and fauna.
14. Dritvik - Djupalonssandur Beach
Black sand beach and Lava formations...
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3 Highlights inland of the Peninsula of Snaefellsnes
Inland, at the limit of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula are 2 sites not to be missed right on the Ring Road.
2 beautiful circular eruption craters. You can walk the rim of the first one or enjoy a view of both by walking further on the path.
More Photos and Info on my article about the Grabrok crater
16. Glanni Paradise
A less visited 3 branches waterfall and a waterhole called 'paradise'. Definitively worth a stop.
More Photos and Info on my article about Glanni Paradise
17. Silver Circle
And even more inland, you can also enjoy the Silver Circle. It is not as famous as the Golden Circle, but it offers amazing experiences:
- The most powerful geothermal spring in Europe, Deildartunguhver hot spring
- The magnificent lava waterfall: Hraunfossar and its neighbor Barnafoss
- The historical town of Reykholt
- The opportunity to go underground in a lava tube
- The experience of heading up an glacier and entering a tunnel under it
4 Snaefellsnes Peninsula Activities
Need a break from driving around? Have a look at those activities you could enjoy seeing Iceland in a different way:
18. Boat Tour and Viking Sushis
At Stykkisholmur, you can board a 3h boat tour around the islands of North of the peninsula.
You can see interesting basalt columns, maybe spot animals.
And at some point, they got some fresh seafood out for the water for us and we had 'viking sushis'.
2 to 3 hours - Departs from Stykkisholmur - Book your place
19. Helicopter above the Snaefellsnes region
Oh! How much I love seeing our planet from above. And the peninsula has a lot of amazing landscapes to admire from a different perspective
Departs from the Reykjavik domestic airport - Book a flight
20. Snaefellsjokull Glacier Hike
Explore the center of the Earth by hiking on the Snaefellsjokull Glacier. Climb to the top of the volcano peaking at 1446m (demanding hike)
May to August - Departure from Reykjavik - Book your spot
21. Jeep and Snow Buggies on Snaefellsjokull Glacier
Enjoy the wonder of the glacier without the physical difficulty. Exhilarating!
3 hours - January to September
Departs from Arnastapi - Book your spot
Best areas to stay on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula
You can find accommodations on both the North and South shore of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, especially around Grundarfjordur and Hellnar
As stated before, I think staying in Grundarfjordur is great to be able to quickly reach Kirkjufell for sunset, sunrise and Northern lights.
But, there are various options you can consider:
- Grundarfjordur, my favorite, on the North Shore - you are right next to the magical Kirkjufell to see it for sunset, sunrise and under the northern lights - see best rated accommodations
- Hellnar / Arnarstapi, on the South Shore along the lava cliffs - see best rated accommodations
- Stykkisholmur, to be surrounded by water (but implies more driving) - see best rated accommodations
- Borgarnes - not on the peninsula, but a practical location to balance your driving times if coming from further around the Ring Road - see best rated accommodations
- See the best rated accommodations on Snaefellsnes
Find out more ideas in my article about where to stay in Snaefellsnes.
I had the opportunity to test 3 accommodations in the area:
- Framnes in Grundarfjörður: The location was great, not far from the famous Kirkjufellsfoss, allowing us to get there at sunset and sunrise. In the morning, it was even better with a beautiful rainbow over Kirkjufell - Check out photos and availability
- The Old Post Office Guesthouse with shared bathroom (also in Grundarfjordur). It was comfortable, clean and very well located - Check out photos and availability
- Hotel Hamar / Icelandair in Borgarnes with great sauna and open views - check out photos and availability
Framnes in Grundarfjörður: The location was great, not far from the famous Kirkjufellsfoss, allowing us to get there at sunset and sunrise. In the morning, it was even better with a beautiful rainbow over Kirkjufell.
Check out more photos and availability
- Hotel Budir - Located in none of the towns listed, it is surrounded by nature with a restaurant and a great location to explore the peninsula - see photos and availability
- Hotel Egilsen - Inside the stunning red house, in Stykkisholmur. A cosy place to stay! - see photos and availability
- Bjarg Apartments in Gundarfjordur, one of the best rated options - check out photos and availability
- Fosshotel Hellnar between mountain and sea - check out photos and availability
- Akkeri Guesthouse in Stykkisholmur - check out photos and availability
Snaefellsnes in Winter
The peninsula is also really beautiful in Winter.
The Main roads are normally cleared quickly. However if you are worried about driving on Ice and Snow you can book a day trip from Reykjavik.
The snow creates a Winter wonderland. Learn more in my article about the Snaefellsnes in Winter
To plan your itinerary, you can check out:
- My general post about planning an Iceland road trip
- My suggested itineraries for 5 days in Iceland
- My suggested for 7 days in Iceland itineraries
- My 4 itineraries to spend 10 days in Iceland
- And my favorite itinerary for 14 days around Iceland
- Where to stay in Reykjavik: see my selection of best hotels.
- or get one of my practical eBooks to help you plan your ideal itinerary:
Plan your dream road trip in Iceland
And keep track of your own trip!
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