Everything you need to know about the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in Iceland

In Western Iceland, around two hours outside of Reykjavik, you’ll find the breathtaking Snaefellsnes Peninsula. The site of a National Park that holds Snaefellsjokull glacier, this small yet incredibly diverse peninsula bursts with life and wonder. From volcanoes to glaciers; from black sand beaches to golden sand beaches; from quaint fishing villages to dramatic and wild craters, there is truly something around every corner in Snaefellsnes.

If you only have a few days to spend in Iceland, or you wish to gain an in-depth experience of Iceland’s historic and natural wonder, then this Peninsula is the perfect day trip in Western Iceland. Take your friends—or plan for an amazing solitary adventure—and embark on a trip packed with incredible sights. And remember: when you’re traveling to such a diverse location, it’s just as much about the journey as it is the destination.

What to Explore on the Snaefellsnes (Snæfellsnes) Peninsula

A landscape shot of Snaefellsnes Peninsula Kirkjufellsfoss mountain
Kirkjufellsfoss and Kirkjufell mountain, located on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula of Iceland, with waterfalls in the foreground.

The Snaefellsnes Peninsula has been called “Iceland in a Nutshell” because it offers an incredible glimpse into the diverse landscape and features of Iceland, though it only comprises 90-km of land. It would be impossible to list all the amazing things you can see on your journey to Snaefellsnes, but we’ll try to list a few:

Eldborg Crater

One of the first things you’ll see is the Eldborg Crater which rises 60m above the surrounding lava field. This crater is the largest along a volcanic rift which saw its last eruption 5000-6000 years ago, forming the lava fields so unique to Iceland. Depending on your schedule, you can either view this landmark from your vehicle, or walk around or up to it to absorb its height and grandeur. A hike up to the crater is a distance of about 2.5 km, so plan accordingly.

Landbrotalaug Hot Spring

With a comfortable temperature and only enough room for two to three people at a time, Landbrotalaug Hot Spring is one of the most intimate and cozy in all of Iceland. Here’s how to drive to Landbrotalaug: from your drive on Road 54, you’re going to pass the Eldborg Crater,  follow the sign that says Stóra Hraun, then follow the road to a parking lot. From there, you can walk to the Hot Spring.

Raudfeldsgja Gorge

If you are looking for a true adventure, you’ll enjoy a hike down to Raudfeldsgja Gorge (Rauðfelsdsgjá), located in Botnsfjall Mountain. With its mossy walls and mysterious depths, this location is straight out of a fairytale. If you choose to park and take a hike down into the gorge, whose name means Red Mountain Rift, you’ll be rewarded with an incredible waterfall scene.

Beautiful and Unique Villages

Though the natural features of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula are breathtaking in themselves, you’ll also want to make time in your trip to visit some of the unique fishing villages in the area.

  • Hellissandur. If you stop in Hellissandur, you can check out the Maritime Museum that describes the important fishing history of the area.
  • Rif. Another village, Rif, is only 2km away from Hellissandur. Rif features a huge arctic tern nesting area, so is a great place to gain insight into this beautiful and unique bird.
  • Arnarstapi. Another small fishing village, Arnarstapi used to be a big harbor in the area. Now, it’s smaller and quieter and is an amazing place to take a walk on the coastline.

Beaches: White Sand & Black Sand

One of the most incredibly unique things about Iceland is its variety of beaches. If you want to see a unique Icelandic black sand beach, it’s worth it to take the trip down to Djúpalónssandur & Dritvik beaches. Known for its ghosts and for the mysterious and dramatic cliffs, this pebbly beach will not disappoint you.

As a testament to the incredibly diverse landscape on Snaefellsnes Peninsula, there are also white sand beaches here. Head to the unique Skardsvik (Skarðsvík) Beach. With its white sands and beautiful blue waters, you won’t want to miss this spot. It’s a little more secluded and less-visited, so it’s a great place for quiet contemplation. To get there, we recommend a 4×4 vehicle that drives comfortably on rough terrain.

Snaefellsjokull National Park

No visit to Snaefellsnes Peninsula would be complete without visiting the National Park, one of three in Iceland. This Park is unforgettable because it’s the site of the Snaefellsjokull Glacier. Stop at the Visitor’s Center on your drive into the Park so you can plan your adventures and gather information about the incredible geological formations in this area.

How Do You Get to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula?

Woman on her way to Kirkjufellsfoss mountain while visiting Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Green mountain at Kirkjufell mountain while visiting Snaefellsnes Peninsula

The drive to this dramatic Peninsula only takes around two hours, making it a perfect journey for a weekend getaway. Starting from Reykjavik, just follow Route 1 to Borgarnes then take a turn onto Road 54, which leads to the peninsula after another hour of so of driving.

The journey through the Snaefellsnes Peninsula will offer you incredible sights, in addition to amazing places to explore. As you drive, marvel in the sights of Iceland in a Nutshell, taking note of how the landscape changes as you travel. Enjoy the sight of the dramatic basalt columns of the Gerduberg Cliffs and the romantic, castle-like Lóndrangar sea stacks.  Keep your eyes open for the silhouette of the Malarrifsviti lighthouse. Even if you don’t have the time to stop at every location on the Peninsula, you’ll see marvelous and unforgettable sights from the comfort of your car as you drive. Enjoy the journey.

What to Take on the Trip

Pack smart for your trip to the Peninsula, so you can focus more on exploration, and less on picking up last-minute items. Remember that you should bring:

  • Sturdy boots to handle the terrain.
  • Warm layers so that you can stay comfortable throughout.
  • A charged camera or phone – because you’ll definitely want to take pictures of the amazing landscape.
  • A swimsuit if you plan to take advantage of the Hot Springs.

You also want to think about the vehicle that’s going to make your trip spectacular. The recommended car for the drive to the Peninsula is a 4×4 SUV that’s going to help you handle rough terrain. The Dacia Duster is a compact SUV that has plenty of storage space for you and your family to bring what you need while comfortably enjoying the drive out to Snaefellsnes.

Learn More About the Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Ready to get started? If you can’t wait to schedule your Snaefellsnes Peninsula adventure, reach out to us today. We love to share our insights about Icelandic adventures. More importantly, we excel in matching you with the perfect rental car that will keep you safe and comfortable through every stage of your journey.