If you only have a few days in Iceland, Snaefellnes Peninsula is great day trip from Reykjavik and easily accessible. Snaefellnes is often called “mini Iceland” due to its geographic diversity and offering a little of everything in a compact area.
There are a number of ways you can get to the peninsula – tours, bus, or renting a car. We opted for renting a car, which allowed us to have a low-stress and at-our-pace trip to explore all that the Peninsula had to offer. Although not necessarily an amazing piece of cinema, we’d recommend watching the “Secret Life of Walter Mitty” before you make the trip. There are a number of sites that you will recognize from the film.
The trip from Reykjavik is about two hours by car. You have the option to pay a toll to use a tunnel shortcut, or to travel around the Hvalfjörður fjord. We did both, and, in our opinion, the tunnel toll is worth every penny. It will save you about and hour plus the cost of gas, which is expensive in Iceland.
Things to See
If you want a quick glance on a map of the places to see, please click our Google Maps list here:
Icelandic Ponies and Horses
No Iceland trip is complete without stopping to see some of it’s wonderful furry friends. On your way to Snæfellsnes you are bound to see some horses along the way. Feel free to veer off and stop for a bit. Icelandic horses have extra thick fur to keep them warm during the winter seasons, which gives them an extra level of cuteness.
Eldborg Scoria Crater
If you like hiking or brisk walks, Eldborg Scoria Crater is a great place to stop. The total hiking distance is about 6km (3.7 miles) and is mostly flat. The steep sections are when you arrive at the crater – you’ll notice metal chain assistance for the steep sections. It took us about 1.5 hours, but we’re fast walkers. It typically takes the average hiker about 2 hours to complete the hike – time includes there and back. We saw people of all ages completing the hike, so certainly something that the whole family could do together.
Elborg is a dormant volcano, and its name literally means “fortress of fire”. There are a number of smaller craters that surround Elborg, but the main crater is approximately 60m (180ft) high and 50m (150ft) deep.
The Gerðuberg Cliffs
One of the main type of rock formations Iceland is known for is their basalt columns. At Gerdeburg Cliffs, you’ll find some of the largest rows of basalt in the area. If your not into rocks, this one could be a pass, as you will likely see this type of rock formation elsewhere on Iceland. Alternatively, you can see the row from a distance. We drove right up to the wall and hiked up to the top in about 10 minutes.
The Búðir Church
This is easily the most photographed church on the peninsula. It’s a beautiful location with Snaefellsjokull Glacier viewable in the distance. We highly recommend making this a stop on your list.
Djúpalónssandur and Dritvík Beaches
This is another must see spot. Djúpalónssandur and Dritvík are beautiful pearl lava rock beaches on the west side of Iceland. The area is stunning, and the waves rolling the rocks over each other is quite a therapeutic sound.
The area use to be a hub for a fishermen, and there is even a place to test your strength like villagers use to do to qualify for a job. Fullsterkur (“full strength”) weighing 154 kg, Hálfsterkur (“half strength”) at 100 kg, hálfdrættingur (“weakling”) at 54 kg and Amlóði (“Useless”) 23 kg. The minimum required to fulfill a job is hálfdrættingur, and we even thought that was challenging to lift off the ground.
Another site worth seeing here is the remains of an old shipwreck. The Grimsby Fishing trawler wrecked on the beach in March 13, 1948. Many of its remain lay scattered across areas of the beach.
So this one you can’t technically access without any serious hiking or assistance by a helicopter, but, you should definitely find various lookouts to take in the Snæfellsjökull Glacier from afar.
The 700,000 year old glacier was made popular for being reference in Jules Verns, Journey to The Center of The Earth. The main protagonist find a passage way on Snæfellsjökull that ultimately leads to the center of the earth.
Kirkjufell, the ‘Church Mountain’
Kirkjufell is the most iconic of all the mountains in Iceland. Standing at 463 meters tall and distantly isolated from other mountains, Kirkjufell is easily recognizable and often referenced as the most photographed mountain in Iceland.
This stop is easily accessible from the main highway. There are two summits, the first is at the base of the ravine where you can see the stream flowing out of the crack. For the more adventurous, you can venture inside to see the ice that feeds the stream – although proceed with caution. We witnessed someone twist their knee due to poor footing at this section.
The ravine is mysterious and hold special significance in Icelandic history as it is mentioned in mentioned in the Icelandic, Bárðar saga Snæfellsáss, to which it received it’s name sake from the tragedy.