The final part of our exploration of the Snaefellsnes peninsula takes us past some of the best natural attractions yet. From the lava tube that inspired French novelist Jules Verne to a quaint Icelandic fishing village filled with the country’s signature colorful houses, your last day on the peninsula is sure to be a great one. You’ll be making your way around the Snaefellsjökull glacier and national park and seeing some truly awe-inspiring natural sights.
From Arnarstapi to Snaefellsjökull National Park
We begin our day at Snaefellsjökull National Park. If you didn’t get the chance while exploring Arnarstapi, be sure to take the short hike to the next village over, Hellnar. It’s about one and a half miles (2.5 km). Once there, check out the Baðstofa cave and get something hot to drink at the Fjöruborðið café.
Arnarstapi and Hellnar both rest in the shadows of Snaefellsjökull glacier and the larger national park. The area has a special significance for many reasons. Some believe that it is actually one of the earth’s seven energy centers or chakras. Others think that this is a meeting point for extraterrestrials. And many people experience sleep disturbances when visiting here. The latter can most likely be attributed to the high amounts of magnetic energy detected in the zone. We can neither confirm nor deny the claims about aliens and global chakras.
Driving directions: It’s a short 15-minute drive on the Útnesvegur road (Route 574) to reach the park’s Gestastofa visitor’s center.
Vatnshellir Lava Cave
Exploring lava caves are one of the coolest activities to do in Iceland (along with glacier hikes). This particular lava cave is quite noteworthy as it served as the inspiration for Jules Verne in his science fiction classic Journey to the Center of the Earth. In the novel, the explorers climb to the top of Snaefellsjökull glacier to find the opening to a passageway that leads deep within the earth. Along the way, they find prehistoric animals and dangerous natural wonders. After descending the staircase, the real-life cave measures 650 feet (around 200 meters) to the end. The spectacular hues of the volcanic rock and formations made of lava are quite the sight to behold. You’ll need to book a tour in order to access the cave. Be sure to reserve in advance.
Driving directions: The Vatnshellir cave is just up the road from the Gestastofa visitor’s center on Útnesvegur road (Route 574).
Iceland is known for its volcanoes and the geological activity that has shaped its landscapes. While Vik’s black sand beaches are quite stunning, the banks of Djúpalónssandur take things to a whole new level. Instead of fine grains of dark, volcanic sand, the shores here are littered with small black pebbles. They have been beautifully rounded by the natural erosion of the sea. These gorgeous little stones are known as the Pearls of Djúpalón. Be sure to exercise caution and not to get too close to the water while here. The waves are a lot stronger than they look and you can never be too careful in Iceland.
Driving Directions: Continue on Útnesvegur road (Route 574) after Vatnshellir cave for about five and a half kilometers (three and a half miles) and turn left onto the road that takes you to Djúpalónssandur. You’ll reach the black pebble beach after about two km (a little over a mile). It’s a short, five-minute drive on a paved road.
Kirkjufell Mountain and Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall
As we discussed in our first post on Snaefellsness peninsula, one of the most popular attractions here is Mount Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall. If you’d like to read more in depth, please check out about the article here.
Driving Directions: You’ve got about another hour driving along 574 to reach Iceland’s iconic mountain and waterfall. At some point along the way, Route 574 eventually turns back into Route 54. You’ll see the mighty peak getting closer and actually pass it before you get to the parking lot just off the road on the right, so don’t worry if you think you’ve “missed” it.
Stykkishólmur Fishing Village
The tiny fishing village on the northern side of Iceland’s Snaefellsnes peninsula is no doubt one of its loveliest. With colorful wooden houses reminiscent of the bright hues of buildings in Reykjavik, the town definitely has a special charm. It was even one of the filming locations for Ben Stiller’s flight of fancy The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. There are several points of interest here, including the Norwegian House, the volcano museum and the spectacular Breiðafjörður bay.
Driving Directions: It will take another 45 minutes or so to get to the last stop on tour of the peninsula. You’ll take Snaefellsvegur (Route 54) most of the way and then continue onto Kvíabryggja street. After turning, you should reach Stykkishólmur in under 10 minutes.
Hidden Gems in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula
As you can see, there’s plenty to see and do in the Snaefellsnes peninsula. Fitting everything into a day trip from Reykjavik can be a bit of a challenge. If you follow our advice and stay overnight in Arnarstapi, you’ll be so happy you did. This is an area that is worth taking the time to explore, so grab your keys and hit the road! Let us know how your travels go.