The Snæfellsnes peninsula is frequently called Iceland in miniature. It’s got everything you could possibly hope for in a visit to the small Nordic Island. Iconic, postcard-worthy shots of waterfalls and volcanoes? Check. Glaciers and Game of Thrones filming locations? Check. And it all lies just a short two-hour drive north of Reykjavik, making it perfect for a day trip or weekend getaway. If you don’t have much time in Iceland and want to experience a little bit of everything that the country has to offer, grab your car keys and head north for an excursion to the Snæfellsnes peninsula.
How to Get There
The most common way of getting around Iceland is driving. To get to the Snæfellsnes peninsula, head north on Route 1 until you reach the town of Borgarnes. Follow the signs at the roundabout which take you to Road 54 (Snæfellsnesvegur). Depending on what you plan on visiting first in the peninsula, you’ll either want to head north towards Kirkjufell mountain and Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall or south to make your way around the peninsula towards Snæfellsnes National Park and Snæfellsjökull Glacier.
Mount Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall
These two natural attractions are probably among Iceland’s most popular. Kirkjufell is the most photographed mountain in Iceland. It’s easy to see why when looking at pictures. With the arrow-shaped mountain towering in the background and the multi-chute waterfall pouring into a river below that curves into a bend, this picturesque scene is made even more beautiful by the changing colors of the setting sun or winter’s Northern Lights illuminating its snow-covered peak and frozen cascades.
Kirkjufell means “church mountain”, most likely coming from the mountain’s unusual shape. Experienced hikers can climb to the top to enjoy breathtaking views and even discover some ancient fish fossils. Due to glacial activity, many parts of Iceland that lie slightly inland used to either be part of the coast or submerged under the sea. Kirkjufell is no exception.
Snæfellsnes National Park and Snæfellsjökull Glacier
At the western tip of this 56 mile (90 km) long peninsula lies another one of its main attractions: the Snæfellsnesjökull glacier. This icy snow cap has quite a few interesting tales to tell. Diehard fans of classic literature will quickly recognize this Icelandic name from Jules Verne’s 1864 seminal science fiction novel Journey to the Center of the Earth. From the top of this mountain, the main characters in the book find the entrance to the passageway that takes them to the center of the Earth. Producers also filmed parts of the 2008 movie starring Brendan Fraser and Icelandic actress Anita Briem here.
This area is also linked to more esoteric pursuits and occult beliefs. Not only is the 4,744 foot (1446 meter) tall dormant volcano rumored to be a meeting point for aliens. Many people believe that this place is one of the planet’s seven energy centers or chakras. The magnetic energy surrounding the glacier is likely one of the reasons people think that there’s something special or even magical about this particular part of the world. Others note that many people have trouble sleeping in close vicinity to the mountain. Believe what you will. Whether it’s merely an area with a lot of magnetic activity or the portal to another world, you’ll no doubt enjoy your visit to this natural wonder and its impressively large crater.
Other Things to See and Do in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall, Kirkjufell mountain, and Snæfellsjökulll glacier and volcano definitely get the most attention. But there are plenty of other things to see and do while exploring the Snaefellsnes peninsula.
The breathtaking Rauðfeldsgjá gorge, haunting Búðarhraun lava fields, Lóndrangar and the Gerðuberg Cliffs with their striking basalt columns along with the Vatnshellir lava tube caves, Rauðamelsölkelda mineral springs, Staðastaður historical site, and much more dot this special corner of the country. Mother Nature’s beauty is on full display in the Snaefellsnes peninsula.
There are also some cute little fishing villages here. They’re all proud of their heritage and many boast museums where you can learn more about local history and culture. You can even taste the infamous hákarl (fermented shark) at the Shark Museum at Bjarnarhöfn farm. Additionally, this area of Iceland, along with the Westfjords, features beaches with pink and golden sand. This is in stark contrast to the rest of Iceland’s beaches, which have black colored sand due to lava.
Iceland in Miniature: Popular Attractions on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Next time, we’ll cover some of the more off the beaten path areas of the Snaefellsnes peninsula in depth. Start planning your trip to mini Iceland and get ready to experience something new and different.