Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Village Stops on Iceland's Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Village Stops on Iceland's Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Iceland's Snaefellsnes Peninsula is Dotted with Charming Villages to Explore:

Along the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, you will find a number of villages to explore for unique adventures, cafes, local shops, groceries and gas. However, they are spaced out so I recommend checking a map of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula before embarking on your road trip and marking off where you can find necessities along route. You will also want to be aware of opening and closing times. After some organizing, plan for a memorable day enjoying nature and the charming villages of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in Iceland!



Kirkjufell is one of the most photographed sites on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
Kirkjufell is one of the most photographed sites on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.

We stayed near the Rjúkandi Cafe and Restaurant which is also a hotel and near a gas station. So, it is good stop to have on your list. Nearby on 54 you will also find a tourist center and another spot to fill up. During our visit, there also was a food truck. Availability depends on hours.

The striking cliffs and rock formations at Hellnar.
The striking cliffs and rock formations at Hellnar.
Arnarstapi and Hellnar

While making your way around the peninsula, you will come to Arnarstapi and Hellnar. You will discover a few cafes and restaurants in Arnarstapi and Hellnar. There is also a spot for filling up in Arnarstapi. I recommend filling up if you did not by Rjúkandi . Hellnar has a little cafe with a fantastic overlook over the rocky coast. The coast at Arnarstapi and Hellnar is full of all sorts of cliffs, caves and formations. You can hike from Hellnar to Arnarstapi which should have some magnificent views. One for a return trip to Iceland for us!

Djúpalónssandur entices with many scenic spots.
Djúpalónssandur entices with many scenic spots.
From Hellnar, you will head into Snaefellsjӧkull National Park where you can stop at the visitor center for some great informational exhibits and to ask questions. Once inside the national park, it will take you a little time to get to another town.

Gilbakki Kaffhús is a welcome sight while traveling on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula!
Gilbakki Kaffhús is a welcome sight while traveling on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula!
Hellissandur 

After reveling in the natural wonders of Snaefellsjӧkull National Park, we sat down for coffee and a snack at Gilbakki Kaffhús in Hellissandur. Hellissandur is also home to the Maritime Museum. However, we had some more adventures planned for the day so we only had time to settle in for a little snack before getting on the road. At Gilbakki Kaffhús we enjoyed a mocha latte and carrot cake. Delicious and just what we needed before completing our circle of the peninsula! Gilbakki Kaffhús also has lunch items as well, so a nice spot for your list!

Tempting treats in an beautiful setting at Gilbakki Kaffhús.
Tempting treats in an beautiful setting at Gilbakki Kaffhús.
Ólafsvík and Grundarfjӧrᵭur

After Hellissandur, we stopped in Ólafsvík to pick up some groceries. We did not stop very long in Ólafsvík. There is a waterfall called Baejarfoss that we somehow how missed. So look for that! After Ólafsvík, you will discover Grundarfjӧrᵭur which I highly recommend for a stop! In Grundarfjӧrᵭur, we discovered adorable Kaffi Emil:

Cozy setting at Kaffi Emil in Grundarfjӧrᵭur
Cozy setting at Kaffi Emil!
Kaffi Emil is a family owned coffee shop that also houses the town library and an information center. Plus, there are interesting historical exhibits and a kids' play area.

Exhibit on fishing at Kaffi Emil.
Exhibit on fishing at Kaffi Emil.
At Kaffi Emil, I learned about local artist Liston Karlsson who works with various mediums including stone, wood and paint. Some of his work can be found at Kaffi Emil but you definitely should go visit Liston at his workshop. He is a fantastic storyteller and will happily teach you about his art and his process. In his workshop, you will find a variety of creations in all shapes and sizes so that everyone can bring home a piece of Iceland.

Liston Karlsson's art is reminiscent of Iceland's heritage.
Liston Karlsson's art is reminiscent of Iceland's heritage.
You will find many of his larger pieces outside the workshop. You may even find Liston working outside! He is very friendly and enjoys introducing visitors to his art. Liston finds inspiration in the Icelandic sagas and folklore. He will happily explain to you his art and Icelandic history and traditions. I particularly enjoyed this sculpture of Thor's ram:

Thor's Ram by Liston Karlsson a folk artist in Iceland.
Thor's Ram by Liston Karlsson.
Liston uses natural items found in Iceland in his artwork. So bringing back a piece of Liston's work is bringing back a piece of Iceland with you! He does have some larger art pieces around town as well. Liston and I bonded a bit over our crafts and working on pieces we were called to do. If you try to force yourself, the heart or life of the piece just isn't there. A little peek inside his workshop:



Stykkishólmur

From Grundarfjӧrᵭur, we went on to Stykkishólmur which is on small peninsular jutting from Snaefellsnes. There shops, restaurants and museums to discover in Stykkishólmur. Plus, you can enjoy a fabulous view of the village from the promontory.




Borgarnes







A view from a walk at Borgarnes.
A view from a walk at Borgarnes.

Before heading to the peninsula, you can also stock up on groceries numerous spots along the drive. I recommend stopping in Borgarnes before starting your drive on the peninsula. Borgarnes is charming with plenty to see including The Settlement Center which is not only a museum about the settlement of Iceland but a restaurant as well! I did enjoy some great meat soup there! Borgarnes also provides an opportunity to pick up groceries, fill up and ask questions at the visitor center.

Adventure on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula:

We loved our adventure on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula and savored a couple of days driving around and stopping at leisure whenever we were inspired. We were mesmerized by so many natural treasures and had a wonderful time meeting the people of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. I am glad that we decided to explore the Snaefellsnes Peninsula on our own. The slower place really allowed us to take it in! Truly a magical slice of Iceland!

For more, check my Snaefellsnes Peninsula Quick Guide!

Villages of  Iceland's Snaefellsnes Peninsula




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