Sunday, August 4, 2019

Snaefellsnes Peninsula Quick Guide

Snaefellsnes Peninsula Quick Guide

Quick Guide to Iceland's Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Snaefellsnes Peninsula in West Iceland is often considered "Iceland in Miniature." Snaefellsnes certainly is packed full of incredible and unique nature experiences and treasures. With so many nature experiences folded into one peninsula, we opted to slow down for a few days and spend some time relaxing and exploring Snaefellsnes. We were captivated from the moment we arrived and were glad that we had so much time to explore this magnificent peninsula. Our adventure took us to many of the highlights of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula including:



Ytri Tunga Beach:

Ytri Tunga Beach is a must especially during June and July to see the seals! Both harbor and grey seals can be seen at Ytri Tunga Beach. You can see them all year round, but June and July are the best months. Notice the golden sand of the beach!

Incredible rocky coast at Ytri Tunga Beach on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula of Iceland
Incredible rocky coast at Ytri Tunga Beach

We did see quite a few seals during our June visit. Our best tip is to look a bit out towards the outer rocks. We saw quite a few of both harbor and grey seals relaxing on the rocks. You can see a couple below if you look closely!

Seals resting at Ytri Tunga Beach on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula of Iceland
Seals resting at Ytri Tunga Beach
Bjarnafoss Waterfall

Bjarnafoss swept us away with its beauty. The walk to Bjarnafoss is pretty easy and you are treated with a picturesque waterfall, rapids, columnar joints and more.

Bjarnafoss provides a stunning back drop and nice spot for a hike!
Bjarnafoss provides a stunning back drop and nice spot for a hike!


Buᵭir

Chances are, you have seen a picture of Buᵭir. The iconic black church is particularly picturesque so you will most likely see a number of tourists stopping for pictures.

Buᵭir's small black church inspires many a picture on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in Iceland
Buᵭir's small black church inspires many a picture.
Gerᵭuberg Basalt Columns

One of the first sites you may discover on the Snaefellsnes Peninula are the Gerᵭuberg Basalt Columns. The weather was quite foggy during our visit but you can still see the columns through the mist. There is an area to park and you can walk a path. However, we were not able to hike but were glad to be able to see the columnar jointing!

Gerᵭuberg Basalt Columns emerging from the fog.
Gerᵭuberg Basalt Columns emerging from the fog.

Rauᵭfeldsgjá Ravine

Through the narrow ravine at Rauᵭfeldsgjá, you can discover a hidden waterfall tucked inside. The hike does have a bit of a challenge to it and the wind was fierce during our visit. This is a spot where you will want to make sure you have your waterproof gear on. Take your time and enjoy!

Rauᵭfeldsgjá Ravine provides for a challenging hike with a hidden waterfall!
Rauᵭfeldsgjá Ravine provides for a challenging hike with a hidden waterfall!
Snaefellsjokull National Park

The Snaefellsjokull glacier lies within the park but there a many more diverse geological formations within the national park to explore. While exploring, stop in the visitor center for a little more detailed information on the park itself. The glacier Snaefellsjokull is far from the only star of this portion of the peninsula. For example, Londrangar features dramatic basalt cliffs and rock formations provide moments of awe.

 Londrangar features a rocky and dramatic landscape.
 Londrangar features a rocky and dramatic landscape.
Djúpalónssandur Beach is known as the Black Pearl Beach and where you will find little black pebbles or "pearls." The beach also has the ruins of a shipwreck and unique rock formations. There is a fun spot with big stones that people like to lift to measure strength. This is a nice spot that you may want to spend a little extra time at.

Picturesque rock formations at Djúpalónssandur Beach.
Picturesque rock formations at Djúpalónssandur Beach.
Other experiences within  Snaefellsjokull National Park include visiting the glacier, Vatnshellir Cave, Songhellir Cave and Saxholl Crater. There are some tours available as well.

Kirkjufell Mountain and Kirkjufellsfoss

As you drive through the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, you will certainly not be able to miss Kirkjufell Mountain. Undoubtedly, you will recognize Kirkjufell because it is one of the most photographed formations in Iceland. In fact. Game of Thrones was filmed here. The mountain cuts a mesmerizing figure and is interesting to view in from a variety of perspectives.

Magnificent Kirkjufell rising against the Icelandic landscape.
Magnificent Kirkjufell rising against the Icelandic landscape.
Near Kirkjufell is Kirkjufellsfoss which is a tiered series of waterfalls. There are trails to walk along and around Kirkjufellsfoss. Both sites are very popular so you may need to wait for a spot! Such tranquility!

Kirkjufellsfoss completes a breathtaking landscape.
Kirkjufellsfoss completes a breathtaking landscape.

Stykkishólmur

Stykkishólmur is a small village on a peninsula that extends from Snaefellsnes. You can climb a promontory enjoying stunning views of the village, bay and islands. From here, you can take ferries to Flatley Island and the Westfjords opening up more opportunities for nature viewing and birding.

Stykkishólmur's promontory yields to magnificent views.
Stykkishólmur's promontory yields to magnificent views.

The Villages:

Small villages dot the coast of Snaefellsnes Peninsula. They contain a variety of points of interest including museums and cafes as well as places to pick up necessities such as gas and groceries. While we did not explore each village, we did find some spots that we enjoyed and I will share them in a post dedicated to the villages. Stykkishólmur is the largest village in Snaefellsnes.

Stykkishólmur is the largest village in Snaefellsnes
Stykkishólmur is the largest village in Snaefellsnes.
Vatnaleiᵭ

Vatnaleiᵭ is a mountain pass that will take you through an area of lakes and lava fields. There is a nice stopping point for lunch along a river. You will have a great view of volcanoes, lakes and a vast lava field. If you hike down a bit, you will find a waterfall that is tucked away.


Definitely, take a moment to stop as you leave the Snaefellsnes Peninsula and enjoy the waterfall. We visited on our way back from Stykkishólmur towards Reykjavik. For a good description on how to find this treasure, check The Magical Snaefellsnes Peninsula in West Iceland Part V on Guide to Iceland.

Captivated by a hidden waterfall in West Iceland on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Captivated by a hidden waterfall!
Snaefellsnes Peninsula does pack in the wonders and begs for a slower pace. I am glad that we planned to spend a couple of days there instead of going on a tour. We enjoyed weaving throughout making discoveries and being able to stop on a whim. Really a magical section of Iceland that I recommend for a respite of discovery!

Things to know:

  • Gas is sparse. So, make sure to take with you a map of available gas stations and fill up when you can.
  • Bring a foldable cooler and fill it up at a grocery store before you get to the peninsula. There are cafes along the route which I recommend checking out -- and I will discuss a couple in a future post. But, it was also nice to be able to stop for lunch or dinner wherever along route.
  • You will see Icelandic sheep and horses as well as cairns. Please mind the sheep, they have free range.
Other sites to see:
  • Eldborg Crater
  • Írkskrabrunner which is the ruin of an Irish well from the early settlement days.
  • Rauᵭamelsӧlkelda where you can drink mineral water right from the ground.
  • You will see a lot of waterfalls in addition to the ones listed. Some are gated off on private property. Some you will have an opportunity to photograph. Be mindful.
Quick Guide to Iceland's Snaefellsnes Peninsula "Iceland in Miniature"

1 comment:

  1. Great pics! Looks so peaceful and absolutely gorgeous there!

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