Snaefellsnes, Snæfellsnes, Snaefellsness, Shnar-fell-shnes? If you can pronounce this one, you’re already halfway there! This magical peninsula is in a region in western Iceland known for its scenic and dramatic landscapes.
Think of a 90km stretch of peninsula that incorporates legend with magic and beauty. This is the place where you’ll find glaciers, fjords, mountains, waterfalls and lava fields.
This combination of breathtaking scenery and glistening ice-capped volcanoes, with spectacular waterfalls and quaint fishing villages, makes this small National Park in Iceland one of the most wonderful place to visit.
If you’re planning on visiting this scenic fairytale-like peninsula, my one-day itinerary will give you all the information you need to plan your trip!
- 1 How to get to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula
- 2 The best places to visit in Snaefellsnes in one day
- 3 What to pack for Snæfellsnes
- 4 Where to stay in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula
How to get to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula
We travelled to this magical place after visiting the Golden Circle and the Westfjords. It took us two days to get from the Westfjords to Reykjavic, travelling mostly by car and a ferry, and stopping in Snaefellsnes along the way.
The ferry Baldur crosses Breiðafjörður located between Stykkishólmur in the north of the peninsula and Brjánslækur on the south side of the West Fjords. Snaefellsnes peninsula is located here.
I recommend taking the ferry as it shortens the route between the south and the West Fjords region, so you’ll have more time to explore Snaefellsnes.
If the weather is good you’ll also be able to enjoy some beautiful scenery from the ferry. If you’re not planning to go as far as the Westfjords you can obviously also drive to Snaefellsnes from Reykjavik, which will take around 2-3 hours.
The best places to visit in Snaefellsnes in one day
At the western tip of the peninsula, you’ll find the popular Snæfellsjökull Volcano, topped by a glacier. Close by is a trail that leads you through lava fields to get to the black-pebble Djúpalónssandur Beach.
In the quaint Stykkishólmur fishing village, you’ll find the incredible 19th-century wood-frame Norwegian House which is a regional museum with a craft shop. This is a great place to get some souvenirs to take home.
There are many wonders in the Snæfellsnes peninsula, which makes it an ideal place to visit even if you only have a few days in Iceland! We only spent one day there and got to see all the main attractions.
This enchanting area is also only about a two-hour drive from the capital, so you could in theory visit the area on a day trip from Reykjavik.
If you’re heading to Snaefellsnes peninsula in Iceland, these are the iconic landmarks and points of interest that I recommend you don’t miss!
This is one of the main west Iceland attractions!
Located in the Snæfellsjökull National Park, a dormant 700,000-year-old stratovolcano is topped by the Snæfellsjökull glacier. It stands 1446 m high with a 200 m deep crater on the most western part of the peninsula.
As with many places in Iceland, there are a lot of interesting folk-tale stories connected to the glacier.
It is believed to be a meeting place of extra-terrestrials, and some believe that it makes up one of the seven chakras, or energy centres, of the world.
On a hike up the glacier, you might even meet the half-troll half-man who is said to reside there!
This scenic waterfall with the backdrop of the 463 m Kirkjufell mountain is the most prominent and most photographed landmark in Grundarfjörður, the sleepy fishing town of the peninsula.
I was awe-struck as we drove up to the waterfall, with the Kirkjufell mountain on one side and the waterfall on the other. It is certainly a beautiful place! (If you watch Game of Thrones you might also recognise this view..?)
The parking lot close to Kirkjufellsfoss is very small, so we had to park further up the road and then walk back down to the waterfall. It’s quite a small waterfall, especially when compared to some of the others I had seen on this trip.
Dynjandi and Gullfoss, in comparison, were huge! They made you feel really small when standing next to them! Kirkjufellsfoss is relatively small, but impressive nonetheless because of the incredible scenery around it.
It’s without a doubt one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland.
The Gerðuberg Basalt Columns
The Gerðuberg cliffs are made of a row of perfectly shaped hexagonal basalt columns that are located on the western peninsula of Snæfellsnes and on the western edge of the Hnappadalur valley.
They’re the first thing you’ll see if you’re travelling from Reykjavik to Snaefellsnes. They are about a kilometre long with columns up to 14 metres tall! They are an iconic sight of the peninsula and have been compared to a fortress wall.
The Black Church of Budir
The famous black church of Budir is one of Iceland’s most iconic landmarks! It’s also one of the most popular wedding locations. Búðakirkja church was erected in 1703, and can be spotted from miles away!
It’s located close to a beach and has nothing else around. In the distance, you’ll see the profiles of the high cliff edges, and the contrasting surroundings make it easy to see why it’s such a popular wedding and photography destination!
Djúpalónssandur Black Beach
The beaches in this part of Iceland are usually black, due to past volcanic activity and the presence of lava, which is fascinating to see.
We went for a walk along Djupalonssandur, one of the black beaches in Snaefellsnes and it was unlike anything I’d seen before.
The walk from the parking lot to the beach itself is very scenic, with black rock formations all around it and the mountains in the distance. It’s a very pretty spot to just walk around and relax.
The sea is freezing though so I wouldn’t recommend going for a swim!
Walking trail from Hellnar to Arnarstapi
There is a popular walking trail that connects the towns of Hellnar and Arnarstapi.
We walked for a good 45 minutes along the coast, admiring the cliffs and the curious rock formations along the beach, which were formed due to the wind and sea erosion over time.
The steep cliffs that line the beaches are now home to many seagulls and other sea birds that have populated these natural wonders. You can hear them flying around during your walk.
What to pack for Snæfellsnes
What you pack for your Snæfellsnes trip will ultimately vary depending on what time of the year you’re visiting Iceland. Regardless of the season the weather in Iceland is very variable, so make sure to pack clothing for all weathers.
If you’re visiting in summer like I did check out my packing tips for Iceland. Some essentials you should always bring regardless of the season include:
- Water bottle – Save money and cost plastic use by refilling your own bottle on the go!
- Adapter – Depends where you’re coming from but you might need an adapter to charge your electronics (you wouldn’t want your camera to die just as you’re about to take that perfect photo!) I like international adapters because even if they’re a bit pricier, I only need one for all my trips
- Waterproof jacket – It can rain at any time of day or year in Iceland, so make sure you have a coat to keep you dry
- Good hiking shoes – If you’re planning on going exploring make sure you have the right footwear!
Where to stay in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula
This was a beautiful guest house, pretty much in the middle of nowhere, with nothing else around us and about 15 minute walk away from the beach.
It’s the perfect place to disconnect and recharge after a long day exploring the Snæfellsnes peninsula.
Final thoughts on one day exploring the Snæfellsnes Peninsula
The Snæfellsnes peninsula is something out of a fairytale, and I absolutely loved visiting these amazing iconic landmarks and natural wonders!
When it comes to natural beauty Iceland is pretty stunning all round, but the Snæfellsnes peninsula was particularly incredible. Even if you only spend one day in Snæfellsnes, it’s definitely worth it.
I hope you’ve found this Snæfellsnes one day guide useful in planning your own trip to this magical part of Iceland!