Distance from Reykjavík: ca. 19km
Snæfellsjökull glacier, a 1,446-metre high volcano on the western part of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, is among Iceland’s most famous landmarks. The glacier has been the topic of endless speculations over hundreds of years as some think it to possess some mystical powers. It has even been considered to be one of Earth’s seven energy sources. In addition, the glacier has inspired authors such as Jules Verne – who used it as the doorway to a passage leading into Earth’s interior in his sci-fi novel Journey to the Centre of Earth – and a couple of years ago it captured the attention of the media when alien watchers from around the world flocked to the volcano to welcome extraterrestrials who were supposed to land on its top. Sadly, the guests of honour never showed up.
The glacier and its spectacular national park offer plenty of interesting stuff to see and do aside from alien hunting or energy searching. Covering an area of 170 square kilometres, the national park was established in 2001 with the goal of protecting the area as well as making it easily accessible to all the many visitors planning a hiking tour around its wilderness.
For those looking for different excitement there are numerous possibilities to experience the glacier in an extreme way. During spring and summer months one can for example go skiing and snowboarding down the glacier or go on a snowmobile excursion with a guide. Riding down its slopes in clear weather gives you the adrenaline rush of a lifetime. It truly is an amazing experience as the remarkable scenery adds tremendous pleasure to this outdoor activity.
Distance from Reykjavík, ca 180km
Surrounded by unparalleled natural beauty, Búðir, on the southern part of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, is known for its rugged landscape, adventurous hiking tracks and incredible scenery. Here, the activities include hiking trips through the Búðahraun lava field, horse riding around the grassy meadows, and quiet relaxation down by the yellow sand beach, all depending on one’s interests.
The tiny black wooden chapel, only minutes from the main road, has become a symbol for the area. Traced back to the 17th century, the chapel has been a popular setting for fashion photo shoots, and it’s no wonder why. With a view over the rocky shore the chapel stands on a small hill with the beach on one side and lava fields and the snow-capped Snæfellsjökull glacier on the other. For most travellers, this is where a journey around the area begins as there are numerous walking paths and opportunities to explore the untouched nature. The most popular of them is walking the old path through the Búðahraun lava field that leads to the volcano Búðaklettur and Búðahellir cave, both part of a nature reserve. The trail, named Klettsgata, is well marked and mapped, with interesting sights and attractions pointed out along the way.
After a day of sightseeing, visitors should not miss out on a nice dinner at Hótel Búðir. The hotel is among the country’s more popular destinations for an overnight stay due not only to its location but classy interiors and a gourmet restaurant famous for its tasty fish dishes. With the glacier hovering in the background, a more romantic and memorable dining experience in the country is hard to find.
From Arnarstapi to Dritvík
Distance from Reykjavík, ca 180km
The countryside landscape of the western part of the peninsula is both dramatic and contrasting where one will come across some of the country’s extraordinary natural wonders.
After a short drive from Búðir, the road leads you to Arnarstapi, an old fishing village rich with history and interesting sights to explore. Its beautiful harbour with a magnificent view over the gulf of Faxaflói and all the unusual cliffs and surreal rock formations rising up from the unfriendly ocean have made the place a popular hiking destination.
A short walk along the coast leads to Hellnar, another old fishing village, renowned for its magical beach and the small and homely café Fjöruhúsið. From here one can either walk or drive to Djúpalónssandur beach (driving would be recommended if the time is limited). A short walk down from the parking lot leads to the black sand beach, most famous for the four large rocks lying in the shore. These boulders have an interesting history. Named Fullsterkur (Fullstrong), Hálfsterkur (Halfstrong), Hálfdrættingur (Half-a-man) and Amlóði (Lazybones) they were used to test how strong the fishermen living in the area were before they could go out to sea.
There are also numerous curious sites to explore around the Djúpalónssandur area. Roughly only a 15-minute walk north is Dritvík, a small creek that used to be a bustling fishing community. The path is both easy and rewarding and the scenic coastline where one will pass caves, cliffs and unusual rock formations, explains why the peninsula is supposed to provide a sample of all that Icelandic nature has to offer.
Distance from Reykjavík, ca 170km
Often called the capital of Snæfellsnes peninsula, the small village of Stykkishólmur is considered one of the more magical municipalities in the country. Surrounded by historical sites and natural beauty, the town is located on the north shore of the peninsula. Characteristic of the town are all its small and colourful houses, built around the harbour where fishing boats are docked alongside cruise ships and ferries.
Activities for travellers visiting Stykkishólmur are numerous. To name a couple, the Snæfellsnes Folk Museum, located inside a 19th-century wooden house, features an informative exhibition worth checking out, and in the nearby area majestic mountains boast many scenic hiking trips.
The town is also the gateway to the Breiðarfjörður islands and several companies organise daily boat trips from the harbour during summer months. A trip to Flatey, the largest island on the Breiðafjörður bay, is a worthwhile journey, as is a sight-seeing cruise among the thousands of small islands where one can spot puffins, eagles and other wild birds flying around the boat while tasting freshly caught scallops.
After exploring everything the town and its surroundings have to offer, restaurant and café Narfeyrarstofa, located in the heart of Stykkishólmur, is an ideal destination where one can enjoy a picturesque view over the harbour before heading back home again.
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