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Best 16 Things to Do on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in Iceland

If you’ve only got a few days in Iceland, a tour along the Snaefellsnes Peninsula is one of the best ways to spend them.

I’ve driven the entire ring road around Iceland, and the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in West Iceland is just as scenic as the rest of the country – if not more.

It’s nicknamed “mini Iceland” because it has all of the main attractions you can find throughout the country, including waterfalls, national parks, hot springs, small towns, black sand beaches, and more!

This post will go over all the best things to do along a self-guided tour of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, plus tips on getting around, where to stay, and how much time to spend.


You won’t get bored of driving on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in Iceland!

Getting from Reykjavik to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Getting to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula From Reykjavik is easy. The best way to see the Snaefellsnes Peninsula is by hiring a car. You just need to get out of Reykjavik onto Highway 1, also known as the Ring Road (the main road around the country). The road conditions are very good.

Soon after you get out of the city, you will be blown away by the natural beauty of Iceland. I couldn’t stop pulling over to take photos!


After about an hour of driving and a super cool 6km underwater tunnel, you will come to the town of Borgarnes. This is a great place to stop for a gas/coffee break and get groceries. The gas station has a beautiful view, and a short walk away is a Bonus grocery store.

Pro tip: Bonus is the cheapest place to get groceries in Iceland. Buying your own food and not eating out at restaurants is one of the best ways to save money while traveling in Iceland. It’s pretty much essential if you’re road tripping Iceland on a budget.

From Bogarnes, you will turn left onto Route 54 and start your journey on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.

And check out my Iceland Itinerary 3 Days and my Iceland Itinerary 5 days to help plan your visit to this beautiful country. I also visited the Blue LagoonInside the Volcano and found some of the best hotels in Iceland for seeing the northern lights.

Visiting the Snaefellsnes Peninsula on a day trip from Reykjavik is also possible.

Things to do along the Snaefellsnes Peninsula

1. Landbrotalaug Hot Pot Springs

The first point of interest on this large peninsula is the Landbrotalaug Hot Pot Springs. To get there, drive along Highway 54 for about half an hour and then turn to the left of the road onto a dirt road.

After a few minutes, you will reach a parking lot with some toilets you can change in. They were gross, so I just changed in the car!

Finding the hot pools was a little confusing. I walked over to the water and dipped my hand in, only to find freezing water. I was thinking to myself, where on earth are the hot springs? Eventually, I realized it was just a couple of the pools that were hot. They are the ones under the white tap in the photo below.

Snaefellsness-Peninsula Hot Springs

It was freezing that day and I debated if I even had the courage to take off my clothes, but I’m SO happy that I went in. Being in the hot springs surrounded by Iceland’s wild beauty was one of my favorite trip moments. I soaked in the pools for a long time because it was so cozy and warm, and I had them all to myself!

Snaefellsnes Peninsula hot springs

2. Gerðuberg Cliffs

The next point of interest is the Gerðuberg Cliffs, which are just 10 minutes away from the hot springs. You continue down Highway 54 and then turn right down a dirt road.

The Gerduberg cliffs are one of Iceland’s most impressive basalt column sites.  You can hike up and along the cliffs but the day that I went was quite windy, so I just made a quick photo stop.

Gerðuberg Cliffs

3. Ytri Tunga Seal Beach

Continue the drive for another half an hour to Ytri Tunga Seal Beach. This beach is right off the highway to the left of the road, and there is a large parking lot. At the site, there is a lovely beach you can walk along and search for seals.

I saw the seals to the right of the beach on some big black rocks along the shore. These fun little guys were soaking in the water and putting on quite a show for us. It was the only place I saw seals in Iceland, so definitely stop here if you love wildlife!

Ytri Tunga Seal Beach

4. Bjarnarfoss Waterfall

After the seal show, continue the drive for 15 minutes to Bjarnarfoss waterfall. Along the way, there is a food truck to the right you can stop at for burgers and fries.

The food was tasty, and they had veggie burgers! There is also a washroom you can use next to the burger stand.

Bjarnarfoss Waterfall food

Bjanarfoss waterfall is right off the main highway, and you can see it from the road, but there is a parking lot to pull into if you want a closer view. You can get out and admire the waterfall from below or hike up for a closer view.

Bjarnarfoss Waterfall

5. The Black Church of Budir

Across the road from the waterfall is Budir black church, also known as little black church. When I visited, two people were taking wedding photos in front of it – so cute!

The church is picturesque and worth a quick stop. The scenery around the church is lovely too. You can see the ocean as well as the glacier in the background.

The Black Church of Budir

6. Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge

Less than a 15-minute drive is the Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge, another interesting geological formation. The hike to Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge takes about half an hour from the road, so ensure you have ample time.

The gorge is located on the Eastern side of the mountain known as Botnsfjall and is accessible to climb into during the summer, although you’ll want waterproof shoes.

The gorge doesn’t seem immediately accessible, but as you get closer to the base you can climb in. Within the split, the walls are covered with vibrant green moss.

7. Towns of Arnastapi & Hellnar

Just 5 minutes from the Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge is Arnastapi, a quaint small seaside down. This is a good place to spend the night, as you will likely be tired from all the day’s activities, and it is almost halfway through the peninsula.

Within Arnarstapi, there are a few cute hotels and guesthouses. This Seaside Glass House looks amazing, as do these adorable cottages next to a mountain.

Another place you could spend the night is the town is Hellnar, about a 15-minute drive away from Arnastapi. If you have some extra time and are feeling up for more adventure, there is a great hike from the town of Arnastapi to Hellnar. This takes about  1.5 hours and has nice views of both towns and the surrounding ocean.

Hellnar is also home to the Londrangar Basalt cliffs. These are interesting because the basalt columns are sticking out of the ocean, and it almost looks like a castle reaching out to the sea.

There is a parking lot near the cliffs and lots of walking trails around. Puffins and Fulmars also nest in this area, so keep an eye out for them.

From wherever you spend the night, continue the drive towards Snaefellsjokull National Park the next day.

Along the way, you will see Snaefellsjokull glacier in the distance, which becomes even more magnificent as you get closer.

8. Snæfellsjökull Glacier

While in snæfellsjökull national park, you will have epic views of the Snaefellsjokull Glacier. This sub-glacial Volcano is at the tip of the peninsula and is so large that it is the perfect place to see Reykjavik on clear days.

But you can also opt to get closer by driving in towards it or even go on a hike through the glacier. The hike will take about 5-6 hours with an average ascend time of 3-5 hours. The total elevation gain is 760m, and the total hiking distance is 7-8 km.

Snæfellsjökull Glacier

9. Djúpalónssandur Black Sand Beach

Snaefellsjokull National Park is also home to two magnificent beaches, which are about 25 minutes away from each other on opposite ends of the park.

The first beach, Djúpalónssandur, faces south to the ocean – buffering each pebble on the beach perfectly smooth. Walking along the beach, you will also find interesting lava rock formations.

10. Skarðsvík Beach

Skarðsvík Beach is a golden sand beach, which is rare in Iceland. Apparently, on sunny days, you can see people sunbathing, swimming in the sea., and jumping off the cliffs. This is one of the loveliest white sand beaches in Iceland.

I find this hard to imagine, as it was quite chilly when I was there! Either way, the beach is lovely and well worth stopping in the park.

iceland beach

Golden Sand Beach in Iceland

11. Saxhóll crater

In between the two beaches is Saxhóll Crater. This attraction is a quick stop off the road and great for those not wanting to hike too long.

The crater is approximately 100 m high, with a useful walking path and steps. From the top of the crater, you will be rewarded with incredible views over the Atlantic Ocean and the dried lava fields of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

12. Town of Ólafsvík

After leaving the park, continue the drive along the North Side of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, which somehow becomes even more beautiful.

About 20 minutes of driving, you will come across the cute town of Ólafsvík. This is a great rest stop for gas, food, or a place to spend the night. I stayed at Vid Havid guesthouse. This place is super cozy and right next to a beach with an incredible midnight sunset.

Beautiful Sunset outside Vid Guesthouse

13. Kirkjufell Mountain

Another 20-minute drive from Ólafsvík, you will be at one of the best stops on the Snæfellsnes peninsula – Kirkjufell Mountain and Waterfalls.

It’s one of the top waterfalls in Iceland, so it’s best to go there early in the morning or late at night to avoid the crowds. I went at about 10 pm (yay, midnight sun!) and there were still a few people there.

Kirkjufell Mountain

The waterfall is right off the highway and easy to access. While I didn’t find it as impressive as some of the others in Iceland, what makes this stop special is the unique mountain formation behind it.

14. Bjarnarhofn Shark Museum

If you want to try fermented shark while in Iceland, the Bjarnarhofn Shark Museum is an excellent addition to your Snaefellsnes Peninsula Itinerary. This operation has been the family’s livelihood for generations, and they are still the region’s leading producer.

During a visit, guests can taste the shark meat, along with a shot of the famous Icelandic schnapps Brennivin and dried fish ‘jerky’. There is also a folksy museum inside where you can learn about the history, along with the family’s fishing boats and processing tools.

15. Berserkjahraun Lava Fields

15-minutes down the road are the ancient Berserkjahraun lava fields. The lava field was created after four scoria craters erupted in short intervals around 4000 years ago. The two largest craters are Rauðkúla and Grákúla, 379 and 211 meters wide, respectively.

From there, you can cut across the peninsula on Highway 56 to get to Reykjavik or continue along Highway 54.

16. Stykkishólmur

A last optional stop on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula is the picturesque fishing town of Stykkishólmur, the largest town in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. This is a great place to stop for food and fuel, with several quaint gift shops, exhibitions, and charming buildings around the town.

There is also a volcanic museum where you can better understand Iceland’s wild natural environment.


If you have extra time, you could spend a day or two here as there are lots of adventure activities like sea kayaking, mountain hiking, and exploring waterfalls. Stykkishólmur is also a great place to chase the Northern lights in Iceland if you are visiting during winter.

Depending on where you are going next in Iceland, you can either continue on Highway 54 and head up North or turn back South towards Reykjavik, which is about a two-hour drive from Stykkishólmur.

How to get around Iceland’s Snaefellsnes Peninsula

To get around the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, you will either rent a car or join a guided tour. There are several Snaefellsnes Peninsula tours from Reykjavik, such as this full-day tour.

Renting a car is an excellent option as it gives you the freedom and flexibility to stop at many sights and stay as long as you want. Most of the peninsula is gravel road and google maps will help you to get around.

Tip: if you are going to be driving the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in Iceland, I recommend NOT speeding. I was caught speeding on a speed cam and got a lovely 850 Euro ticket – no joke! The speed limit is 90, and there are cameras, so watch out.

An alternative option would be to hitchhike, but this might be challenging if you want to make multiple stops on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. If you are only trying to get to one location (i.e., the national park), it could work.

Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world for hitchhiking. It’s fairly common to see – I picked up two hitchhikers on my way to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula!

How long to spend on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula

It is possible to drive the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in one full day, but it would be a very busy and long one. Two days is ideal, but if you want to spend more time exploring each area, then 3 or more is better. It’s such a beautiful spot with a lot to see. The summer months are generally the best time to visit although winter visits can make for some dramatic landscapes.

This guest post was written by Lora Pope. Lora is a full-time digital nomad on a quest to visit every country and pet as many dogs as possible. Over the last 15 years, she has traveled solo to 70+ countries and six continents. She currently calls Puerto Vallarta, Mexico home, where she runs the website Take Me To Puerto Vallarta.

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