If you’re planning your own Ring Road adventure and looking for the best things to do in Snæfellsnes Peninsula, you’re in the right place. Often called “Iceland in Miniature,” Snæfellsnes showcases many of the geological wonders and natural beauty that Iceland is famous for, all within a relatively concentrated and easily accessible area. From stunning waterfalls, dramatic coastlines, and black sand beaches, the peninsula offers a microcosm of Iceland’s most iconic landscapes. Read on to make the most of your time exploring Snæfellsnes Peninsula, including tips on where to stay and how to see as many sights as possible in one day!
- Is Snafellsnes Peninsula worth visiting?
- When is the Best Time to Visit Snaefellsnes Peninsula?
- Where to Stay in Snaefellsnes Peninsula
- Best Things to Do in Snaefellsnes Peninsula
- 1. See Kirkjufell & Kirkjufellsfoss – Snaefellsnes’s top highlight!
- 2. Take in the Views at Lóndrangar
- 3. Look through the Keyhole at Hellnar Arch
- 4. Learn About Bárðar saga Snæfellsáss Statue
- 5. Take Photos of Búðakirkja – an unmissable gem & one of my personal favorites!
- 6. Explore Djúpalónssandur Beach
- 7. Find Seals at Ytri Tunga Beach
- BONUS! Walk the Grounds of Laufas Turf Houses
- Additional Things to Do in Snaefellsnes Peninsula
- Map of Snaefellsnes Peninsula
- Snaefellsnes One Day Itinerary
- How to Get from Akureyri to Snaefellsnes
- How to Get Around Snaefellsnes Peninsula
- Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re starting in Reykjavik, here are some places to visit in the Golden Circle on the way. If you’re driving counterclockwise, consider stopping by the Diamond Circle before heading over to Snæfellsnes.
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Is Snafellsnes Peninsula worth visiting?
Snæfellsnes Peninsula is 100%, a must-visit destination on your Ring Road trip! As someone who experienced the magic of this region firsthand and fell in love with the iconic Kirkjufell mountain and the moody Búðakirkja black church, I wholeheartedly recommend including Snæfellsnes as part of your trip. The peninsula allows you to get a taste of Iceland’s most stunning features in a compact area, making it super easy to explore the major highlights in one day!
When is the Best Time to Visit Snaefellsnes Peninsula?
I’m biased because I visited Iceland in July but I found summer to be perfect for visiting Snaefellsnes. The longer days and milder weather provide ample opportunity to explore and appreciate the stunning landscape in the area – even the drives themselves are spectacularly luscious during this time of year.
Spring and autumn (May and September) will have similar weather conditions, less daylight, but fewer crowds. Winter is the most dramatically different, exchanging lush greenery for snow-covered hills and potentially offering a glimpse of the magnificent Northern Lights.
Ultimately, Snaefellsnes is beautiful year-round so the best time to visit depends on what you want to see.
Where to Stay in Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Stykkishólmur is the largest fishing town on the peninsula and the best place to stay if you want to spend the night on the peninsula. It’s also the perfect location if you’re planning on taking the ferry to or from the Westfjords.
🏡 Where to Stay: We spent the night at Akerri Guesthouse (⭐️ 9.5) and could not recommend it enough. There are so many personal touches to the property and you can tell how much the hosts care that their guests have a wonderful experience. Our room was clean and spacious and the hosts prepared homemade breakfast in the morning. The best part is that it was a 1 minute walk to the port, which made catching our 9:00 am ferry super convenient. There’s also a lovely local restaurant across the street called Narfeyrarstofa, which makes for a perfect lunch spot before you start your drive around the peninsula. I still think about their sourdough bread and garlic butter sometimes…
Best Things to Do in Snaefellsnes Peninsula
1. See Kirkjufell & Kirkjufellsfoss – Snaefellsnes’s top highlight!
Kirkjufell (“Church Mountain”) is one of the most photographed mountains in Iceland, recognizable for its arrowhead shape. It is an example of a “nunatak” – a natural phenomenon that refers to a peak which is free of ice that otherwise covers the rest of the mountain. Kirkjufell owes its pointy shape from being located between two glaciers, which has caused it to be carved and shaped by the elements over time. Its distinctive layers are a result of repeated volcanic eruptions that have occurred over millions of years. It has since become an iconic representation of the geological forces in Iceland that create stunning landscapes.
Fun fact: Kirkjufell is another Iceland natural wonder that is featured in Game of Thrones. It is referred to as the “arrowhead mountain” by the Hound and company in seasons and 7.
Kirkjufell Mountain Hike
If you want a birds eye view of Grundarfjörður and the northern side of Snæfellsnes Peninsula, you can climb Kirkjufell. The hike takes about 1.5-3 hours depending on your fitness and comfort level.
Do not do this hike if you have vertigo or the mountain is wet. The trail (aka well-trodden path) can closely hug the edge of the mountain, making it treacherous and potentially fatal for the unprepared. Here is a great guide with some pictures to help you visualize what the hike will be like.
⌛TIME SPENT: 1 hour (This hour was spent mostly photographing Kirkjufell. Unfortunately, it was a bit rainy when we went so we couldn’t do the hike)
2. Take in the Views at Lóndrangar
The two pillars that distinguish the Lóndrangar basalt cliffs are all that remain of a volcanic crater. Even though it was cloudy, Lóndrangar is still beautiful and remains one of my favorite stops in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
This area is steeped in Icelandic folklore. According to some stories, the two pillars that make up the Lóndrangar cliffs were once a troll couple who were turned to stone by the rays of the sun. Others believe that Lóndrangar is home to elves, who protect the land and keep it safe from harm. Regardless of what you believe, there’s no denying the magic and enchantment of Lóndrangar.
💡TIP: If you’re considering hiking between the Lóndrangar cliffs and Malarrif Lighthouse, it’s better to park at the Malariff Visitor Center Parking Lot and walk towards the cliffs.
3. Look through the Keyhole at Hellnar Arch
Less than 10 minutes away, you’ll find Gatklettur (“Hellnar Arch”) which is located between the villages of Arnarstapi and Hellnar. The stone arch stands tall above shore and its unique keyhole shape is like a door to the ocean. It’s notable in person but I don’t think it’s worth spending a lot of time here unless you come during sunset, especially if photography is your primary purpose.
⌛TIME SPENT: 15-30 minutes
📍ADDRESS: Hellnar View Point
4. Learn About Bárðar saga Snæfellsáss Statue
In just 6 minutes, you can walk from Hellnar Arch to Bárðar saga Snæfellsáss Statue. In the Saga of Bárður, Bárðar was a half-troll who named and inhabited the peninsula around the 9th century. Much of the events and the names in the surrounding area are related to Bárðar and his stories, which you can read more about here.
⌛TIME SPENT: 5 minutes
📍ADDRESS: Bárðar saga Snæfellsáss Statue
Arnarstapi to Hellnar Hike
The Arnarstapi to Hellnar hike is a beautiful coastal walk stretching approximately 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles) that takes around 1-1.5 hours to complete one way. Not only will you see stunning ocean views and lava fields, you can also stop at Hellnar Church, Bardur Snaefellsnes, and Gatklettur along the way. Note, while it’s commonly referred to as “Arnarstapi to Hellnar Hike,” you can start in Hellnar and see all the same things.
💡TIP: If you have the time, take advantage of the golden hour during sunset – the combination of the natural landscape and the warm hues of the setting sun creates an unforgettable photo opp.
Arnarstapi to Hellnar Hike Map: Hellnar Church→ Bárður Saga Snæfellsás Statue → Gatklettur (Hellnar Arch)
5. Take Photos of Búðakirkja – an unmissable gem & one of my personal favorites!
Búðakirkja, also known as the “Black Church of Búðir,” is an iconic and picturesque landmark located within a 20 minute drive from Arnarstapi. It was first built in 1703, before being rebuilt in 1848. This small, wooden church, painted entirely in black, offers a striking contrast against its natural surroundings, creating a breathtaking backdrop. I didn’t know what to expect when I added this on the itinerary but I can confirm that it is absolutely one of the most striking churches I’ve seen due to its simple structure, deep black color, and serene nature. Búðakirkja remains one of my favorite places I’ve seen in Iceland.
⌛TIME SPENT: 15-30 minutes
6. Explore Djúpalónssandur Beach
Djúpalónssanduror is a black sand beach located near Snæfellsjökull glacier that’s known for its lava formations and fascinating history. The most notable lava formations are Söngklettur (also referred to as “Singing Rock”) and Gatklettur, a rock with a hole through which you can see Snæfellsjökull glacier. You’ll also find the remnants of the shipwreck The Epine GY7, which serves as a reminder of the dangers that sailors once faced. The beach is also home to what’s popularly referred to as The Lifting Stones, which are large stones of different weights each used to test the strength levels of fishermen.
⌛TIME SPENT: 1 hour
📍ADDRESS: Djúpalónssandur beach
7. Find Seals at Ytri Tunga Beach
If you’re visiting Iceland in the summer, head to Ytri Tunga to see members of the beach’s resident colony. The summer months are the best time to see Harbour, Grey, Hooded, and Ringed Seals lounging on the golden sand shores.
⌛TIME SPENT: 30 minutes
📍ADDRESS: Ytri Tunga Beach Parking
BONUS! Walk the Grounds of Laufas Turf Houses
If you’re traveling from Akureyri and you’ve never seen turf houses before, then I’d highly recommend making a quick pit stop at Laufas Turf Houses before heading over to Snaefellsnes.
Turf houses are housing structures built with a stone foundation, a wooden frame, and turf fitted around the frame in patterned blocks, all of which provide better insulation than homes made solely of wood or stone. There are many turf houses in Iceland but the ones at Laufás are notable for their size and cultural significance. The Laufas Turf Houses have been rebuilt many times since when they were first mentioned in the Book of Settlement between 874-930. The ones you see today were built in the 1800s by reverend Björn Halldórsson and have multiple connecting structures to house the 20-30 people who lived on the farm.
The Laufas Turf Houses are now owned by Akureyri Museum of Art and are part of the National Museum of Iceland. In the summer, the Visitor Center is open daily so you can visit inside one of these homes.
⌛TIME SPENT: 30 minutes
📍ADDRESS: Laufas Museum and Heritage Site
Additional Things to Do in Snaefellsnes Peninsula
If you have more time, here are some other popular attractions around Snaefellsnes Peninsula:
- Snæfellsjökull National Park– home to the Snæfellsjökull glacier and other geological features including the Buðahraun Lava Field and Vatnshellir Lava Cave (Vatnshellir is open during the summer). Fun fact: Snæfellsjökull is the inspiration behind the setting of Jules Verne’s novel “A Journey to the Center of the Earth.”
- Gerðuberg Cliffs – near-perfect row of basalt columns formed by volcanic activity thousands of years ago.
- Svörtuloft Lighthouse – a bright orange lighthouse located about 10-minutes from Skarsdvik Beach by car (4×4 recommended)
- Skarðsvík Beach – one of few golden sand beaches in Iceland, surrounded by basalt cliffs (4×4 recommended)
- Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge, Bjarnarfoss, & Saxhóll Crater – none of these sites are must-see stops but are good to visit if you’re looking for more mini-Iceland geographical landscapes (i.e. tectonic rifts, waterfalls, and volcanic craters).
Map of Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Snaefellsnes Peninsula Map: Ytri Tunga Beach → Búðakirkja → Bárður Saga Snæfellsás Statue → Hellnar Arch Viewpoint → Lóndrangar Cliffs → Djúpalónssandur Beach → Kirkjufell (optimized for shortest driving time)
Snaefellsnes One Day Itinerary
If you only have 1 day (or even just half a day) to explore Snaefellsnes, my top recommendations of must-see places are:
- Kirkjufell & Kirkjufellsfoss – because it’s one of the most iconic mountains in Iceland
- Lóndrangar – for the drama
- Hellnar Arch – for its unique keyhole shape
- Búðakirkja – because it’s the black church in Iceland
- Djúpalónssandur Beach – to see plane wrecks & test your strength
- Ytri Tunga Beach – to see seals (summer only)
If you’re starting your day in Stykkishólmur and have a full day to explore the peninsula, I’d add:
- Snæfellsjökull National Park – for more glaciers, lava fields, and lava caves (oh my!)
- Gerðuberg Cliffs – for more basalt cliffs
- Svörtuloft Lighthouse – for a Wes Anderson vibes
- Arnarstapi to Hellnar Hike – for a slower sightseeing pace
💡TIP: If you’re coming from Akureyri, I’d also recommend checking out the Laufas Turf Houses and the famous troll rock formation at Hvítserkur (weather permitting).
How to Get from Akureyri to Snaefellsnes
If you’re driving around the Ring Road clockwise, you’ll likely spend a night in Akureyri as you make your way over to Snaefellsnes and eventually back to Reykjavik. Though it’ll be a long day of driving and exploring, it’s completely possible to drive from Akureyri to Snaefellsnes Peninsula and explore the peninsula in the same day (or vice versa). Here’s some information to help plan your trip if you’re considering the drive.
Akureyri to Snaefellsnes Drive
The drive from Hofn to Seydisfjordur is 353 kilometers and takes approximately 4.5 hours without stops. You’ll start on Route 1 for the first half of the drive and then will take Route 68, 59, and 54 for the rest of the way.
Is it worth it to drive from Akureyri to Snaefellsnes?
While the drive is beautiful (as are most drives in Iceland), you’re likely better off taking a quick break and heading straight towards Snaefellsnes so you can do more sightseeing around the peninsula. Here are some stops to consider if you’re looking to break up your drive from Akureyri to Snaefellsnes:
- Laufas Turf Houses – well-preserved icelandic turf houses from the 19th century (mentioned above)
- Hvítserkur – the famous basalt rock formation that looks like a troll jutting out from the ocean
- Hraunfossar Waterfalls – beautiful area with small cascading falls and creeks
- Deildartunguhver – Europe’s most powerful hot spring
How to Get Around Snaefellsnes Peninsula
The best way to get around Snaefellsnes Peninsula is by car. If you’re doing a self-driving tour of Iceland along the Ring Road, the Snaefellsnes Peninsula is an ideal start or end point since it’s less than 2 hours away from Reykjavik. If we hadn’t gone to the Westfjords, Snaefellsnes would have been the final destination of our trip.
Frequently Asked Questions
Snæfellsnes Peninsula is located in western Iceland, located northwest of Reykjavik and southwest of the Westfjords. Its proximity to Reykjavik makes it an ideal start or end destination for those doing a Ring Road road trip.
The drive from Reykjavík to the Diamond Circle is roughly 160 kilometers and would take around 2 hours. If you’re coming from Akureyri in the north, the drive is almost 400 kilometers long and will take about 4.5 hours.
Driving time around the peninsula is about 1-2 hours depending on where you’re starting and what stops you want to make. This doesn’t include the time you’ll spend at each site so it’s best to know what you want to do ahead of time, especially if you only plan to spend a day.
You’ll want to dedicate at least 1 full day to exploring Snaefellsnes Peninsula. That will give you enough time to appreciate and take pictures of the main highlights in the area including Kirkjufell, Lóndrangar Cliffs, Hellnar Arch Viewpoint, Bárður Saga Snæfellsás Statue, Búðakirkja, Djúpalónssandur Beach, and Ytri Tunga Beach.
Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Snaefellsnes Peninsula is a must-visit for anyone considering a trip to Iceland. With stunning natural landscapes, charming small towns, and plenty of top things to do and see, the peninsula offers a great getaway for a single day or an overnight stay.
Here, an array of Iceland’s most notable natural wonders are on display throughout the dramatic landscapes of West iceland. Make sure to spend at least a day exploring main attractions like Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall and enjoying stunning views at Londrangar Cliffs. In the summer, you can catch the resident seals at Ytri Tunga. If you have more time, consider spending a few hours at Snaefellsjokull National Park where you can take a guided tour through lava fields and caves. There are plenty of charming fishing villages to explore like Arnarstapi, Hellnar, and Stykkishólmur (the largest of them all). No matter how you choose to spend your time, I know you’ll find the peninsula absolutely breathtaking.
As usual, feel free to leave comments if you have any questions & I will always reply 😊