Day 8 of our Ring Road adventure took us from Akureyri to Snaefellsnes Peninsula, with a brief stop in Eyjafjörður to see the Laufas Turf Houses. We checked in and ate lunch near our guesthouse in Stykkishólmur before driving around to see the main highlights of Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Our highlights of the day include:
- Laufas Turf House
- Driving to Snaefellsnes Peninsula
- Snaefellsnes Peninsula
- End Notes
Laufas Turf House
Less than 30 minutes away from Akureyri, you can visit the Laufas Turf Houses. Turf houses were built with a stone foundation, wooden frame, and turf fitted around the frame in patterned blocks, all of which provided 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 the Akureyri Museum of Art and are part of the National Museum of Iceland. In the summer months, the Visitor Center is open daily so you can visit inside one of these homes.
TIME SPENT: 30 minutes
Driving to Snaefellsnes Peninsula
The drive from Akureyri to Snaefellsnes Peninsula was one of our longest driving days. We original intended to break for ice cream at Erpsstadir Creamery but we ended up doing the drive in one go, thanks to the endless scenic views (and much laughter).
TIME SPENT: 5 hours
Stykkishólmur is a charming fishing town and the largest on the peninsula. From its port, you can take a ferry to the Westfjords, which was perfect for our itinerary. Before venturing to the main highlights of Snaefellsnes Peninsula, we stopped to check into our guesthouse. Located just across the street was the restaurant Narfeyrarstofa, where we had a lovely lunch. I still think about their sourdough bread and garlic butter sometimes…
TIME SPENT: 1 hour
Often referred to as “Iceland in miniature,” Snaefellsnes Peninsula is home to basalt cliffs, beaches, waterfalls, churches, volcanic craters, glaciers, and more. The peninsula is located in West Iceland and can be done as a day trip from Reykjavík. Most of the stops we made along the peninsula are located within 30 minutes from each other.
Our first stop was Lóndrangar Viewpoint in Hellnar. The two pillars that distinguish the Lóndrangar basalt cliffs are all that remain of a volcanic crater. There are a number of stories associated with the area – some legends say the two cliff pillars were a troll couple, while others say the land is home to elves.
TIME SPENT: 15 minutes
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 perfectly shaped keyhole is like a door to the ocean. Unless you come during sunset, I don’t think the view is particularly notable, especially if photography is your primary purpose.
TIME SPENT: 15 minutes
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 around the peninsula are related to Bárðar and his stories, which you can read more about here.
TIME SPENT: 5 minutes
Búðakirkja is a spectacular black church located within a 20-minute drive from Arnarstapi. It is was first built in 1703, before being rebuilt in 1848.
TIME SPENT: 20 minutes
It took us about 30 minutes to drive from Búðakirkja to Kirkjufell. 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 an ice-free peak that otherwise covers the rest of the mountain. Kirkjufell gets its shape from being located between two glaciers and its layers from repeat volcanic eruptions over millions of years.
TIME SPENT: 45 minutes – 1 hour
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.
We spent most of our time in Snaefellsnes Peninsula photographing Kirkjufell. In total, we spent 2 hours exploring and about 1 hour driving from one stop to the next. After 3 hours of sightseeing and driving, we drove 30 minutes back to our guesthouse in Stykkishólmur.
- Akerri Guesthouse Review: We absolutely loved our stay at Akerri Guesthouse 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.
- Snaefellsnes Peninsula in One Day: Originally, we planned to split our time into 2 days to fully explore Snaefellsnes Peninsula. However, we were limited by the ferry schedule which only runs a morning route to the Westfjords on Saturdays. I wouldn’t have changed our plans because we ended up seeing most of the things we wanted to see but it did make for 2 long back-to-back days of sightseeing. If you want to see the Westfjords but are looking to travel at a more leisurely pace, just keep the Stykkishólmur ferry schedule in mind.
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