If you are looking for an exciting drive or a tour in Iceland where you can comfortably drive and see the magnificent landscape and beautiful natural wonders, astonishing small villages and places with entertaining stories, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula Drive is an excellent option. Especially, if you have your own car, a camper or a rental a car. It is quite possible to take the Snæfellsnes Peninsula drive in a day, but you have to ask yourself; "am I really in a hurry when traveling?" We cannot suggest or advise such a rush as we encourage people to enjoy the landscape and the various natural wonders and appreciate the stories that have developed for centuries. If you are staying in Reykjavík, the whole drive is approximately 500 kilometers. The whole area has a good cell phone cover and is never specifically remote.
At first, you drive on a lowland area called Mýrar with the whole Snæfellsnes peninsula in front of you with its many mountains and the glacier Snæfellsjökull quite visible at the far end
Enjoy the drive and inhale the natural wonders
To get the most out of your drive, we recommend three days and two nights to enjoy the awesome Snæfellsnes Peninsula. The drive is both a scenic drive and also a place where you find many impressive natural wonders to stop by. The Snæfellsnes peninsula, located in the West Region or Wes Iceland, also has interesting, and beautiful small towns and villages with excellent accommodation, camping sites, cafés and restaurants and some offer exciting tours and activity. Our tour begins and ends in Borgarnes in the West Region, a town that is only 70 kilometers from Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland. It is a road where you don't take the same way back and, thus, can see new things all through your drive.
What you will see
Driving on this tour around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula on Road Nr. 54, you will see a large crater, fields of lava, waterfalls, basalt columns, stacks and pillars by the shoreline, an underground cave in the lava, ravines with strange stories attached to them and places from stories in the Sagas that happened over a thousand years ago. You will also see the very impressive Snæfellsnes glacier. It is a remarkable journey through landscape and history.
Snæfellsjökull glaceir has its own power
The roads, your car and the best time of the year to take this tour drive
This is a trip that you can take at any time during the year, although the most exciting and easiest time is from the middle of May until the end of September. The colors of summer also make the lava moss and vegetation very beautiful, giving you a much more enjoyable experience. But experiencing Iceland in the autumn and winter is also quite interesting. Any car, small or large, can be used for this drive as the roads are almost all nice asphalt roads except for a part on the Northeast part of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula that only has a gravel road. In winter, it is always better and more secure to have a car with a front-wheel drive or preferably a four-wheel drive since they are more stable when the roads are icy and slippery.
Road trip Snæfellsnes Peninsula Drive
First day: Borgarnes - Arnarstapi
When you drive through the town of Borgarnes heading north, you take a turn to your left on a roundabout at the edge of this small town to Road Nr. 54 Snæfellsnesvegur or The Snæfellsnes Road. At first, you drive on a lowland area called Mýrar with the whole Snæfellsnes peninsula in front of you with its many mountains and the glacier Snæfellsjökull quite visible at the far end. After a 20 kilometers drive, you will start to notice a large crater in front of you, standing alone on the lowland and dominating the view. This is Eldborg crater and your first stop. To access the walking trail to Eldborg, you turn left after approximately 35 kilometers to Road Nr. 5610 to a farm called Snorrastaðir. From the parking lot, you take the 2.7-kilometer walk.
When you continue on Road Nr. 54, after the hiking tour to Eldborg, you only drive a few kilometers when you reach the short path to Gerðuberg; this is a spectacular cliff with a really interesting geological formation of basalt columns. The basalt columns are so regular and so even that you would almost think this is man-made instead of made by mother nature. This should be your second stop; you can drive to a parking lot by the cliffs.
Gerðuberg basalt columns cliffs is a place that is a must to visit in Snæfellsnes Peninsula
From Gerðuberg cliffs to your next and third recommended stop, Bjarnarfoss waterfall is approximately 55 kilometers. On a clear day, this is a great scenic drive since there are beautiful mountains on your right side and the glacier Snæfellsjökull at the end of the peninsula in front of you. Bjarnarfoss is an impressive waterfall with a spectacular basalt column formation in the cliff. There is a parking lot beside the road and a path to the waterfall.
From Bjarnarfoss, you turn towards Road Nr. 574 and take another turn to your left to Road Nr. 5723 to Búðir. From the parking lot at Búðir, there is a beautiful hike by the shoreline. You only need to walk about 500 meters -1.5 kilometers to enjoy this part of Snæfellsnes. It is an enjoyable walk where the rush is not required -- but leave the sandals in the car as this is mostly walking in sand. You should use your hiking shoes, like in most places in Iceland.
Arnarstapi is a small hamlet near Snæfellsjökull
If you prefer to dine at a restaurant, you should consider the very fine restaurant at the Hotel Búðir. From Búðir you drive approximately 20 kilometers to the west on Road Nr.574 to Arnarstapi. Both Arnarstapi, and the nearby very tiny village or hamlet Hellnar are excellent places to stay in addition to the Hotel at Búðir. For accommodations, there are also many places in the neighborhood that offer affordable stay, and there is also a beautiful camping area at Arnarstapi. This should wrap up your first day at the Snæfellsnes Peninsula drive.
Second day - Arnarstapi - Grundarfjörður
You should begin your day by taking the spectacular 2.5-kilometer hiking trail from Arnarstapi to Hellnar. It is an excellent marked trail by the shoreline, filled with unusual geological formations and lovely birdlife. In contrast to the coastline, you have the great Snæfellsjökull glacier and the mountain Stapafell on your right or north. If you take this track, you probably have to walk the same way back to Arnarstapi, but it is entirely worth it. At Arnarstapi you should salute the statue of Bárður Snæfellsás. Bárður is a historical person who had quite an impact on the surrounding area. His story is both hilarious and kind of sad and is part of the Icelandic Sagas.
The hike between Arnarstapi and Hellnar is a perfect hike to start your second day
After the hike, we recommend a visit to Rauðfeldsgjá, a ravine with an amazing story, where Bárður Snæfellsás plays a prominent role written more than one thousand years ago. If you are coming from Arnarstapi, you need to drive a few kilometers back on Road Nr. 574. You should read the highly interesting story here about Rauðfeldsgjá, and also the information about Bárður Snæfellsás.
From Rauðfeldsgjá you continue west on Road Nr. 574 to Lóndrangar. Although the stacks are quite impressive, and visible from the road viewing panel, we recommend driving a bit farther than the viewing panel; take the left turn to Malarrif and walk the one-kilometer walk by the shore to the stacks. It is a more impressive view and also more interesting for photographing.
Lóndrangar guarding the glacier Snæfellsjökull
From Lóndrangar you continue on Road Nr. 574 for a few kilometers, then you take a left turn on Road Nr. 575 to the parking lot by Djúpalónssandur and Dritvík. Both are beautiful places to visit with a fascinating history. Although the walk or short hike to Dritvík is about an hour and a half, it is an enjoyable scenic walk with stunning formations of stacks along the way. Both places are ideal for photography, especially on a bright day where the glacier Snæfellsjökull is visible in the background.
Dritvík is a mystical place with an interesting history
After Djúpalónssandur and Dritvík, you continue on Road Nr. 574. After a few minutes drive you will find a small cabin on you right side selling tours down to the deep cave Vatnshellir (Water Cave) Here you can take a guided tour deep under the dark lava with stunning formations. At this point, there is an exciting turn to Öndverðarnes, the westernmost point at Snæfellsnes Peninsula. The road is a bit difficult and worse than a regular gravel road, but along the way, you can visit Skarðsvík beach and also Svörtuloft cliffs, an excellent addition to the tour but a bit of a loop that takes about one and a half hour with all the stops. The cliffs at Svörtuloft display fantastic structures of lava shaped by the mighty force of the Atlantic ocean.
Svörtuloft cliffs - a fascinating place by the shore
When you approach the northern side of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, your journey is more like a scenic drive, and you'll make visits to small towns and villages rather than view natural wonders. The first stop is in the two small villages of Hellisandur and Rif. At Hellisandur, there is an excellent opportunity to visit the Maritime Museum in the Fishermen's Garden. It is a good occasion to get an understanding of the kind of hardship it took to live in Iceland only a few centuries ago. It is also a good idea to walk the village of Hellisandur by the shore from the parking lot at the Maritime Museum.
When you drive towards Rif, the twin village, you should take a turn on Road Nr. 5738 to the church Inngjaldhólsskirkja. Here you have a good view of the magnificent surroundings in a place called “Under the Glacier.” At Rif, you should stop at Gamla Rif Café and taste their fabulous fish soup.
The church at Ingjaldshóll is a great place to stop for a spectacular view
From Rif, you continue on Road Nr. 574, and your drive takes you to the small town of Ólafsvík, less than 10 kilometers away. Before leaving this part of Snæfellsnes Peninsula, you might want to take the short hike to the beautiful waterfall Svöðufoss and basalt column cliffs nearby. The small and friendly town of Ólafsvík is also quite beautiful with old houses and a small harbor. It is entirely worth it to walk from the town up to the slopes and have a good view over the shoreline. After that stop, you continue to Grundarfjörður town where you should find accommodation or stay at the campsite. Since there is only about 20 kilometers drive from the town of Grundarfjörður to the town of Ólafsvík, you can also find suitable accommodation at Ólafsvík, and the Camp Site in Ólafsvík is quite new and among the best in Iceland.
Third day: Grundarfjörður - Borgarnes
A great beginning on your third day is to walk from the town of Grundarfjörður, a parking lot at the center or from the camping site, to Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall, and photograph and view the waterfall and the mountain, Kirkjufell. There is a limited opportunity to park by the waterfall, and because of traffic on the main Road Nr. 574, the walk from the town is highly recommended. The mountain is probably one of the most renowned mountains in Iceland, and few mountains in Iceland are photographed more than Kirkjufell. Not surprisingly as it is one of the most beautiful mountains in Iceland.
Kirkjufell in Grundarfjörður town is one of the most famous mountains in Iceland and probably the most photographed place in the country
From Grundarfjörður village, you continue on Road Nr. 54 Snæfellsvegur to the east. After you pass the bridge over the fjord Hraunsfjörður (Lavafjord), you take a turn after a two-and-a-half-kilometer drive to a gravel road, Berserkjahraunsvegur Road Nr. 558, to view Berserkjahraun. You continue on that road for about 1.7 kilometers and take a left turn that takes you to the edge and over the lava back to Road Nr. 54, so this is an unusual loop that gives you a great view of the lava. The name comes from the Sagas, and you should also read Berserkirnir in Berserkjahraun. When you have returned to Road Nr. 54, you continue west to one of the most beautiful and interesting towns in Iceland, Stykkishólmur.
You should begin your arrival to Stykkishólmur with a tour with Sæferðir to sail around the many islands in the large fjord, Breiðafjörður. The Vikingsushi Adventure is highly recommended. After the boat tour, you should take a walk around the town, and preferably up to the little lighthouse on the island beside the harbor that is now attached to land. The views from the lighthouse and the top of the island are spectacular in all directions.
Stykkishólmur town is one of the most beautiful and also one of the most interesting small towns in Iceland
From Stykkishólmur, we recommend that you continue on Road Nr. 54 to the west. Mind you that this part of the road is a gravel road, and harder to drive for those that are not used to gravel roads. You have to drive a bit slower and take care. On the other hand, this is quite a scenic drive with a good view to the large fjord Breiðafjörður and all the islands.
To sail with Sæferðir around the islands of Breiðafjörður is a unique experience
When you reach the intersection of Road Nr. 60 that takes you back to Road Nr. 1, where your drive began, you should continue for the moment then take a right turn after a few hundred meters on Road Nr. 586 to Eiríksstaðir. At Eiríksstaðir is a small museum in the place where the Viking Erik the Red lived before heading to the west, eventually making it possible for his son the Viking Leif the Lucky to find America. You should visit the museum and learn the story of the Viking Erik the Red and Leif the Lucky.
Eiríksstaðir farm is an excellent place to finish your Snæfellsnes Peninsula drive and see how Icelanders lived at the time of settlement
After learning about this story from the days of settlement in Iceland, you drive back to Road Nr. 60 and head south. You will eventually come to Road Nr. 1, which will take you to Borgarfjörður and Reykjavík. On you way to Borgarfjörður you should take the opportunity and walk on top of the small mountain Grábrók and also visit the waterfall Glanni.
We are confident that this is an excellent plan to see and explore the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, a plan that will give you a good insight into life in Iceland throughout the centuries, and also a good view on some of the spectacular natural wonders in Snæfellsnes.