You’ve completed the first day of your 2-day itinerary exploring the Snaefellsnes peninsula in West Iceland. Now it’s time to begin day two! We’ll be visiting some of the peninsula’s more well-known sights, such as Snaefellsjökull National Park and Kirkjufell mountain. These names may or may not ring a bell now, but both have their respective places of importance in both popular literature and television. Game of Thrones fans and anyone who has read Jules Verne’s seminal 1864 sci-fi classic are in for a treat as both Snaefellsjökull and Kirkjufell have been featured in these works. So let’s see what we’ve got on the Snaefellsnes peninsula!
Snaefellsjökull National Park
This area of Iceland has a lot of folklore and unusual stories surrounding it. One of the things people say about the area is that it’s a meeting point for aliens! Whether it’s the Northern Lights or simply a weird feeling people get when they’re in the area, everyone is sure there’s something strange going on. Another theory is that Snaefellsjökull is one of the world’s seven energy centers (chakras). Again, something having to do with energy. This area has been shown to have large amounts of electromagnetic activity. So much so that visitors who come here often feel fatigue and sleep disturbances. It’s a very real phenomenon, and perhaps this is why theories about aliens and chakras have cropped up.
Snaefellsjökull National Park and glacier are famous in their own right. Classic fiction lovers will no doubt recognize this name from the novel Journey to the Center of the Earth. In the book, the main characters must travel to the top of the glacial mountain in order to find the entrance that leads to the center of the earth. Once they do, they embark on an adventure through a lava cave. They encounter otherworldly scenery, prehistoric animals, and much more.
How To Arrive: Leaving Arnarstapi and heading west on Útnesvegur road (Route 574), you’ll pass the small village of Hellnar. After about 15 minutes, you’ll get to the park’s Gestastofa visitor’s center. Pick up any information you need here.
Vatnshellir Lava Cave
You’ll get to reenact the exploits of the characters from Jules Verne’s novel in this Icelandic lava cave. Vatnshellir lava cave inspired the lava tube in the book, so watch out! You’ll descend the staircase into this subterranean opening and walk around 650 feet (around 200 meters) to the end. These volcanic tubes are formed by the movement of lava underneath the hardened surface of lava flows. During your trek, you probably won’t see the fantastic creatures discovered by the book’s adventurers. You are definitely sure to enjoy the colorful walls of dried lava and volcanic rock. For conservation reasons, you’ll need to take part in an official tour in order to access the cave. Book early to make sure you get the chance to view the multicolored rock.
How To Arrive: Keep making your way around Útnesvegur road (Route 574). Vatnshellir cave is just a few minutes away from the Gestastofa visitor’s center.
Djúpalónssandur Black Pebble Beach and Shipwreck
Volcanic activity has shaped Iceland’s stunning landscapes. One of the natural legacies of this is the black, volcanic sand that lines many of our shores. Djúpalónssandur is special in that there isn’t just black sand, but beautiful rounded pebbles. The erosion from the sea over millennia has created these “Pearls of Djúpalón”. One of the things to watch out while you are here is the waves. They can surprise you at any time and are much stronger than they look. Enjoy the views and take lots of pictures, just exercise caution.
How To Arrive: Drive another 3.5 miles (5.5 kilometers) on Útnesvegur road (Route 574) and then take the left turn towards Djúpalónssandur. The road is paved and you’ll arrive in about five minutes.
Kirkjufell Mountain and Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall
These two natural wonders are probably among the most iconic in Iceland. The postcard perfect setting of the mountain in the background with the waterfalls flowing and curving around a bend seem almost too idyllic to be real. It’s no wonder that Kirkjufell is the most photographed mountain in Iceland. Additionally, the location was scouted for season seven of Game of Thrones. In the season opener, the Hound has a vision of a “mountain shaped like an arrowhead”. They will eventually pass this mountain with Jon Snow on their quest to find the White Walkers and the Army of the Dead.
How To Arrive: Continue driving around the western part of the peninsula on 574. Eventually, this road turns back into Route 54. After you’ve driven about an hour, you’ll see the mountain and waterfall on your left. You’ll pass them and then see parking on your right.
Stykkishólmur Fishing Village
The last stop is one of those quaint Icelandic fishing villages that you always see in pictures. Much like Reykjavik and other places in Iceland, there are colorful wooden houses that dot the town overlooking Breiðafjörður bay. This is another spot that has been used in film and television. Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was filmed here. Be sure to stop by the Norwegian house, a regional museum and the volcano museum.
How To Get There: After Kirkjufell you drive another 45 on Snaefellsvegur (Route 54). After turning left onto Kvíabryggja street, you’ll reach Stykkishólmur in about 10 minutes.
A Self-Drive Tour of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula – Day Two
We hope you’ve enjoyed exploring “Iceland in Miniature” with our 2-day itinerary. You’ve seen a diverse collection of the highlights that make Iceland a great place to visit and hopefully had some adventures along the way. Making your way around Iceland by car is the perfect way to explore the country, so have a great time on your mini Iceland road trip!