Snæfellsnes Peninsula is one of the nicest places to see in Iceland. It’s also a bit like a miniature version of the country. Beautiful mountains, volcanic peaks, countless waterfalls, black and golden sand beaches, sea cliffs, endless lava fields, and quirky little villages – you can find all this and so much more in Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
Any list of the ‘best’ places in any destination is obviously a bit biased. This list of the best things to do in Snaefellsnes Peninsula includes all the musts. It’s based on our motto to make the most of every trip, which – in this case – meant to discover the very best of Snaefellsnes Peninsula in a limited time.
This list of the best places to see in Snaefellsnes Peninsula contains more things than you could ever see in a day. The ultimate choice of what to see in Snaefellsnes Peninsula is yours – based on your interests, the weather, the season, and the time that you have.
To help you decide where to go and what to see in Snaefellsnes Peninsula, we list the main highlights, the very best things to do in Snaefellsnes, at the top. So if you are short on time, start with the places that are on top and work your way down through the list. The list and its order are based on my research and our personal experience.
TIP: In our general guide to visiting Snaefellesnes, you can find practical tips for your trip and our suggested Snaefellsnes Peninsula itinerary for one day.
To help you plan your trip, we also created a map indicating all the best places to see in Snaefellsnes Peninsula that are mentioned in this guide.
How to Use This Map: Use your computer mouse to zoom in or out. Click on the icons on the map to get more information about each place. Click the arrow on the left top corner for the index. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open Google Maps, click the menu button and go to ‘Your Places’/’Maps’.
Without further ado, below are some of the best things to do in Snaefellsnes Peninsula:
1. Kirkjufell Mountain and Kirkjufellsfoss
The 463-meter high Kirkjufell Mountain is often said to be the most photographed place in Iceland. And indeed – you’ll see images of Kirkjufell in travel guides, on maps, book covers, postcards, and on billboards all over the country…
In fact, chances are high that you have seen so many pictures of Kirkjufell that it will be a bit disappointing in reality. Still, it’s a beautiful place and one of the absolute must-see things on Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
Kirkjufell has many faces and the mountain looks completely different from each side. You can climb Kirkjufell in about 1,5-2 hours, but it’s considered quite dangerous, involves some rope climbs, and should not be done when it’s wet. If you want to climb Kirkjufell, make sure that you are extremely well prepared and it’s best to do it with a local guide.
The vast majority of visitors coming to see Kirkjufell actually visit Kirkjufellsfoss – a small waterfall overlooking the famous mountain. It’s located next to the road west of Grundarfjörður town, and it is well indicated. Once you leave your car in the small parking lot, you’ll actually be walking away from the mountain and to the waterfall.
The walk around the falls is a bit uphill, but it’s easy and will take just a minute or two. However, it’s not wheelchair accessible.
TIP: For the iconic image of Kirkjufell, follow the footpath next to a river and cross the bridge above the waterfall.
Practical information: You should count 15-20 minutes for a visit to Kirkjufellsfoss; half an hour if you take many pictures. If the small parking lot is full, try the parking area further to the West, up the hill.
2. Arnarstapi Cliffs & Arnarstapi – Hellnar Hike
Another place you really shouldn’t miss in Snaefellsnes Peninsula is the beautiful sea cliffs near Arnarstapi in Southern Snæfellsnes.
The most popular hike of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula is a coastal walk between Arnarstapi and Hellnar. It’s an easy and relatively flat hike of just 2,5km and should take around 45minutes (one way). However, it will definitely take you longer because you’ll be making photo stops all the time. So if you have just one day in the region, you may wonder if it’s worth spending so much time in just this one area.
I read so many reviews trying to figure out if it’s worth to do the entire hike from Arnarstapi to Hellnar (and back). From everything I understood, the nicest part of the walk is actually in Arnarstapi, so we opted to just explore this area. I think it was a good choice and indeed, it looked like we covered all the nicest areas that way. But if time is not an issue and the weather is good, I would definitely do the entire hike.
We saw the Stone Bridge (see featured image above), the rocks of Gatklettur, the Cliff Viewpoint and countless rock formations along the coast. You can’t miss the Bárður Snæfellsás Statue – a giant stone figure of the guardian spirit Bárður.
Another local attraction you may want to check out is the monument that pays tribute to Jules Verne. His book ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth‘ mentions Snæfellsjökull glacier as the access gate to the center of the earth.
TIP: If you go to all the way to Hellnar, there is a nice café there – café Fjöruhúsið – where you can have lunch or some delicious cake. In Arnastapi, you’ll find a couple of cafés and several food stalls as well. You can also take a car to Hellnar and see the tiny village and the views from there, without having to walk up and down the coast.
Practical information: We left our car at the furthest parking (near the harbor), from where we walked along the coast to Bárðar Saga Snæfellsáss Statue, and then followed the main road back to the parking. You can also do this the other way around. We spent about 50 minutes at Arnarstapi. I would count at least 2 hours if you also opt to do the hike to Hellnar.
3. Dritvik Djúpalónssandur (Djúpalón Beach)
Djúpalónssandur is a black sand beach in Snæfellsjökull National Park. It’s the place with some of the most dramatic coastal landscapes of Snaefellsnes. You’ll find some really interesting rock formations, pools, and a small natural arch, and rusted pieces of an English fishing boat that shipwrecked here in 1948.
Just as Kirkjufellsfoss and Arnarstapi, Djúpalónssandur is easily accessible by tar roads. It is, therefore, one of the top spots that all Snaefellsnes day tours cover as well. Expect it to be busy. However, if you walk a bit further to the beach, the crowds disappear, and you feel like you’re alone in the world.
TIP: Djúpalónssandur is located almost at the furthest end of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, so no matter where you start your tour or which direction you go, this place is approximately in the middle. That means that it’s at its busiest around noon – in the early afternoon. If you want to have it all yo yourselves, come here early in the morning or late in the evening.
Practical information: There are a big car parking area and bathroom facilities at Djúpalónssandur. There are several walking paths in this area and you could spend half a day here if you want to. The nicest thing to do is a 1km walk to Dritvik. We spent 50 minutes, but you could see the main highlights in half an hour as well.
4. Skarðsvík Beach
Skarðsvík Beach is one of Iceland’s rare golden beaches. A combination of the golden sand and a black rocky coastline makes this lesser-known gem of Snaefellsnes well worth a short visit.
This beautiful little beach is located on the way to two of the most beautiful lighthouses of the peninsula. However, the road is gravel from here on and so most people never drive further than Skardsvik Beach. If you have a suitable car, make sure to explore the area deeper – more info below.
Practical information: The road up to this beach is paved. Count 5-15 minutes for a visit.
5. Öndverðarnes Lighthouse
Öndverðarnes Lighthouse was my personal favorite place on Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Located at the most western point of the peninsula at the end of the little-traveled bumpy gravel road, it felt like the end of the world. Not only is the area stunning, but there are also just very few people that seem to come here. Chances are high that you’ll have it all to yourselves.
This tiny orange lighthouse is a true hidden gem. It’s also probably one of the windiest places in Iceland. We visited on a sunny summer day when it was almost t-shirt weather, but here we needed warm sweaters, jackets, gloves, and winter hats. So be prepared!
From the lighthouse, there is a wooden boardwalk and a short walk (2min) takes you Brunnurinn Fálki, an ancient well.
TIP: Make sure to also visit Svörtuloft Lighthouse – see below.
Practical information: This lighthouse is located just 5 km (15 minutes drive) from Skarðsvík Beach, but the gravel road to get here is quite bumpy. I think it is doable with a regular car when it’s dry, but I’m not sure if insurance would allow it. We had a 4WD and the few other cars we saw were also 4WD’s or 4×4. It’s also probably not a place to travel to in winter.
6. Svörtuloft Lighthouse
Svörtuloft Lighthouse is another really beautiful place to visit in Snæfellsnes Peninsula. It also has a bright orange color but is much higher than Öndverðarnes Lighthouse. The area is very different as well.
While it’s relatively flat around Ondverdarnes, Svortuloft lighthouse is surrounded by high sea cliffs. Lots of birds nest here and if you visit at the beginning of the summer, you might even see puffins. Just be careful, because the area is also extremely windy and most of the coastline has no railings.
Practical information: This lighthouse is located 4km from Skarðsvík Beach or 2,5 km from Öndverðarnes Lighthouse. The part of the road that splits to get here is the bumpiest section by far. Luckily, it’s just a very short drive. Also here, you should have a 4WD.
TIP: If you have plenty of time and for whatever reason cannot drive to the lighthouses, you could also just walk there (or part of the road if it’s too bumpy). Count about an hour to visit this area (the beach and the two lighthouses).
7. Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge
Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge is sometimes mentioned as one of the places to see in Snæfellsnes. However, the images and the descriptions that I found before our trip were quite vague. So I wasn’t sure if it was actually worth a stop and if you could actually see more than a gap between the rocks as in most pictures.
From the car parking, this gorge looks just like a narrow gap in the middle of the mountain. We saw people walk up to it, take a look inside, and then turn around. Since it was already evening by the time we got here and the walk to get to the gorge is a bit steep, we were seriously considering not continuing further. But then we saw people disappear in the hole and not come out, as all the others did. We decided to check it out…
It appears that you can actually enter the gorge and it’s simply beautiful inside! We saw people walking really deep into the gorge, but we found that the first part was already really impressive without being dangerous, so we didn’t go much further. It reminded me a bit of the hidden Gljúfrabúi waterfall along Iceland’s South Coast. It’s definitely worth including Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge in your Snæfellsnes Peninsula itinerary.
TIP: Wear waterproof hiking boots with a good grip and a rain jacket. You’ll need to walk over the stones in the river in order to get inside the gorge, so sturdy shoes are a must. It’s not far at all – just a couple of steps, but if your shoes aren’t waterproof, your feet will get wet.
Practical information: Car parking is located next to the main road and is easily accessible. The walk to the gorge is a bit uphill and will take 5-10 minutes. Count 20-30 minutes for a visit. Try to avoid peak times as the gorge is really narrow, so it is difficult to visit if it’s busy.
8. Saxholar Crater
Saxholar Crater was another question mark on my list of things to do in Snaefellsnes. This 109-meter high crater was formed after a volcano eruption some 3000 – 4000 years ago. It’s a really nice crater, but there is no lake inside it like in several other places in Iceland. Many reviews I read described it as a ‘steep climb of 10 minutes’. So I was wondering if it was really worth it…
With such a big choice of things to do in Snæfellsnes and just one day to see it all, you might also find yourself questioning every stop. Well, I can save you some guesswork. The views from the top are really nice and it’s definitely worth to visit Saxholar Crater. The good news is that it’s a really easy ‘climb’ that takes just 2-3 minutes (my kids did it in a minute). Just please use the staircase and don’t go off-path!
Practical information: Car parking is located next to the main road and is easily accessible. This stop shouldn’t take you more than 10-20 minutes. It might get busy though because it seems to be one of the most popular stops that everyone does.
9. Malarrif Lighthouse
Malarrif Lighthouse offers a completely different experience than the two smaller lighthouses mentioned above. It’s a huge concrete structure and it doesn’t look half as picturesque, yet the whole surroundings of vast landscapes, rocky coastline, and crashing waves turned this stop into another highlight of our day in Snaefellsnes.
We spent much more time here than we planned to. We walked to the lighthouse and to Londrangar rock formations. There was also an adventurous play/outdoor training area with a small ‘flying fox’ zip line that we all tried several times. So much fun!
Practical information: There is a visitor’s center here with great exhibits, a gift shop, and bathroom facilities. You can see the lighthouse in a couple of minutes, but you can also spend an hour here. We spent 30 minutes.
10. Londrangar View Point
Londrangar are impressive rock formations that are visible from Malarrif lighthouse. You can also walk there if the weather is nice and you have time.
If you don’t feel like walking far, you can also stop at the Londrangar View Point car parking. A 5-min walk will bring you to the viewing platform and the views are really worth a stop.
If you are driving around the Snaefellsnes Peninsula and are looking for short beautiful stops that don’t take much effort, this one is definitely worth it.
11. Snæfellsjökull Glacier
Snæfellsjökull is a glacier that gives its name to Snæfellsjökull National Park and also Snæfellsnes Peninsula. It’s definitely one of the places you have to see in Snaefellsnes Peninsula. And you will! The whole day, you’ll be driving around the glacier. It will be a constant companion and a backdrop of many other things you’ll see and do in Snaefellsnes.
The reason I didn’t list Snæfellsjökull higher on this list of things to do on Snaefellsnes is because it’s not a place many people actually visit if they have just a day in Snaefellsnes. If you want to go up on the glacier, you’ll have to book a guided tour, as the roads going up need a really good 4w4 and you are not allowed to go on the glacier without a guide.
It can be worth it, for sure, but it’s not something I would advise doing if you are visiting for just one day.
Practical information: There are several roads going up to the glacier, but they are really rough, require a big 4×4, and are often closed due to the weather and weather-inflicting damage. If you want to go, you best check if you can find a local operator offering glacier tours.
TIP: If you have the whole day to spare, you can join a guided hike to the summit of the glacier.
12. Vatnshellir Cave
Vatnshellir Cave is one place we really wanted to visit in Snaefellsnes Peninsula but didn’t get to. We weren’t sure what time we would get there, so we didn’t book in advance. And of course, it was fully booked when we arrived.
Vatnshellir Cave is a really interesting lava cave and I think it’s as close to getting to the center of the Earth as one could do in Snaefellsnes. It’s also one of the best things to do in Snaefellsnes Peninsula when it rains or in winter, when it’s dark.
TIP: If you want to be sure you get to visit, I recommend booking it in advance. Also, distances around the main attractions on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula aren’t that big, so it’s actually quite easy to fit this visit into your day itinerary. You can check availability and book your tickets here.
Practical information: Vatnshellir Cave is located next to the main road and is easily accessible. It’s open the whole year-round. Tours run every hour, on the hour, but opening times differ per season. Count about an hour for a visit (the tour itself takes 45 minutes). Dress warm, wear hiking shoes (sneakers are acceptable), and take gloves with you – it’s really cold under the ground. Kids from 5 years are allowed and under 12’s are free of charge.
Svödufoss waterfall is one of the best waterfalls I saw in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, yet it’s not very widely known or visited. You can see the waterfall in the distance from a viewing platform. However, if you want to get closer, you’ll need to walk some 30 minutes to reach the base. And that’s probably the reason why not many people come here – with so many great things to do in Snaefellnes, it’s impossible to find the time to see it all.
There are no indications at the car parking and we saw people walking a bit everywhere. We followed the path to the right from the car parking and in just a few minutes we reached the viewing platform. We thought we could get to the waterfall from there, but there is a river that you can’t cross.
I read somewhere that there is a path to the left just before the viewing platform that brings you up all the way to the waterfall. But since it was extremely windy, we didn’t look for it (it would take at least an hour both ways).
At the car parking, we saw that there was also a tiny gravel road going further in the direction of the waterfall. You could probably get there just by following that road. You can’t drive there, but it looked like one of the easiest ways to reach the waterfall if you want to see it from close by.
Practical information: You’ll need to drive a kilometer or two on a good gravel road to reach the car parking for Svodufoss. It takes just 5 minutes to walk to the viewing platform and back. If you choose to walk to the waterfall, count at least an hour for a visit here.
TIP: If you really like waterfalls and have plenty of time, you may want to also lookup Kerlingarfoss. It’s located nearby and an Icelandic friend told me that it’s a really nice place to visit.
Búðakirkja is a small black wooden church that you’ll probably see mentioned as one of the must-see places in Snaefellsnes. It’s a nice church, reconstructed in 1987, using some of the original materials from the original 18th-century church. Its black color and the somewhat isolated location attracts the crowds.
Budakirkja easy to reach and is a popular stop for tour buses. If you want to see a typical Icelandic church in beautiful surroundings, then it’s definitely a good quick stop, but don’t expect anything really special.
Practical information: Located just next to the main road, the church is easily accessible. It can get crowded here, especially in the morning as this is one of the first stops for day tours arriving from Reykjavik.
TIP: Visit in the late afternoon and if you have some extra time, take a walk to explore the surroundings.
Bjarnarfoss waterfall is listed as one of the absolute best things to do in Snaefellsnes Peninsula on so many websites. However, if you have seen other waterfalls in Iceland, I think you’ll agree with me that this one is really not that special. Or maybe we are just spoiled after seeing Dynjandi, Dettifoss, Godafoos, Háifoss, and many other amazing waterfalls on this same trip…
Anyway, since everyone says that you absolutely have to see Bjarnarfoss, I feel that my list of the best places of Snaefellsnes Peninsula wouldn’t be complete without it…
I assume its popularity has to do a lot with the location of this waterfall – if you are coming from Reykjavik, this is one of the first stops along the way. It’s easily accessible, there is a big parking area, and so all the organized tours stop here as well. So if you have a few minutes to spare and want to stretch your legs a bit, it’s a nice short stop.
Practical information: You can walk to the base of the waterfall from the car parking. It’s an easy walk of just a few minutes. Alternatively, you can just see it from the road and move on.
16. Ytri Tunga – Seal Beach
Ytri Tunga is a beach that is known as a great place to see seals in Iceland. If you come here at the right time, you might be lucky to see lots of seals on the beach, within just a short walk from the car parking. Other reviews say that you need to walk really far…
So, just as all the places with nature and wildlife, Ytri Tunga can be a bit a hit or a miss and you never know if the seals will be there and even if they are around, how far they will be.
If you have some time to spare, this might be a nice spot to stop when visiting Snaefellsnes Peninsula. I’d say make a quick stop if passing by and see if there are any seals nearby. If your schedule is rather filled, move on. Otherwise, you may want to take a long walk and see if you can find the seals a bit further away. Just keep an eye on the tide and don’t get yourself into trouble by getting too close to the seals.
17. Berserkjahraun Lava Field
If there is something that you’ll see plenty of in Iceland and in Snaefellsnes Peninsula it’s lava fields.
But if you can’t get enough of mossy lava landscapes, there is one place that is said to be worth the visit more than the others – Berserkjahraun. This landscape gets its name and fame from an old Icelandic Saga.
Practical information: You can reach this area by driving the narrow bumpy gravel road #558, about halfway between Stykkisholmur and Grundarfjordur. If you have a good car and some extra time, you can do the whole loop following this road.
18. Stykkishólmur – Súgandisey Island Lighthouse
Stykkisholmur is the biggest town on Snaefellsnes Peninsula. It is a nice place to see if you have some time. It’s also here that you can take a ferry to the Westfjords, Flatey Island, or join one of the boat excursions.
One of the best things to do here is walk up to the Súgandisey Island Lighthouse. You can park your car at the harbor and the lighthouse is just a few minutes walk from there. I wouldn’t come to this area just for this, but I think it’s a really nice place to visit.
Since we already ran out of time on Snaefellsnes Peninsula, we didn’t get to the lighthouse. However, we saw it from the ferry and it looked like a place I would have liked to visit.
19. Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum
There are several museums on Snaefellsnes Peninsula, but if you have the time to visit at least one of them, the Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum is probably worth your time the most.
You can learn all about the making of the traditional Icelandic fermented shark meat, hákarl. Greenland shark that is used for this is actually poisonous if eaten fresh, but the fermentation process neutralizes the toxic ingredient. At the museum’s drying house, you can usually see the drying shark slices and taste hákarl.
Practical information: Museum is usually open from 9 AM to 6 PM in summer and reduced hours from September to May.
20. Tours and excursions in Snaefellsnes Peninsula
In addition to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula attractions mentioned above, there are also quite a few options for tours and short excursions on Snaefellsnes. The most popular activities in Snaefellsnes include whale watching and horse riding. There are several local companies where you can find a suitable tour in summer.
There is also something really special that you can do in Snaefellsnes. It’s called the Viking Sushi Adventure Voyage, aka the Sushi Boat. It’s a boat tour from Stykkisholmur that visits the beautiful coastline with bird cliffs. You learn more about the area, the birds, hear Viking stories, and end the tour feasting on some freshly caught raw seafood, such and scallops or sea urchin.
People are raving about this tour. So if you have a few hours to spare, this might be something really special to do in Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
21. Other places to see in Snaefellsnes
Snaefellsnes Peninsula has so much more to offer than the main highlights mentioned above. So if you have more time here, you can explore the less known places. Below are just a few examples, but there is much more.
If you like to see a really nice church on Snaefellsnes Peninsula, I recommend checking Ingjaldshólskirkja, close to the village of Rif. It’s a nice colorful church, that is said to be the oldest stone church in Iceland. We didn’t see any tourists there at all.
Sjóminjasafnið á Hellissandi (Maritime Museum Hellissandur) is another nice stop if you have some time. Turf houses are nice to see from the outside, but the exhibitions inside are really worth it as well. It’s also a great place to visit when the weather is too bad for outdoor sights and activities.
Gerðuberg basalt columns are also often mentioned as a place to see in Snaefellsnes. I don’t know if they are technically part of the Peninsula, but who cares, right? Since these basalt columns are located just off the road 54 that you’ll take from Reykjavik anyway, it might be worth a quick stop. The 1km road to get there is quite bumpy, but if you want to see basalt columns from close by, this might be a good place.
So, this is our guide to the best places to visit in Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
Once again, if you have any practical questions for your visit, please check our guide to Snaefellsnes Peninsula. It also contains a suggested one-day itinerary and additional tips for your trip.
If you are visiting Snaefellsnes for more than a day (recommended), on our blog you can also find a complete guide to the best hotels and places to stay in Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Check it out!
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Image credits: Jurga/FullSuitcase.com + leonov.o/Shutterstock.com// kavram/Shutterstock.com // Javen/Shutterstock.com// Alexey Stiop/Shutterstock.com