Are you thinking of visiting Snæfellsnes Peninsula in Iceland and looking for the most complete guide to Snaefellsnes? This article is for you!
In this blog post, you can find a list of the most interesting places to visit and the best things to do in Snaefellsnes (so also in Snæfellsjökull National Park, which takes a big part of the Peninsula).
We also include a map and a sample one day itinerary that covers all the main attractions of Snaefellsnes that you can easily do on a self-drive tour.
If you don’t feel like driving or if you are visiting in winter, you can also just take a Snaefellsnes Peninsula tour from Reykjavik. We share the best day tour suggestions in this post as well.
In addition, you can also find practical information about driving on Snæfellsnes, tips for a winter visit, best hotels, and also a short video of our day in Snaefellsnes, Iceland. Find out!
Complete guide to visiting Snaefellsnes Peninsula – OVERVIEW
Is Snaefellsnes worth it?
With so many amazing places to see and things to do in Iceland, it’s quite impossible to visit everything. So you may wonder if Snaefellsnes Peninsula is worth it?
Yes, Snaefellsnes Peninsula is definitely worth a visit. It’s so diverse that one could argue that Snaefellsnes offers a selection of the best that Iceland has to offer in one place…
However, there are so many really nice places in Iceland that are worth a visit just as much or even more. So the more nuanced answer to whether Snaefellsnes Peninsula is worth a visit depends mostly on how much time you have in Iceland, in which season you are traveling, and whether it’s your first trip to Iceland.
If you have just 3-4 days in Iceland and this is your first trip, then it’s probably not worth trying to squeeze Snaefellsnes Peninsula into your itinerary. However, if you have at least one full day in addition to all the main landmarks around Reykjavik and South Iceland that we have covered in detail in our 4 day Iceland itinerary, then yes, it’s absolutely worth visiting Snaefellsnes Peninsula as well. Also, because it’s so close to the capital city.
And if you are driving the complete circle around Iceland, definitely stop here for at least a day as well!
How much time do you need?
You can see the main highlights and get a good idea of what Snaefellsnes Peninsula is about in one day. If this is your first trip to Iceland and your vacation time is limited, then I’d say one day is enough for Snaefellsnes. You’ll probably want to see so many other places in Iceland as well…
However, if you have more time and like to travel deeper, I would advise planning at least 2 or 3 days for Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
We spent one full day (two nights) on Snaefellsnes Peninsula. It was an amazing day and we saw a lot. But even with plenty of daylight and amazing weather, it was rushed. In the end, we ended up skipping quite a few places altogether. We also didn’t have the time for any of the additional activities like whale watching, ‘sushi boat’, lava tunnel, and several others…
We loved Snaefellsnes so much that we were making plans to come back even before we left…
Best Things to Do in Snæfellsnes
There is so much to see and do in Snaefellsnes Peninsula that we decided to split this article in two and created a separate guide to the main attractions of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
Here is a short overview of the best places to see. You can find the complete guide and practical information for visiting them via the link below.
Some of the best things to do in Snæfellsnes Peninsula:
- Kirkjufell Mountain and Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall
- Arnarstapi Cliffs
- Dritvik Djúpalónssandur Beach
- Skarðsvík Beach
- Öndverðarnes Lighthouse
- Svörtuloft Lighthouse
- Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge
- Saxholar Crater
- Malarrif Lighthouse
- Londrangar Viewpoint
- Snæfellsjökull Glacier
- Búðakirkja Chruch
- Bjarnarfoss Waterfall
- Stykkishólmur & Súgandisey Island Lighthouse
LEARN MORE: Best Things to Do in Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Below, you can also see a short video of some of the highlights of our visit to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. It will give you an even better idea of what to expect!
Snaefellsnes Peninsula One Day Itinerary
There are many ways to visit Snaefellsnes Peninsula and the 1-day itinerary below is just a suggestion. It’s based on the planning I made for our own trip.
It includes everything that we covered in a day plus a few additional suggestions for people who really want to get the most of their day tour in Snaefellsnes and have a bit more time than we did.
We traveled in August and had wonderful weather, dry roads, and plenty of daylight. But – we traveled with three kids, only started sightseeing at around 10.30 AM and were back in town for dinner at 7 PM. This might help you to get a better idea of what you can see and do in Snaefellsnes, depending on when you visit and how much time you have.
Take a look below!
Here’s how your 1-day self-drive tour in Snaefellsnes could look like:
- Stykkishólmur – Súgandisey Island Lighthouse*
- Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum*
- Berserkjahraun Lava Field*
- Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss
- Skarðsvík Beach
- Öndverðarnes and Svörtuloft Lighthouses (+picnic lunch)
- Saxholar Crater
- Vatnshellir Cave (it was fully booked, so we couldn’t visit)
- Malariff Lighthouse (+playground) and Londrangar View Point
- Arnarstapi Cliffs
- Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge
- We then took the gravel road #54 back to Grundarfjörður where we had dinner.
- Ytri Tunga*
- Kirkjufell at sunset
- Back to accommodation in Grundarfjörður or Stykkisholmur.
*This itinerary is based on our experience, except for the places marked with an *. We didn’t get to visit these places because we ran out of time and our kids were too tired, but you could easily add them to your Snaefellenes Peninsula itinerary if you have 10-11 hours of daylight.
Good to know: This sample one day itinerary starts from Stykkisholmur. However, it’s a circular drive, so you can start anywhere. You can also choose to do it in the opposite direction.
TIP: We recommend exploring the Peninsula counterclockwise, starting at Kirkjufell, because most day tours arriving from Reykjavik do exactly the opposite. This is what we did, and I think that it helped us to avoid the crowds. It wasn’t really busy anywhere except at Djúpalón Beach which is about halfway so most people seem to come here in the early afternoon, no matter in which direction they are touring the peninsula.
Map of the Best Places on Snaefellsnes Peninsula
In order to help you plan your trip, I created a map indicating all the places to visit on Snaefellsnes Peninsula. See below!
As you can see, everything is really close by and driving distances between the sights aren’t big at all.
So even though the list of things to do in Snaefellsnes seems to be quite long, it is possible to see most of the highlights in just a day. But, as I already said before, if you want to have more time to explore these places, you really should plan a few days in Snaefellsnes.
How to use this map: Use your computer mouse (or fingers) to zoom in or out. Click on the icons to get more information about each place. Click the arrow on the top left corner for the index. Click the star next to the map’s title to add it to your Google Maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open Google Maps, click the menu and go to ‘Your Places’/’Maps’. If you want to print the map or see it in a bigger window, click on ‘View larger map’ in the top right corner.
Snaefellsnes Peninsula in Winter
Weather permitting, you can visit Snaefellsnes Peninsula in winter as well. However, keep an eye on the weather forecast and be very careful in case of strong winds.
In winter, when the days are short, so you won’t be able to cover all the places mentioned in our 1-day itinerary above in just a day. So just pick the main highlights that are the easiest to access. Arnarstapi Cliffs, Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss, Djúpalónssandur, and probably Saxholar Crater are the main places that I recommend to see if visiting Snaefellsnes in winter.
Also, Malariff Lighthouse and Londrangar viewpoint should be doable. You can also visit Vatnshellir Cave (even in the dark since it’s under the ground anyway), Búðakirkja, and Bjarnarfoss. Stykkishólmur and Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum (if open) are also easy to visit if you have the time.
Good to know: If you are visiting Snaefellsnes in winter, you should know that the weather and the road conditions are quite unpredictable in Iceland in general. But the weather and the roads on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula are even more challenging than for example the South Coast. So keep this in mind.
TIP: It might be wise to book a day tour from Reykjavik instead of driving in Snaefellsnes Peninsula in winter by yourself, especially if you aren’t used to driving in tough winter conditions. Here you can read more about driving in Iceland in winter. Further below, you can find additional tour recommendations.
TIP: If you are driving to Snaefellsnes, I suggest staying for at least one night. This will allow you to see more at a slower pace. Furthermore, Snaefellsnes can be a good place to see auroras in Iceland. For that, see our hotel suggestions below and pick a hotel outside of tows, so there’s no light pollution.
Where to Stay
There are quite some nice hotels, B&B’s, and other accommodation options in Snaefellsnes. Since the highlights are located along the circular drive, it doesn’t matter that much where you’ll be staying, so pick a place that fits the rest of your trip itinerary best.
We stayed in Grundarfjörður on Snaefellsnes Peninsula for two nights. That was the only place we could find an apartment for 5 people that was close enough for our early morning ferry to the Westfjords.
Here are some of the nicest hotels in Snaefellsnes Peninsula:
- Fosshotel Hellnar in Hellnar
- Arnarstapi Hotel or beautiful Arnastapi Cottages in Arnarstapi
- Hotel Búdir in Budir
- Hotel Egilsen and Hotel Fransiskus Stykkishólmi in Stykkisholmur
LEARN MORE: Where to Stay: Best Snaefellsnes Hotels & Towns
The main roads #54, #56, and #574 in Snaefellsnes Peninsula are paved and are accessible the whole year-round. Part of the road 54 between Búðir and Ólafsvík is gravel. There were works going on there as we visited, so I assume it will be paved in the future, but for now, you may want to skip that part if you don’t have a 4WD.
The biggest town with the best facilities on Snaefellsnes Peninsula is Stykkishólmur. There are many hotels and restaurants here. It’s also here that the car ferry to the Westfjords departs.
Yes, you can visit Snaefellsnes Peninsula from Reykjavik for just a day. However, it will be a long day, so leave early and prepare to stay late. We only recommend doing this in summer when the days are very long and the roads are in good condition. In winter, it’s best to take a tour.
It takes 2 hours and 15 minutes to drive around the entire Snaefellsnes Peninsula. However, this does not include any stops and doesn’t take into account weather conditions. Realistically, you will need at least 7-8 hours in order to see the best places in Snaefellsnes.
Yes, it is possible to get to Snaefellsnes Peninsula from Reykjavik by bus. You will need to change a bus in Borgarnes and it will take you at least 3,5-4 hours. However, even if you get there, you won’t be able to easily explore Snaefellsnes Peninsula without a car.
Best Snaefellsnes Tours from Reykjavik
There are many companies offering Snaefellsnes Peninsula day tours from Reykjavik. You can find the best selection of those tours on the GetYourGuide website.
Price differences are usually due to different group sizes (big bus vs. minibus), and sometimes there are additional things included. For example, this tour includes a home-cooked local dinner. If you rather book a private tour, this is the cheapest tour I was able to find.
TIP: We book all our tours via GetYourGuide (and if not possible, then via Viator). We recommend it over booking directly with the companies. Most of the time, the rates are better, they sometimes have seasonal discounts, and they offer free cancelation up to 24 hours before the tour, which is practically never the case when booking directly.
So, this is our guide to visiting the Snaefellsnes Peninsula and Snaefellsjokull National Park. I hope that you found it useful. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a reply below.
READ ALSO: Best Places to See in Iceland
More tips for your trip to Iceland:
- Practical info: Essential Tips for Iceland
- Airport transfers: How to Get to Reykjavik from Keflavik Airport
- Budget: How Expensive is Iceland (& How to Save Money)
- Packing: What to Wear in Iceland in Winter and What to Pack for Iceland in Summer
- Tours: Best Tours and Day Trips in Iceland
- Must-do in any season: Iceland Glacier Hike
- Reykjavik: Best Things to Do in Reykjavik & Where to Stay in Reykjavik & Best Half Day Tours from Reykjavik
- Auroras: Iceland Northern Lights (complete guide) & How to See and Photograph the Northern Lights
How to plan a trip:
- Itinerary Suggestions: Iceland Itinerary Suggestions for 1 to 14 Days
- Ring Road: Iceland Ring Road Trip Itinerary
- Reykjavik: One Day Itinerary for the Best of Reykjavik
- South Coast: 4 Days in Iceland & Iceland South Coast Attractions
- South & West Iceland: 7 Days Iceland Road Trip Itinerary
- West and North: 10 Days in Iceland – North and West Itinerary
- Winter trip: Iceland Winter Itinerary & Tips for Iceland in Winter
- North: Best Things to Do in Myvatn & Best Things to Do in Siglufjordur
- More: Check our Iceland travel guide for even more inspiration and tips
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Saturday 14th of May 2022
Hello! Thanks a lot for your highly informative write ups. It helped me a LOT to plan my trip in the end of May this year. We are headed for a self drive round day tour of Sneafellsness peninsula , with whale watch from Olafsvik at 2 pm. I realise it’s a long day.. we will start early. And we just want to see few prime locations on the way.. and primarily enjoy the drive through the peninsula with the whale watch. I am confused, how to approach the roads.. clockwise or counterclockwise, starting from Kirkjufell. Whale watch would anyway end at around 5 .. so we wont have much time to see places after that. We have to drive back to Reykjavik..
Am looking forward to your valuable advise!
Monday 16th of May 2022
@Jurga, Thanks a lot! I am starting in Reykjavik.. so starting with Arnarstapi area.. will go clockwise upto Olafsvik. Then Kirkjufell on my way back.
Thanks a lot for your help!
Monday 16th of May 2022
Hi Anasua, if you only have half a day, I highly recommend that you first make a short selection of just a few main places to visit and concentrate on those rather than trying to see it all. If you are starting in Kirkjufell, then drive down to the southern end of the Peninsula via road no.54 and continue clockwise ending in Olafsvik (you'll probably want to arrive there at least 15-20min before the tour). Pack a picnic lunch to save time and definitely don't miss the coastline of Arnarstapi. If you are starting in Reykjavik, then I think I'd start with the Budir - Arnarstapi area and visit Kirkjufell after the whale-watching tour. After the whale watching, you could still stop at a few places on the way to Reykjavik, depending on how tired you feel.
Wednesday 23rd of March 2022
We will be visiting inJune and have rented an RV. However can’t seem to find info on where we can park in the evenings. Can you help?
Wednesday 23rd of March 2022
Hi Beverly, officially, you are no longer allowed to sleep in the car/ RV in Iceland unless in designated areas (campings). So do some research for the campings in the areas that you'll be visiting (see here the map indicating campings in Snaefellsnes Peninsula). Normally, you don't have to prebook, but it pays not to arrive too late in the evening either. See also our guide to camping in Iceland. Hope this helps.
Sunday 30th of January 2022
Hi Jurga, I was wondering what sights you would include in the peninsula if we are only going for one day, and hope to be starting out from Borgarnes, and ending back there, too. Also, what was the company you recommended for a private tour? Was it the Get Your Guides site? Thanks. Sandi
Monday 31st of January 2022
Hi Sandi, we already have a suggested 1-day itinerary in the article (and a map indicating all the best places + you can find more info about each place here: best things to do in Snaefellsnes Peninsula, and decide which ones you want to see). It's a circular trip anyway, so you can do the same no matter where you start and you can do the trip in any direction. From Borgarners, start EARLY and head to Gerðuberg Cliffs and then either go up to the northern side on road 56 and do the loop from there, or continue via the southern coast first. The absolute must-sees with just a day are Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss, Djúpalónssandur, and Arnarstapi Cliffs. I'd also definitely stop at Saxholar Crater and Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge. We loved Öndverðarnes and Svörtuloft Lighthouses - highly recommended too. Many people also consider Búðakirkja and Bjarnarfoss a must. The rest depends on your interests/ how much time you have. If you are staying in Borgarnes and have a car, you really don't need a tour for these places. Most tours will run from Reykjavik anyway, and I'm not sure they'll stop to pick you up along the way. Here you can find a selection of private tours that visit this area (and those would likely pick you up where you want if arranged in advance), but I highly doubt it's worth the money if you're already road-tripping and have a car anyway. Snaefellsnes Peninsula is really easy to explore on your own. Hope this helps.
Friday 31st of December 2021
Hi Jurga, first off a massive thank you for your super guides and tips, t's the most comprehensive info I've been able to find anywhere!
Just wondered whether I could pick your brain, question may be a bit daft anyways, but: we'll be travelling to Iceland in early February (Omicron willing!) for a week, our first trip to Iceland, and will have an almost 1 year old baby with us - who may or my not be tottering about by then.
Our plans are for Snæfellsness peninsula, Golden Circle and the South Coast to Vik and back, plus Akranes. We're staying in Reykjavik the first 2 nights (getting in and out very late only) and last night, and 4 nights in an Airbnb in the Mosfellsbær area.
Off the top of your head, are there any sights that are suitable for a pram at all, or would you recommend baby in a carrier throughout? Any sights that you consider not doable at all with a baby? Neither my partner nor I are hikers and I'm totally out of shape...
Many thanks for any advice!
Friday 31st of December 2021
@Jurga, wow, many thanks for your comprehensive and quick answer! I made the mistake of cramming too much driving into our last trip so yes, will definitely try and be realistic here 😊 Akranes has since been scrapped from the plan, I think I read somewhere that it’s a good sunset spot, but that’s about it. Many thanks again, we’re getting very excited about this trip!
Friday 31st of December 2021
Hi Inga, glad to hear that you found the information on our website helpful. It's really hard to say about accessibility. There are a few places that are somewhat accessible with a stroller, but even in the summer, the accessibility is quite limited. In February, there will likely be snow and ice everywhere, and so I really don't think you'll be able to do much with a stroller outside of Reykjavik, and maybe a few other towns. But the real beauty of Iceland is in its nature, and for that, I think it will be easier to use a baby carrier indeed. I can't imagine how comfy or doable it is with all the thick winter clothes and a 1-year-old who just learned to walk and wants to do it all without any help... :) So yes, it's a bit of a challenge. Just try to make the best of it. I think you might be able to use the stroller at some of the Golden Circle attractions, but only if it's a really sturdy stroller with big wheels. For the rest (apart from Reykjavik), I really don't know where you'd use it. Even if you can visit some places with wheels, there are often stairs that give you access to different views, so I think you'd feel limited with a stroller... Also, I've never been to Akranes and don't really know what there's to see there besides an old lighthouse (closed in winter). Snaefellsnes Peninsula is so much more impressive! So if the weather is somewhat ok, I think I'd go there instead. Or just spend more time in Reykjavik - there's a lot to see and do in the city, even when it's bad weather. One more thing - all your accommodation is actually in or very close to Reykjavik. That means that you'll have to spend a lot of time in the car in order to drive to places, every day again. The positive thing is that you have more flexibility if the weather would be bad and can just decide what you want to do each day, but be sure to keep an eye on the weather warnings and road conditions before you set off for the day. It's not that Google Maps shows a 1-hr drive that it can't become 3 hours in case of a bad snowstorm. Vik is also really far, even if the roads are good, so try to go there on the day when the weather forecast looks really good, and be sure to leave early in the morning so that you can make the most of the daylight hours. As for hiking, most of the popular places along the Golden Circle, South Coast, or Snaefellsnes Peninsula do not require any hiking at all. It's usually a rather short stroll quite close to the car. So no, I don't think there are any of the 'musts' that you couldn't do with a baby. But so much will depend on the weather you get. Try to plan some alternative activities (museums and attractions in Reykjavik, or visit some local pools, etc.) in case the weather doesn't cooperate or if you just want to take it easier. Hope this helps. Don't overstress about it too much in advance. Just have a few alternative plans for things to do, and decide once you get there and see how the situation is. Happy New Year!
Sunday 13th of December 2020
Hi Jurga, this is the most useful guide to Snaefellsnes Peninsula that I found. It answered all my questions. Just wanted to say THANK YOU!
Sunday 13th of December 2020
Glad to hear that, Sue! Good luck with the planning and - if you can - try to spend at least two days in Snaefellsnes. Even three days wouldn't be exaggerated, depending on your interests and the time of the year when you visit. There's so much to see and do and the area is really beautiful and very diverse! Happy travels!