The beauty of Iceland resides outside of the city, and on our quest to see this beauty, our first stop was Snaefellsnes National Park. After leaving Reykjavik, the gang drove north towards Snaefellsnes Peninsula – about two and a half hours northwest. Before we hit the peninsula, we took a slight detour to see Barnafossar, a unique, multifaceted waterfall.
We arrived at our campsite around 10:30 pm, and after a quick set up, we began heading to bed. I don’t know what caused me to look out my tent flap, but I did and was left awestruck. The northern lights were upon us.
I had internally resigned any hope that we would see them. It was the first day of September, which was not a prime sightseeing time. However, there happened to be a lot of electromagnetic happenings (not sure what the actual phrasing is), and Iceland was enveloped in nighttime beauty.
Snaefellsnes National Park
Day 1 – Traveling Iceland
The following day, we arose and headed to Barnafossar and Hraunfossar. We were giddy with excitement.
It’s hard to describe Barnafossar without also seeing it. On one side is the main river, with an incredible waterfall coming through the mini canyon. However, the best part is the water coming out of the side of the rock.
This may not be common in other places, but in Iceland, a lot of their water, once it melts, goes underground and comes out in the most random places. Hence, the fantastic views at Barnafossar.
After checking this off the list, we began our drive to Snaefellsnes.
In our rush to get gas and groceries, I forgot about Glymur Waterfall – the second-highest waterfall in Iceland. The hike is about 3 hours round trip and sounds pretty freakin’ awesome—next time.
Snaefellsnes National Park and Penninsula
Once we arrived on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, we checked out Arnarstapi, Hellnar, and Londrangar before retiring to our campsite at Arnarstapi.
These are all coastal communities that offer different perspectives of the ocean.
There was a short walk out to the cliff’s edge that took no more than 20 minutes, and then we messed around, took photos, and did other things to kill time until sunset.
Djúpalónssandur – Snaefellsnes National Park
The gang headed to the beach for sunset, and we weren’t prepared for the evening that ensued! Of course, you always see photos of the moon on the horizon looking like something out of Star Wars, which isn’t believable, but in this case, it was real.
Another Round of Northern Lights
We went back to Arnarstapi for the night, and the sky party was lit. Unfortunately, the previous night’s sky was a bit cloudy, negating the northern lights’ full effects. But this evening, we got an excellent showing (again, for early September).
I literally jumped for joy (and warmth) as we watched the lights dance across the sky. It was a truly humbling moment and one I’ll never forget.
Day 2 – Snaefellsnes Peninsula
We were recommended to drive up an F-road into Snæfellsjökull National Park, which will bring you to the Snæfellsjökull glacier/mountain. The main road is dirt but easily traversable. The side road to the glacier is poorly maintained, yet we still somehow made it in our small SUV. You can also park and walk up if you’d like.
I would HIGHLY recommend taking the F570 road through the mountains. This may have been the best view of the trip.
After spending a few hours on the mountain, we continued towards Svörtuloft Lighthouse. There’s not much to do here other than look at it, but it’s a pretty cool part of Snaefellsnes.
We also swung by Skarðsvík Beach for some brews and a quick nap. Driving is exhausting, guys! After hitting the most western part of the peninsula, we began our trek to Kirkjufell – an iconic mountain of little secret to anyone. On the way, we quickly stopped at Svöðufoss.
You have to cross a small stream to get closer, and we didn’t feel like doing that, so the walk was about 200 yards.
Snaefellsnes Peninsula – Kirkjufell
The gang stopped to grab some food before heading to Kirkjufell for sunset. We arrived way early and set up shop. Looking back on it, I should have been a bit more adventurous and tried different angles. Instead, I was so focused on one shot that I didn’t diversify enough. In my opinion, when you go on vacation, you want to get the shot, which can make you put blinders on when seeking out other angles.
We made a travel cheese board and hung out until the sun began to set. Unfortunately, there weren’t any clouds, so the backdrop was only okay.
Sword Bridge – Unofficial name
The following day, as we began our way back to the Golden Circle, we stopped to do a quick drone sesh at what I like to call ‘Sword Bridge.’ I don’t know if that’s what locals call it, but I’m going to roll with it.
FAQ About Snaefellsnes National Park and Peninsula
- Is Snaefellsnes National Park Free? Yes, it is. All National Parks in Iceland are free of charge.
- How do I get onto the Snaefellsnes Peninsula? Drive north out of Reykjavik on Highway 1 and stay on it until it hits Highway 54 in Borgarnes.
- Can you see the northern lights here? Yes! If you do, try to find a place with a great foreground. I did not do this/have the chance to.
- Are there waterfalls along the way? Yes, there are tons of waterfalls directly off the road that you can see. You can also make a small detour to Barnafossar and Hraunfossar.
- How long of a drive is it from Reykjavik to Arnarstapi? It’s about 2.5 hours, but I’d budget more for stops.
- What else is there to do on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula? Make sure to check out Snæfellsjökull National Park. It’s incredible. You may need to drive on an F-Road but if you can, head up.
Snaefellsnes Peninsula – Overall Thoughts
The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is amazing, and I recommend making it part of your trip. I didn’t talk much about the small towns throughout the area, but they’re cute and provide gas, lodging, and food. So definitely don’t miss those spots, but that’s also a personal preference, and I didn’t feel it was worth discussing in detail.
Kirkjufell will surely command the most attention, but go up the F570 road and enjoy the mountains. We saw maybe eight cars which is about as much solitude as you can hope for in Iceland.
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Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
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