2-Day West Coast Tour | Snæfellsnes, Silver Circle with Canyon Baths
Discover the magic of the Snaefellsnes peninsula, explore Saga history in West Iceland and unwind in the warming waters of the sensational Canyon Baths
What to expect
On this 2-day tour to West Iceland, you’ll first explore Borgarfjordur, which is also known as the home of the famous Icelandic Sagas. We’ll take you deep into the mountains to see the most powerful hot springs in Europe, gaze in awe at beautiful waterfalls and learn fascinating facts about local Viking heritage. The highlight of the first day will see you relaxing in a unique canyon hotpot that very few other visitors have experienced.
After an overnight stay in Borgarnes, you’ll then spend your second day discovering the dazzling Snaefellsnes peninsula. Snaefellsnes is often described as “Iceland in Miniature” because every aspect of Iceland can be found here. There are gleaming glaciers, snow-capped volcanoes, black sand beaches, brooding mountains, picturesque fishing villages, sweet-faced seals, squawking seabirds, and so much more.
Day 1 | The Silver Circle with Canyon Baths
Your 2-day West Iceland adventure will begin with a convenient collection from your accommodation in Reykjavik and a transfer to Borgarfjordur. It doesn’t take long, as we take the scenic route past Mount Esja and a road tunnel deep under Hvalfjordur to reach the gateway to the region, at Borgarnes. There’ll be a short break here for refreshments and to enjoy the fantastic views of Hafnarfjall (Harbour mountain) and the broad sea fjord here.
From here, we leave the crowds on the Ring Road behind as we drive inland through fertile farm country and crossing single-track bridges over rapid rivers as they flow from the nearby Langjokull glacier, the second largest in the country.
Deildartunguhver is the first place on your itinerary on this first day, a place that is famous as the most powerful hot spring in Europe, pumping out more than 180 liters of boiling hot water every single second. Deildartunguhver has such a mighty output that all the towns and villages in the surrounding area get their heating and hot water supplied from here. The overwhelming power of nature can be felt as you walk amongst clouds of steam vapor and safely step beside bubbling springs on boardwalks, or you can enjoy these from a viewing platform instead.
A short journey a little further inland brings us to Hraunfossar, a marvelous series of waterfalls that runs for hundreds of yards over the Hallmundarhraun lava field. Hraunfossar, which translates as the “Lava Waterfalls” is a broad plateau waterfall rather than a high cascade, with several viewing platforms that allow you to see the falls from many different perspectives. Glacial meltwater from the nearby Langjokull glacier tumbles over jagged volcanic cliffs into the raging Hvita (White) river below. It’s a fabulous sight to watch countless waterfalls stretching as far as the eye can see.
There is another waterfall close by, called Barnafoss, or the “waterfall of the children”. There used to be a stone arch making a natural bridge over the mighty river here, and many years ago, two children from a nearby farm fell to their deaths when they were trying to cross it. Their heartbroken mother had the bridge destroyed so that no other parent would ever suffer in the same way.
Set between two glaciers, Husafell is an enchanting place filled with Viking history, including traditional turf houses and sweet little elf huts to amuse the children too. This magical spot, with its thick birch tree forests and crystal-clear waterfalls, has been an inspiration for local artists and many works of art are on display here. As well as that, the “Husafell Stone” can be found here. This is a legendary “lifting stone”, once used to test the strength of the locals and still used in international competitions today.
After spending a little time looking around Husafell, you’ll then jump into a customized 4WD car, and we’ll continue our journey further inland along scenic mountain paths.
Along the way, we’ll stop for a look at Langifoss, a stunning two-tiered waterfall that tumbles from on high into the Deildargil canyon – one of the best-kept secrets in West Iceland. Langifoss and Deildargil don’t appear on many maps or Instagram posts, but we will bring you to see this tremendous spectacle, easily enjoyed from an accessible viewing platform.
Husafell Canyon Baths
The highlight of your first day in West Iceland is the next stop – the Husafell Canyon Baths. Here in the stunning setting of the Hringsgil Canyon, you’ll be able to soak yourself in an authentic Icelandic hotpot while enjoying the enthralling scenery all around you.
This is a mesmerizing place that has to be seen to be believed, with three hotpots of varying temperatures (30-41°C or 86-105°F), a cold-water pool and a cooling shower, all designed to blend naturally into the surroundings.
The Canyon Baths have also been specially designed as a luxury experience with a maximum group of twenty visitors at a time, making it much more pleasurable and relaxed than other Icelandic hotpots.
Just imagine soaking serenely in the healing waters of the Canyon Baths, while enjoying the stunning views in this secluded spot!
The Canyon Baths are inspired by the traditional Icelandic bathing pools that have been enjoyed by the locals here in West Iceland for centuries. Using sustainable methods and materials and set in style in an off-grid spot, this is a unique experience that cannot be matched anywhere else in Iceland.
This area is a protected environment, which means that soaps and detergents cannot be used. There are changing rooms at the canyon baths. After your time in the Canyon Baths, you’re welcome to use the facilities back at Husafell free of charge for a soapy shower there, if you wish.
The next stop on our tour is Reykholt, which is a significant site in Iceland’s history, mentioned in the medieval writings of Snorri Sturluson, a famous poet and local chieftain. Snorralaug (Snorri’s Pool) is a traditional hot spring, where West Icelanders have bathed since the 12th century, a place that helped inspire the Canyon Baths nearby. Snorralaug is now a protected archaeological area, and there is also a traditional timber church here to look at too.
You’ll stay overnight in the nearby town of Borgarnes. It was one of the original settlement sites for the first Icelanders a thousand years ago, and you can find all about the story of those pioneers with an optional visit to the excellent Settlement Center. The museum is set in two parts, with lots of interactive displays and fascinating stories from the Icelandic Sagas and is highly recommended. Borgarnes is loaded with Viking history, and set in a stunning location on a scenic peninsula with amazing views of nearby Hafnarfjall (the Harbour mountain) as well as Skessuhorn mountain which appeared in Game Of Thrones as “Bulls Horn”. This is also a great spot to look out for the Northern Lights when they are active.
YOUR ACCOMMODATION FOR THE NIGHT WILL BE AT:
(or another place with similar standard)
Day 2 | The Snaefellsnes Peninsula
The second day of our West Iceland adventure takes you on a full circuit of the Snaefellsnes peninsula. Snaefellsnes, which translates as “Snow Mountain Peninsula” is also described as “Iceland in Miniature”.
That’s because it is packed with towering mountains that hug the coastline roads, a gigantic glacier-topped volcano, impressive waterfalls, black sand beaches, seal and bird colonies, fast-flowing rivers, basalt column cliffs and so much more.
As soon as we leave Borgarnes behind us as we start our tour of this 100km peninsula, Snaefellsjokull comes into view. At nearly 1500m, this is the highest and most prominent volcano in the area, capped with a magnificent crown of snow and ice.
This place was the inspiration for Jules Verne when he wrote “Journey to the Center of the Earth”, where the entrance to the planet’s core could be found, and many people still regard Snaefellsnes as a very spiritual place.
Ytri Tunga Seal Colony
Our first stop is at the Ytri Tunga seal colony, where you’ll get the chance to visit these cute creatures as they laze around here on summer days on a golden sand beach. We’ll show you how to find them on a stretch of coastline next to a deserted farm. The seals can often be quite playful when they’re feeding here, and it’s also unusual to find a golden sand beach in Iceland too.
The Black Church of Budakirkja
The next stop on the southern side of the peninsula brings us to the beautiful 19th-century church of Budakirkja. This black timber church is famous for being built by a determined local woman, even though the church authorities didn’t think there was much need for one here. Nowadays, it has become a very popular place for couples to get married, as it is in such a fabulous location.
Arnarstapi – fishing village and sea arches
Atlantic waves crash offshore at the ancient fishing hamlet of Arnastapi, which is our next stop. We’ll stay here for long enough for you to take a breathtaking stroll along the sea-cliffs to see the astonishing sea-arch of Gatklettur, the “Rock with a Hole”, which is an amazing sight. There is a tremendous combination of colors here, with black lava rocks covered with bright yellow and green mosses, all set against the background blues of the Atlantic. There’s also a tribute to Jules Verne and an enormous stone monument.
Just a little further onwards, we come to the towering Londrangar Cliffs, where awesome basalt columns cling to jagged 70-meter-high pillars, providing a summer home for puffins and other seabirds while they feed and raise their chicks. Watch out for the Arctic terns, who often dive-bomb unwary visitors!
Black Beach of Djupalonssandur
Our next stop is the stunning black sand beach of Djuplalonssandur, a sweeping stretch of dramatic coastline, approached by walking through ancient lava fields. There is a lot of history here, with the four “Lifting Stones” that were used to test the strength of the local fishermen, and the remains of a shipwrecked English trawler too. You might want to test your own strength to see which of the four stones you can also lift, as they range from 23kg all the way to 150kg!
Kirkjufell – the most photographed mountain in Iceland!
Kirkjufell is said to be one of the most photographed mountains in Iceland, and it’s been featured in “Game of Thrones” as the “Arrowhead Mountain”, and seen in several Hollywood films too. Set in a sweeping fjord, this majestic mountain resembles a shark fin, although its name actually translates as the “Church Mountain”. Kirkjufell is a stunning sight at any time of the year, with its unusual shape, and standing alone from the surrounding hills. There are many great spots to take an extraordinary photo here – we’ll show you where to look!
Know Before You Go
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