If you want to explore Iceland in an uncrowded and relaxed way, then this region is the place where you should go! Beautiful cliffs, fjords, wildlife, volcanic landscapes and craters combined with stunning waterfalls and mountains. There are very good reasons why Snaefellsnes was on the Lonely Planet TOP 10 Regions in World 2015 list, and why Borgarfjordur is the main inland tourist destination among Icelanders. Yet many visitors tend to skip this region in their itinerary.
Fantastic combination of gigantic glaciers, photogenic mountains, plunging waterfalls, black sand beaches, and a snow-capped strato-volcano
Marvelous waterfalls, dramatic lava fields, spectacular lava cave, boiling hot springs, and medieval Icelandic heritage are all awaiting you
Explore the home of the Icelandic Sagas, see stunning waterfalls and relax in the soothing waters of the Canyon Baths surrounded by nature
Discover the magic of the West, visit fabulous waterfalls and hot springs and see stalactites and stalagmites in a spectacular lava cave
Discover the magic of the Snaefellsnes peninsula, explore Saga history in West Iceland and unwind in the warming waters of the Canyon Baths
Enjoy the greatest sights in Iceland in our thrilling 4-day package tour of the Viking heartlands of West Iceland and the sensational South Coast
Discover the true magic of Iceland by visiting the three main national parks of the country, go on ice and lava caving and search for Northern Lights
Visit the three main national parks of Iceland, go on a glacier hike, lava caving and take a boat ride on the ice strewn Glacier Lagoon
Enjoy an unforgettable day in the Snaefellsnes National Park, a magical mix of all the best that Iceland has to offer
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The West Coast of Iceland might look close to the modern-day capital city of Reykjavik on the map, easily reached with just a couple of hours of driving from there.
But to come here is to take a thrilling trip back in time deep into the Viking heartlands, a realm thick with legend and folklore, where the epic Icelandic Sagas tell incredible stories of bitter battles and family feuds. The history, culture, and heritage of those fascinating characters still lingers on to this day, setting the timeless tone and atmosphere of Sagaland.
The West Coast is an incredibly diverse region, with the Snaefellsnes Peninsula often described as “Iceland in Miniature” as all of the best of her geological features are contained in that rugged 100km finger of land, jutting out into the Atlantic.
Moody volcanoes, glistening glaciers, sparkling fjords, majestic waterfalls, dramatic black sand beaches, magical mountains, all providing shelter for an extraordinary range of wildlife and bird species – it’s all here in “Vesturland.”
When Jules Verne wrote “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” the Snaefellsnes Peninsula was his inspiration. The story tells of a German geologist following a coded map drawn by the famous Icelandic historian Snorri Sturluson and descending into ancient lava tubes here at the foot of the mighty Snaefellsjokull volcano. Even now, many believe that Snaefellsnes, which translates as the “Snow Mountain Peninsula,” is a mystical place, one of the many “chakra” centers on the planet.
The Snaefellsnes peninsula is filled mainly by the Snaefellsjokull National Park, the only coastal park in the country, and a range of jagged mountains that runs along its length.
Fringed by a beautiful coastal road that snakes its way through crunchy lava fields, a Snaefellsnes road trip skirts the frosty bulk of the sleeping Snaefellsjokull stratovolcano.
Topped by a glacier called the “Pyramid of Eternal Snow” by one writer, the 1446m high peak of Snaefellsjokull can even be seen from Reykjavik or the Westfjords on bright days. There have been three eruptions here in the last ten thousand years, with the last of these in 300AD.
Snaefellsnes has many other stunning sights to see, including Kirkjufell, the “Church Mountain” which will be familiar to “Game of Thrones” fans as the “Arrowhead Mountain.”
One of the most Instaworthy mountains in the world, this picturesque peak stands proudly alone in a sweeping fjordside bay near the village of Grundafjordur on the north side of the peninsula, a focal point for any visitor to Snaefellsnes.
As well as that, Snaefellsnes is unusual for its golden sand beaches, like the one found at Djupalonssandur. Instead of the usual volcanic black sand, this beach stands out with a different hue, and traditional “lifting stones” can be found here too.
These were once used to test the strength of local fishermen, who had to prove themselves before sailing to sea. There’s also evidence of a doomed fishing trip, with the remains of an English trawler that was shipwrecked off the coast here in the 1940s.
Seals make their home here on Snaefellsnes, with a colony found at Ytri-Tunga. These sweet-faced creatures share the Atlantic fish with teeming colonies of puffins, terns, white-tailed eagles, and other seabirds who hug the basalt columns of the Londrangar Cliffs and other promontories along the peninsula.
The warmer weather, welcoming grassy valleys, and the shelter provided by the abundant forests of Borgarfjordur led to this region becoming the site for many of the early Viking settlements.
That meant that Borgarfjordur also became the setting for most of the famous Icelandic Sagas as well – heroic, epic tales that are still told to this day as part of the increasingly popular “Silver Circle” tours.
The Icelandic poet and historian Snorri Sturluson, who lived here in the 13th century, once wrote of “Bifrost” – a burning rainbow bridge that linked Midgard (Earth) with Asgard, the realm of the Gods – and there is a Bifrost to be found here in Borgarfjordur.
This part of Iceland is one of the flatter parts of the country, with marshy lowlands tucked between Langjokull (the “Long Glacier”) and the vast expanses of the Hallmundarhraun lava field.
There are some astonishing geological features here, including the Vidgelmir Cave. This thousand-year-old hollowed-out lava tube is filled now with fabulous ice formations, stalactites, and stalagmites. It’s possible to take a tour through holes in the tunnel, once used by outlaws and sheep-rustlers as the gateways to their hideouts.
Nearby lies Deildartunguhver, site of the most powerful hot springs in Europe. The force and the temperature of the waters that pour through here are strong enough to power several local towns and villages.
Unlike many other Icelandic waterfalls, the waters here cascade gently from moss-covered lava cliffs down a series of steps into the Hvita river. Nearby is Barnafoss (the Children’s Falls), a more powerful waterfall and one that once saw two children fall tragically to their deaths when they tried to cross a natural stone arch.
In the low-lying grasslands between glaciers and lava fields lies Husafell, a green oasis filled with medieval history and the stories of Snorri Sturluson, who was amongst the first to record the folklore of his people, and thought to be the author of “Egill’s Saga” too. Snorralaug, the geothermal hot pot where he used to bathe, is still visible, nearly 800 years after his violent murder by agents of the Norwegian King.