On this 2-day tour to West Iceland, we’ll take you first to Borgarfjordur, thought to be the location for many of the famous Icelandic Sagas. Deep in the heart of the wild landscapes here, you’ll see the most powerful hot springs in Europe, awe-inspiring waterfalls and learn about local Viking history. Then you’ll explore an astonishing lava cave system that was created over a thousand years ago, filled with stalactites, stalagmites and fascinating ice formations.
After an overnight stay in Borgarnes, you’ll then spend your second day discovering the dazzling Snaefellsnes peninsula. Snaefellsnes is also known as “Iceland in Miniature” because the highlights of the country can all be found in this one area. There are glittering glaciers, snow-covered volcanoes, black sand beaches, dramatic mountains, pretty fishing villages, cute seals, seabird colonies, and much more.
Your 2-day West Iceland adventure will begin when we collect you from your accommodation in Reykjavik and drive you to Borgarfjordur. It’s a quick journey, as we take the coastal route past Mount Esja and a road tunnel deep under Hvalfjordur to Borgarnes, the gateway to the region. There’ll be a quick stop here for refreshments and to take in the amazing views of Hafnarfjall (Harbour mountain) and Skessuhorn mountain.
Then we leave the Ring Road behind and turn inland through fertile farmlands, crossing rapid rivers from the nearby Langjokull glacier, the second biggest in the country.
Your first stop will be at Bifrost – a place that you might have heard about when reading stories about Norse Mythology. Here, aside from mythical boarder between human and god´s world, you will find tiny, but charming waterfall called Glanni. Located on the Nordura River multiple tiers fall down across old lava fields called the Grabrokarhraun. In fact, you can also enjoy the view over 3 volcanic craters called Grabrok, that rise above these fields.
Deildartunguhver is the next stop on our tour, the site of the most powerful hot spring in Europe, which pumps out more than 180 liters of boiling water every second. Deildartunguhver produces the hot water and heating for all the towns and villages in the surrounding area. The power of nature can truly be felt as you walk amongst clouds of steam vapor and bubbling springs on boardwalks, or you can see these from a viewing platform instead.
The last stop on the first day of the tour is Reykholt, which is an historic site in Iceland’s folklore, featured in the writings of Snorri Sturluson, a famous poet and local chieftain. Snorralaug (Snorri’s Pool) is an old-time hot spring, where locals have bathed for hundreds of years. Snorralaug is now a protected archaeological treasure, and there is also a traditional timber church here to look at too.
Just a little further inland, we soon come to Hraunfossar, a magnificent stretch of waterfalls that runs for nearly a kilometer over a rugged lava field. Hraunfossar, which translates as the “Lava Waterfalls” is a wide plateau waterfall, with several viewing platforms that allow you to see the cascades from many different positions. Glacial meltwater from the nearby Langjokull glacier crashes over jagged cliffs into the fierce Hvita (White) river below. It’s an awesome sight to view countless waterfalls stretching as far as the eye can see.
There is another waterfall nearby, known as Barnafoss, or the “waterfall of the children”. Once there was a stone arch making a natural bridge over the Hvita river here. Many years ago, two children from a nearby farm were drowned when they tried to cross it. Their heartbroken mother had the bridge destroyed to save others from the same sad end.
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.
The highlight of the first day in West Iceland is a 1.5 hour expedition to the Lava Cave at Vidgelmir. Just over a thousand years ago, a volcanic eruption here in the Hallmundarhraun lava field created a hollowed-out lava tube that stretched for hundreds of yards. Over time, the roof of this tube has collapsed in several places, making it possible for visitors to climb down and explore the depths in safety on well-built walkways with permanent lighting.
The Vidgelmir Lava Cave is an incredibly colorful underworld, measuring 1585 meters long, nearly 16 meters high, and 16 meters wide. That means it’s easily the largest lava tunnel in the country. Inside, guided by local experts, you will see some incredible sights – delicate lava formations, ice crystals, stalactites and stalagmites. It is thought that early Viking settlers may have sheltered here, which makes it even more exciting to visit here.
OVERNIGHT STAY AT BORGARNES - The Capital of West Iceland
The second day of our West Iceland adventure takes you to the Snaefellsnes peninsula, which translates as the “Snow Mountain Peninsula”. Snaefellsnes is also described as “Iceland in Miniature” because it contains all of the best aspects of Iceland in one amazing region. Snaefellsnes is packed with colossal mountains that hug the coastal roads, an enormous glacier-topped volcano, marvelous waterfalls, black sand beaches, seal and bird colonies, rapid rivers, rugged volcanic cliffs and so much more.
As soon as we leave Borgarnes and start our circuit around this 100km peninsula, the glacier-topped volcano called Snaefellsjokull comes into view. At nearly 1500m, Snaefellsjokull dominates the skyline here, capped with a glittering crown of snow and ice.
Snaefellsjokull was the inspiration for Jules Verne when he wrote “Journey to the Center of the Earth”, where the entrance to the planet’s core was thought to be located, and many people still think of Snaefellsnes as a very spiritual place.
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 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.
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!
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 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!
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We offer pick up and drop off within the city of Reykjavik. We can pick-up directly from many hotels and guest houses in Reykjavik as well as from the Reykjavik cruise ship terminals.
Parts of Reykjavík City Center are closed for the commercial traffic. Please note, that your pick up might be from one of the dedicated meeting points