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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
OVERNIGHT STAY AT BORGARNES - The Capital of West Iceland
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.
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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