2-Day West Coast Tour | Snaefellsnes, Silver Circle & the Lava Cave
Discover the magic of the Snaefellsnes peninsula, visit fabulous waterfalls and hot springs and see stalactites and stalagmites in a spectacular lava cave
What to expect
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.
Day 1 | The Silver Circle with Lava Caving
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.
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.
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.
Vidgelmir Lava Cave
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.
Set between two glaciers, Husafell is an entrancing place filled with Viking history, with traditional turf houses and little elf huts to amuse the children too. This is a charming spot, with thick birch tree forests and pretty waterfalls, and it has been an inspiration for local artists. As well as that, the “Husafell Stone” can be found here, a legendary “lifting stone”, once used to test the strength of the locals and still used in strongman competitions today.
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.
You’ll stay overnight in Borgarnes, which was one of the original settlement sites for the first Icelanders a thousand years ago. You can learn more about the story of those pioneers with an optional visit to the excellent Settlement Center, which features interactive displays and intriguing stories from the Icelandic Sagas. Borgarnes is situated in a stunning location on a beautiful peninsula with amazing views of nearby Hafnarfjall (the Harbour mountain) and Skessuhorn mountain, which appeared in Game of Thrones as “Bulls Horn”. This is also an ideal place 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 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.
Ytri Tunga Seal Colony
Our first stop is the Ytri Tunga seal colony, where you’ll get the chance to visit these cute creatures as they swim and feed around here on summer days, with their home on a golden sandy beach. The seals are often quite playful when they’re here, and Ytri Tunga is also unusual for being a golden sand beach, when black sand beaches are more common.
The Black Church of Budakirkja
The next stop on the southern edge of the peninsula is the beautiful 19th-century church of Budakirkja. This black wooden church is famous for having been built by a strong-willed local woman when the church authorities didn’t think there was any need for a church here. Nowadays, it’s a very trendy place for couples to get married, because it’s in such a fabulous location.
Arnarstapi – fishing village and sea arches
Powerful Atlantic waves crash onto the rocks at the pretty fishing village of Arnastapi, which is the next stop. Here you can take a thrilling cliffside stroll to see the stunning sea-arch of Gatklettur, the “Rock with a Hole”. There is a lovely combination of colors here, with the black lava rocks covered with yellow and green mosses, contrasting with the brilliant blues of the Atlantic. There’s also a tribute to Jules Verne and an enormous troll-like stone monument.
A few more minutes further on the south side of Snaefellsnes, we arrive at the striking Londrangar Cliffs, where awesome basalt columns cling to rugged 70-meter-high pillars of rock, a summer nesting site for puffins and other seabirds as they feed and raise their chicks. Watch out for the Arctic terns, who often try to scare visitors away!
Black Beach of Djupalonssandur
Our next stop is the beautiful black sand beach at Djuplalonssandur, a sweeping and dramatic coastline, which we reach by walking through ancient lava fields. Here you will find the four “Lifting Stones” that used to test the strength of the local fishermen, as well as the remains of a shipwrecked English trawler. Test your own strength to see which of the four stones you can lift – could you have sailed with the Vikings?
Kirkjufell – the most photographed mountain in Iceland!
Kirkjufell, or the “Church Mountain” is one of the most photographed mountains in Iceland. It has been seen in “Game of Thrones” as the “Arrowhead Mountain”, and in several Hollywood films too. Set in a sweeping fjord, this mesmerizing mountain seems to resemble a shark’s fin too. Kirkjufell is a spectacular sight at any time of the year, with its extraordinary shape, as it stands almost alone from the surrounding hills. There are many great spots to take a phenomenal photo here – we’ll show you where!
Know Before You Go
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