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  • Writer's pictureEinar Páll Svavarsson

Mt. Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall

Updated: Apr 7, 2023


Kirkjufell mountain close to Grundarfjörður
Kirkjufell mountain close to Grundarfjörður

Kirkjufell is a spectacular mountain near the town Grundarfjörður at Snæfellsnes Peninsula. In recent years it has become one of the most recognized landmarks and one of the most photographed places in Iceland. Kirkjufell has always been considered a beautiful mountain by Icelanders. But although admired and noticed, it was just another mountain in the past. Still, with growing tourism, social media, and many competent photographers, it has been enhanced to a new level. Photos of the mountain with the Kirkjfellsfoss waterfalls in the foreground and often northern lights in the background are well-known and published worldwide. Without any doubt, Kirkjufell became world famous when it was selected as a shooting location in Game of Thrones. In the series, the name of the mountain is Mt. Arrowhead. Accordingly, it has become of the best-known landmarks in Iceland and a place that many seek to visit. But despite its fame and even though the beautiful mountain has made it to the list of the most beautiful mountains in the world, you could say that its natural beauty was discovered by tourists and made famous by the producers of Game of Thrones. Before competent photographers discovered the stunning beauty of combining the waterfall and the mountain, not many photos could be found taken by Icelandic photographers.


West Region map of Iceland
West Region map of Iceland

The name Kirkjufell

Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall
Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall

For an island packed with mountains, the Icelandic language offers many terms for this spectacular product of the forces of nature depending on its size and form. Although most people would look at Kirkjufell and conclude that it is a mountain, things are more complex in Iceland. Early on, Kirkjufell was called Kirkja or Church. Not surprisingly, the shape resembles a church, and its beauty has a divine presence. Fell, on the other hand, describes a small mountain that fits between a hill and a mountain and stands alone. The stand-alone factor is one of Kirkjufells significant modern-day qualities, as it is pretty photogenic from all directions. Kirkjufell also gave names to places nearby, like the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall and even in the past, the cove Grundarfjörður on the east side of Kirkjufell bore the name Kirkjufjörður. Somehow it didn't stick, nor fortunately, did the name Danish seamen gave Kirkjufell in the 18th century when they called it the ill-fitting and downgrading name Sugartop.


A difficult and dangerous climb to the top

Mt. Kirkjufell from the west side
Mt. Kirkjufell from the west side

Kirkjufell is 469 meters high (1538 feet). It is a product of many forms of geology throughout millions of years, which gave it many fascinating installments, one on top of the other. When you stand in front of the mountain, you can sense how difficult it is to climb. The higher you look, the steeper the slopes. Kirkjufell has tempted many people to climb up to its peak throughout the centuries and has also taken many lives in the past and recently. It is a rugged mountain to climb and only for well-trained climbers. It is not recommended to climb but will remain interesting for those who seek adventure and is, of course, for a point of the spectacular view over Breiðafjörður and Snæfellsnes Peninsula from the top. It is highly recommended, for those who are interested, only to climb Kirkjufell with a local guide. And for those interested in hiking, there is a trail around Kirkjufell which takes about three to four hours to hike.


How to visit Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall?

Mt. Kirkjufell from the east side
Mt. Kirkjufell from the east side

Kirkjufell is on the north side of the beautiful and historically rich Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall are within walking distance from the small town of Grundarfjörður. It is an inseparable part of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula drive and a must-stop. By the waterfall on the main road Nr. 54 Snæfellsnesvegur is also a good parking lot and walking paths around the waterfall. The walking trail is great, and the whole surrounding by the waterfall is a spectacular place to take photos of Kirkjufell and one of the most scenic places when driving the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.



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