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  • Einar Páll Svavarsson

Snæfellsnes Peninsula road trip drive from Reykjavík

Updated: Dec 14, 2022


Arnarstapi basalt column shoreline at Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Arnarstapi basalt column shoreline at Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Suppose you are looking for an exciting drive, a short road trip, or a tour in Iceland where you can comfortably drive and see the magnificent landscapes and beautiful natural wonders, astonishing small villages, and places with entertaining stories. In that case, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula Drive is an excellent option. Especially if you have your own car, a camper, or a rental car, before you start, make sure you read my extensive article about choosing the right car in Iceland. It is quite possible to take the Snæfellsnes Peninsula drive in a day, but you have to ask yourself, "am I really in a hurry when traveling?" We cannot suggest or advise such a rush as we encourage people to enjoy the landscapes and the various natural wonders and appreciate the stories that have developed for centuries. If you are staying in Reykjavík, the whole drive is approximately 500 kilometers or 310 miles. The area you cover has a good cell phone cover and is never specifically remote. It is a scenic drive by the shoreline with a spectacular view of mountains and a beautiful glacier.


Enjoy the drive and inhale the natural wonders

Driving the Snæfellsnes Peninsula with Snæfellsjökull glacier in the background
Driving the Snæfellsnes Peninsula with Snæfellsjökull glacier in the background

To get the most out of your drive, we recommend three days and two nights to enjoy the awesome Snæfellsnes Peninsula. The drive is both scenic and a place where you can find many impressive natural wonders. The Snæfellsnes Peninsula, located in the West Region of Iceland, also has interesting and beautiful small towns and villages with excellent accommodations, camping sites, cafés, and restaurants. Some also offer interesting tours and activities. Our tour begins and ends in Borgarnes in the West Region, a town that is only 70 kilometers, 45 miles, from Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland. It is a road by the intersection of Road nr 1 (the Ring Road) and Road nr. 54. What I have in mind here is that you don't take the same way back when you finish the drive and can see new things all through your drive.


What you will see

Snæfellsnes Peninsula a view from Snæfellsjökull glacier
Snæfellsnes Peninsula a view from Snæfellsjökull glacier

Driving on this tour around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula on Road Nr. 54, you will see a large crater, fields of lava, waterfalls, basalt columns, stacks and pillars by the shoreline, ravines with strange stories attached to them, and places from stories in the Sagas that happened over a thousand years ago. You will also see the Snæfellsnes glacier. It is a remarkable journey through landscape and history. In addition, you will visit some beautiful towns and villages and experience a scenic drive with spectacular mountains.


The roads, your car, and the best time of the year to take this tour drive

Spectacular rock formation and shoreline by Hellnar small hamlet
Spectacular rock formation and shoreline by Hellnar small hamlet

This is a trip that you can take at any time during the year, although the most exciting and straightforward time is from the middle of May until the end of September. Here you can fill in some valuable information by reading my article about the best time to visit Iceland. The colors of summer also make the lava moss and vegetation very beautiful, giving you a much more enjoyable experience. But experiencing Iceland in the autumn and winter is also quite interesting. Any car, small or large, can be used for this drive as the roads are almost all excellent asphalt roads except for a part on the Northeast part of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula that only has a gravel road. In winter, it is always better and more secure to have a car with a front-wheel drive or preferably a four-wheel drive since they are more stable when the roads are icy and slippery.


First day: Borgarnes - Arnarstapi

Hiking up to the top of Eldborg crater
Hiking up to the top of Eldborg crater

When you drive through the town of Borgarnes heading north, you turn to your left on a roundabout at the edge of this small town to Road Nr. 54 Snæfellsnesvegur or The Snæfellsnes Road. At first, you drive on a lowland area called Mýrar with the whole Snæfellsnes peninsula in front of you with its many mountains and the glacier Snæfellsjökull quite visible at the far end. After a 20 kilometers drive, 13 miles, you will start to notice a large crater in front of you, standing alone on the lowland and dominating the view. This is Eldborg crater and your first stop. To access the walking trail to Eldborg, you turn left approximately 35 kilometers, 22 miles, to Road Nr. 5610 to a farm called Snorrastaðir. From the parking lot, you take the 3-kilometer hike, 2 miles.

Gerðuberg basalt column cliff
Gerðuberg basalt column cliff

When you continue on Road Nr. 54, after the hiking tour to Eldborg, you only drive a few kilometers when you reach the short path to Gerðuberg; this is a spectacular cliff with a fascinating geological formation of basalt columns. The basalt columns are so regular and so even that you would almost think this is man-made instead of made by mother nature. This should be your second stop; you can drive to a parking lot by the cliffs.

Bjarnarfoss waterfall
Bjarnarfoss waterfall

From Gerðuberg cliffs to your next and third recommended stop, Bjarnarfoss waterfall is approximately 55 kilometers, 35 miles. This is an incredibly scenic drive on a clear day since there are beautiful mountains on your right side and the glacier Snæfellsjökull at the end of the peninsula in front of you. Bjarnarfoss is an impressive waterfall with a spectacular layer of basalt column formation in the cliff. There is a good parking lot beside the road and an easy and enjoyable path to the waterfall by the small spring-fed river.

The famous black church at Búðir
The famous black church at Búðir

From Bjarnarfoss, you turn towards Road Nr. 574 and take another turn to your left to Road Nr. 5723 to Búðir. From the parking lot at Búðir, there is a beautiful hike by the shoreline. You only need to walk about 500 meters -1.5 kilometers or a mile to enjoy this part of Snæfellsnes. It is a delightful walk where the rush is not required -- but leave the sandals in the car as this is mostly walking in sand. You should wear your hiking shoes, like in most places in Iceland.

Arnarstapi small hamlet
Arnarstapi small hamlet

If you prefer to dine at a restaurant, you should consider the excellent restaurant at the Hotel Búðir. From Búðir, you drive approximately 20 kilometers, 12 miles, to the west on Road Nr.574 to Arnarstapi. Arnarstapi and the nearby village or hamlet Hellnar are excellent places to stay in addition to the Hotel at Búðir. For accommodations, many places in the neighborhood offer affordable stays, and there is also a beautiful and convenient camping area at Arnarstapi. This should wrap up your first day at the Snæfellsnes Peninsula drive.

Second day - Arnarstapi - Grundarfjörður

Rauðfeldsgjá fissure
Rauðfeldsgjá fissure

You should begin your day by taking the spectacular 2.5-kilometer hiking trail from Arnarstapi to Hellnar. It is an excellent marked trail by the shoreline, filled with unusual geological formations and lovely birdlife. In contrast to the coastline, you have the excellent Snæfellsjökull glacier and the mountain Stapafell on your right or north. If you take this track, you probably have to walk the same way back to Arnarstapi, but it is entirely worth it. At Arnarstapi, you should salute the statue of Bárður Snæfellsás. Bárður is a historical person who had quite an impact on the surrounding area. His story is hilarious and kind of sad and part of the Icelandic Sagas.

Bárður Snæfellsás the troll settler
Bárður Snæfellsás the troll settler

After the hike, we recommend a visit to Rauðfeldsgjá, a ravine with a fantastic story, where Bárður Snæfellsás plays a prominent role written more than one thousand years ago. If you are coming from Arnarstapi, you must drive a few kilometers back on Road Nr. 574. You should read the fascinating story here about Rauðfeldsgjá and also the information about Bárður Snæfellsás.

Lóndrangar sea stacks
Lóndrangar sea stacks

From Rauðfeldsgjá, you continue west on Road Nr. 574 to Lóndrangar. Although the stacks are pretty impressive and visible from the road viewing panel, we recommend driving a bit farther than the viewing panel; take the left turn to Malarrif and walk the one-kilometer walk by the shore to the stacks. It is a more impressive view and also more interesting for photographing.

Djúpalónssandur
Djúpalónssandur