The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is often called “Iceland in Miniature” as it offers visitors a tremendous combination of colossal glaciers, magnificent mountains, cascading waterfalls, and ancient lava fields, all easily reached on good roads just over an hour’s drive away from the capital.
Taking Route 1 from Reykjavík leads to Borgarnes, the gateway to the Snæfellsnes peninsula and a good place for a pitstop, as it is home to the excellent two-part Settlement Centre museum, as well as offering a splendid view of the road bridge across Borgarfjörður.
It’s just north of Borgarnes that the turn off onto Route 54 to the Snæfellsnes peninsula appears.
Most consider it best to go clockwise around this 100km peninsula, in order to get the best look at the enormous Snæfelljökull volcano as it slowly comes into view.
It’s also a good idea to take the coastal road on Route 574 off Route 54 near Búðir, rather than continue inland and up the mountain, as the 54 soon turns into a testing gravel path.
By keeping to the coastal road towards Arnastapi, you’ll be able to visit the stunning bird watching cliffs at Lóndrangar, as well as Vatnshellir, Hellissandur and Ólafsvîk, before arriving at Grundarfjörður, the favorite destination for many because it’s where one of the most photographed mountains in the country can be found, the church-shaped mountain of Kirkjufell.
Kirkjufell is best observed from the right-hand side of the little waterfalls there, where it’s reflection can be seen in a lake on calmer days.
The rest of the peninsula route between Grundarfjörður and Stykkishólmur is incredibly beautiful in good weather conditions, with many places to stop and soak up the views.
Stykkishólmur is a gorgeous little fishing village and ferry port, a bit further on past the turn back south on Route 56 towards Vegamót, but it’s well worth a few extra kilometers for a visit.