My Iceland road trip – Snæfellsnes peninsula

After spending two nights in Reykjavík (and not taking advantage of its famous nightlife), we set off on the second portion of our road trip, this time driving up the West coast to the Snæfellsnes peninsula. Although this is doable as a daytrip from the capital, we decided to allow ourselves more time and spend one night in the area. We were prepared for bad weather, so two days seemed like a better option in case it became too bad to stay out with the camera. We did indeed experience all kinds of weather there: sun, snow, hailstorm, extreme wind. What we didn’t know (and we later learned) was that on that very night Iceland was transitioning from winter to summer.

Snæfellsnes peninsula and national park

Snæfellsjökull National Park

The Snæfellsnes peninsula houses Snæfellsjökull National Park, one of the three national parks of the country. The wind was quite severe when we got there, so we did not do any hike and settled for what we could explore just getting out of the car. It was not bad at all. Our first stop was to admire the Lóndrangar Cliffs. The wind there was almost unbelievable and made it very hard to take any photos at all. I am proud of what I managed to accomplish, considering that at times I was barely able to balance myself and look through the viewfinder of my camera at the same time.

Snæfellsnes peninsula and national park
The Lóndrangar Cliffs

We decided to drive the Snæfellsnes peninsula clockwise, so the next stop after driving the south coast was the lava beach of Djúpalónssandur. The beach is sadly famous for being the setting of the shipwreck of the trawler Epine in 1948, and still displays ruins of the wreckage. Looking at the raging waves a sense of deep fear of sea travel crept upon me. The wind had made thick clouds gather upon us and by the time we were back in the car it had started snowing heavily.

Snæfellsnes peninsula and national park
Djúpalónssandur black beach

Kirkjufell

The Snæfellsnes peninsula’s most iconic landmark is probably the pointy mountain Kirkjufell, which actually looks this pointy only from the right perspective, that is to say from Kirkjufellsfoss, the waterfall that flows nearby. This was probably the least spectacular waterfall we saw in Iceland, but the combination of waterfall and mountain in the same picture makes it quite notable, especially in the beautiful light that the clouds unveiled for a brief moment when we were there.

Snæfellsnes peninsula and national park
Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss

I had spent the first five days in Iceland in a strange state. I really couldn’t decide whether I liked the country or not. Everything we had seen was beyond beautiful, mesmerizing sceneries like I had never seen before, but I couldn’t help feeling like there was something missing. I have a strange meter to measure my engagement with a place, to establish if I like it or not. Generally, I will always like something of all the places I go, but only a few of them trigger an even more intense reaction, the feeling like I’d move there, and live there. I have experienced this in all the Scandinavian countries, in Canada, even in Georgia, so I was expecting to feel it in Iceland, too. Yet Iceland, it seemed, did not ignite that part of my soul constantly searching for the best place to live. Until the fifth day.

Ólafsvík
Ólafsvík

The village of my dreams

We arrived in Ólafsvík, a remote village in the north portion of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, towards the end of our road trip. Were it not for the fact that we had booked one night in a guesthouse there, we would have probably skipped it all along, driven through it without even stopping. But we had to stop for the night, we had a half hour to kill until the guesthouse would open and the sudden snowstorm did not really make it for a good time to take a walk, so we hit the local supermarket. Ólafsvík is the typical settlement located in a remote area. There is one school. One church. One supermarket where you can find pretty much everything. It was in Ólafsvík’s only supermarket – with its random selection of foods, some imported from the States, some imported from Poland – that it finally happened. I felt that feeling I was expecting to feel. I turned to my boyfriend and said: “I could totally live here”. “So could I”, was his reply.

groceries in olafsvik
Who else buys baking powder as a souvenir?

After finally finding the perfect place in Iceland for me and spending a cozy night in a beautiful guesthouse – all the while the snow never stopped storming outside, alternating with 10-minute long episodes of blue sky and shining sun – it was time to drive back south and head towards Keflavik to fly back to Sweden. On the following day the weather got quite better indeed and the drive back from the peninsula was very pleasant. I finally managed to take a decent picture of the rugged “rock fields” that we had been seeing from time to time driving through Iceland. Visiting at this time of the year the island does not display much green yet, and the mossy carpet over the lava fields was the only green I managed to capture.

Snæfellsnes peninsula and national parkWe came to Iceland on Good Friday and happened to experience another holiday on our last day there. Following the Old Norse calendar, the first Thursday after April 18 is considered the first day of summer. This year the holiday happened on out last day there, Thursday April 20th, so just before we left we also learned to wish a happy sumardagurinn fyrsti to all the people we met that day.

 

The Snæfellsnes peninsula in western Iceland was the biggest surprise on my trip. It is rightfully considered the place to give you the "Icelad in a nutshell" effect. If you're looking for the perfect place with breathtaking landscapes and you don't have enough time to tour the whole country, you should definitely narrow it all down to the Snæfellsnes peninsula.

4 thoughts on “My Iceland road trip – Snæfellsnes peninsula

  1. It’s such a bummer you didn’t participate in the night life! I loved Iceland but next time will definitely rent a car and explore more on my own!

    1. Well neither me nor the people who were there with me are renowned for being big party animals. Actually, up in Iceland I have met up with some friends from Italy so it was good to take the time to catch up and spend some time together just drinking our beers in the apartments we were renting. And also… dining and drinking is so expensive there I can’t imagine how can you pub crawl without finishing all your money in one night 😮 How did you do that?

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