The name may sound straight out of Narnia, but we assure you that Snaefellesnes Peninsula does in fact exist. Sure, you will have to ask a native Icelander how to pronounce it at least 15 times (isn-eye-fell-sness), but it's time well spent considering a visit here will have you talking about it for months on end.
Located on the western coast of Iceland, this 50 mile-long peninsula is just a two-hour drive from Reykjavik. However, most visitors tend to skip this unique area in favor of more well-known haunts such as the Golden Circle and Blue Lagoon. No complaints here though — Snaefellsnes is home to volcanoes, glaciers, beaches, and wildlife… all without the teeming crowds of tourists.
The biggest drawcard here however, is the outdoor experiences to be had. Activities range from strolling along golden and pink beaches, to traversing the Vatnshellir lava cave that's roughly 8,000 years old. There are also more lava fields and basalt columns than you could possibly climb in a lifetime (we know, the struggle is real).
Super Jeep offers tours and guided hiking here, much like the rest of the country. But the main must-see is the legendary Snaefellsjokull ("jokull" means glacier, FYI). The 700,000-year-old active volcano is situated inside Iceland’s first national park and is best known for the enormous glacier covering its summit. You certainly won’t miss it looking up from sea level, and the sunsets from the top are second to none.
If you prefer to see wildlife, the variety in Snaefellsnes is pretty stunning. Boat rides are available daily to take visitors out to explore the bird colonies, spot seals basking on the beach, or follow one of the 20 species of whale that can be found off the coast. But if you prefer a slower pace, you can always ride along the beach on one the adorable Icelandic horses here.
For those who are more adventurous with their tastebuds, do not miss the Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum. Not only can you learn a bit about the traditional Icelandic dish of fermented shark meat (aka hkarl), you can even try a bit yourself.
Once you’ve finally had your fill of adrenaline, make time to explore some of the local towns. There are no cities in this heavenly slice of Iceland, only charming fishing villages such as Hellnar and Ólafsvík. It’s in places like these that you'll get a true sense of Icelandic life and get to mingle with friendly locals. But beware of popular the Icelandic spirit, Brennivín, which you'll likely be offered to drink. There's a reason it's known as 'Black Death'!
In terms of local accommodation, Hotel Búdir is absolutely the way to go. Not least because it literally sits on a lava field. The property only has 28 rooms but the cozy décor, hospitable service, and impeccable location are more than enough reason to make this your base camp while in the region.
Alternatively, Snaefellsnes is a surprisingly great place to use Airbnb and VRBO. Both offer some extremely unique and (relatively) inexpensive options to stay. Personally, we have our eye on this house that's located right by the glacier and national park entrance.
We'll just add it to our growing list of reasons to visit.