A two day escape into the lesser known West Iceland, ideal for combining with our popular South Iceland tours. If you want to experience Iceland’s vast landscapes and wild nature in Snæfellsnes, while trying to get a peak at the Northern Lights, this is the tour for you.
On this trip you will get to know all the main sights of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, including Snæfellsjökull National Park, while also embarking on an adventurous winter whale watching tour for a unique opportunity to see killer whales in their only habitat in Iceland.
The Snæfellsnes peninsula is authentically Icelandic with its enchanting fishing villages, black sand beaches, lava fields and the powerful and mystical glacier which gives the area its name. To make the most of this tour we stay at the beautiful Hótel Búðir to optimise the chances of seeing the Northern Lights before heading back to Reykjavík after two amazing days.
This two day tour is recommended for the Northern Lights high season, between October and late March.
From the 1st of November and the 14th of December we alter the itinerary slightly since the killer whales are usually not seen in that period. Between these dates we have many other attractions to visit instead.
– The view from Stykkishólmur lighthouse. On one side you have the colourful old town houses and on the other the countless isles of Breiðafjörður bay.
– The overnight stay at the stunning Hótel Búðir. No less picturesque is the black church on the hotel grounds. This is the perfect spot to marvel at the Northern Lights.
– The cosy lunch break at Narfeyrarstofa. The local mussels are a Hidden Iceland favourite.
– Seeing Snæfellsjökull glacier and Kirkjufell mountain for the first time really takes your breath away.
– The walk down to Djúpalónssandur beach. The variety of landscape even before reaching the glittering black beach surprises us every time.
– The killer whales (orcas) in Breiðafjörður bay. They’re such elegant creatures.
– Spotting the Northern Lights during the trip is always a big plus.
The Day to Day Itinerary
Day 1 of 2
We depart Reykjavík heading north, first we drive alongside Mount Esja before passing underneath Hvalfjörður, the Whale Fjord, by going through the six kilometre subsea tunnel. On our way to Snæfellsnes we will pass by farm land, rocky bay areas, dramatic lava fields and steep mountains that seem to rise from the sea.
The lake Selvallavatn and the vast surrounding landscape is our first stop on the peninsula. It is here that there is even a hidden waterfall, which just tops off this incredible introduction to the beauty of Snæfellsnes. Next up is the attractive town of Stykkishólmur, with its award winning, well preserved and colourful old buildings. A must stop is the lighthouse that overlooks the countless islands of Breiðafjörður bay. By this point we are more than ready for lunch at our favourite cosy restaurant in town, Narfeyrarstofa. We love everything on the menu but the mussels and local lamb chorizo are something special.
Once we are ready to hit the road we continue on to one of the most iconic sights in Iceland. Kirkjufell, or Church mountain, which rises nearly 500m up right above the seaside town of Grundafjörður. This arrow shaped mountain was famously depicted in North of the Wall scenes from the TV show Game of Thrones. On calm days the mountain’s reflection can be seen in the nearby lake, while the views from the picturesque waterfall of Kirkjufellsfoss are incredible.
From impressive mountains to striking beaches, our next stop is the black sand beach of Djúpalónssandur. This pebble beach is amazing and the walk through the small gorge, lava fields and past the mineral water pool is almost as wonderful. From here we will get to take in the powerful Snæfellsjökull volcano, which will dominate the skyline for the rest of our drive. Snæfellsjökull provided the setting and inspiration for Jules Verne when writing his book, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and its not hard to see why.
The last stop before heading towards tonight’s accommodation at Hótel Búðir is the minuscule fishing village of Arnarstapi. The first thing we’ll notice is the large statue of the Saga character Bárður Snæfellsás, a half man half giant who is said to protects the inhabitants of Snæfellsnes. Here the rock formations, coves and sea cliffs are to be explored and admired, with the crashing waves constantly eroding various shapes into the exposed cliffs. Staying overnight at the wonderful Hótel Búðir gives us a far better chance to see the Northern Lights, which are often seen right over the hotel on a clear, starry night.
*In winter the road to Djúpalónssandur beach isn’t always accessible, so extra stops will always be made if this is the case.
The Day to Day Itinerary
Day 2 of 2
After breakfast at Hótel Búðir we will explore the hotel’s surroundings in the morning twilight and most definitely take a few pictures by the black church of Búðakirkja, which has to be the most photogenic church in Iceland, with its stunning backdrop of lava fields and mountains.
Once we are ready we head out to meet our partners at Láki tours. They will take us out on Breiðafjorður Bay on the search for killer whales, or orcas, who call this large fjord home for the winter. We grab lunch in the town of Ólafsvík once we are back on dry land. We make another stop or two on our way back to Reykjavík, getting back in time for dinner in the city. Reykjavík accommodation would need to be arranged this night.
Optional Changes to the Itinerary:
During the whale watching off season we have multiple other options for our second day in West Iceland. Or even if whale watching just isn’t your thing.
– A day in Husafell. This area is further inland and explores the Borgarfjörður region, starting by visiting the nearby Hraunfossar and Barnafoss, which are some of the more beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. Next we would grab lunch nearby before making a quick stop at Deildartunguhver hot spring, the most powerful naturally occurring flow of boiling water in Iceland.
– Lava Tunnel. We could also go and explore the lava tunnel of Víðgelmir
– Horse Riding. We could go on a horse riding tour with our partners at Sturlureykir
– Natural hot pool. Or have a wonderful soak at Krauma Spa for the afternoon.
Operates: 1st of October until the 31st of March
Duration: 2 days
Minimum age: No limit
Level of difficulty: Easy
Included: Accommodation at the gorgeous Hotel Búðir including breakfast. Rooms all have private bathrooms. Whale watching tour with Láki Tours on Breiðafjörður bay, the only year round habitat of killer whales in Iceland (overalls are provided). Lunch at Narfeyrarstofa (all inclusive aside from alcoholic drinks) on Day 1 and Restaurant Sker on Day 2. Alternative to whale watching tour during off season upon request. Private transportation in a comfortable vehicle (type of vehicle is dependant on group size) and our wonderful English speaking driver guide for the duration of the two days. Pick up and drop offs in Reykjavík, airport pickup and/or drop off can be requested.
Exclusions: Flights to and from Iceland, meals unless otherwise specified.
Customise this Trip?
A private tour allows you to customise this trip to ensure your Iceland experience is perfect. We can arrange pick up or drop off at the airport for those on a tight schedule. Don’t think you are up for a boat tour? We can take that out and add in more sights, there’s so much to see in Iceland. Want to make this trip even more adventurous? We can work with our partners to add in snowmobiling and Into the Glacier Tour from Húsafell.
Have more than 2 days to explore? We recommend combining this private tour with one of our scheduled tours or the amazing Essential South Iceland 3 Day private tour. Contact us below and we can help you come up with best plan to maximise your time in Iceland.
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