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Complete Guide to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in Winter

|June 12, 2023
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Welcome to the enchanting land of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, nestled on the western coast of Iceland. While this region attracts visitors from across the globe year-round, it undergoes a stunning transformation during the harsh winter months. With snow-capped landscapes, frozen falls and arctic wildlife, Snæfellsnes becomes a Nordic winter wonderland that boasts a real ethereal charm.


Welcome to the enchanting land of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, nestled on the western coast of Iceland. While this region attracts visitors from across the globe year-round, it undergoes a stunning transformation during the harsh winter months. With snow-capped landscapes, frozen falls and arctic wildlife, Snæfellsnes becomes a Nordic winter wonderland that boasts a real ethereal charm. 

If you’re after a wintery escape, Snæfellsnes should be at the top of your destination list. From thrilling adventures to mystical Northern Lights, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Prepare to be inspired by the raw beauty that emerges in western Iceland during the winter season.

When is Winter in Iceland?

In Iceland, winter is the longest season of the year. The season lasts from November to March and is the time when the country is at its coldest and darkest. 

In Reykjavík, temperatures in winter can vary from 0.6°C and 4.9°C, however, they have been known to fall far lower than this, with the record temperature being -19.7°C. 

Iceland is incredibly beautiful at this time of year, with fluffy white snow covering the land. This time of year presents plenty of opportunities to enjoy ice adventures such as glacier hiking, snowmobiling and skiing, especially in the Snæfellsnes peninsula!

Grundarfoss Waterfall in Winter

Frozen waterfall in the Snæfellsnes peninsula

Must-See Landmarks in Snæfellsnes

Mount Kirkjufell

Mount Kirkjufell (meaning Church Mountain) is a free-standing mountain in the peninsula and is the most prominent mountain in Grundarfjörður. The mountain attracts thousands of keen photographers, and you’ll see many with tripods capturing the perfect shot. Kirkujufell is said to resemble a church, and its iconic shape can’t be missed. When visiting in winter, you can see the mountain in all of its glory, capped with frost and snow. Do not attempt to climb this mountain, however, as it is considered extremely dangerous. We’d recommend spectating from afar to see it in its full glory.

Lóndrangar

The peninsula is a volcanic area, making it home to some of the best lava formations in the whole country. Lóndrangar is a perfect example of this. The basalt cliffs and surrounding lands are steeped in folklore, with elves rumored to live there. The cliffs can be easily accessed via the Visitor’s Centre, and offer ample photo opportunities.

Djúpalónssandur

Djúpalónssandur is one of the most dramatic black sand beaches in Iceland. The arched-shaped bay is littered with rocks, deep black sand and coastal pebbles, and is truly enchanting, especially in the cold, dark winter months. Located at the foot of Snæfellsnes, the beach is geologically unique and offers incredible views that you can’t see anywhere else.

Beaches in Iceland

Djúpalónssandur black sand beach

Arnarstapi

Arnarstapi is a small fishing village located in the southern area of Snæfellsnes,  at the foot of Mount Stapafell. Over time, the village has grown popular with tourists due to its charming nature, colorful houses, and quant harbor. Here you can immerse yourself in rich folklore and history, whilst enjoying one of the scenic hikes in the area. Want to visit for yourself? Our small group tour of Snæfellsnes & Kirkjufell is popular with visitors keen to experience the best of West Iceland.

Wildlife Encounters in Snæfellsnes

Whale Watching

Snæfellsnes is notoriously known for its wide variety of whale species, especially two of the ocean’s top predators, sperm whales and orcas. The whales can sometimes be spotted in late winter/early spring, with other species such as minke whales, humpback whales and white-beaked dolphins making appearances. If you're interested, take a look at our Whale Watching Tour in Olafsvik, Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

Bird Watching

Whilst May and June are when migrant birds arrive in Iceland, winter is also a brilliant time to go bird watching, especially in the coastal areas of Snæfellsnes. Spot the adorable Atlantic puffins head to and from their cliff burrows, as well as torpedo-like gannets diving for food. With year-round birding, we’d recommend visiting the ponds and lakes or the south shores or taking a boat trip to see the seabirds.

Horse Riding

The dramatic snowy landscapes of Snæfellsnes make it an amazing area for riding iconic Icelandic horses through organized horse riding tours. The Icelandic horses are popular with tourists, and there are plenty of activities throughout the region that include these friendly mammals.

Winter in Iceland

Two Icelandic hoses with a snowy backdrop

Winter Activities in Snæfellsnes

Snowmobiling

Experience the thrill of exploring the snowy landscapes of Snæfellsnes on your very own snowmobile! You can glide across the pristine white plains, surrounded by panoramic views of the gorgeous peninsula.

Northern Lights

One of the true spectacles of Iceland is the Northern Lights, which can be seen only during the dark winter months. To glimpse this natural phenomenon we’d recommend joining a guided tour to watch the colorful aurora dance in the Arctic sky. View our selection of Northern Lights Tours in Iceland.

Ice Caving

Exploring one of the peninsula’s ice caves is a brilliant experience. These natural wonders are formed by frozen waterfalls and offer a stunning display of icy formations that will leave you in awe.

Crystal caves Iceland

Glacial ice cave in Iceland

Soak in a Hot Spring

After a long day of exploring the wonders of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, there’s nothing like unwinding in a naturally heated hot spring. Soak up the wintery atmosphere in the geothermal waters for a rejuvenating experience.

 

Are you looking to escape to Iceland this winter? Take a look at our incredible selection of Snæfellsnes Peninsula Tours to inspire your next trip! Alternatively, combine this incredible place with another exciting activity with our incredible combination tours.

 

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