Snaefellsjokull is a volcano topped with a glacier in the West of Iceland. The geological term for this type of a volcano is a stratovolcano and these sorts of volcanoes can be found spread around Iceland. Another example of a stratovolcano would be the famous Eyjafjallajökull which famously erupted in 2010. But, before the ill-pronounceable glacier volcano in the south captured everyone’s attention Snæfellsjökull was undoubtedly the most famous glacier-volcano in Iceland. This was due to the fact that in the year 1864 the French author Jules Verne wrote about the volcano in his book “Journey to the Center of the Earth” where he described the Icelandic volcano to be the entrance to the earth’s core and even had his characters go this way. A more recent mention of the stratovolcano would be in the eponym movie starring Brendan Fraser and the Icelandic actress Anita Briem.
The area of Snaefellsjokull was transformed into a National Park in the year 2001 which covers the western tip of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. All around the glacier volcano you find dark rough lava which curls together into a massive lava field covering the majority of the peninsula so the peaking 1,446 meters (4,744 ft) high glacier volcano stands blatantly out anywhere you are located in the area.
All though Snæfellsjökull is a very talked about glacier volcano in Iceland is believed to have erupted last between the years 50 AD and 350 AD, a few hundred years before the island would be settled. Little is known about the dates that Snæfellsjökull was created but it is apart of a volcanic range which dates back 700.000 years. Over twenty distinct lava flows have been documented to have flown from the glacier volcano which gives us a good idea about the activity that it once possessed.
Fun Facts About Snaefellsjokull
- Snæfellsjökull is 700,000 years old
- On clear days you can see the glacier/volcano from Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital
- Snaefellsjokull is a stratovolcano just like Eyjafjallajökull
- The Snæfellsjökull National Park was established in 2001 and is one of the five National Parks in Iceland
- Snæfellsjökull is one of the highest glaciers in Iceland reaching 1446 meters high
- The last eruption of Snaefellsjokull is believed to have taken place 200 AD (with a buffer of 150 years give or take)
- Snæfellsjökull is the 8th highest glacier in Iceland
Folklore surrounding Snaefellsjokull
Bárður Snæfellsás is a fictional character is a folklore tale from the 14th century in Iceland. Bárður was half giant and half troll and was widely considered mighty, smart and handsome. The tale goes a little something like this: Bárður’s daughter was playing with his brothers when she somehow got stuck on an iceberg that was floating by. There was no way to save her and the iceberg took her all the way to Greenland. Upon her return she was not the same and not as close to her father as she had been before, she wandered around and could never find peace. Bárður fought his brothers after the incident blaming them for the incident.
This event grieved Bárður heavily and after his son had taken up Christian religion it all became too much for Bárður and he ended up giving all his belongings away. He told his friend and neighbor, Sigmundur, that he was leaving because of his deep sadness and that he did not feel as he belonged with men. He is said to have moved into a big cave in Snæfellsjökull glacier. After that, he was called Bárður Snæfellsás. Ever since he has been a savior and a guiding light to those on the glacier and people have called upon him when finding in harm’s way. Bárður is believed to have had many skills, some even say he could control the weather.
Where is Snaefellsjokull?
GPS Coordinates: 64°48′N 23°47′W
Snæfellsjökull is located at the western brim of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. The closest towns to the parking lot of the glacier are Ólafsvík (13,7 km or 8,5 mi), Grundarfjörður (35,3 km or 21.9 mi) and Stykkishólmur (91,7 km or 56,9 mi). The distance from Reykjavík to Snæfellsjökull is 197 kilometers (122,4 mi).
How to get to Snaefellsjokull?
You can easily get to Snæfellsjökull by getting a rental car and driving or simply joining one of those many tours to the glacier volcano which offer pick up from your accommodation in Reykjavík (see below).
Driving from Reykjavík to the Snæfellsjökull parking lot will take about 2,5-3 hours and is quite the scenic drive. Leaving Reykjavík you will head North following the Ring Road 1 past the famous totem mountain of Reykjavík mt. Esja. At the turn to Hvalfjörður you have the choice to drive the fjord named after whales or enter its undersea tunnel, Hvalfjarðargöng. The tunnel will shorten the trip by one hour but if you are looking for a beautiful quiet drive or a nice picnic stop then you might want to consider it. No matter the option you choose your next location is Borgarfjörður valley and its biggest town Borgarnes. At the last roundabout in Borgarnes, you choose to make a turn onto road 54 to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula which will take you all the way to the parking lot. The drive from Borgarnes to Snæfellsjökull parking lot will take about 1 hour and 40 minutes and take you past many stunning locations. Enjoy the drive!
How to explore Snaefellsjokull?
- Glacier Hiking to Snæfellsjökull is available from March until September each year amazing hiking trips are offered to the top of Snæfellsjökull glacier with rewarding views like you wouldn’t believe. It is somewhat of a challenging hike so you should prepare a bit before taking on this adventure. From the top, you are able to see the whole of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula and on a clear day all the way to the capital. A truly memorable tour!
- Take a Snowcat to Snæfellsjökull – just recently the option of visiting Snæfellsjökull’s top by a Snowcat was made available and people are loving it. It required less physical strength but gives the partaker the same results, splendid view of the lava flows which today decorate the are with incredible rock formations and views over to the next peninsulas is the weather allows.
- Viewing Snæfellsjökull from a Snæfellsnes Road Trip – the glacier is quite towering and demanding of your attention as it sticks out with its white cap in the otherwise rough black and green landscape. The Snæfellsjökull glacier can be seen from different angles when one drives around the peninsula, each topping the last.
Where to stay near Snaefellsjokull?
- Arnarstapi Hotel
- Fosshotel Hellnar
- Hotel Búðir
- Hotel Hellissandur
- Böðvarsholt HI Hostel
- The Freezer Hostel and Culture Centre
Guesthouses, B&B’s and Apartments
- Öxl Guesthouse
- Westpark Guesthouse
- Gamla Rif
- North Star Apartments
Camping near Snaefellsjokull
Arnarstapi Camping Ground or what it is more commonly known as the Snjofell camping ground. Quite a large field and great views stretching over the coast and marine. The facilities are standard for tents and campers.
Ólafsvík Camping Ground offers fantastic facilities for tents and campervans and is close to all the services you might need being located in the town of Ólafsvík. Only 15 minutes walking to the local swimming pool.
Hellissandur Camping Ground is located in the beautiful Sandahraun lava field and offers all the standard facilities for tents and camper vans. There are sterling walking paths along the beach a little down from the grounds and the view from the area is amazing.
Where to eat near Snaefellsjokull?
- Viðvík Restaurant at Hellissandur – a surprising gem in the middle of nowhere. Here you can find some of the most amazing dishes displayed in the most elegant of ways and the taste is heavenly. A pearl in the middle of a lava field.
- Sker Restaurant at Ólafsvík – in a modern style setting you will be greeted by friendly staff, a stuffed delicious menu and when the plates arrive simple tasty meals presented in a fancy way. They also have delicious cocktails!
- Samkomuhúsið at Arnarstapi – a step back in time with delicious traditional Icelandic cuisines such as the lamb soup and Icelandic pönnukökur (pancakes). The setting is beautifully decorated with artifacts, books and local rocks and wool products.
- Primus Kaffi at Hellnar – a great find at a remote beach with stunning views. The menu consists of soup, cakes, seafood dishes, meatballs and delicious coffee. A fantastic place to try Plokkfiskur the traditional Icelandic fish stew.
Movies, TV Shows or Music Videos filmed at Snaefellsjokull
Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008) the movie is named after the famous Jules Verne but the script is based on the book. There Brendan Fraser and Anita Briem take on the quest of entering Snæfellsjökull to get to the earth’s core. The movie is filmed in the are of Snæfellsjökull.
Interesting places near Snaefellsjokull
- Vatnshellir Cave
- Arnarstapi Village
- Hellnar Village
- Lóndrangar Basalt Rocks
- Bjarnarfoss Waterfall
- Búðakirkja “The Black Church”
- Lýsuhólslaug Swimming Pool
- Ytri-Tunga Seal Colony
- Skarðsvík Beach
- Ólafsvík town
- Grundarfjörður Town
- Kirkjufell Mountain
- Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall