03 Oct One Day Road Trip around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula from Reykjavik, Iceland
Is it possible to road trip the entire Snæfellsnes Peninsula in a day from Reykjavík? That’s what we wondered as we set off for the second part of our Iceland road trip. We traded in our Happy Camper for a SADcar (quite comical, no?) and set off for a day of exploring.
We based ourselves in Reykjavik with the intent of taking several day trips outside of the city. On this day in particular, our plan was to attempt a day full of adventure while driving around the entire Snaefellsnes Peninsula. We had no set itinerary or schedule and weren’t sure how far we would make it on our day trip to Snaefellsnes before we decided to head back to town.
Of course, with any Icelandic road trip, it’s inevitable that you will make several pit stops to photograph the gorgeous landscapes, but our first official stop of the day was Stykkishólmur. This is one of the towns where scenes from the movie The Secret life of Walter Mitty were filmed. It is an adorable, small town with a few museums and several shops and restaurants. To start, we made our way over to the island, Sugandisey, for a hike. We found grassy hills, a cute orange lighthouse at the edge of the cliffs and the Greenland Sea’s glistening water with small islands dotting the horizon.
After exploring the island, it was time for lunch, and the brightly colored food truck, Finsens Fish & Chips, drew us in. We were served a newspaper printed cone overflowing with fish and chips, and it was as delicious as it looked.
While we waited for the Library of Water to open, we did a little browsing in a couple of the shops, where I found too many things I wanted to purchase. Thankfully, a small suitcase kept my credit card tucked firmly in my purse, and we just ogled at everything instead.
I really wanted to visit the Library of Water, but the doors were locked and we couldn’t find anyone in sight despite the hours on the website confirming we could visit. We tried asking about the hours of the Library of Water at the Volcano Museum, but they were closed, as well! Instead, we wandered around town exploring on foot for a while before hopping back in our car and continuing on with our road trip.
The skies were bright and cheery all morning, but after lunch dark clouds started to roll in. They followed us to the waterfall near Kirkjufell Mountain where we attempted to snap a few photos before getting engulfed in rain.
Our plan was to loop around through Snæfellsjökull National Park and then stop at the Vatnshellir lava cave on the south side of the peninsula, but the forecast for the rest of the day did not look promising. Instead, we took the shortcut on the east side of Snæfellsjökull National Park and hoped the weather would clear up on the south side of the peninsula. Unfortunately it didn’t, so we cut our Snaefellsnes day trip short and made our way back to Reykjavik.
We arrived back at our hotel around dinnertime and decided that we would head back to complete the rest of our road trip a couple of days later. We wanted to see how long an average day trip would take, so with our goal in mind, we set off on a second try to complete the southern half of our road trip.
Vatnshellir Lava Cave
This time around we left late morning and drove straight to catch the tour at the Vatnshellir lava cave–we were going spelunking! After donning our sexy hard hats and grabbing a flashlight, we descended 115 feet down into the cave.
There was a path through the cave, but it was not paved and there were no lights. With only the light of our flashlights to guide our way, we made it as far into the cave as we were allowed. Once everyone made it down the last spiral staircase, we shut our lights off. We stood 115 feet underground–it was pitch black with an eerie silence all around us. Eventually we were booted out by another tour group, and we made our way back above ground full of smiles. I always love exploring the crazy mazes that form underground, and this was no exception.
Snæfellsjökull National Park
The next destination for the afternoon was Snæfellsjökull National Park. We drove the entire length of the park, and once again, we couldn’t resist stopping to take photos along the way.
The drive through the park was much shorter than we anticipated, and after reaching the town on the other side, we made our way back through to the south once again. We had one more stop on our itinerary.
Earlier in the afternoon, we spotted a crack in one of the cliffs that was just begging to be explored. So, we made our way back and got ready for another short hike at the rift called Raudfellsgjá. We weren’t sure what we were walking into, but Iceland never seems to disappoint.
The towering cliff offered a hidden escape that twisted back into the rock. There was a stream that wound back and around the corner–you could hike up the river and back to a waterfall, but we weren’t wearing appropriate clothing to follow the path upriver. Instead, we marveled at the mossy walls towering above us before making our way back to Reykjavik.
We were driving our economy level SADcars rental for this road trip, and found it to be the perfect rental for the second part of our road trip. Unlike other rental agencies that only rent out newer cars, SADcars takes a different approach. They rent out cars that are on average 10 years old. You would think that this would mean a car was in bad shape, but they were all very well maintained. Because they use older cars, it means that they can charge lower rates for some of the cheapest rental rates you will find! That’s a win-win in our book. Our car was comfortable and ran well with no issues. Plus, the rental facility is open 24 hours a day, so with free airport transfers and an early flight out of Iceland, it was a very convenient choice for a car rental.
So, is it possible to see the entire peninsula in one day? Even though it took us two days to explore the entire peninsula, we could have done it in one if the weather had cooperated. Not counting the extra hours of driving to and from the area twice, we spent around 12 hours on our road trip.
Therefore, yes! It is possible to do a one day road trip around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, but do keep in mind that it will be a long day of driving. We made quite a few stops to explore and take photos, so depending on how often you stop your total time will vary. If you have time in your schedule, there is enough along the route to warrant a few days of exploration, but if you are short on time and don’t mind a long day, a one day trip is definitely doable!
Have you been to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in Iceland? What would you most like to see there?
Special thanks to SADcars for providing us with a complimentary rental. As always, all opinions are our own.