November 18, 2019

Ring Road Day 8: Snaefellsnes Peninsula

For the next two days, we’ll be exploring Snaefellsnes peninsula. This region has a lot to offer geologically. Glacier, lava fields, cave, waterfalls, craters, and beaches. Whales and seals are also commonly spotted in this region. We started driving towards Snaefellsnes National Park. Along the way we stopped at a few scenic view points so we made a few stops along the way.

Olafsvik

It’s our last few days in Iceland so we have to take advantage and eat as much fresh fish as we can so we snacked on smoked arctic char while enjoying the view. We drove through Olafsvik, Rif, and Hellissandur. All these small villages are very cute and offer hiking, bird watching, and other activities but Hellissandur was an unexpected surprise.

near Olafsvik

Driving around Hellissandur, we came across an extremely cool yet creepy place featuring artwork by Melike Kerpel. The artwork and murals on buildings were beautiful and detailed. There were even iconic and strange Icelandic stories related to the peninsula. One story talks about a serial killer from 1500s who killed 19 people. There’s also a story from the year 1000 and it’s Iceland’s oldest ghost story.

Kirkjufell falls

It was absolutely worth walking around this little town and reading all the different stories. Read more of the stories here. There are stories of mythical creatures to 1993 alien landings. After reading all these stories, I was in the mood for a snack. Since we only had a few days left in Iceland, we wanted to eat more ice cream. We started chatting with the clerk at a gas station who said the town is known for fresh cod soup from a restaurant owned by a fishing family.

The cod fish was caught earlier in the morning and turned into soup at Gilbakki Kaffihaus. The soup was surprisingly well spiced with turmeric and paprika. It really hit the spot. This town is just outside the Snaefellsjokull National Park. We drove to the visitor center of the park and purchased a detailed hiking map for 400 ISK (about $3.20 USD). There are also bathrooms here so it’s good place to stop.

top of Saxholl crater
Snaefellsnes National Park

Our first hike in the park was Saxholl crater. The crater is 100 meters deep and the hike up is easy. There are steps all the way to the top. The view from the top is nice but there’s absolutely no shade and it’s the only place in Iceland with lots and lots of mosquitoes. We didn’t stay at the top for too long. We drove around the park and went on a few other short hikes. We walked on the Gufuskalavor beach for a while.

Gufuskalavor beach

It’s a nice beach with volcanic rocks all along but I don’t think it deserves more than half an hour. We turned around probably after about 40 minutes so it took us almost an hour and half to get back to our car. After another short hike, we started driving back to our Airbnb. Along the drive, we saw a sign for Svodufoss. The waterfall was a short walk from the parking lot. It’s one of many thousands of waterfalls in Iceland.

Snaefellsjokull in the back and Svodufoss in front

Our next stop was the famous Kirkjufell falls. This was probably the most “crowded” part of Iceland. The parking lot was completely full. The walk to the falls is short and easy. This is the only angle from which the mountain looks like an “arrowhead”. From everywhere else, it looks like a trapezoid. It’s the most photographed place in Iceland so of course we had to take a few pictures.

We went back to to our Airbnb for a short break before going out for dinner. Last nights dinner at Bjargarsteinn was so good that we decided to go back. Instead of the 3 course seafood meal, I had the catch of the day, redfish. You just can’t go wrong ordering fish in Iceland. It’s always been fresh and delicious. We were sufficiently full and ready for bed. We still have one more day in Snaefellsnes peninsula before going home.

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