Snæfellsjökull National Park is located on the western tip of the Snaefellsnes peninsula in Iceland. High volcanic peaks, massive sea cliffs , lava fields and golden sandy beaches make up this dramatic landscape which was immortalised by Jules Verne's Journey to the centre of the earth.
On this particular day in late April, we found ourselves along the southern stretch of the circular seaside route driving into Arnarstapi.
Where the weather had been promising when we left the beautiful town of Stykkisholmur earlier that morning, the weather deteriorated quickly the closer we got to the ice cap covered Snæfellsjökull.
The small town of Anarstapi is a good base to start the 2.5km coastal walk to Hellnar which passes through old lava fields and eroded caves. The harbour of Arnarstapi is a good starting point with it's dramatic sea cliffs and waterfalls.
We had planned to take a break in Hellnar at a small cafe / restaurant called Fjoruhusid which is located right on a black basalt beach. It has a small terrace from where you can admire the dramatic coastline, but unfortunately it was closed at this particular time. Next stop were the amazing sea cliffs and the natural basalt towers of Londrangar.
You could be forgiven for thinking that you are an extra in Lord of the Rings heading towards Barad-dur (Dark Tower), the basalt rock standing tall in this unforgiven landscape.
Looking down towards the cliffs from any of the viewing platforms along the looped walks gives you a perfect location to admire the thousands of nesting birds, but also the odd seal which is hunting for some fresh fish.
Next stop was Saxholl crater, a meter high crater which has a metal stairwell the whole way to the top. From the top, we enjoyed the views towards the Atlantic Ocean and the expansive moss-covered lava fields.
Saxholl erupted some 3000 years ago and is responsible for creating the landscape we were admiring from the top of this small volcano on this beautiful day in April.
Yes, the weather in Iceland can change rapidly, where the sun shines one moment, next you could be caught in fog, showers or even snow.
Driving further through this vast barren landscape, we reached a beautiful small sandy beach called Skardsvik beach . What is unique about this beach is not a black volcanic beach but it is a golden sandy beach. Having parked the car on the small car park, we admired the flowers which were trying to grow between the basalt rocks surrounding this beautiful beach. Walking towards the beach, we passed an ancient viking grave.
Where the beach and the crystal clear water might be inviting for a swim, don't be fooled, the sea is bitterly cold and can be very rough.
When we visited Snæfellsjökull National Park in April, it was quiet. With a 5 hour drive from Reykjavik, it is not frequented by daytrippers, but rather by tourists touring Iceland. The natural beauty of this region makes it into a must-visit location when visiting iceland. With it's diverse and fascinating landscape, from the fjords to the snow covered volcano's, we can see why this area was immortalised by Jules Verne, but even further back through many of the Icelandic Saga's
Next is Vatnshellir cave which has become a very popular tourist attraction, so we decided to give this a miss. From her onwards, you really enter the heart of the national park.
And lucky for us, the weather started to clear and the sun made an attempt to break through the low-hanging clouds.
About the Author
We are Peter & Dolores De Bie. We love the great outdoors, discovering new parts of the world and writing about our adventures along the Wild Atlantic Way and further afield