If you’re looking to go on a Snaefellsnes day trip, there’s no better way than to take a Snæfellsness Peninsula Tour with EastWest Iceland. Here’s my full review! (Note: I was a guest of EastWest Iceland in exchange for my honest review. All opinons are, as always, my own.)
There were a few things I knew immediately when I booked my trip to travel solo to Iceland this past December. Number 1: there was no way in hell I was going to drive on my own on treacherous winter roads. If I wanted to see more of Iceland outside of Reykjavik, I was going to have to go on some tours. Number 2: I did not want to go on a big, impersonal bus tour, even though it would be cheaper.
Iceland has become inundated with tourists in the last few years, leading to the rise of big bus tours and some seriously irresponsible tourists. And anyone who knows me knows that that just isn’t my style.
So I set out on the hunt for a tour company that lead small groups and focused on sustainability and travel off the beaten path. EastWest Iceland was exactly that. A tiny tour company no one seems to have heard of with a focus on true adventure and, of course, small group tours. Ummmmm, yes please.
Their Snæfellsness Peninsula Tour in particular called my name: it included a homemade, Icelandic dinner at the end of the day. I booked it as fast as humanly possible.
SNÆFELLSNES PENINSULA TOUR WITH EASTWEST ICELAND
When the day of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula tour finally came, I was picked up bright and early from right outside of my hostel (a major pro to staying outside of the city center, which has a bus ban). Our guide for the day, Sven, told me to “step inside his office” and we were off!
From Reykjavik, it’s a pretty substantial drive before you even reach the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, which gave us a chance to catch up on a bit of sleep. We also stopped by a gas station to grab sandwhiches for lunch later on as well as some surprisingly good coffee (Iceland never fails to surprise). I watched one of the most beautiful 11 am sunrises from the gas station parking lot too.
THE BEST STOPS ON A SNAEFELLSNES DAY TRIP
There are so many great places to stop on a Snaefellsness day trip–here are a few can’t miss ones.
Our first stop once we actually got to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula was a random lookout point on the side of the road to take a look at the appropriately named Snaefellsjökull (jökull=glacier so it literally translate to the glacier on Snaefells). From so far away, we could see the whole expanse of the glacier. It was definitely impressive.
Seeing Kirkjufell Mountain–the most photographed mountain in Iceland and a filming spot for Game of Thrones–was honestly my main motivation for doing a Snaefellsness day trip. I had seen so many pictures of those perfect little waterfalls in the foreground of a perfectly traingular mountain and I wanted one for myself. On our way there, Sven regaled us with tales of climbing the mountain (he seemed to have done just about everything there is to do in Iceland, including being a famous radio host for a time, while also having time to live in Scotland for a while. He really was an enigma.)
Seeing as Kirkjufell is so popular, it was pretty crowded even in the winter, and I had to be patient in order to get that perfect shot without any selfie sticks in the way. But even just looking at the mountain while I waited seemed to make the whole trip worth it. It truly is an awe-worthy sight.
I do have to say that I felt a bit rushed at this stop. We only had 30 minutes to explore, but I could have used at least 45. Of course, taking a Snaefellsnes day trip from Reykjavik is always going to be a little rushed since it’s so far away, but I felt like some time could have been taken off of our next stop to give us more time at this popular and extremely photogenic location.
Saxhóll Crater is just a little ways down the road from Kirkjufell and honestly probably was my least favorite stop of the day but was still very cool. In Iceland, ‘crater’ generally refers to the top of a volcano that once erupted. In the case of Saxhóll, it erupted about 3,000 years ago.
From the parking lot just off the road, it was a short 5-10 minute climb up the stairs to the top. The red of the iron against the black of the volcano was a sight that looked vaguely out-of-this-world, and the views from the top were sprawling and impressive. It also gave us a different perspective over the landscape that we had been driving through.
At one point during the 20 or so minutes we spent standing looking over the crater, Sven handed me a rock that felt as light as a feather, thanks to all of the air bubbles inside it. I was reminded that I was standing on top of what was once an active volcano, which definitely made the sight more exciting that I thought it was before that.
As I mentioned before, I do think we could have spent a little bit less time at Saxhóll in favor of spending a bit more time at Kirkjufell–30 minutes felt like far too much time to spend standing at the top of a crater, even when you factor in climbing time.
DJÚPALÓNSSANDU BLACK BEACH
The moment I realized Snaefellsnes is definitely “Iceland in miniature” (as it’s so lovingly nicknamed) was at our next stop: Djúpalónssandu Black Beach. Though the black beaches of the South Coast are more famous, Djúpalónssandu is no less eerily beautiful–and it also has way fewer people on it. This
We had 45 minutes at Djúpalónssandu, which was just the right amount of time to explore everything it had to offer. I went to the overlook first for a panoramic view over the entire beach and, of course, had a mini photoshoot. How could I not with a view like this?
From there, I walked down to the beach through otherworldly terrain–green moss and rocky columns jutting up from the ground. And the black sand beach that it lead to? It had to be from another world. I honestly could have spent at least an hour on the beach photographing it from every angle, but I had to settle for the 10 or 15 that I got (but don’t worry, it was still enough time for a mini photoshoot).
Then, it was back up to the van an on to our next stop!
ARNARSTAPI LAND BRIDGE / GATKLETTUR
As the sun began to set to the west, Sven took us to a sight just outside of Arnarstapi village called Gatklettur. He walked with us across the somewhat unassuming land on the coast until we reached a surprise “land bridge” at the edge of the cliffs–a small part of the land that has stayed strong while the rest has eroded around it, forming a sort of arch.
Sven used this natural classroom to tell us all about the basalt columns on the cliffs and how they’re formed, and, of course, answered all of the seemingly random questions our group seemed to have.
We were also able to walk right over the land bridges, which was pretty freaking cool (while also being totally terrifying).
DINNER AT A HORSE FARM
By far the highlight of our entire Snæfellsnes Peninsula tour was having dinner at a horse farm, cooked by the family that owned the place. We drove up just as it was getting dark, meaning that we unfortunately weren’t able to take a trip to see the Icelandic horses (a major bummer), but the experience was truly special even without them.
We took off our shoes as we entered the house and sat down at one of two long tables that had been set up for our group. We ate our dinner buffet-style and it was seriously delicious: tomato soup, homemade bread, lamb, rice, salad, and chocolate cake and coffee for desert. I was ready to fall asleep by the time we were all finished eating.
We unfortunately didn’t have too much time to hang around after dinner because Sven wanted to beat some serious winds that were coming in, so we said goodbye to our gracious hosts and climbed back into the van. I woke up once on the drive home, when the winds hitting the side of the van got really bad. But with Sven at the wheel I never felt unsafe. That in itself made the tour worth it–the charming dinner and otherworldly sights of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula were just cherries on top.
IS IT WORTH IT TO TAKE A SNAEFELLSNES DAY TRIP FROM REYKJAVIK?
A Snaefellsnes day trip from Reykjavik is a really long day and involves a lot of driving. I’m not going to lie, I originally was turned off from the idea because of this, and probably wouldn’t have booked a Snaefellsness Peninsula tour if it wasn’t for the added bonus of the local dinner that EastWest offered.
SNÆFELLSNES PENINSULA TOUR WITH EASTWEST ICELAND REVIEW
As far as who you should go with on your Snaefellsnes day trip, I couldn’t reccommend EastWest Iceland more. Sven was a seriously great guide who regaled us with stories of both Iceland and his own fascinating life (he claims to have been one of the first to have set foot on the land formed after Eyjafjallajökull erupted and, of course, has played guide to Game of Thrones actors). It seemed like every time someone asked him a question he had a personal experience to answer it with. At some points I honestly thought he was making it all up. But I asked my guide on the Golden Circle tour I also took with EastWest and apparently it’s all true.
I call this collage: “Sven standing pensively on dangerous ledges”
In addition to learning all about Sven’s crazy life, we saw all of the highlights of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula including Kirkjufell and Snaefellsjökull. Going with a small group and a small company was also really nice because it felt personal (although it did feel a bit rushed at times, but this is something that would happen with any tour).
If you care about unique experiences and sustainability (and I seriously hope you do if you’re traveling to Iceland–they need responsible travelers more than ever) then EastWest Iceland is the perfect company to take a Snæfellsnes Peninsula tour with.
SNÆFELLSNES PENINSULA TOUR WITH EASTWEST ICELAND // IF YOU GO
EastWest Iceland’s Snæfellsnes Peninsula Tour runs every day and leaves Reykjavik at 9:00 am. You’ll be picked up by your guide from your hotel or one of the designated bus stops if you’re in Reykjavik city center (read this for full details) between 8:30 and 9 am.
The price of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula tour with EastWest Iceland is 19,000 isk for adults and 9,995 isk for children. It includes a homecooked meal at a horse farm, pickup
If you have any questions about taking a Snaefellsnes day trip, don’t be afraid to leave them in the comments down below!