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Snaefellsnes and the West Holidays

Snaefellsnes and West Iceland is the region beloved of artists, musicians, writers and anyone seeking Viking history and inspiration from nature at its most magical. Snaefellsjokull dominates the region, made famous by Jules Verne as the setting for his novel ‘A Journey to the Centre of the Earth’.

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Popular Snaefellsnes and the West Holidays

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Snaefellsjokull National Park

The famous glaciated cone-shaped volcano sits almost at the region’s western tip. It is the focus for much lore and legend and is said to hold mystical powers. Last erupting almost two thousand years ago, at 1446m, the three-pronged snow-capped peak dominates the skyline. The scenic drive around its base offers many side trips to enjoy the area’s abundant volcanic and coastal features, whilst glacier tours are bookable locally.

Budir

On the south coast, Budir boasts a lovely hotel and quaint wooden church, popular for intimate weddings. Nestled between lava fields and with a beautiful sandy beach, Hotel Budir is the perfect place to stop for a drink, gourmet meal or to simply soak up the glorious setting.

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Arnarstapi & Hellnar

These sleepy villages lie at the foot of the glacier and are definitely worth a visit. Striking sea stacks literally covered in thousands of birds litter the surf-pounded coastline, which is riddled with an array of rock features – basalt columns, natural arches and hidden caves. Perhaps spot seals playing in the shallows or even dolphins and orcas just offshore as you sip a piping hot coffee at Hellnar’s harbour café.

Rif, Hellisandur & Olafsvik

A trio of small towns on the tip of the peninsula – Hellisandur has a maritime museum, Rif a huge colony of territorial Arctic terns and Olafsvik an unusual modern church.

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Grundarfjordur

This small fishing village on the north shore of Snaefellsnes is stunningly located against a backdrop of Kirkufjell, Iceland’s most photographed mountain. During winter orcas frequent the bay to feed in herring. The dual combination of excellent whale watching opportunities and rural setting ideal for viewing the northern lights makes this town distinctively appealing for visitors.

Stykkisholmur

The region’s most characterful town where the local restaurants offer the freshest ‘catch of the day’ has some interesting architecture, including an eye-catching church and charming, colourful timber buildings. Visit acclaimed sculptor Roni Horn’s ‘Library of Water’, and experience the scenic surrounds with a bird watching cruise or day trip to the tiny island of Flatey in Breidafjordur Bay. The 3 hour ferry to/from the West Fjords departs from here.

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Hraunfossar

These tumbling falls, 1km wide, spill out from out under the lava into the Hvita River. Nearby is enchanting Barnafoss, a set of rapids squeezing through a narrow channel.

Reykholt & Deildartunguhver

West of the Hraunfossar falls is Reykholt. This hamlet is a place of great historical significance for Icelanders – the birthplace of Snorri Sturluson, Medieval literary giant. Iceland’s most powerful and largest hot springs, Deildartunguhver, are found nearby.

Borgarnes

This town can be found on the northern shore of Borgarfjordur, in one of the island’s most extensive farming districts. Rich in Saga history, many of the walking trails in the area are influenced by historical tales – a good place to start is the excellent Settlement Centre. If you are interested in caving, the Borgarfjordur area has several opportunities, in fact Iceland’s largest lava caves can be found at Surtshellir.

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