Visiting Snaefellsjokull Glacier in Iceland: A Contrasting Journey Between Fire and Ice


blog authorBy Johanna Sigurðardóttir shield verificationVerified Expert

    Snaefellsjokull is an excellent example of half the contrasting elements of the Land of Fire and Ice. This gigantic glacier is considered a must-visit spot for anyone travelling to Iceland. This article tells you everything you need to know about Snaefellsjokull and how to get up close and personal with this glacier. 

    We also let you in on why some call it Snaefellsjokull Glacier and others call it Snaefellsjokull Volcano – both of which are correct. Curious? Planning an upcoming trip to Iceland? Then read on and find out why you shouldn’t leave Snaefellsjokull off your Iceland trip itinerary. 

    What Makes Snaefellsjokull So Impressive?

    Snaefallsjokull is probably best known as being a glacier, but this ice cap, over 700 000 years old, covers a stratovolcano. But don’t worry; the last eruption was in 250 AD. Snaefellsjokull is roughly 1446 meters tall, and on good weather days, the massive glacier can be seen all the way from the capital city.


    Snaefellsjokull: the Myths & Legends

    As with so many places in Iceland, Snaefellsjokull is seeped in myths and legends, with some as recent as 1993 when thousands (including CNN!) showed up at Snaefellsjokull for what they believed would be an alien landing, which, disappointingly, never occurred. But there is someone else at Snaefellsjokull that many still call on for help when things take a turn on the glacier.

    Bardur is said to be half-man and half-troll. In one of our 14th-century sagas, it is said that Bardur had a bit of family drama when his daughter, in a family play date gone wrong, ended up on an iceberg and floated all the way to Greenland. Although she eventually returned, she was never quite the same after the incident.

    When Bardur’s son converted to Christianity, it was the final straw. He essentially “quit the world” and moved to a big cave in Snaefellsjokull Glacier, where he is said to be the guardian of the landscape and those who visit there.

    Snaefellsjokull  volcano

    Where is Snaefellsjokull in Iceland?

    The location can nearly be pinpointed by the name alone. Snaefellsjokull can be found in the Snaefellsjokull National Park on the tip of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in the western part of Iceland. It is located conveniently close to the popular road trip route, the Ring Road, and it will take you 2.5 to 3 hours to drive there from the capital city.

    So, even though it’s possible to make this a day outing during our summer months with plenty of daylight hours, we’d rather suggest making it a stop along a Ring Road road trip to avoid any unnecessary time pressures (unless you’re planning on staying over, of course).

    Snaefellsjokull glacier

    How to Get to Snaefellsjokull in Iceland

    You have essentially two options when it comes to visiting Snaefellsjokull. You can: 

    Go on a Tour

    We have tour operators and guides who offer a wide array of tours with Snaefellsjokull as a destination. These can be for different activities at Snaefellsjokull, day tours as well as multi-day holiday package tours with various destinations included during the trip. You can also request customized private tours.

    Drive Yourself

    This will always be our preferred method of travel since it’s the most convenient and leaves you in complete control. To drive to Snaefellsjokull is simple. Just get onto the Ring Road and start driving north. Pass Mt. Esja. and then you’ll need to make a decision once you reach the Hvalfjördur turn. You can either take the scenic route along the fjord, or the undersea tunnel of Hvalfjardargöng.

    The latter is a shortcut, saving you up to an hour of driving time. Irrespective of which route you choose, you’ll pass Borgarfjördur Valley and the town of Borgarnes. When you reach the last roundabout in Borgarnes, you’ll need to turn onto Road 54, which will take you to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula and straight to the parking lot of Snaefellsjokull.

    Just keep in mind that driving yourself will only get you to Snaefellsjokull and give you a good close-up view, but for any activities or exploring the icy glacier itself, you will need to book a guided tour due to safety concerns.

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    When is the Best Time to Visit Snaefellsjokull?

    It might seem counterintuitive, but our glaciers are open all year round, including Snaefellsjokull and the various types of excursions that allow visitors to explore the icy landscape.

    Of course, different seasons will allow for a few other additional experiences, such as exploring the ice caves or seeing the Northern Lights during the colder months of the year (November to March), while the warmer months (April to October) will give you better weather and more daylight hours for an outdoor adventure such as glacier hiking.

    Snaefellsjokull Iceland

    Exploring Snaefellsjokull

    As we already mentioned, one can view Snaefellsjokull from a variety of places all by yourself, while other activities where one actually gets onto the ice can only be done by booking a spot on a tour. The following are a few tours that come highly recommended:


    Other Things to See and Do Near Snaefellsjokull

    If you would like to extend your exploration of the area or add a few more interesting sights and activities to your road trip itinerary, you can consider the following:

    Road Trip Your Way to Snaefellsjokull

    As we already mentioned, Snaefellsjokull is located conveniently off the popular Ring Road route, making it the perfect stop along a road trip. If you rent a campervan in Iceland, you’ll even be able to camp in comfort close to the action at Snaefellsness National Park Campground, and if you purchase the Camping Card, you’ll be able to take advantage of a myriad of discounts offered at campsites all across the island. So, start planning today and road trip your way to Snaefellsjokull!

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