Self-drive tour around Iceland in 7 days. Things to see and do in West Iceland
Iceland Ring Road in 7 days – West Iceland
1. July 2019
Visiting the West part of Iceland
When planning a trip to Iceland often visitors stick to Reykjavík and the Golden Circle Route, but why not venture a bit further and visit West Iceland? Only a couple of hours from Reykjavík you can escape the city and get back to nature along the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and National Park. From the mountain tops to the coastal cliffs, quaint fishing villages to the colorful towns, Snæfellsnes Peninsula is a wonder to be in and explore.
Things to do in West Iceland
The first stop you have to make is at Arnastapi fishing village for a walk along the coast with the seabirds and basalt columns. The crashing waves amongst the black columns with numerous kittiwakes and fulmars perched on top is a sight to behold. There is also a great little cafe close to a big parking area that has wonderful cookies to grab for the road!
Another stop you must make is in the town of Ólafsvík. This colorful town not only has a church that is an architectural marvel, Ólafsvíkurkirkja, but also its own waterfall! Ólafsvíkurkirkja is quite possibly the most well-designed church you can find, made entirely of triangular pieces from north to south it resembles a fishing boat, from above a salted cod! Talking of cod you should also pop into Hraun for locally caught fish and chips.
Our favourite town in the West of Iceland, Grundarfjörður, is the next place you must visit. If you're after some local Icelandic delicacies head to Bjargarsteinn for award-winning Iceland lamb, before walking off your meal around the waterfront. There is also a quiet little pebble beach with the best view of Kirkjufell and, if you're lucky, the northern lights!
Things to see in West Iceland
Whilst you drive through Snæfellsnes National Park you can't help but see Snæfellsjökull. This glacier and active volcano is 1,446m tall so pretty easy to spot especially with a bright white peak in the warmer months. You can drive up to the glacier and set out on one of the hiking routes, however, this is for 4 wheel drive vehicles only!
Another thing you will see all around the park is high mounds piercing through the lava fields. One such mound is Saxhóll crater, a 100-meter high volcanic crater that you can climb up the side of. Once at the top you get a real sense of how breathtaking the park really is as well as the sheer scale of the old lava flows.
As you leave Snæfellsnes National Park along the northern edge of the peninsula the famous sight of Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss comes into view. Kirkjufell, or ‘Church Mountain’, is often called the most beautiful mountain in Iceland and it's clear to see why! With its own waterfall and numerous hiking routes in the area, it really is a sight to behold.
Where to stay in West Iceland
With 4 HI Hostels in West Iceland, there are many places for you to pick to stay. We stayed at Grundarfjörður HI Hostel, located just a short walk into the main town of Grundarfjörður. With 2 buildings to pick from, a bright red one and a green one, you can have your pick of accommodation too.
• Situated on Route 54
• Open 15th January - 15th December
• 81 beds in dorms and private rooms
• Parking just up the road
• Multiple buildings to stay in - we stayed in the green one!
• Free Wifi
• Washing machine access
Hopefully, that's given you a whirlwind taste of what West Iceland can bring you, so go book your own trip with HI Iceland now!
Written by Gemma & Matt from The Travelling Tedaldi in collaboration with HI Iceland.