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Part of an ancient range of volcanoes dating back around 700,000 years, Snæfellsjökull is the highest point of the Snæfellsnes peninsula in west Iceland. On a clear day, you can see this majestic ice cap from Reykjavík and guided hikes to the summit are available in season. Those that embark on the challenging glacier hike to the top of Snæfellsjökull are rewarded with a panoramic view of the volcanic landscape, sea and vast glacial expanse for miles.
Snaefellsjökull Glacier Covered in Snow

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Landscape view of Snæfellsjökull's Mountain
    12 hours

    Snæfellsjökull Summit Hike

    This is a thrilling one-day hike to the summit of Snæfellsjökull glacier, the crown jewel of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. This challenging journey rewards hikers with breathtaking views, fascinating geological formations, and the triumphant feeling of conquering one of Iceland's most picturesque glaciers.

    How to visit Snæfellsjökull National Park

    As the name suggests, the Snæfellsjökull glacier is in the middle of the Snæfellsnes peninsula which juts out into the North Atlantic Ocean in the west of Iceland. It is an easy drive from Reykjavík if you’re hiring a car and many visitors to Iceland choose to take a road trip around Snæfellsnes to avoid the crowds of the Golden Circle and south coast route, especially in peak season. Snæfellsnes is considered ‘Iceland in miniature’ due to its diverse and unique landscape. From ancient lava tunnels and plains of volcanic rock to the vast frozen expanse of Snæfellsjökull glacier, you can really get a feel for the Land of Ice and Fire on this small outcrop.

    If you are driving to Snæfellsjökull yourself, all you need to do is follow the Route One main road north out of Reykjavík and change onto Road 54 which runs from Borgarnes to the tip of the Snæfellsnes peninsula. Following this route takes you straight to the turn-off for Snæfellsjökull (the F-570). The entire drive takes around three hours and there are plenty of attractions and natural wonders to stop at along the way – natural hot springs, waterfalls, fjords and beaches. If you would rather leave the driving to someone else, there are a variety of guided day trips and multi-day trips covering the highlights of the Snæfellsnes peninsula that include transfers from Reykjavík.

    Hiking Snæfellsjökull Glacier

    Snæfellsjökull is a stratovolcano topped by an ice cap and it is the highest point of the Snæfellsnes peninsula. The 7-to-8-kilometre route from the glacier base to the summit can take anywhere between 3 and 6 hours and involves a lung-testing 750 metres (2,500 feet) of ascent.

    Due to the relatively long distance, glacial terrain and steep ascents, the Snæfellsjökull hike is considered ‘challenging’ and suits those with some climbing, hiking or mountaineering experience with a decent level of fitness.

    Those embarking on the hike need the correct equipment such as crampons, helmets, ice axes and ropes. It’s worth noting that glacier hiking is not possible in Iceland without a trained professional guide and joining a guided tour of Snæfellsjökull means you’ll be fitted with all the essential equipment. You should make sure to wear a sturdy, waterproof pair of hiking boots that you can fit a set of crampons over (boots, not shoes) and bring layers for the hike. At the bottom of the glacier, you might be cold so having a t-shirt, fleece and waterproof jacket is a good idea. As you climb, your body will warm up and you can de-layer as you go.

    Sights between Snæfellsjökull and Reykjavík

    The drive from Reykjavík to Snæfellsjökull is a beautiful experience in itself and there are myriad wonders to see along the way. You can take the fastest route through the Hvalfjörður Tunnel, or add another 45 minutes to the journey and enjoy the scenery around the Hvalfjörður fjord, like rushing waterfalls and silent hills flanking the glass-like lake. In Borgarnes, those travelling with kids can appreciate a leg-stretching stop at what might be Iceland’s coolest playpark or a stroll along the waterfront. Once on the peninsula, you can stop at the Ytri Tunga beach where a colony of seals make their home and the towering cascade of Bjarnarfoss waterfall flows over rocks streaked tiger-stripe-orange with old lava deposits.

    Attractions and trails near Snæfellsjökull

    The area around the Snæfellsjökull National Park is a beguiling land of volcanic rock, hidden gorges and striking seaside cliffs. One of the best walking routes in Iceland is a short drive from Snæfellsjökull in the pretty fishing village of Arnarstapi.

    From the village centre, you can follow the cliffside walk past a beautiful sea arch to the small settlement of Hellnar. The trail is about 2.5 kilometres long, so it’s an excellent way to warm up your legs before the challenging hike up to Snæfellsjökull’s summit. Just outside the village or Arnarstapi, you’ve also got a quick yet steep trail up to the top of Stapafell – a small mountain overlooking the village.

    Between Búðir and Arnarstap, you’ll find the fairytale-like Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge where a short walking trail leads from the roadside to this moss-speckled wonder. A river trickles through the gorge and a visit here feels as though you have stepped into the pages of a fantasy novel.

    All About Snæfellsjökull

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