West Iceland

The West Iceland region is recognized for its magnificent natural beauty, extensive history, and rich cultural legacy.

The region contains several important tourist spots, including Snaefellsnes Peninsula National Park.

West Iceland is also noted for its strong cultural scene and is the perfect place to discover Iceland's unique blend of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and modern facilities.

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Glymur Waterfall

Glymur Waterfall, which plunges 198 meters into a steep canyon, is the second-highest waterfall in Iceland.

Being a short drive from Reykjavik and a 3 - 3 1/2 hour hike to see the falls in beautiful settings makes this a popular destination.

The trail will take you through the Glymshellir cave, over the Botnsá River, and up to the top of the waterfall, where you'll get breathtaking views.

How to get to Glymur waterfall

The drive to Glymur is roughly an hour drive from Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland.

You head north on Ring Road route 1 from Reykjavík, and turn right onto road 47 into Hvalfjörður bay just before you reach the Hvalfjörður underwater tunnel.

When you're deep in the Hvalfjörður bay, look for a sign to the right towards East Glymur.

A gravel road will be there to welcome you and take you to Glymur's parking area.Parking is free here, but there are no restrooms.

GPS: 64.391194, -21.251715

Two people hiking next to Glymur canyon. Glymur waterfall dropping down in a green lush grass and dramatic sky above

The legend at Glymur waterfall

According to the legend, farmers went to gather eggs for their community.

A terrible storm forced them to turn around one year,
and unfortunately, they had to leave one lost farmer behind.

Strong winds prevented them from returning, and the farmer was assumed dead.
When spring arrived, they returned to gather the eggs and discovered the guy to be healthy and happy.

He didn't say anything, but he insisted on going back home.Everyone went to church once the farmer arrived back.

When they entered the church, they noticed a baby wrapped in a beautiful woven blanket on the church stairs.They had no idea who the infant belonged to.

A beautiful elf woman then appeared and tossed the blanket inside the church.

The woman swore that the man would turn into the sea's worst whale.
After that, she and the child vanished.

Blue whale swimming in a ray of light

Out of fear, the man then fled to the ocean. He suddenly became enormous and began to look like a whale. Soon it became clear that the elf woman helped him survive the winter and let them stay in her home for the winter.

During the winter, the woman informed him that she was pregnant with his kid.
He promised her that when she would arrive at the church he would have her baby baptized.

However, the promise was broken.

The whale evolved into the deadliest whale in the ocean, killing any sailors who came into contact with him. After murdering two sailor brothers, their blind father heard the news and went to the sea.

The elderly guy then stabbed his cane into the sea, forcing the whale to follow.
The whale got stranded at the base of the waterfall and was forced
to jump as he continued up the river.

Because of the resonant sound generated by the whale when it jumped,
the waterfall is now known as Glymur, meaning "roaring."

The old man didn't stop there. He dragged the whale all the way to the lake,
where it died of weariness.Interestingly, whale bones have been discovered in the lake!

Inside the canyon of Glymur waterfall in a dramatic setting

When is the best time to visit Glymur Waterfall?

The ideal time of year to go to Glymur Falls is from May to September.

The weather is moderate and pleasant, and it has a lot of natural beauty.It is not advisable to visit this location during the winter season due to the harsh winter weather.

This time of year, the bridge across the river is inaccessible and the journey to the waterfall may be quite difficult.It can also get very windy, and the walking trails can be slick.

There are no guided tours throughout the winter, but there are many to select from during the summer.

We highly recommend that you arrive early in the day to avoid crowds.

This is a busy place.

The guide to Glymur waterfall hike

The walk from the car park to the Botnsá River is rather easy and takes around 30 minutes.

The path starts along the riverbed. This will lead you to a little cave. Follow the river to the left after passing into this cave.

Here, you'll have to cross the river. There is a log with a cable that will assist you across the river.

The trail is a gradual ascent that might take an hour and a half to reach the summit after crossing the Botns River.

The edge of the cliffs makes it occasionally quite difficult. The gain in Elevation is 365 Meters (1,200 Feet).

You may see Glymur Waterfall from a number of vantage spots throughout the route.

Sign pointing to Glymur waterfall on the hiking route to the waterfall. Two people walking the path


Borgarnes dates back to the Viking Age and played an important part in the settling of Iceland.

It has been a cultural, commercial, and fishing hub in West Iceland for a thousand years.It is around 75 kilometers from Reykjavik and has a population of about 2000 people.

The town also offers a wide variety of eateries, cafés, and museums.

The weather is pleasant, and the town offers an excellent swimming pool.

Ring road route 1 in Iceland heading to Borgarnes

How to get to Borgarnes town

75 kilometers from Reykjavik lies the town of Borgarnes, which may be accessed by taking Route 1 of the Ring road north.

This leads you through a tunnel beneath the Hvalfjörður fjord.

In addition, right before entering Borgarnes, you will cross Iceland's second-longest bridge.

In a rented car, the trip takes a little more than an hour.

GPS: 64.544792, -21.910435

Hraunfossar waterfall

The Hraunfossar waterfalls (also known as the Lava Falls) in Borgarfjordur are incredibly stunning and unique due to their turquoise blue water.

It is a clear spring lava field formed by rivulets flowing over a distance of around 90 meters (300 feet) from Hallmundarhraun and feeding the bright blue Hvítá River.

This unique lava field was created by a thousand-year-old eruption of a volcano that was located under the Langjokull glacier.

How to get to Hraunfossar waterfall?

Hraunfossar waterfalls are located near Húsafell in Reykholt.

It is roughly 122 kilometers from Reykjavik, Iceland's capital city, and takes around 1 hour and 40 minutes to get there.

From Reykjavik, take Ring Road route 1 north.

Traveling towards the town of Borgarnes, turn right onto road 50 just before you cross the bridge into Borgarnes.

This road will ultimately transform into road 518, which will lead you to the Hraunfossar parking lot.

GPS: 64.703631, -20.976913

Hraunfossar waterfall in autumn colours
Barnafoss in West Iceland with Hraunfossar waterfall in behind

Barnafoss waterfalls

Near Hraunfossar, there is another strong and rushing waterfall called Barnafoss, and it is located within a walking distance from Hraunfossar.

This natural feature cascades down a steep valley, creating a tremendous, foamy waterfall.

It´s name is derived from a legend about two boys who attempted to cross a stone bridge to meet up with their parents but drowned after falling in.

The mother, according to the legends, cursed the bridge with an Icelandic rune, ensuring that everyone who crossed would suffer the same fate as her boys.

Later, an earthquake demolished the bridge, breaking the curse with it.

Búðir church

Búðakirkja is a small wooden chapel in Iceland that is situated on the southern tip of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

It is a parish church that was founded in 1703 but was rebuilt in 1848.

It has become a famous location for photographers in recent years due to its minimalistic aspect.

It sits in a moody lava field, where the dark hue of the lava blends with yellow sand straws in contrast to the typically foggy mountains in the background.

Black church in Búðir in Snæfellsnes peninsula with rainbow behind

How to reach Búðir church in Snæfellsnes?

Búðir church is located on the Snæfellsnes peninsula's southern tip.

Only around a 2.5-hour drive from Reykjavík, the area is full of beautiful sights that would make a wonderful day trip.

You travel north on Route 1 of the Ring Road, leaving Reykjavík and passing through the town of Borgarnes.

On the final roundabout before leaving Borgarnes, choose exit number 2, which will take you on road 54 towards Snæfellsnes.

Take that route as you would if you were traveling to Arnarstapi and Hellnar.

About 10 kilometers before arriving in Arnarstapi, look for a sign on the left pointing to the Búðir church.

The church is visible from a distance, making it simple to locate.

GPS: 64.821883, -23.384560

Photographing Búðir church

The fact that you may approach this subject from either a wide-angle or telephoto perspective makes this a fantastic location for photography.

The Snaefellsnes mountains in the backdrop may be used to your advantage when using a telephoto lens to create an unusual depth of field.

Using a wide angle and coming closer to the church, position the tripod at a high angle and capture the top and bottom of the building's distortion.

Experiment with the many foregrounds that are present in the region, such as the lava wall around, the cemetery, or the sand straws.

The contrast between the bright and the dark wood will give you amazing photo opportunities.

Búðir Blach Church in Snæfellsnes peninsula with snowy ground and a path leading to the church with white mountain behind

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Kirkjufell mountain

Kirkjufell, which translates as "Church Mountain," is a famous peak on Iceland's Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

Known for its magnificent pointy structure, this mountain also ranks as the most photographed mountain in Iceland and was featured in Season 7 of the HBO series Game of Thrones.

It is one of Iceland's top attractions and is situated on the Snæfellsnes peninsula just a short drive from Grundarfjörður.

How to reach Kirkjufell mountain?

Kirkjufell is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive (180km or 112 miles) from Grundarfjörur, a tiny village on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.

From Reykjavik, take Ring Road route 1 north, and drive travel through the town of Borgarnes.

Take the second exit at the last roundabout before leaving Borgarnes to get onto road 54, then turn right onto road 56 when you see the sign for Grundarfjörður.

Turn left onto road 54 once again, (it encircles the Snæfellsnes peninsula) continuing on it to Grundarfjörur town.

From Grundarfjörður, continue on road 54 Snaefellsnesvegur west for a few minutes to the base of Kirkjufell.

There are several, free parking alternatives available to visitors.

GPS: 64.942100, -23.306686

Kirkjufell Mountain reflecting in the water with starry night above
Kirkjufell Mountain in Snaefellsnes Peninsula in Iceland. Waterfall in the foreground and Kirkjufell Mountain in the background with red cloud formation in the sky

How was Kirkjufell mountain formed?

The remarkable development of Kirkjufell is said to have taken place millions of years ago, during the Ice Age, when Icelandic glaciers began eroding the peak.

From the mountain's peak, one can see the layers of rocks descending steep hills on either side.

The mountain was created as a result of a natural occurrence when the summit was exposed to the ice.

Due to its unique position, where it was sandwiched between two glaciers, Kirkjufell is also quite remarkable.

Numerous volcanic explosions produced the mountain's layers.

Is it possible to hike Kirkjufell mountain?

NEW UPDATE! 08.11.2022
The Kirkjufell landowners have decided to prohibit climbing the mountain beginning today and continuing until the end of the mountain's nesting season on June 15, 2023.

Additionally, the peak should only be hiked by experienced mountaineers.Climbers may even need to utilize ropes.

Three fatal incidents have occurred on the mountain, with the most recent one being in 2022.

It takes around an hour and a half to climb to the summit of this mountain and the same amount of time to go back down.

Only climbers in the good physical condition and those who have prior climbing expertise should attempt Kirkjufell, totally unsuitable for children.

Kirkjufell mountain with snow covered ground and a night sky
Kirkjufell Mountain and Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall with red light coming on the mountain

Photography at Kirkjufell mountain

Kirkjufell is one of Iceland's most iconic photograph hot spots, due to the mountain's unusual form, but when you throw Kirkjufellsfoss into the mix, the result is spectacular.

To top it all off, it appears that whatever the season, summer with vibrant hues of green, autumn, or harsh winter covered in snow with dancing Northern lights above, Kirkjufell has it all, and always shines brightly for your snapshot.

While it is challenging to squeeze everything in and wait for the perfect light, it nearly seems impossible to shoot a bad picture here.


Lóndrangar and Svalþúfa are two basalt cliffs known as
"The Rocky Castle" on the southern coast of Snæfellsnes peninsula.

These two are the only remnants of ancient volcanic dikes that were originally buried in the sea and eroded there.

The taller pillar, which stands 75 meters tall, and the lower pillar, which is 61 meters tall, both attract Fulmars and puffins, who frequently nest on these bluffs.

Man walking by Lóndrangar cliffs on a frozen ground

How to reach Lóndrangar cliffs?

The drive from Reykjavik to Lóndrangar takes roughly 2 hours and a half or 192 kilometers (120 miles).

You go along Ring Road Route 1 to Mosfellsbaer, where you enter the Hvalfjörður Tunnel to reach Borgarnes.

On the final roundabout before leaving Borgarnes, take the second exit to route 54 to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and continue driving for about an hour.

Take a left and go to Arnarstapi; from there, it's a 10-minute drive to Lóndrangar.

GPS: 64.735550, -23.775150

Folklore at Lóndrangar

It is thought that mythical beings like elves live in the region around the "rock castle."

This is the reason why the local farmers would never cultivate or harvest hay in the fields near the cliffs.

The remains of the cliff dwellings where the fishermen's former homes had stood may still be seen here.

Another rock on the Snaefellsnes peninsula known as Þúfubjarg is claimed to have been the scene of a meeting between poet Kolbeinn Jöklaskáld and the devil.

Many seabird species, including the barn owl, kit owl, fulmar, common barbet, and puffins, reside on the cliffs of Lóndrangar.

An eagle built a nest in the cliffs above the upper cliffs a couple of years ago.

The road to Lóndrangar with Lóndrangar cliffs behind

Vatnshellir Cave

The Vatnshellir Cave, which was formed after an eruption 8,000 years ago, is one of Iceland's oldest lava tubes and is recognized as one of the most stunning lava caverns in the world.

The surface of the volcano that created this natural wonder changed to rock after coming into touch with colder air, leaving behind a spectacular 200 meter long underground lava tube system 35 meters below the surface.

Man with strong flashlight showing layers of lava inside Vatnshellir cave in Snæfellsnes peninsula

How to reach Vatnshellir cave?

The lava cave is situated in the Snæfelsnes peninsula, 10 minutes drive from Arnarstapi.

Driving from Reykjavik takes roughly 2 hours or 136km (85 miles) in a rented car.

You go along Ring Road Route 1 to Mosfellsbær, where you enter the Hvalfjörður Tunnel to reach Borgarnes.

On the final roundabout before leaving Borgarnes, take the second exit to route 54 to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and continue driving for about an hour.

Take a left and go to Arnarstapi; from there, it's a 10-minute drive to Vatnshellir cave.

GPS: 64.748010, -23.818229

How to prepare for Vatnshellir cave?

It's important to layer your clothing because the weather in Iceland may be unpredictable.Ideally, you should wear layers that are warm, such as thermal underwear and pants made of wool—not cotton.

A nice set of hiking boots and gloves is essential.

Make sure you arrive 20 minutes before the trip begins to provide time for you to put on the helmets and headlights that the tour companies supply.

Then you enter the magma chamber lava tube, the cave entrance is down a cylindrical metal twisting stairway.

Guides will assist you in staying safe throughout the tour and will provide you with a wealth of information about this interesting structure.

People walking up a circular stair inside Vatnshellir cave in Snæfellsnes Peninsula


Arnarstapi is a tiny village on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, on the Atlantic Ocean's southern coasts.

Providing travelers visiting the Snæfellnes Peninsula with a wide range of lodging alternatives as well as fantastic dining options.

This coastal strip is the village's primary attraction, owing to its exceptional basalt columns and cliff formations, as well as the historic and colorful houses full of tales and charisma constructed in a natural environment.

Small house inside cliffs in Snæfellsnes peninsula Iceland

How to reach Arnarstapi village?

Reykjavik to Arnarstapi is a 193-kilometer trip, and the travel time is around 2 hours and 40 minutes (120 miles).

Ring Road Route 1 takes you to Mosfellsbaer, where you enter the Hvalfjörur Tunnel to get to Borgarnes.

Take the second exit onto Route 54 toward the Snaefellsnes Peninsula at the final roundabout before leaving Borgarnes.

Follow that road to Arnarstapi before turning left into the little settlement marked by the sign.

GPS: 64.768408, -23.625840

What to see at Arnarstapi?

The majestic cliffs and basalt columns of Arnarstapi are accessible by an ancient horse track that passes through the lava field Hellnahraun.

We strongly advise taking a stroll down the beach to see the birds and admire the lava sculptures.

The Arnarstapi cliffs were declared as a Natural Reserve in 1979.

Near the hamlet, there is a sizable colony of Arctic terns.Various other species, including sandhill cranes and kittiwakes, nest in the area.

You should definitely go to Gatklettur, a stunning natural attraction.

The Gatklettur rock formation has been gradually worn away by the weather throughout time.

Gatklettur rock formation in Snæfellsnes peninsula

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