At Gufuskálar there is a very tall long-wave radio mast. It is called the Loren C mast and was raised in 1963 for the LORAN C localization system of the Brits and the Americans.
The Loren C mast is the highest mast of its kind in Western Europe. It is the highest structure in Iceland, 412 metre high. The mast is a guyed radio mast.
The mast was changed in 1997 and is now one of two long-wave radio masts of RÚV, which is our state-owned radio and television station.
Kids in this area often practised swaying on ropes in the mast.
The Flatey library.
The smallest library in Iceland is located in Flatey. It was built in 1864. It was the first house in Iceland raised for the sole purpose of housing books.
This small library was reconstructed from 1979-1988 under the care of the Antiquities Preservation (Minjavernd).
Most of the books and manuscripts in the library have been moved to the National library.
In the library is a copy of Flateyjarbók - the Book of Flatey, which was a gift from Einar Munksgaard in 1933.
Flateyjarbók is the most impressive and largest of all the Icelandic medieval parchments. It mostly tells the story of the Norwegian kings. The Flatey book was written from 1387-1394.
In 1651 Icelanders were requested by Bishop Brynjólfur Sveinsson to turn in all the old manuscripts and give them (or sell them) to the Danish king. Jón Finnsson, a resident of Flatey, was the owner of Flateyjarbók book. He refused to part with this precious book. The bishop paid him a visit and offered him a big fee for this extraordinary book, but he still refused. He finally gave in and Flateyjarbook was given to the Danish king in 1655.
The Flatey book was finally returned to Iceland in 1971 and is considered to be a national treasure.
Flateyjarkirkja church in Flatey island is a very unique church. It dates back to 1926, built by Guðjón Samúelsson, the noted architect.
There has been a church in Flatey since early times, in the 11th of 12th century. There was also a monastery here from 1172-1284, but it was moved to Helgafell.
The present church takes my breath away - the apse of the church is painted with the most beautiful frescoes, quite extraordinary. The artists are Kristjana and Baltasar Samper. The frescoes depict the life in Flatey island and the landscape on the island. On the inside the church looks you stepped into a big painting.
The artists painted the church in exchange for free accommodation on the island back in 1964. The original paintings got damaged by humidity so the artists painted the frescoes again in 1992.
The beautifully painted altar piece, by the same artists, depict Jesus with the fishermen. The fisherman on the right bears striking resemblance to the artist, Baltasar.
Flatey island in Breiðarfjörður bay.
Flatey island in Breiðarfjörður bay is a historical island with many colourful houses built around 1900. Flatey island is the largest of the 40 islands in the Vestureyjar islands group. It is the only island in Breiðarfjörður bay where some people live all year round. The island is only 2 km long and 1 km wide and almost totally flat.
The houses at Flatey look like one has walked into an old village. It feels like time has stood still here. There is very varied bird-life in Flatey. We saw several bird types and some puffins swimming in the ocean. But mostly the arctic tern, which attacked fiercely.
In the olden times, in 1172, there was an Augustinian monastery here in Flatey. A stone called Klaustursteinn is believed to mark the spot where the monastery was located. Back then Flatey was one of the main cultural centres in Iceland.
Flateyjarbók - The Book of Flatey, was preserved here on Flatey. The Book of Flatey is the most important of the old Saga manuscripts.
The ferry Baldur stops here, both on its way from Stykkishólmur to Brjánslækur and on the way back. One can take the ferry with ones car and stay for the night at Flatey and pick up the car the day after. We did that once, coming from Brjánslækur in the Westfjords we stayed one night at Flatey and picked up the car the day after at Stykkishólmur.
There is a hotel on the island, camping and a room for rent in a private home. We spent the night at at the private home Guesthouse Ólína Jónsdóttir, where the price was considerably lower than at the hotel.
There is a unique church at Flatey on which I have added an additional tip.
There is not much to do at Flatey, but visit the church, the library and roam around in nature, but it is definitely worth a visit.
Laugarbrekka in Snæfellsnes.
Midway between Hellnar and Djúpalónssandur sands there is a monument on Guðríður Þorbjarnardóttir, who was born 980 at Laugarbrekka, close to where the monument stands, and her son.
Guðríður was the first Caucasian woman to bear a child, Snorri, in North-America. She travelled to Greenland with her husband Þorfinnur and North-America (Vínland) in year 1000 with a group of Icelanders. One of them was Leif the Lucky - see my tip on Eiríksstaðir, the birth-place of Leif the Lucky. Guðríður and her family returned back to Iceland and lived at Glaumbær in Skagafjörður.
Guðríður later travelled to Europe and walked to Rome and became a nun. So she was the most-widely travelled woman in Iceland from the 11th century and until the 20th century. There is an information sign by the monument on her travels.
The monument shows Guðríður on a Vikingship carrying her son on her shoulders. She seems to have been a remarkable woman.
The next town after Ólafsvík is in the beautiful fjord Grundarfjörður, nature here is just breathtaking. My grandfather lived here so it is very special to me, and on the wall in my living room I have a painting of Mt. Kirkjufell (463), the most prominent mountain in Grundarfjörður and a landmark of this fishing town.
The population here is ca 900.
As with other towns on the Snæfellsnes peninsula fishing is the main industry, but tourism is a growing industry as well and there are a lot of organised trips and things to do here. I refer to my camping tip Kverná owned by my father's cousin where you can get horse rental and guided tours. You can also visit The Information Centre at The Eyrbyggja Heritage Centre museum where they organise tours for visitors in this area. .
There is a lovely church in Grundarfjörður. My grandfather, father and his siblings donated the beautiful stained glass windows. See my next tip on the church.
Grundarfjörður has got the Green Globe certification for environmental standards and it is probably the only town in the world where the building authorities have donated a special allotment to Álfar "The hidden people".
There is a Viking club at Grundarfjörður called Glæsir, which is one of 9 Viking clubs in Iceland. The first one was founded in 1997 in Hafnarfjörður, the home of the Viking Village.
Here in Grundarfjörður the traditional skate fish is cured. My grand-father was very fond of cured skate fish and we had that quite often for dinner - probably because he was from Grundarfjörður.
When travelling I went around the peninsula and show you town after town and interesting sights. One can also take several short cuts on the peninsula thus the distances in km can vary.
Here is a webcam of Grundarfjörður.
Berserkjahraun lava in Snæfellsnes.
There are several lava fields in Snæfellsnes, one of which is called Berserkjahraun or Berserk lava on the north-side of Snæfellsnes peninsula. Berserkjahraun lava is 4000-3600 years old. The lava stems from four differently sized scoria craters. It formed 2 beautiful lakes, one of which you can see if you visit the beautiful waterfall in Vatnaleið (see my tip).
The Viking Saga which happened in this area is depicted in Eyrbyggja Saga. It is a long story but a very short version of the story is that two berserks from Sweden, Halli and Leiknir, were killed here and buried by Styr the Slayer, after the berserks made a bridle path through the rugged lava field on his demand.
Styr´s brother, Vermundur hinn mjóvi in Bjarnarhöfn, had imported the beserks to Iceland in 962. But they were just too rampageous, so he couldn´t manage them and sent them to his brother.
Styr had he hands full trying to control the brothers. Halli then asked for Styr's daughter's hand in marriage and Styr said, after speaking to Chieftain Snorri Sturluson at Helgafell, that Halli could marry his daughter after the berserks finished making the path and a boundary fence across the lava. After they had made the path Styr killed the brothers.
So if you want to walk in Berserkjahraun lava field know that there are two berserks buried in it. And thus the name of the lava field - Berserkjahraun.
So here is the oldest man made road structure in Iceland, which builders are known.
Berserkjahraun is on the Natural history site register.
It is a vast and very rugged lava-field. I have only walked for a short while in it. I stopped by the shark sign and took a small walk. Walking in lava fields is a risky thing and should only be done by marked paths though.
Berserkjahraun stretches down to the ocean by Bjarnarhöfn and south-east of it you can see the path they made and a cairn has been found with the bones of two very large men (berserks).
Fróðárheiði heath and the Fróðá Wonders.
Fróðárheiði heath (361 m) is one of the heaths on Snæfellsfjallgarður in Snæfellsnes.
Fróðárheiði heath is on road 54 by Búðahraun lava field and Bjarnarfoss waterfall in the south and east of Ólafsvík town in the north. The heath is almost all paved, apart from the northern part, there is a small distance on a gravel road.
There can be very bad weather on the heath and it can be impassable in winter time.
The heath is hunted and the happenings there are called "Fróðárundrin" or the Fróðá Wonders. It happened in the year 1000 and the story is told in Eyrbyggja Saga.
The story goes that a woman, Þórgunna, arrived by the autumn ship from Dublin to Ólafsvík town. The housewife at Fróðá invited Þórgunna to stay with her as she desired Þórgunna´s beautiful things. But Þórgunna didn´t want to sell any of her things. Þórgunnur then became ill with fever and died. Before she died she ordered that all of her things shall be burnt, but her body should be buried in Skálholt, the seat of the bishops.
Her instructions were followed, but the housewife stole her brocade bed linen. Not long after the household started falling ill and died. All of them returned to Fróðá and hunted the place, scaring the living daylights out of the remaining household. All in all 18 ghosts hunted Fróðá scaring the 12 people who had survived.
Next spring Chieftain Snorri in Helgafell sent a Scottish minister/priest to Fróðá. Þórður kausi, Snorri´s son, helped with driving the ghosts out one by one. They didn´t show up after that.
Þórgunnur was blamed for this disaster as her instructions on destroying her things were not followed.
My grand-father was born at Fróðá, but was raised at Grundarfjörður.
Vatnaleið and the waterfall in Fossá river.
Vatnaleið is on the Snæfellsnes peninsula and a short-cut to Stykkishólmur, the capital of the west. It opened on November 2nd 2001 and takes you through the heath of Snæfellsfjallgarður with 3 beautiful lakes, thus the name Vatnaleið "The road by the lakes" - vatn=water or lake in Icelandic. The lakes are called Baulárvallavatn, Hraunsfjarðarvatn og Selvallavatn and there is angling in all of them.
At the top of the road there is a view-point with chairs and a table and there is a breathtaking view of the lakes. Go down the hill where you can find a beautiful waterfall in the river Fossá in two parts, the upper part has a path behind it and the lower waterfall is wonderful for a picnic, where you can be totally in peace in a very tranquil place. This is one of my favourite places here on Snæfellsnes.
There is a waterfall by the road in Snæfellsnes peninsula, called Bjarnarfoss waterfall. It is located by road 54, just as there is a fork in the road. There is some lovely columnar basalt by the waterfall.
Take care not to miss your exit if you are looking at the waterfall. I did that once and we drove up on the mountain and had to turn back. If one wants to continue driving to Arnarstapi f.ex. then one has to get off road 54 just by the waterfall.
There is a legend connected to Bjarnarfoss and it got its name from the farmer Bjarni, who lived here at Foss ages ago. Bjarni was a wealthy farmer and he owned a large number of cattle. He allowed the cattle of other farmers to graze on his land.
One winter-day during a blizzard a vagrant sought shelter at Bjarni´s farm. Bjarni refused to let him in and made him feel unwelcome. The vagrant swore that Bjarni would regret behaving like this. Next summer Bjarni found all of his grazing cattle dead, but the cattle of the other farmers were unharmed.
Bjarni got struck by other misfortune until he went crazy and threw his money into the waterfall, which from then on got the name Bjarnafoss waterfall.
It is possible to drive up to Bjarnarfoss, there is a farm there, and I know that one VT member, who loves waterfalls, drove up to the farm to have a closer look at the waterfall. Anyhow it is also lovely at a distance, but then there is this risk of missing your exit, so it is better to stop for a photo.
The lifting stones at Djúpalónssandur.
In Djúpalónssandur, as soon as you enter there are 4 stones on your right. They are well known lifting-stones (Icelandic word "aflraunasteinar") here in Iceland. They were used to measure the strength of fishermen.
The biggest one is called "Fullsterkur" Full-Strength and weighs 154 kg and only the very strong can lift that one. The second one is called "Hálfsterkur" Half-Strength and weighs 100 kg. The third one is called "Hálfdrættingur" Weakling and weighs 54 kg and the forth one is called "Amlóði" Useless and weighs 23 kg. All these Icelandic names refer to how strong/weak the person is lifting them.
If the fishermen could not lift "Hálfdrættingur" (54 kg) they were not accepted on the fishing boats.
Nowadays stones like these are used in the strong-men contests, which are very popular here in Iceland.
Djúpalónssandur beach is an awesome place, like so many other places on the Snæfellsnes peninsula. It is like stepping into a magical place. From the parking lot you walk down steps and into a volcanic wonderland.
There are two small lagoons by the beach, one of them is called Djúpalón (The Deep lagoon) and the beach got its name from this lagoon "Djúpalónssandur" or The Deep lagoon's sand. On the beach as you enter your will see 4 well-known lifting stones (see my next tip).
On the beach there are iron remains from the British trawler, The Epine GY7, which was wrecked east of Dritvík on the night of 13th March 1948. Fourteen men lost their lives and five were saved. The iron remains should not be touched.
The beach is made of small black smooth pebbles called Djúpalónsperlur or The Pearls of Djúpalón.
You can walk from Djúpalónssandur to the next beach, Dritvík, which used to be one of the best fishing stations here in Iceland, with 60-70 boats.
The suction of the sea in Djúpalónssandur is very powerful so please don't go too close to the ocean. There is a warning sign by the parking lot.
Don't pass this place by while visiting Snæfellsnes peninsula.
Bárðarlaug pool is the pool of Bárður Snæfellsás. Bárður Snæfellsás was half a man half a troll. He had a farm at Laugarbrekka and used this explosive crater to take a bath.
Bárður Snæfellsás came ashore at Djúpalón.
In my tip on Rauðfeldsgjá gorge I have added information on Bárður Snæfellsás. He watches over this area now.
The pool is an explosive crater from the close of the last glacial epoch. It is possible to walk to it from the road to Hellnar. It is an easy walk, just 10 minutes from the road. There is a parking lot there and it is marked.
Bárðarlaug is a protected area.
Arnarstapi - Snæfellsnes.
Arnarstapi is in Snæfellsnes in W-Iceland. Here are some beautiful columnar basalt and cliff formations which are breathtaking in beauty and one of Iceland's most beautiful harbours is at Arnarstapi.
The population at Arnarstapi is only ca 10 but there are summer-houses there as well and a restaurant. In former times Arnarstapi was a vibrant community.
Take a tour around this beautiful harbour with the myriad of birds squawking, mostly kittiwakes, fulmars, gulls and the Arctic tern, and when you come closer to the pillars which are white with guano the smell becomes overwhelming. But the sight is breathtaking, out of this world, for me this is a truly magical place.
Further on you see Gatklettur (Arch Rock) and further up you can see the huge sculpture of Bárður Snæfellsás (see his story in my tip on Rauðfeldsgjá).
This is a place in Snæfellsnes not to be missed!
From Arnarstapi you can get on a guided tour on snowmobiles on Snæfellsjökull glacier.
Here is a webcam in Arnarstapi.
Hólahólar - drive inside a crater.
Hólahólar "Hills of hills" ;) is a place on Snæfellsnes peninsula which looks like an amphitheatre. My photos don't even begin to do it justice as they are taken from inside the crater. This is a crater open on one side and you can drive inside it!
Mediums have seen and heard the Hidden people in this place and there are tales of applaud from the hills.
Hólahólar can be seen from the main-road on Snæfellsnes and a gravel road leads you to Hólahólar.
Well worth a visit.
Snæfellsnes- og Hnappadalssýsla Hotels
Borgarbraut 8, Stykkisholmur 340, Iceland
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Solo
The hotel is perfectly located at the foot of Snaefellnes Glacier and by the seashore. If you are...more
Aðalgötu 8, Stykkishólmur, IS-340, Iceland
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Solo
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