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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 899.
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 Center at The Eyrbyggja Heritage Center 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".
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.
Updated Feb 21, 2013
Address: 350 Grundarfjörður, West-Iceland
Saxhóll crater is another crater on the western end of Snæfellsnes peninsula. You can't drive into this one, but it does have a trail leading up to the rim with great views. We stopped to visit on our tour of Snæfellsnes peninsula with Iceland Guided Tours. The volcano erupted 3000 to 4000 years ago and the current height of the crater is 109 m above sea level. The trail leading up to the rim is short but steep. It's also gravelly so watch your step. The area is very delicate so be sure to stay only on the official trail and don't try to pass the barriers. Once at the top you can see down into the crater, but you can't go down there. There are also great views of the surrounding area, from the coast and lowlands to the mountains with good views of Hreggnasi, Bárðarkista, and Snæfellsjökull.
Written Dec 14, 2012
Hólahólar is a crater on the west coast of Snæfellsnes peninsula. It is somewhat unique in that you can drive into the center! We visited for just a couple minutes on our Snæfellsnes tour with Iceland Guided Tours. The rim of crater goes around about three quarters and is worn down to the ground for the last quarter, but the gap is big enough for a bus or other vehicle to drive right in. From the crater, there are fantastic views of Snæfellsjökull glacier to the east and its a great spot to view what's left of the crater from the inside.
Written Dec 11, 2012
Djúpalónssandur is a truly beautiful pebble beach on the west coast of Snæfellsnes peninsula a few km past Hellnar. We visited during our Snæfellsnes tour with Iceland Guided Tours and it was probably my favorite stop and that's saying a lot, because I loved everywhere we stopped. A short trail heads down to the beach from the parking area. All around are mysterious lava rock formations rising up from the beach and the water. One, Kerling, was believed to be a troll woman who turned to stone when the sunlight hit her. The water here is likely very cold and a sign warns of a strong current, so don't go in the water. But if you go up to the water's edge, the waves make a fabulous sound washing the pebbles in and out. I uploaded a video to my page with the waves if you want to here it. Up from the beach are two pools - Svörtulón and Djúpalón. These pools rise and fall with the tide and so only the surface water is fresh, so avoid drinking the water. The short trail Nautastígur leads from Svörtulón back up the parking area and along the way is Gatklettur, hole in the rock (a different one that that in Arnarstapi). Looking through the hole, you can great a view of Snæfellsjökull glacier. Along this trail, you will also see the lifting stones, which were a test of strength for the fishermen. The four stones were Fullsterkur (Full Strength) at 154 kg, Hálfsterkur (Half Strong) at 100 kg, Hálfdrættingur (Half Carrier) at 54 kg, and Amlóði (Weakling) at 23 kg. To be eligible to be an oarsman, one must at least be able to lift Hálfdrættingur. There are also longer trails that lead to Dritvík and Malarrif, but we didn't have time to hike these.
Updated Dec 10, 2012
Arnarstapi is a small village on the south coast of Snæfellsnes peninsula. It was once an important trading post, but few people live here year round now. But it is definitely worth a stop. We visited on our Snæfellsnes tour with Iceland Guided Tours. There is a restaurant here, but we had bought our lunch and walked down towards the cliffs at the harbor. Most of the coastline here is basalt columns and cliffs and combined with the crystal blue water, the views here are absolutely stunning. The cliffs also make a home for many kittiwakes, a type of gull. In fact, there are so many, that the cliffs are stained white with their droppings. But interestingly, they use the droppings to "glue" their nests to the cliffs. There is a path to Hellnar that follows these cliffs the whole way, but we didn't have time to hike it. Another interesting feature here is the statue of Bárður Snæfellsás by Ragnar Kjartansson. According to legend, he was a half-man half-giant who lived on the peninsula with his daughters. Bárður's brother, Þorkell lived in Arnarstapi with his two sons, Rauðfeldur and Sölvi. One day, Bárður's daughter Helga was playing with her cousins by the coast when Rauðfeldur pushed her onto an iceberg and she floated to Greenland. Bárður became enraged and pushed Rauðfeldur into the Rauðfeldargjá canyon and Sölvi over Sölvahamar cliff (hence the names). He then disappeared into the Snæfellsjökull glacier, never to be seen again, but is believed by some to still watch over the land.
Updated Dec 6, 2012
Hellnar is a beautiful little village on the south coast of Snæfellsnes peninsula, just a few km west of Arnarstapi. We stopped for about twenty minutes on our tour of Snæfellsnes with Iceland Guided Tours. It was once a major fishing village in the area, but now few people live here. There is a hotel, a couple of small restaurants and the visitor center for Snæfellsjökull National Park here as well as a beautiful coastline that makes it worth a quick stop. Valasnös is a giant basalt rock that stretches out into the bay, with a peculiar cave, Baðstofa. It's really more of an arch and has a unique light exposure and colors. Just up from Baðstofa is another cave Sauðahellir. It is open and you can walk right through. Sauðahellir, which means sheep cave, once was used to hold sheep. There is also a hiking path that leads along the coast to Arnarstapi, but we didn't have time to take this trail.
Updated Dec 4, 2012
Búðahraun is a lava field and protected area on Snæfellsnes peninsula, northeast of Arnarstapi. We stopped here on our tour of the peninsula with Iceland Guided Tours. The area is located just past where Route 574 splits from 54 on the southern end of the peninsula. Just past the split on 574, there is a pulloff with a great view overlooking the lava field. Búðaklettur, a 88-meter high crater, can be seen in the middle of the lava field. This volcano created the lava field 5000 to 8000 years ago. There is a trail that goes through the lava field, but we didn't hike it. If you do, use caution and stay on the trail. Besides the lava field, there are also great views of Bjarnarfoss Waterfall looking back towards Route 54 and Arnarstapi and Stapafell Mountain further on. The area also has some interesting history. The Öxl Farm, right by the pulloff was the home of Axlar-Björn, a serial killer in the 16th century who preyed on travelers and stole their horses. He was finally caught, because he had more horses than he should have been able to afford and confessed to killing nine people. He was executed in 1596 and buried in different places so he couldn't come back.
Updated Nov 19, 2012
The beach near the abandoned farm of Ytri Tunga has an established seal colony and is a great place to see these playful creatures. We visited Ytri Tunga on the tour of Snæfellsnes Peninsula with Iceland Guided Tours. The beach is located is located on the southern coast of Snæfellsnes Peninsula just off Route 54 about 20 km west of the intersection with Route 56. The beach itself is rocky and there is a lot of seaweed growing on the rocks, so use caution when walking out to see them. But the rocks going out into the water form a cove of sorts and makes a good home for the seals, who may climb out of the water onto the rocks. The best time to see them is in the summer, June and July.
Written Nov 13, 2012
We visited Ölkelda Mineral Spring on a tour of Snæfellsnes Peninsula with Iceland Guided Tours. Ölkelda Mineral Spring is located just off Route 54 about 12 km west of the intersection with Route 56. Named for the farm on which it is located, the spring was built by a farmer in 1904. The water is naturally carbonated and contains about ten times the amount of sodium, potassium, calcium, and other minerals as regular drinking water. The mineral water is said to have healing properties and you're free to take a drink, but it is very potent tasting. When we visited, our tour guide said he drinks three cups every time he comes with a tour. I was able to finish about half a cup - I guess it's an acquired taste.
Written Oct 13, 2012
There is a fantastic little café called Fjöruhúsið right by the ocean at Hellnar in Snæfellsnes. It opened in 1997 and is ever so popular amongst Icelanders. The location is fantastic, hidden away right by the ocean and the cliffs.
One can walk up to the amazing cliffs and the wonderful birdlife there. There is an opening in the cliffs, making it very interesting walking up to them. I have seen people swimming in the ocean here. And I have seen whales here as well.
One cannot see the café from the road, it is well hidden until you reach the top of the hill. Then you either leave your car on the parking lot on the hill, where there is fantastic view. Or drive down to the café. Better to leave the car on the parking lot on the hill though and walk down to the café.
Opening hours are during the summer months from 10:00-22:00 and it can stay open longer if there are many visitors.
They offer homemade cakes and bread and a fish-soup. It is a café, not a restaurant, so only light meals can be bought here.
The surroundings are fantastic, with a view of Mt. Arnarstapi and Snæfellsjökull glacier and volcano.
The hike from Hellnar to Arnarstapi starts here by Fjöruhúsið. And if you walk a bit further up behind the café and turn left there is the statue of Virgin Mary (see my tip).
My Aunt owns a summer cottage 7 minutes away from this café - lucky she, eh!
There were plans of closing down this café, when new owners bought the land. But there were such protests against that - especially on Facebook, that the café stayed open.
Updated Aug 16, 2012
Hotel Hellnar Hellnar
1 Review and 61 Opinions The hotel is perfectly located at the foot of Snaefellnes Glacier and by the seashore. If you are...