The Snæfellsnes peninsula is a place of many wonders – both geological and cultural. The majestic Snæfellsjökull Glacier towers above magnificent lava fields, beautiful coastlines lined with tremendous basalt columns, dazzling waterfalls and the diverse birdlife. Nestled underneath the awe inspiring glacier is the peaceful county of Snæfellsbær from where you can explore the peninsula‘s many wonders.
Snæfellsbær is on the outermost part of the peninsula and has around 1700 inhabitants, the largest populations being Ólafsvík, Rif and Hellissandur. The center of the county is of course Snæfellsjökull Glacier National Park. Snæfellsjökull has been the inspiration for many poets and authors throughout history and was recently chosen by the Guardian as one of the 10 „best“ volcanoes in the world when it comes to literary inspiration and coverage. The most famous author to write about Snæfellsjökull is of course Jules Verne, who once claimed that it contained the entrance to the center of the earth. While it is unlikely that you‘ll ever find said entrance it is highly recommended to explore the glacier and its surroundings by whichever means most suits you – by car, snowmobile or foot.
Snæfellsbær and Snæfellsjökull were named by the settler Bárdur Snæfellsás who relocated from Norway to Iceland at the end of the 9th century. Apparently Bárður was the decendant of trolls and skilled in the arts of magic as well. Rumour has it that while building his settlement farm he stayed at Sönghellir cave at the base of the glacier. Sönghellir (Cave of echoes) can be easily reached by road so you can try your singing voice.Diverse Landscapes
What characterizes Snæfellsbær County is the incredible diversity of attractions found within. You can find hot and cold mineral water sources with supposed healing powers, gigantic fields of lava in different shapes and sizes and massive craters and mysterious caves. The wildlife around Snæfellsbær includes various bird species, seals swimming along the shore and various types of fish waiting to be caught and cooked.
The people of Snæfellsbær are industrious people and constantly exploring new possibilities in their small community. A part of that is the founding of „Átthagastofa,“ a program which offers the whole community a common platform to forward ideas which promote what the land and the people have to offer. One of the ideas sprung from said program is coast-angling – as opposed to the more common sea angling. Coastangling employs completely different techniques and equipment and is of course a much cheaper activity. You‘ll get to spend more time with the sea and the fish and enjoy the company of the people around in a tranquil setting. Get Hooked
The people of Snæfellsbær and surrounding communities are specialists when it comes to preparing seafood dishes – which comes as no surprise given the rich fishing history of the area. They invite you to „Get Hooked“ on the best seafood on the peninsula on the Snæfellsnes Seafood Trail, where you‘ll move beteen six restaurants and coffee shops trying the various types of dishes they have on offer. All the food in the seafood trail is certified as being made with local produce. The seafood trail is part of the project Life by the coastline – Destination Snæfellsnes, where all those working with services or products connected to the ocean in anyway join hands and create a trail of exciting sea-related destinations around the peninsula.
Mysterious Rock Formations
A visit to the small town of Arnarstapi is highly recommended with its exciting walking trails and splendid rock formations. Take a stroll to the town pier and from there along the shoreline where you‘ll see how the barrage of the ocean has carved out some pretty interesting shapes in the rocks – including a cliff with a mysterious hole through its middle. Other attractions include Bárðarlaug pool where Bárður Snæfellsás is rumored to have bathed when he arrived as soon as he reached the shores of Iceland, and a memorial to Guðríður Þorbjarnardóttir, a unique woman who traveled the world around the year 1000. Feats of Strength
At Malarrif you can see the impressive Lóndrangar towering above the waves and the beach. At Djúpalónssandur you‘ll see four rocks which the itinerant workers in Dritvík would compete with each other by lifting and as you‘ll see their measurement of manhood is quite high. The lightest rock is 23 kg and is called Amlóði or weakling, the second one is 54 kg and called Hálfdrættingur or half-a-man, the third heaviest one is 100 kg and called Hálfsterkur or half-strong, the heaviest rock is a full 154 kg and is called Fullsterkur or fully strong. So it is now easy for you to see if you‘re a fully strong person by Icelandic standards.
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