Road Trip Guide - West Iceland

Are you planning a road trip around Iceland or maybe you only have a few days to spend and not sure what to do? West Iceland is a magical area in so many ways, so definitely add it to your Iceland itinerary list! It is a good idea to combine the one day itinerary for Snæfellsnes Peninsula and the other areas of West Iceland.

You could either start by exploring Snæfellsnes, take road 54 to Borgarnes, and from there drive Hvalfjörður through Hvanneyri or you could take road nr.1 to road nr.50. If you are going to explore the Westfjords or North Iceland then we recommend you start with Hvalfjörður and then visit Snæfellsnes. 

We’ve picked out a few noteworthy places to explore around West Iceland! 

For a detailed Google Maps of West Iceland click HERE

Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Driving around Snæfellsnes Peninsula in West Iceland is quite scenic and easy route. A perfect day trip! Minimal length for this drive is 7 hours with stops (it’s about 400 km round trip from Reykjavík to Snæfellsnes and back) – The only cost for this route is for Hvalfjarðargöng tunnel, 1.000ISK (one way).

From Reykjavik, start driving to Hvalfjarðargöng tunnel, but make sure to pay when you get through (either with money or card). From there you drive to Borgarnes and make a left turn to road nr.54 – this road will lead you around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. When finishing the loop, you take road nr.56 back to road nr. 54 (it’s over a hill).

We recommend that your first stop is at Búðakirkja, one of the most photographed churches in Iceland. The surrounding area is very photogenic and there’s a pathway from the church to walk around the coast. GPS coordinates Latitude: 64.8232 and Longitude: -23.384614

Next stop is Arnarstapi. Arnarstapi is a small fishing village located in the roots of Stapafell mountain. There is a sea stack rock called Gataklettur and from there you can walk a couple of different pathways along the sea cliffs. Just pick one and wander along and enjoy the view! Then there’s an even smaller town called Hellnar only a few minutes away for those who have more time to wander. GPS coordinates Latitude: 64.76912 and Longitude: -23.625898

Lóndrangar basalt cliffs are a cool next stop! There is a pathway to walk along the cliffs, an old lighthouse and you might even spot puffins on the cliffs if visiting during the bird season (April to August).

When you drive from there you are officially in the Snæfellsnes national park. Djúpalónssandur is a beautiful pebbled beach. You need to turn left off the main road and follow that the road until there is a little rest stop. Walk down to the beach and enjoy the peaceful view.

From there drive through Ólafsvík, a small town with only 1,000 inhabitants (there is a gas station and a little shop available for a rest stop). Then continue towards Grundarfjörður to photograph Kirkjufell Mountain, an iconic and one of the most photographed mountain in Iceland. To get the perfect money shot of the mountain drive towards Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall and park there.

After this continue driving on road 54 until you can make a right to road 56 “Vatnaleið”– drive over the hill and then you are back on road 54. Finally, head the same way back to Reykjavik as previously driven.

Hraunfossar (e. lava waterfalls) is a series of pristine waterfalls that trickle, gush, and flow out of a craggy lava field that formed when a volcano erupted under a glacier. From Reykjavík the drive is about 122 km (75 miles). GPS coordinates Latitude: 64.702901 and Longitude: -20.977172

Deildartunguhver is Europe’s most powerful hot spring. It provides 180 l/sec of 100°C hot water. Opening in 2017 at Deildartunguhver is Krauma geothermal baths. From Reykjavík the drive is about 100 km (62 miles). GPS coordinates Latitude: 64.664254 and Longitude: -21.411667

Reykholt, is an historic site where the great writer Snorri Sturluson lived and died in 1241. The academic institution Snorrastofa is situated there, dedicated to the memory of Snorri. For those who enjoy learning about history this is a must stop! 

Hike Glymur, the second highest waterfall in Iceland. (The hike to the waterfall takes about 2 hours and is not suitable for people with no hiking experience. We also recommend you don’t do this hike during the winter). 

If you are staying in Húsafell then you can sign up for a tour into the glacier. It’s an easy tour and takes you high up on Langjökull and into the ice tunnel. 

One of the most historical sites in Iceland is Eiríksstaðir. Step back to the Viking Era and explore Eirik the Red's farm, birthplace of Leif Erikson, who is said to have discovered America. 

Guðrúnarlaug, a reconstructed geothermal pool situated in Laugar of Sælingsdalur valley (free admission). Krosslaug nature pool is located in Reykir in Lundareikjadalur and the heat of the water is about 40°C.Here are a few more sights to visit around Snæfellsnes Peninsula 

Eldborg crater is one of the most symmetric and beautiful craters in Iceland. It rises 60 meters above the surrounding lava and was active 5000-8000 years ago. 

A long wall of basalt columns is at Gerðuberg. You can easily see it from road 54 but we recommend you take a detour to view it up close. 

Ytri tunga beach is a well-known seal colony. Best time to see seals there is in June and July. If you want to explore a lava tube cave Vatnshellir it’s located on the right only a few minutes after Arnarstapi town. (The entrance fee is 3.250ISK and we recommend you book beforehand especially during summer time).  

Take a boat tour from Stykkishólmur and enjoy the magical Breiðafjörður. For nature lovers, this is a "must see" place!

More places to see when road tripping around West Iceland:

  • Glymur Waterfall - Latitude: 64.41399 | Longitude: -21.63126
  • Akranes lighthouse - Latitude: 64.32192 | Longitude: -22.07028
  • Reykholt - Latitude: 64.53250 | Longitude: -20.83145
  • Vatnshellir cave - Latitude: 64.74772 | Longitude: -23.81787
  • Lóndrangar - Latitude: 64.72777 | Longitude: -23.7575
  • Djúpalón & Dritvík beach - Latitude: 64.74929 | Longitude: -23.91218
  • Hellnar - Latitude: 64.74579 | Longitude: -23.67584
  • Kirkjufell mountain - Latitude: 64.94166 | Longitude: -23.30694
  • Stykkishólmur - Latitude: 65.07289 | Longitude: -22.73573
  • Breiðafjörður - Latitude: 65.25 | Longitude: -23.25
  • Guðrúnarlaug natural hot pool - Latitude: 65.24623 | Longitude: -21.80451
  • Hallmundarhraun lava field - Latitude: 64.83277 | Longitude: -20.399444
  • Háafell, goat farm - Latitude: 64.709668 | Longitude: -21.25206

Plenty of more places to find around West Iceland, so click here for the official website of West Iceland. 

We recommend you bookmark three websites to use when doing a road trip in Iceland: Safetravel.isRoad conditions and Weather report.

Don’t forget to follow Sixt rent a car Iceland on social media for frequent updates via TwitterInstagram, Facebook and Youtube. And please use our official hashtag #SixtIceland so we can follow along. Happy travels!