My last few days in Iceland were spent touring around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in the west. The area is sometimes called Miniature Iceland because it contains many of the things that people often come to Iceland to see…volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls, hot springs and lots of historical legends. It isn’t currently on the popular tourist route, but I think this will soon change as people begin to discover the beauty of this area. It deserves much more than the one night and jam-packed 2 days that I was able to give it. Unfortunately the weather had turned windy and rainy, so some of the “spectacular” views required a bit of imagination as people assured me that “there is a glacier behind those clouds”.
Our first stop was at a farm in Hvalfjörður (Whale-fjord), just north of Reykjavik. There are endless opportunities for hiking here and the Bjarteyjarsandur Farm offers a country-life experience for visitors. Horses, chickens, pigs, goats, rabbits and lots of sheep roam the grounds and guests can participate in sheep herding, wool workshops, farm-to-table cooking events and many other activities.
After a stop in Borgarnes, to visit the Settlement Centre, full of historical exhibitions (and a great cafe) we drove straight through the peninsula to the lovely seaside town of Stykkisholmur. We checked in at Hotel Egilsen, a quaint and historical building in the heart of the small town.
Upon arrival we went on a speedy Sea Safari around the thousands of islands that dot the bay. In the summer, puffin are here. I was a couple weeks late for them, but there were a lot of sea birds, such as Cormorants and Fulmars…and some amazing rock formations.
We had a night tour of the Library of Water. I have been to lots of different kinds of museums, but this was a first. Created by writer and artist, Roni Horn, the main room, which overlooks Stykkisholmur, contains 24 glass columns of water, collected as ice from some of the major glaciers in Iceland. A way of preserving the rapidly melting glaciers.
After a great breakfast the next day, we were off to explore the peninsula…
Sadly, this beautiful beach had several dead whales on it. They had washed up on shore and people tried to push many of them back into the sea, but some didn’t make it. Nobody knows why this happened, but it was believed to be due to a storm and rapidly changing currents.
We ventured into a lava tube cave for a dark and soggy underground tour.
I had to taste the water from the Olkelda spring. It is extremely rich in iron and comes out of this tap slightly carbonated, from the underground gasses. The taste is quite unique indeed!
We stopped at two very charming, but also very different hotels. At Hotel Budir, we were offered an incredible seafood stew, overlooking a great view of the bay. Hotel Budir is rather grand, with the ambiance of a hunting lodge.
And the English House, has the feeling of being at Grandma’s. The proprietors love speaking with their guests and telling them about the history of the house – which runs through multiple generations. With a community scarf to knit in the living room and a cup of hot coffee, I felt right at home.
These were short visits and we were soon heading back to Reykjavik. I was to fly back to Copenhagen that night. Had the weather been better and if I had more time, it would have been nice to do some hikes around the peninsula and seen more of the area’s natural surroundings.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans for us. On the drive back, we were struck by extremely high winds. Our small rental car was almost blown off the road. We saw 2 vehicles who did not escape the wrath of the wind! Thankfully, these were trailers and nobody was hurt (as far as we could tell). Let it be noted: weather can change rapidly in Iceland.
Before heading to the airport, I took a little tour of Harpa – the incredible concert hall along Reykjavik’s waterfront (the photo below was taken on a sunnier day).
I hope you enjoyed visiting Iceland through these posts. I’m currently working on travel itineraries that incorporate many of these fascinating places. When GreenSpot and I have them ready, I’ll be sure to post a link!