Snæfellsjökull National Park is located in the westernmost part of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, and is one of the top tourist destinations in Iceland. It is the only Icelandic national park to extend to the seashore — most of the coastline is home to luxuriant flora and fauna (arctic tern, guillemot, razorbill, fulmar, kittiwake and shag, to name a few), especially during breeding season. The area was formed through volcanic activity caused by Snæfellsjökull, a 700,000 year old stratovolcano located underneath a glacier. On clear days, it can even be seen from Reykjavik, 120 kilometers away across Faxafloi Bay!
Literary speaking, Snæfellsjökull is one of the most famous national national parks and volcanoes to ever be depicted in written history – or at least, it used to be up until the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption— since it was featured in the novel Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne in 1864 as the actual entrance to the center of the earth. It’s also the setting of the legendary Icelandic saga Bárðar saga Snæfellsáss.
Snæfellsjökull National Park played a significant role in Iceland’s history, as it is home to archaeological remains dating back to the country’s settlement period 1,100 years ago. It contains some of the oldest relics of the fishing industry in Scandinavia, and most villages in and around the park preserve this prolific fishing heritage. The park include many famous sites including the rugged Djúpalónssandur beach, the Saxhóll volcano crater, the sharp cliffs and basalt plugs of Lóndrangar, Sönghellir and its surprising acoustic resonance as well as Rauðfeldargjá, better known as the hidden waterfall.
Snæfellsjökull National Park can be reached by car from Reykjavik in just under three hours (200 kilometers) via route 1 and route 54, with route 574 taking visitors in a loop around the park. The area is well worth a full day or sightseeing if not more, and there are ample accommodation options on the peninsula.