Iceland // The west coast //

The Snæfellsnes Peninsula

From Borgarnes, Route 54 branches off west past Borg á Mýrum through the sparsely populated Mýrar district, a region of low-lying plains and bogs with a few small lakes, heading for the southern coast of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, a rugged yet beautiful arm of the Icelandic west coast that juts out into the Atlantic between Faxaflói bay and Breiðafjörður. The north and south coasts are divided one from the other by a string of spiky mountains which run down the spine of the peninsula and culminate in the magnificent Snæfellsjökull, a glacier at the land’s westernmost point. Towns – and regional buses – are mostly confined to the north coast, where harbours are good and plentiful, and it’s from picturesque Stykkishólmur, far and away the best place to base yourself on the peninsula, that boat trips can be made across to the peaceful island haven of Flatey. From here a road runs west round the tip of the peninsula via uneventful Ólafsvík, though, if you’re keen to head straight for the glacier, aim for the south-coast township of Arnarstapi where snowmobile tours of Snæfellsjökull can be arranged. Remember that it’s the south coast which more often than not bears the brunt of the moisture-laden low-pressure systems that sweep in from the Atlantic, emptying their load here rather than over the mountains on the north coast.