Article of the week from the icelandic times
Snæfellsnes was immortalised by Jules Verne’s ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’, with its intrepid explorers descending the volcano that, while currently dormant, has scarred the surrounding land with a huge lava field.
The glacier-covered volcano rises 1446 m and is clearly visible from Reykjavik. It makes a thrilling tour on either snowmobile or snowcat from Arnarstapi, on the south side of the peninsula.
Snæfellsnes has long been thought of as a spiritual place, with its ley lines and reports of the Huldafólk or Hidden People being common, as well as other spiritual influences being felt by visitors. The spring at Mariulind—the Virgin Mary’s spring—is considered to have healing powers.
Situated on the southern tip of Snæfellsnes, this tranquil country hotel is favoured by guests from all over the world. With the glacier towering above it on one side and the Faxafloi Bay on the other, it is a beautiful place to stay. The hotel has won Green Globe certification since 2002 and the Icelandic Tourist Board Environmental Awards twice.
Dolphins and whales are frequently to be seen sporting close to the hotel and the whole area is a bird paradise and is thus popular with photographers. Guest praise for this beautiful spot, surrounded by nature, the national park and lots of wildlife, is well-founded.
Activities include horse riding, whale watching, hiking and glacier tours, hiking and bird watching. The people we spoke to found the photo opportunities outstanding, with some returning year on year.
Just before Hellnar, this former trading post has a lovely guesthouse and restaurant and several historical buildings. The stone image of the giant half-man, half-troll, Bárður stands guard to protect the area from evil. Its harbour is still in use by fishing vessels under the rugged cliffs. The hike between here and Hellnar
through the lava field with its bird cliffs and unique rock formations takes about an hour and is very popular. The distinctive Mt. Stapafell rises over the village, adding to the nature highlights of the area.
The guesthouse sleeps 45 in a 2-storey renovated house and the restaurant next door seats 55 in a traditional turf-roofed farmstead-style building.
With Snæfellsjökull towering above the small town and the Breiðafjörður Bay stretching out to the north, Ólafsvík is a good spot to take a break for a night or two. The hotel is placed across the road from the harbour where the fishing boats land their catches. The 3-star hotel has a restaurant and bar and wifi Internet. It has 19 studio apartments, 18 rooms with double or twin beds with a bathroom and 13 rooms with shared facilities. It is open from May to September, making it a convenient place to base from while exploring the north end of the peninsula.
The largest of the hotels in the area, Hótel Stykkishólmur is on top of a hill with a stunning view of the bay and its many islands. It’s a beautiful hotel for both individuals and groups, with a top class á la carte restaurant that also serves Scandinavian-style breakfasts each morning, a bar and large function room with a stage, dance area and dining tables for up to 300 people. The 79 rooms are all very comfortable, each with bathroom, TV, Internet, phone and hair dryer. There is a luxury suite with comfortable dining area, lounge, a large TV—and a view right up the fjörd to the mountains in the distance.
The swimming pool is a minute’s walk away, with it’s mineral waters that are so good for the skin and overall health. A golf course, free for guests, lies besides the hotel.
The standard of service from the English-speaking staff was very good and we greatly enjoyed each one of the hotels. No pretensions—just friendly, helpful and informative in a natural way.
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