A visit to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula with kids is a magical experience. It packs a little bit of everything that makes Iceland special into a small region. The Snaefellsnes Peninsula has volcanoes, lava fields, mountains, waterfalls, fjords and big waves on rocky cliffs.
If you only have a few days in Iceland with kids, the Snaefellsnes Peninsula is a good choice as you will see it all. There are plenty of interesting, outdoor activities for kids as well.
Here is how we spent our two full days in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula with kids:
Visiting Snaefellsnes Peninsula with Kids
- 12 Things to do in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula with Kids
- Where to Stay on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula with Kids
- Visit Snaefellsnes Peninsula with Kids
- Visit Iceland with Kids
12 Things to do in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula with Kids
1. Hike Arnarstapi to Hellnar
The kid-friendly hike from Arnarstapi to Hellnar is a must-do if you are visiting the Snaefellsnes Peninsula with kids. The 1.6 mile (2.5km) Arnarstapi to Hellnar hiking trail provides a variety of breathtaking Icelandic scenery ranging from waves crashing on dramatic rocky cliffs, to walking through a field filled with volcanic rock and moss. A half-troll statue and a natural stone arch wait for your discovery along this fun family-friendly Snaefellsnes Peninsula hike.
Read our post for more details on hiking from Arnarstapi to Hellnar with kids.
2. Saxholl Crater
The Saxholl Volcano Crater is a popular Icelandic volcano crater in Snaefellsjoekull National Park, which sits on the far west edge of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. What makes the Saxholl Crater a fun thing to do with kids in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula is the ability to climb to the top and look into the mouth of the volcano crater – a cool experience for anyone, especially kids!
The Saxholl Crater is a popular Snaefellsnes Peninsula activity as it’s a moderate sized volcano cone, which should be reachable by anyone in reasonable shape. There is no hiking involved to see the Saxholl Crater.
To see the volcanic crater you simply climb set of metal stairs which wind their way around the edge of the small Saxholl volcano to the top where you can see the crater.
Upon arrival at the Saxholl Crater, we were shocked by the brute force of the wind when we opened door of our rental car. The wind was so strong, it actually made the small drizzle of rain hurt when it hit your skin. We prepared for inclement weather for our Iceland family vacation, so we geared up in our many layers and set out to climb the stairs to the summit.
As we climbed the stairs up the Saxholl Crater, the strong wind was at our backs and was making the uphill climb nice and easy. But it wasn’t long before we noticed the wind was making it hard for our kids to stand, so we picked them up and kept climbing. A few people descending from the Saxholl Crater stopped to warn us that the wind made it near impossible to stand at the summit.
The strength of the wind made us reconsider our priorities – it just wasn’t safe enough to bring the kids to the top of the Saxholl Crater, so we walked back down to a bench about halfway up the Saxholl volcano.
We took turns watching the kids, while the other went to the top for a quick look at the Saxholl crater. The wind warnings were true – it was very hard to stand upright at the top of the volcano. It’s too bad the weather made it too dangerous for the kids as the Saxholl Crater was a pretty cool sight and was worth the effort.
If the weather is better on your Iceland family vacation, don’t miss seeing the Saxholl Crater with your kids!
We pride ourselves on being all-weather outdoors people and we don’t let the weather beat us often, but the Iceland weather beat us today. It was simply cold, wet and nasty out, so we headed back to our Snaefellsnes Peninsula rental cabin for the remainder of the day.
3. Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall
It’s a beautiful drive on Highway 54 across a mountain pass from Arnarstapi to the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall. By itself the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall is an ok waterfall, but when you pair it with the majestic Kirkjufell Mountain in the background, it becomes a magical Icelandic experience.
From the parking lot, you walk towards the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall on an easy level path alongside the river. Once you reach the lower Kirkjufellsfoss falls the path starts to incline. The Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall pictures here are nice, but don’t spend too much time here as they get much better in a bit.
At the top of the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall, you cross over the river on a little bridge and then start descending on the other side. This is where you can start enjoying the views of the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall and the beautiful Kirkjufell Mountain together. There isn’t a lot of room where you can get pictures of both the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall and Kirkjufell Mountain together, so come here early to avoid battling the crowds.
Unfortunately, the walking trail doesn’t continue back to the parking lot from this side of the river, so you’ll need to backtrack up and over the river to get back to your car.
Our kids were able to walk the hill to the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall without any problems, but we needed to watch them closely as the little ‘safety’ ropes they use wouldn’t stop a toddler from going over.
4. Berserkjahraun Lava Fields
It’s a beautiful coastal drive from the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall to the Berserkjahraun lava fields. You can immediately tell from the highway when you have entered the Berserkjahraun lava fields as there are large moss covered boulders everywhere. We entered the Berserkjahraun lava field just east of the Highway 56 turnoff and randomly parked on the side of the road at a point which looked fun for exploring.
Our kids love exploring places like the Berserkjahraun lava fields. Large lava rocks are everywhere and the kids love climbing on them, running around them, hiding behind them, etc.
What makes the Berserkjahraun lava fields an extra fun thing to do on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula with kids is the spongy moss growing everywhere, which makes it feel like walking on a bed of marshmallows!
From the Berserkjahraun lava fields we continued driving north to Stykkisholmur, the largest town on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. We had read several places that Stykkisholmur is the most charming town in all of Iceland.
Not to be mean, but Stykkisholmur didn’t live up to the advance billing. It’s a nice little town and all, but it’s not worth the extra driving up to see Stykkisholmur, unless perhaps you are going on the Viking Sushi trip.
6. Kolgrafarfjordur Fjord
Driving back to our Snaefellsnes rental home for our little guy’s afternoon nap, we stopped for a quick packed lunch at a rest area alongside the Kolgrafarfjordur fjord, which is known for its marine life sightings (whales, dolphins etc.). Although we didn’t see any marine life at the Kolgrafarfjordur fjord, the kids were pretty excited about the sheep skull and the duck skeleton they found in the parking lot.
7. Bardur Snaefellsas
Our little guy got sneaky and slept on the drive back to Arnarstapi, so we decided to see a few quick Snaefellsnes attractions along the way in hopes of seeing some stuff without waking him up.
Our first stop was the statue of Bardur Snaefellsas, which we saw from a distance on our Arnarstapi to Hellnar hike, but hadn’t actually gone up to see it.
We took turns going with our daughter to see the Bardur Snaefellsas statue while the other parent stayed in the car. The ‘statue’ is basically a huge rock pile shaped like a troll. It’s a really fun thing to do on Snaefellsnes Peninsula with kids – we recommend stopping if you are in the area.
8. Djupalonssandur Beach
Our son woke up while we were filling the rental car with gas, so we stopped in our nearby vacation home rental for a quick snack, diaper change etc. Soon we were heading back to the Snaefellsjoekull National Park for more fun things to do with kids.
Our first stop in Snaefellsjoekull National Park was Djupalonssandur Beach. From the car park, you have the choice of taking several paths. We took the one which said, “To the beach”.
The path to Djupalonssandur Beach descends via a rocky path through a little canyon of interesting rock formations, which our kids loved to climb on. There is one spot where there is a hole in the rock face and you can poke your head through and see the other side – again, a big hit with the kids.
Eventually, you arrive at Djupalonssandur Beach with its dramatic black sand. Besides the jet black rocks, the first thing you’ll see is a set of ‘lifting rocks’ which sailors used to use to see who could lift the heaviest rock.
As you walk along Djupalonssandur Beach towards the ocean, the next thing you’ll notice is the rusted remains of a shipwreck, which crashed near here in the late 1940’s. But the best thing about Djupalonssandur Beach is the crashing waves.
I imagine the waves differ each day, but on the day we visited Djupalonssandur Beach the waves were massive. To see the massive waves crashing onto the black sand beach with towering black rocks jutting out of the surf on both sides was simply incredible.
On the way back to our rental car we got caught in a sudden snow pellet storm which quickly turned the black Djupalonssandur Beach white. We ducked for cover behind one of the rock formations and waited for the snowstorm to pass, which it quickly did.
At the parking lot, we walked along the boardwalk to a viewpoint high above Djupalonssandur Beach, sat at one of the benches and watched the mesmerizing waves a while longer before moving on.
9. Londrangar Cliffs
Our next stop in Snaefellsjoekull National Park was the Londrangar Cliffs near the Malariff lighthouse. There are several reasons to visit this area of Snaefellsjoekull:
- The views of the Londrangar basalt rocks which are 75 and 61m tall and dominate the skyline for miles around.
- The lighthouse, and
- The rugged oceanside Londrangar Cliffs.
There are several trails which lead from the Londrangar Cliffs parking lot which head toward the coastline. As you near the water, the ground changes from soft grass to hard, black lava rock.
This lava rock extends towards the ocean where it terminates at the edge of a tall cliff. A similar experience to the Djupalonssandur Beach, the views of the rough and powerful North Atlantic waves crashing ashore are awe inspiring.
10. Abandoned Farmhouse
On our way back to Arnarstapi, we wanted to check out a short hike to an abandoned farmhouse we saw from the highway. It’s just east of the Snaefellsjoekull National Park and follows a path to a waterfall which flows into the ocean.
We turned down the road leading to the ruins of the abandoned farmhouse (which you can see from the highway). Parking at the incredibly picturesque abandoned farmhouse, we continued on foot to the edge of the oceanfront cliff.
The waterfall was cute, but nothing that will appear on a Snaefellsnes Peninsula postcard. What made the abandoned farmhouse hike worthwhile were the views of the huge North Atlantic waves crashing without the crowds.
It was just us four, sitting on the grass peacefully (well, as peaceful as it can get with a two year old) watching the waves. It was a special moment and a nice way to end our day on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula with kids.
Despite the Snaefellsnes Peninsula weather being ‘good’ for most of the day, we still encountered highly variable weather throughout the day. It was around 5C and windy most of the day. Every hour or so, a quick storm would blow through the area, with strong winds and snow pellets blowing horizontally, which actually stung when they hit our exposed skin.
This is all part of a family vacation to Iceland in May and we’re glad we got to experience it, but it reinforces the need to dress in layers while exploring as the Snaefellsnes Peninsula weather never stays the same for long.
11. Bjarnafoss Waterfall
On our final morning on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, we stopped for a quick visit to the Bjarnafoss Waterfall on our way to our two-day stop in Iceland’s Golden Circle with kids. The Bjarnafoss Waterfall features a long freefall at the top of the cliff then, as it reaches the bottom it transforms into long cascading waterfall down the second half of the mountain.
The Bjarnafoss Waterfall is very striking. There is a hiking path towards the Bjarnafoss Waterfall leading from the big parking lot. The walk to the Bjarnafoss Waterfall is pretty short at about 500m each way. There is a little elevation gain as you near the Bjarnafoss Waterfall, but nothing too much.
When the official Bjarnafoss Waterfall hiking trail ends, it looks like there is an unofficial trail which takes you even higher, but we didn’t go on it as it was raining pretty good.
12. Gerduberg Cliffs
Our final stop on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula with kids was the Gerduberg Cliffs, about 30 minutes east of the Bjarnafoss Waterfall. The Gerduberg Cliffs are a long stretch of basalt columns which look like stone tubes stacked side-by-side for over a kilometer.
The Gerduberg Cliffs are quite interesting to look at, but to be honest we never got out of the car for a closer look. It was raining pretty hard and the road runs parallel alongside the Gerduberg Cliffs, so we drove up the road, then drove back the road, rolled down the window and took a few pictures and left.
The Gerduberg Cliffs were interesting, but not “get drenched in the rain” kind of interesting. On a nicer day, it would have been fun to get out of the car to get closer to the basalt columns of the Gerduberg Cliffs to appreciate their size and interesting shapes.
Where to Stay on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula with Kids
There isn’t a major city on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in Iceland, nor will you find any major hotel chains anywhere. If you are visiting the Snaefellsnes Peninsula with kids, we recommend figuring out what you want to see and then find the best kid-friendly accommodation nearby.
If you are on an Iceland family vacation to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, you’ll almost certainly have a rental car. This will give you the freedom to stay nearly anywhere on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
There’s only a handful of kid-friendly hotels on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. They are pretty spread out, so you should be able to find one in a location you like.
When traveling with kids, we have a strong preference for staying in a vacation home rental. We find that the kids sleep better when they have their own bedrooms, and it’s nice to have laundry facilities to wash our clothes.
Another big benefit of getting a vacation rental is having a kitchen to cook some of your own meals. Eating out is very expensive in Iceland, so having your own kitchen helps have an Iceland family vacation on a budget. We typically like to have a healthy breakfast at home, pack a good lunch, then reward ourselves to a great meal at a restaurant in the evening. Due to the expense of eating out in Iceland, we made nearly all our meals at our vacation home rental.
For our 2-day visit to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula with kids, we stayed at a cute vacation rental cabin in Arnarstapi. It had a great oceanfront location just minutes outside the Snaefellsjoekull National Park, home to most of the things we wanted to do with our kids on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
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