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Iceland Winter Road Trip: the West Fjords and Snaefellsness Peninsula

Where I left off with my Iceland blog, Gareth and I had just departed Northern Iceland and were headed into the West Fjords. This post will be about the end of our winter road trip, the West Fjords and Snaefellsnes Peninsula. It’s been almost five months since I got back from Iceland. I’ve been quite busy with school and with starting my jewelry business. However, I am committed to finishing my Iceland posts before it’s time to travel somewhere else. 

  • west fjords, iceland

The Witches Museum

As I mentioned before, we weren’t sure if we would even be able to go into the West Fjords on this trip. The winter weather can be so extreme there that the roads going in and out of the fjord get closed down for periods of time. Since we were right there and the weather forecast was looking good, we decided to go for it. After all, we might never return to Iceland. 

As we got into the West Fjords, the road went from pavement to gravel. We were headed towards the town of Holmavik to see the Museum of Witchcraft and Sorcery. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but the museum was rather dark and spooky. It definitely highlighted more of the sinister side of ancient magic. There was quite a bit of information on witchcraft used by the early settlers of Iceland. I was disappointed that history mostly seemed to remember the men who were sorcerers, and there wasn’t much information on early witches.

There were a pair of “necropants” on display. They are pants made from human skin. Apparently the wearer of the pants must steal a coin from a widow, store the coin in the scrotum, and then will be rewarded with an endless supply of money. Gareth didn’t think the human skin pants were real, but from what I read online they came from a sorcerer in the 17th century who gave permission to be made into pants after his death. 

There were all kinds of freaky things at the museum. I didn’t want to touch anything, but Gareth touched a 300 year old hand carved rock that had been used to collect sacrificial blood. 

After departing the museum, we were lucky to have a campsite right in town that hadn’t been on my list of open campsites. It was attached to the local pool, and we had it all to ourselves. 

  • iceland hot spring

The West Fjords

I had read about a ferry that goes from the southern coast of the West Fjords into Snaefellsnes Peninsula. It would potentially save us a few hours of driving and allow us to spend a little extra time in the West Fjords. After all, we only had a few more days of our van rental left and we wanted to get the most out of it. 

After departing the town of Holmavik, we set off to drive in the direction of the ferry. I had booked us a spot on the ferry that would be leaving that evening. We drove up and over the mountains, and through a snow flurry. It’s always pretty stressful driving in the snow in the middle of nowhere in Iceland, but thankfully it was short-lived and we made it down the mountain without issue. 

We reached the fjords of the West Fjords. The roads were dirt and gravel once more, and it was slow driving for a couple hours as they wove along the coast. Some of the roads were very steep with long drop offs, but overall it was a scenic drive. We eventually arrived at a hot spring, where we planned to spend the afternoon soaking while we waited for our ferry. 

This was a lovely little spring tucked into a rock alcove right by the ocean. The water was hot, but not quite as hot as I would have liked for as cold of a day as it was. We had the spring to ourselves for an hour or so. Eventually, it was time to scurry back to the van and get dressed once more. 

There were many more things I would have liked to see in the West Fjords, but we just didn’t have time. Even a nearly three-week road trip in Iceland didn’t seem to be enough time to see everything we wanted. 

  • Iceland ferry boat

Ferry to the Snaefellsness Peninsula

We drove to our ferry location to wait a very long time for our ferry to arrive. We were getting a bit nervous that it wouldn’t come and we would have to make a very long drive into Reykjavik to return our rental on time. Our worries were for nothing, as it did arrive eventually.

We drove the van onto the ferry, then walked up to the guest deck. Although a few semi-trucks had loaded up onto the ferry, we seemed to be the only guests who were there for non-work purposes. I imagined that in the summer the ferry would be crowded, as there was enough seating for nearly 100 people. But it was just Gareth and I, and two men in work uniforms. 

We were both starving and hadn’t been convinced that the kitchen would be open, even though the ferry website said it would be. It was off-season after all. To our great delight, the cook was working after all! We ordered burgers with fries and beers, and relaxed and enjoyed the boat ride.

After dinner, we went up to the deck to get out into the night and see the water. The wind was bitter on my face and the railings were freezing to hold on to. We couldn’t see any further into the ocean than where the boat lights reached. The waves were dark and ominous. We briefly discussed that it would certainly be fatal to fall overboard at this time of night in these conditions. That was enough outside time for us, and we scurried back into the warmth. 

After several hours at sea, our ferry arrived in the town of Stykkisholmur on the Snaefellsness Peninsula. Happy to have more agreeable weather conditions, we drove off of the ferry to find our campsite on the outskirts of town. 

Snaefellsness Peninsula

We only had one day to explore the Snaefellsness Peninsula. We wanted to make the most out of our short time left in Iceland. Both of us were really starting to miss our pets at home. Although we were committed to enjoying the rest of the trip, we also were about ready for our vacation to be over. 

We started our morning by going to a local bakery in Stykkisholmur for some pastries and coffee, and we planned our day a bit from there. We spent the day driving around a seeing the sights. I was excited for Kirkjufell, a famous mountain and yet another filming location from Game of Thrones. The cloudy day actually made for a very nice backdrop for taking photos of the mountain. I imagined Jon Snow trekking around North of the Wall.

We treated ourselves to some takeout pizza for lunch and then went to explore a canyon off the road. It was a short hike to get there, and we were the only people visiting. Next we went to see a little black church which was originally built in 1703. It was very cute. It looked like it had definitely been refurbished since 1703, and even looked a bit modern.

Once the daylight started waning, it was time to move on. We started the drive back towards Reykjavik so that we could save time in the morning. It was the day before Christmas Eve, and we wanted to get to the grocery store while it was still open and settle into our AirBnb the following morning.  

We drove on to the town of Akranes and located our campsite. The evening was still young, and we couldn’t resist one last trip to a local pool. We soaked in the hot tub until closing time, and then were sleepy and ready to retire to our last night in the van. 

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