Coastal hike in Snæfellsjökull National Park: the longest coastal trail in Iceland?

Snæfellsjökull National Park is a great place to go hiking in Iceland. It’s very close to Reykjavík, at the far end of Snæfellsnes peninsula, and it’s an area which definitely deserves a detailed exploration and there are many hikes you can do. Of course, the most prominent one is to the top of Snæfellsjökull, the 700,000 year old stratovolcano where Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne takes place.

What came to my attention when we were there, though, was the possibility to walk all the way around the coast from Ólafsvík to Arnarstapi, and then via Jökulháls back to Ólafsvík. It’s not an officially marked trail but it’s marked in parts and where it’s not, navigation should be very clear and easy. To my knowledge, Iceland doesn’t really have any proper long distance (multi day) coastal trails. Well, this one is right there, it just doesn’t have a name and probably hasn’t been thru-hiked yet (correct me if I’m wrong).

Map of the peninsula. My proposed hike is highlighted by purple

Big advantages to such a hike would be:

  • The good chance for nice weather since it’s not on the mainland or at high altitudes.
  • It’s very close to Reykjavík.
  • It’s relatively easy to walk as it’s mostly flat and without cliffs.
  • It’d truly be a coastal walk because the current paths literally copy the seashore and to put your foot into the ocean would be s matter of a couple of minutes at most.
  • By Icelandic standards, there’d be good re-supply points as there are supermarkets in Hellissandur, Rif and Ólafsvík.
  • Water wouldn’t be an issue, there are many springs coming out of Snæfellsjökull massif.
  • Currently you’re allowed to camp in the park for a single night in one place provided you move on the following day.
  • There are a few hotels and campsites on the way.
  • There are many possibilities of taking alternative paths.
  • You have the option to finish any time as the road is very close.

The potential here is just great. It surely wouldn’t be the most adventurous trail in Iceland, but it’d definitely belong among the most pleasant hikes there. Easy to get to, easy to navigate, easy to start and finish… not hardcore like most of the mainland hikes. The total length of such a trail could extend 80 km to my estimation.

We did hike a couple of sections there for a few kilometres. It was nice and easy to walk, even though hiking on sand could be demanding after a while as you use different muscles when compared to walking on a hard surface.

Right, so we’ve scoped out the background for you, now it’s up to you to try to hike the whole thing. If you happen to do it, please, let me know!

About the Author

I lived a pretty ordinary life for a while. I did my studies, my second studies, my third studies, my first job, my second job, and my third job. I wasn’t really sure what’s going on so, in 2014, I left my home country (Czechia) to learn about the world. I’m still not sure what’s going on but I enjoy it much more. I lived in a few countries before settling in New Zealand.

2 Comments on "Coastal hike in Snæfellsjökull National Park: the longest coastal trail in Iceland?"

  1. Alberto Muñoz | 2.8.2019 at 18:54 | Reply

    Many thanks for this suggestion. I think I will try it (probably with some variations) in my trip to Iceland at the end of August. I will let you know. Thank you again for posting it.

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