We had read that Iceland’s weather is unpredictable. We were told to stay off the roads in the winter if we weren’t use to this climate. Despite the warnings, we threw caution to the wind and rented a car on our third day.
With a sturdy 4wheel drive, and no particular destination in mind, we decided to set the GPS to Hellnar, a fishing village at the very tip of the snæfellsnes peninsula.
Unfortunately, our weather on day three was not as nice as we had hoped, and we hit some inclement weather. We battled hurricane-like winds and rain as we drove along the coast. Out one window was a steep drop into the crashing and unforgiving waves below. Out the other a towering volcano peppered with large volcanic rocks.
While there is a lack of urban surroundings in this area, the incredible landscape of sea, volcanic fields, farmland, waterfalls, and open road more than make up for it. Driving the coast, even in the harshest of conditions, is a sight to behold. We have to come back to this area in the summer so we can enjoy more activities near the water.
Also, if you’re like me and have your heart set on petting some of the Icelandic horses, this is your place!
After stopping every quarter mile for pictures of the Icelandic horses, we finally arrived in Hellnar for lunch. What is now a quiet fishing village, for centuries it was one of the largest in West Iceland. The village boasts a small handful of black houses that over look Snæfellsjökull glacier/volcano. We had lunch here, stopping at Fjoruhusid. It’s tucked away into the cliff. This was as close as we got to the water, sadly, because of the weather, but there are so many rock formations, caves and hiking trails in this area, I’m sad we were unable to experience them. If you go, here’s to hoping you have better luck!
As we were making our way back to Reykjavik we thought it would be fun to drive through Snæfellsjökull National Park. This meant crossing the Snæfellsjökull glacier. As we crept along the gravel road, our GPS suddenly beeped and displayed, “Make certain your car can handle this road condition.” Gus, being a total macho man, ensured me we were fine and continued up the road. We then came to a sign that read in very plain English, “The glacier is a very dangerous area to cross.” Still we kept going…
According to visiticeland.com, “The Snæfellsjökull glacier is said to be one of the seven great energy centres of the earth, and has been attributed various mysterious powers.” The reason I quote that, is because about half way up the glacier our car was no longer forging ahead, but instead was sliding down the glacier out of our control.
Thankfully, our car came to a halt inches from a volcanic rock. While I can laugh at this now, I was terrified during the event. In that moment, we learned our “take caution when driving in Iceland” lesson. We slowly turned around and headed back the way we came, and by chance stumbled across another iconic sight, Budír Church.
Budír Church is one of three black churches in Iceland. The black color is pitch, which protects the church from the Icelandic elements (which as we can see is clearly not a joke). We noticed a church from the road and took the winding patch up the cliff to take a peak. Other than a four star hotel, it’s just this church overlooking the ocean below.
With gorgeous coastlines, rugged lava fields, majestic icelandic horses, colorful homes, and waterfalls speckled throughout the cliff side, there is no shortage of beautiful scenes in Iceland. Southern and Western Iceland are areas you could travel to time and again and still not see enough.
Don’t underestimate the dramatic landscapes that make up the land of fire and ice. Iceland, you can count on a return from us. See more of my photos in my gallery!