Snæefell, Iceland

Snæefell Volcano
View to Snæefell Volcano

Snæefell at a Glance

Located on the Snæefellsnes peninsula in western Iceland, Snæefell is the country's highest mountain next to Vatnajökull. Now extinct, the 700,000 year-old stratovolcano's icecap was made world famous since featuring in the Jules Verne book Journey to the Center of the Earth, in which a German geologist journeyed into the crater of the mountain accompanied by his nephew. Although Snæefell (Snow Mountain) is the mountain's real name, it is generally called Snæfellsjökull as a means of distinguishing it from two other mountains with the same name. The peak of the mountain was torn apart during the late Ice Age volcano eruption.

Now part of the Snæfellsjökull National Park Snæefell is a popular hiking destination in the summer. There are several tour companies in the area offering guided walks over the different routes, and it is quite easy to reach the saddle close to the summit, but walkers might need crampons and ice axes. It is worth noting that technical ice climbing skills are needed to reach the real summit, and it is essential to avoid the crevasses around the glacier. A number of hiking routes cross between the two start-off points - to the eastern flank of Snæfell or at the northwestern corner of the icecap. The coastline along the Snæfellsnes peninsula is very varied. Visitors will enjoy the sight of light sand beaches, black sand beaches, rocky coves, and the steep sea cliffs that are home to a host sea birds during the nesting season. It is not uncommon to see reindeer roaming in the beautiful mountainous surroundings.

This part of Iceland is remote and has long been linked with mystery and stories of supernatural forces. So much so, that at one time it was commonplace for New Age travelers to make pilgrimages here. In the past 10,000 years, there have been three eruptions under the glacier, with the last one having occurred in approximately 250 AD.