The Vatnsnes Peninsula is located in the north of Iceland, just off the western fjords in Húnaflói Bay. The peninsula is often forgotten by tourists but it is still a part of the island with many points of interest.
Interestingly, several polar bears that came straight from Greenland riding icebergs have washed up here, which is why Húnaflói Bay is also known as “Bear Bay”.
Whether you are coming from Blönduós in the east or from the Westfjords, Road 711 is the one that you need to take to cross the peninsula. Although it is not completely paved, this road is accessible to any type of vehicle and is in fairly good condition.
Often visitors spend half a day touring the Vatnsnes Peninsula.
Like all of Iceland's northern peninsulas, Vatnsnes is a prime spot to catch the midnight sun in June and July. Many visitors spend the night near Hvammstangi, this small town of 600 inhabitants, and travel along route 711 looking for the best spot to photograph the horizon with the sunset.
The peninsula is famous for hosting seal colonies that are fairly easy to photograph and are pretty sure to see no matter the season. It is precisely in Hvammstangi that you can find the “Seal Center” to find out a little more about seals on the peninsula.
When it comes to dining on the peninsula, one restaurant stands out from the rest: the Geitafell restaurant in the north-west of the peninsula, known to serve absolutely incredible fish soups.
Hvítserkur: Santi Rodríguez @fotolia
On the east coast of Vatnsnes near the Suluvellir farm stands the iconic monyment of the peninsula: the strange and impressive rock named Hvítserkur. Well indicated road 711, you can see it after a short 5-minute walk.
The rock looks like it came out of nowhere, just dropped a few meters from the shore. According to one legend, it's actually a troll petrified at sunrise ages ago. Its strange shape is a result of erosion as the sea carved out the rock. And birdwatchers can rejoice! Numerous birds have taken up residence on the Hvítserkur Arch.
Many photographers set up their cameras to capture the ark in the twilight of the midnight sun. The arch is truly impressive with the reflections on the water at low tide, the twilight is just unreal.
The peninsula is considered one of the best viewing stations to see seals in Iceland with several areas famous for hosting seal colonies:
Tourists out to enjoy the midnight sun in the evening often go to the northern end of Vatnsnes, Hindisvík, or further west to Illugastaðir to observe seals in their element. Illugastaðir has even been equipped in recent years with small wooden walkways to be able to approach seals with small wooden huts so that they can be photographed discreetly.
The peninsula is in fact one of the places in Iceland where it is the easiest to observe and approach its animals. On site, after a few hundred meters of walking, a fairly well-marked trail leads to an entire seal colony (gray seals or marine calf seals mainly) usually basking on the rocks.
Borgarvirki is located very close to Víðidalur in the north. It is an imposing cluster of basaltic strata that dominates the landscape. Used as a fortress for centuries, Borgarvirki is a natural phenomenon that has been used and adapted by humans over the years.