Olafsvik Iceland – Things to do in Ólafsvík Snaefellsnes – Town next to Snaefellsjokull
Ólafsvík is a town on the northern side of Snaefellsnes peninsula, close to the magnificent glacier, Snaefellsjokull. It is the administrative center of the municipality of Snaefellsbaer which also includes the villages of Arnarstapi, Hellnar, Rif, and Hellissandur. The town is an old fishing town and still has a thriving fishing industry. Therefore many of the interesting places in town have a strong connection to fishing and/or the harbor. In this article, we list the most interesting things to do in Olafsvik.
1. Church in Olafsvik Iceland – Olafsvikurkirkja
The white modern church in Ólafsvík is the prominent landmark of the town. The church was consecrated in 1967 and is the first “modern church building” in Iceland. The design of the church looks from the outside like a fishing boat. When looking at the church from above it looks similar to the shape of salted cod. Everything is made of triangular shapes that symbolize trinity in Christianity. This church really stands out from other buildings in Iceland so do not hesitate to make a short stop here to admire this beautiful modern architecture when driving around Snaefellsnes.
2. Pakkhús Snaefellsbaejar
The Pakkhus is an old and exceptionally well constructed wooden warehouse, which was built in 1841. Today it houses the local folk museum. Exhibits display working methods from ancient times, old photos of the town and lots of artefacts. The ground floor has a shop that sells handicrafts and other nice gift items. It serves at the same time as a little coffeehouse offering drinks and food.
3. Bæjarfoss Waterfall right behind the town of Olafsvik Iceland
Bæjarfoss Waterfall is easy to reach from the town center and you can already see the waterfall from the church Ólafsvíkurkirkja. If you are up for a little walk you can park your car at the church and follow the little path on the right side of the river to the base of the waterfall. From there, you have a nice view of the town and coastline. Here is a dramatic photo of the waterfall from last winter where it was almost completely covered in ice.
4. Join a Whale Watching Tour from Olafsvik
Ólafsvík is not only rich in fishing grounds but is also a great place for whale watching in Iceland. Whale watching tours are offered between March and October. It is the only place in Iceland where orcas and sperm whales are regularly seen in Iceland. It is also known for its diverse whale species. Often, 3 different species (or more) are seen on only one tour. The most common whales in the area are orcas, humpback whales, minke whales, dolphins, sperm whales, and from time to time also pilot whales and even blue whales. Because of that, for many whale enthusiasts, Olafsvik is a must-visit when traveling around Iceland.
5. Old Fishing Boat Tindur SH-179
When entering Ólafsvík from the East, you see an old fishing boat on the left side. This fishing boat dates from 1962 and is made mainly of oak.
6. Swimming Pool Ólafsvík
If you want to experience the original Icelandic bathing culture, we highly recommend visiting the swimming pool in Olafsvik. The pool has a very nice outdoor as well as an indoor area. Outside are hot pots and a kids pool with a small slide. Inside is a nice indoor swimming pool as well as a hotpot. This makes it convenient also on windy or rainy days.
7. Snaefellsjokull Glacier
When talking about Olafsvik, we also have to mention the impressive Snaefellsjokull Glacier not far away from town. It lies on top of a volcano and its peak reaches 1446 meters. The mountain road to the glacier starts East of Olafsvik. There are also a few gravel roads available that bring you closer to the glacier. Please have in mind that for the so-called “F-roads” a 4×4 car is necessary.
On a clear day, you can not only enjoy the glacier from the town but also from the ocean. Here is a nice photo that was taken on our whale watching tour from Ólafavík.
8. Svödufoss Waterfall
Svodufoss is a lovely waterfall right next to the main road about 4.3 km west past Olafsvik. On a clear day, you can enjoy Snaefellsjokull glacier right behind the waterfall. The walking path to the waterfall is relatively new and not many travelers have this unique place in mind (yet).
Explore more around Snaefellsnes
Snaefellsnes is one of the most beautiful areas of Iceland and there is so much more to explore. Therefore, we highly recommend to spend at least 2 days on the peninsula. If you want to learn more about the natural highlights of the Snaefellsnes peninsula, we highly recommend reading our other blog articles about this region: