Ólafsvík Town and the Bridal Veil Bæjarfoss Falls on Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Ólafsvík Town and the Bridal Veil Bæjarfoss Falls on Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Ólafsvík village on the Snæfellsnes peninsula

Ólafsvík is a lovely little fishing town on the north side of the Snæfellsnes peninsula with a population of some 1,100 people.  

As in every town and village in Iceland, you will find a museum here in Ólafsvík, a folk museum located in an old, preserved storehouse, dating back to 1844. 

Top photo: Ólafsvík town as seen from the view-dial

Ólafsvíkurkirkja church in Ólafsvík

Ólafsvíkurkirkja church

Joined together the neighbouring villages Hellissandur, Rif, and the town Ólafsvík are called Snæfellsbær municipality. 

Ólafsvík or the Cove of Ólafur is named after the settler of this area, Ólafur belgur. Landnáma chapters 29 and 30 tells us the following: "Ólafur belgur settled the area between Enni to Fróðá and lived in Ólafsvík. 

Then Ormur hinn mjóvi - Ormur the thin arrived on his ship in Fróðárós estuary and lived at Brimilsvellir for a while. He drove Ólaf belgur away from his settlement and settled the old Vík (Ólafsvík) between Enni and Höfði and lived at Fróðá."

Ólafsvík Town and the Bridal Veil Bæjarfoss Falls on Snæfellsnes PeninsulaÓlafsvík is a fishing village

His son was Þorbjörn digri, whom we read about in Eyrbyggja, the Icelandic saga, which tells us about this area of Iceland.

Two stories intertwine as his second wife was Þuríður, the daughter of Börkur hinn digri and Þórdís Súrsdóttir, who was the sister of Gísli Súrsson of Gísla saga Súrssonar.

These 2 sagas are a great read which I can recommend.

Ólafsvíkurkirkja church

Ólafsvík Town and the Bridal Veil Bæjarfoss Falls on Snæfellsnes PeninsulaInside Ólafsvíkurkirkja church

The landmark of Ólafsvík is the white modern-looking church.

Ólafsvíkurkirkja church was consecrated in 1967, but still a very modern-looking church. It is Iceland's first modern church building and if you drive further on and visit Stykkishólmur town, you will see another big white, modern-looking church. 

These churches are so prominent that they have become the landmarks of these towns.

Ólafsvík Town and the Bridal Veil Bæjarfoss Falls on Snæfellsnes PeninsulaÓlafsvíkurkirkja church

If you drive around Iceland you will see very many traditional church buildings dotted all around the country - and in-between there are some unusually shaped churches.

 I visit all the churches I see on my travels in my travels and often make a detour to visit a church, as I am very fascinated by these churches. It is not easy to get into them though as most of them are locked due to vandalism and I have to go search for the key.

Ólafsvík Town and the Bridal Veil Bæjarfoss Falls on Snæfellsnes PeninsulaInside Ólafsvíkurkirkja church

I think Ólafsvíkurkirkja church looks like a ship, but I have heard that if you look at it from above it looks like outspread salted cod! It is made of triangles only, very distinctive. 

I didn't go further up than to the view-dial, which is not high enough to see if the church looks like a salted cod from above.

Ólafsvík Town and the Bridal Veil Bæjarfoss Falls on Snæfellsnes PeninsulaThe new sign in Ólafsvík by the rainbow street - Kiss, please :)

Recently a new sign was put up by the church - the "Kiss please" sign, where people are urged to have a photo of themselves kissing by the sign :)

Notice that it is not a drawing of people of the opposite sex, so everybody can kiss here and have their photo taken by the sign.

It has become a very popular sign and in an interview with the mayor of Ólafsvík on TV he said that he was still trying to get his wife to kiss him under the sign :)

Ólafsvík Town and the Bridal Veil Bæjarfoss Falls on Snæfellsnes PeninsulaThe rainbow street in Ólafsvík

The street leading up to the church is now a rainbow street in beautiful colours.

I love such streets and seek them out on my travels around my country, there are now many streets, sidewalks, steps, etc painted in rainbow colours.

In Reykjavík parts of Skólavörðustígur street a rainbow street and in Akranes town you will find the longest rainbow street in Iceland.

Ólafsvík Town and the Bridal Veil Bæjarfoss Falls on Snæfellsnes PeninsulaThe rainbow street in Ólafsvík

And in Skagaströnd you will find a rainbow sidewalk just to name a few of the places in Iceland which have been decorated with rainbows.

Memorials for drowned fishermen

Ólafsvík Town and the Bridal Veil Bæjarfoss Falls on Snæfellsnes PeninsulaMemorial for drowned fishermen in Ólafsvík

As in other fishing villages and towns in Iceland, there is a beautiful monument in remembrance of fishermen and the ones lost at sea.

As I have told you before in many of my travel-blogs, then I always seek out these monuments, as in my opinion, the heart of the fishing villages and towns in Iceland is by these monuments.

In Ólafsvík you will find one of these monuments in Sjómannagarðurin - the Fishermen's Garden. Sjómannadagurinn - Fishermen's Day has been held for 71 years (2023) in Ólafsvík, but this day is celebrated all around Iceland.

Ólafsvík Town and the Bridal Veil Bæjarfoss Falls on Snæfellsnes Peninsula

The memorial for fishermen in Ólafsvík in Sjómannagarður park

The memorial for drowned fishermen in Sjómannagarðurinn shows a fisherman carrying and big halibut (lúða) on his back.

It was made by Guðmundur frá Miðdalur, who was one of Iceland's best-known sculptors and the father of the artist Erró who was born in Ólafsvík. The monument was erected on Sjómannadagurinn in 1961.

The memorial was erected for drowned fishermen from Breiðafjörður fjord. And on plaques on the pedestal, you will see that it is made in remembrance of several maritime accidents.

The monument for drowned fishermen in Ólafsvík

The monument for drowned fishermen in Ólafsvík

Another memorial for drowned fishermen is in the cemetery in Ólafsvík.

Two of my grandfather's sisters are buried in the cemetery in Ólafsvík, but they died of diphtheria only one day apart, the older one only 1-year old and the younger one 4- months old :( They were the oldest children of my great-grandparents.

Life sure was hard in the old days and it breaks my heart when I go visit their small grave, which has only two first names written on them, Imba and Helga, and no surname (which in Icelandic would be the name of their father Ásmundur).The grave of Regína's great-aunts in Ólafsvík

The grave of my two little great-aunts in Ólafsvík

When small children died they were often buried with an adult, which was not the case with my two great-aunts, who got their own little grave together.

The family lived at Fróðá farm close by but later moved to Grund and Suður-Bár farms in Grundarfjörður, where Ásmundur, my great-grandfather, lost his life at sea on Grundarfjörður fjord.

Ásmundur is buried in the cemetery close to Suður-Bár where many of my relatives are buried.

And these little girls rest here in the cemetery in Ólafsvík.

Regína by the grave of her great-aunts in Ólafsvík

The gravestone, made by their grandfather, is so small and difficult to find in the cemetery

In Grenjaðarstaður up in North Iceland, I always visit the grave of my great-great-grandmother who was the minister's wife and died of consumption after 4 of her small children died in an epidemic, measles. 

She, Regína Magdalena Sívertsen, is buried in the same grave as her 4 small children. 

So many people lost several of their children in epidemics just 2 generations ago. Thank God for modern-day vaccinations, I say.  

ÓlafsvíkurenniThe view-dial on Ólafsvíkurenni

The view-dial at Ólafsvíkurenni in the shadow

The mountain towering above Ólafsvík is a 418 meter's tall mountain called Ólafsvíkurenni or Enni for short. It is named after the settler of this area, Ólafur belgur, who settled the land between Fróðá and Enni, as I told you earlier.

The road lies through the screes, which is no problem on the new asphalt road, but when I was younger I remember this road as being a bit scary as it was high up and landslides and avalanches are common here.  

I saw avalanche barriers in the mountains above Ólafsvík, but you can see these avalanche barriers in many towns and villages around Iceland situated below a mountain.

If you look at my photo below you will see what they look like and will be able to recognize them when you see them on your travels in Iceland. I have often been asked what they are.

Avalanche barriers above Ólafsvík village

Avalanche barriers above Ólafsvík 

There is one mention of the Icelandic elves - Hidden people beneath Ólafsvíkurenni in Þjóðsögur Jóns Árnasonar - The Collection of Folklore of Jón Árnason.  It tells the story of a man finding himself by the mountain on New Year's Eve.

The tide was in and he couldn't get any further and it looked like he would have to sleep outside on this special night.  

All of a sudden he saw a beautiful sight of 18 well-lit houses where elves were dancing to music.  

Ólafsvík village on the Snæfellsnes peninsula

Ólafsvík as seen from above

I would love to see such a sight, but there are many accounts of elf sightings in Iceland like this one, so maybe there is hope for me yet.

The View-dial at Ólafsvíkurenni and Bæjarfoss fallsThe view-dial at Ólafsvíkurenni

The view-dial at Ólafsvíkurenni

I would recommend a short hike up to Bæjarfoss waterfall which has a drop of 50 meters.  

What we did was drive up Enni to have a look at the view-dial - from there is a fantastic view of Ólafsvík, Fellsströnd, Breiðafjörður bay, and Barðaströnd, the southern part of the Westfjord region of Iceland.

We were there a bit late in the day, so the mountain had started casting a shadow on the view-dial, while Ólafsvík was bathed in the sunshine down below. Which also made most of my photos kind of blue.

Regína by the view-dial at Ólafsvíkurenni

By the view-dial at Ólafsvíkurenni - in the shadow

The road is a gravel road and you will find information signs by the turnoff to the gravel road. One of them has got information on Enni. 

Written on it is that the view-dial was made by Hringsjárgerð Jakobs Hálfdanarsonar in 2005. 

Jakob is my father-in-law and I have a great interest in the view-dials around Iceland.  

The view-dial was designed by Jakob and his children Jón Víðis (my husban) and Þórný were his assistants. Framfarafélagið, Ólafsvíkurdeild erected the view-dial in August 2007.

It is chrome-plated and shows the names and height of the surrounding mountains. The view-dial stands on a basalt column.Regína by the view-dial by Ólafsvík

The view-dial at Ólafsvíkurenni

A lot of work is put into these view-dials and they are very expensive. It always saddens me when I see that people scratch their names or initials on the view-dials. 

You will find a picnic area close to the view-dial with a table and benches made out of driftwood from Strandir, but if you drive in Strandir you will see driftwood in abundance. This spot is called Bekkurinn or the Bench.

Strandir is a very ruggedly beautiful area of Iceland - which I have written about in my travel-blog the remote Strandir in the Westfjords of Iceland - Stillness & Sorcery.

Bæjarfoss waterfall, Ólafsvík, Snæfellsnes

Bæjarfoss waterfall

From the view-dial, I walked up to the Bæjarfoss waterfall in Bæjarfossgil gorge and could stand relatively close to it, but I was too high up, so I walked down to the waterfall and visited it from below for a better view.

It is so majestic when you stand below it.  It looks like a thin bridal veil.

It is quite a beautiful waterfall. My photos were taken mid-May when it was still cold and grey and the view-dial was in the shadow of the mountain. And there were snowbanks in the mountain by the waterfall. 

Bæjarfoss waterfall, Ólafsvík, Snæfellsnes

Bæjarfoss waterfall

Bæjarfossgil gorge is midway between Mt. Enni and Tvísteinahlíð.

I also want to show you a beautiful spot just east of Ólafsvík. If you drive a little further and the tide is out, then you can visit this beautiful cliff beach where the rocks look like giants guarding the shoreline!

Around this beach, you will also see basalt columns. There are openings in the rocks which is fun to play in - just be careful that the tide doesn't come in unexpectedly!

The rock giants by Ólafsvík

The rock giants by Ólafsvík

There must be a story behind these rocks, they look too much like giants not to have some folklore of their own. I will write more if I find folklore about these rocks :)

In my photo below you can see the distance from Ólafsvík to the rocky beach.

Ólafsvík is located by Útnesvegur road number 574. Just a short distance further on this road joins the main road on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, the Snæfellsnes road number 54.  

The view of Ólafsvík village from the rock giants

The view of Ólafsvík from the rock giants

Here is the location of Ólafsvík on Google Maps

Have a lovely time in Ólafsvík :)
Link to appstore phone
Install Iceland’s biggest travel app

Download Iceland’s biggest travel marketplace to your phone to manage your entire trip in one place

Scan this QR code with your phone camera and press the link that appears to add Iceland’s biggest travel marketplace into your pocket. Enter your phone number or email address to receive an SMS or email with the download link.