Snæfell is the name of the largest freestanding mountain in Iceland, located in the east of the country.
Explore this region on a self drive tour in Iceland.
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Snæfell stands at 1,833 metres (6,014 feet) tall, a kilometre taller than the surrounding hills and peaks. It was once a volcano, but has not seen any activity in ten millenniums.
The only mountains taller than Snæfell are Hvannadalshnjúkur (2,110 metres, 6922 feet), Bárðarbunga (2,000 metres, 6562 feet) and Kvirkfjöll (1,920 metres, 6299 feet). All of these are located under Vatnajökull glacier, the largest glacier in Europe.
The lands around Snæfell are the best place in the country to see reindeer herds roaming. Reindeer can only be found in east Iceland, and this is their favourite grazing place in the summer. In winter, they tend to move to lower lands.
Reindeer were only recently introduced to Iceland, to be farmed for meat. The industry did not succeed, however, and the animals have since been free.
To hike Snæfell, there is a parking lot 1.5 kilometres (one mile) south of a hut called Snæfellsskáli where the trail begins. The route is about eight kilometres (five miles), and though steep at times and reasonably difficult, smooth to traverse.
At the top, you can get a stamp to mark your journey. If it is covered in snow, you can get the stamp at the aforementioned hut.
It is also the name of the mountain beneath the glacier of Snæfellsjökull, but that is often just given the glacier’s name to prevent confusion. There is a smaller mountain called Snæfell, located near the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon in south-east Iceland.
The reason for the commonness of this name is the fact that Icelanders name their geography quite literally, and Snæfell translates to ‘Snow Mountain’.