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Kirkjufell: So Much More Than Just Another Mountain in Iceland

Kirkjufell Mountain is a famous landmark here in Iceland. But Kirkjufell is much more than just a picturesque postcard moment. If you have planned an upcoming trip to the island and will be spending some time in the capital city, we highly recommend that you go and explore the area.

 

In this article, we tell you everything you need to know about Kirkjufell: how to get there and capture the majesty of Mt. Kirkjufell and what other exciting adventures you can expect from the region.



kirkjufell

Kirkjufell Mountain


Kirkjufell Mountain translates to Church Mountain. It got its name due to its dome-like shape and is by far the most photographed mountain in Iceland. But it’s not just its unique aesthetics that make it such a popular photo opp. Kirkjufell Mountain was featured on the popular series Game of Thrones.

 

That’s why, despite a place by that name not really existing, we’re often asked about Arrowhead Mountain in Iceland (the name Kirkjufell was given in the series). But this mountain reaching 463 meters into the sky offers visitors the opportunity to do much more than just take a snapshot.


Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall


Kirkjufellsfoss is actually three waterfalls tumbling down the cliffs in front of Kirkjufell Mountain on the southern side. And, in keeping with the Mt. Kirkjufell tradition, it is one of the most photographed waterfalls in Iceland.


How was Kirkjufell Mountain Formed?


Kirkjufell Mountain has a fascinating origin story. What we see as a mountain today is actually the “leftovers” of the pre-Ice-Age Icelandic landscape created through millions and millions of years. If you look at the mountain today, you will see that it appears to have lines running across it. These are actual layers formed by volcanic eruptions that, over millions of years, deposited a new layer of sediment on top of an old one.

 

That’s why, if you test the soil at the mountain’s base, it dates back as far as 10 million years ago. At the end of the Ice Age, the melting ice caused glacial flooding that eroded the Kirkjufell landscape into the cone-like mountain we see today (similar to someone licking an ice cream cone), exposing all its historic layers for all to see and marvel at. 



Church mountain iceland


Where is Kirkjufell?


Kirkjufell is situated in one of the regions of Iceland most known for its beauty and natural wonders: the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. It’s conveniently located near the Ring Road route, which makes it a popular stop along a road trip around the island. And, if you’re planning on making a day trip out of it from the capital city, driving from Reykjavík to Kirkjufell will take roughly 2 hours.


How to Get to Kirkjufell in Iceland


There are many ways one can visit Kirkjufell. One can catch a bus, book a spot on a local tour, or drive oneself. We prefer the latter since it means you have the ultimate say over your time and schedule.


Driving to Kirkjufell


Driving to Kirkjufell is easy. Rent a car in Reykjavik and head north on the Ring Road before taking Road 54 further north towards Grundafjordur. Continue in a northerly direction once you get to Snæfellsnes, and you will soon see Kirkjufell Mountain on the horizon.


Camper rental Iceland

Top Things to Do at Kirkjufell


The following are a few things you can look forward to when visiting Kirkjufell:


Hiking Kirkjufell

 

A favorite activity here on the island for visitors and locals alike is hiking. And Church Mountain in Iceland is one of our favorite hiking spots. You don’t need to be a pro hiker to take on the trail that wraps around the mountain or the few other paths that lead to interesting sights.


But to trek up the mountain, you must be an experienced and fit hiker. The trail is challenging and slippery. Please remember that the hike up the mountain does not include summiting the mountain.  


Photography at Kirkjufell


Whether a pro or an amateur photographer, Kirkjufell offers the perfect opportunity to take those picturesque landscape shots. We suggest that you position yourself in such a way that you capture Kirkjufell Mountain along with Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall.


Climbing Kirkjufell


Climbing Kirkjufell is much more intense than just hiking the mountain. To summit the mountain will require actual climbing, including rock climbing using rope. This endeavor should only be taken on if you are a pro and have a qualified and experienced local guide by your side.



 kirkjufellsfoss iceland


Essential Tips for Visiting Kirkjufell Mountain


If this is your first visit to Kirjufell, the following helpful tips and advice will make it a safe and memorable one:


  • Dress in layers and wear sturdy and waterproof shoes suitable for hiking.

  • Ensure you have enough battery power for your mobile phone, and take a power bank with you.

  • Take a lightweight raincoat with you, and, if possible, wear waterproof clothing (especially pants).

  • Stay on the designated trails. Not only will wandering off potentially threaten our delicate ecosystem, but it can also be extremely dangerous.

When is the Best Time to Visit Kirkjufell?


As an outdoor adventure, most will opt for a visit during warmer months, especially summertime, with its pleasant and mild weather and plenty of daylight hours. Just keep in mind that summer in Iceland is peak season, so Kirkjufell can get quite busy. Try to visit early morning to avoid the peak season crowds.


How Long Should You Spend at Kirkjufell Mountain?


How long you spend at Kirkjufell will depend on what you’re planning to do there. If you just want to take a few snapshots, you can easily set aside an hour to do so, but if you want to go hiking and explore the mountain a bit further, it’s better to dedicate an entire day to your Kirkjufell outing.



 mt kirkjufell


Photography Tips for Mount Kirkjufell


The following tips will help you take the most impressive photos of Kirkjufell:


  • Late summer nights provide the best lighting for Mt. Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss photos.

  • Don’t be shy to move around and try out different angles. One location can provide images of Kirkjufell Mountain and Kirkjufellsfoss, and combo shots of both natural wonders.

  • If you angle it just right and choose the right time of day, you can capture breathtaking photos of Kirkjufell and its reflection with the lake in the foreground.

  • Kirkjufell is not just a favorite photography spot for Kirkjufell itself, but a hike up the mountain offers spectacular panoramic views over Iceland. Don’t miss out on one of these scenic snapshots.

Accommodation Near Kirkjufell


If you want to turn Kirkjufell into a day outing and don’t want to be faced with a drive back, you will find plenty of accommodation options nearby. From hotels and Guesthouses to AirBnBs and campsites – you will find something that suits your preferences and your pocket. 


 most photographed mountain in iceland


Kirkjufell: A Landmark of Opportunity


Visiting Kirkjufell Mountain also means visiting Kirkjufellsfoss in Iceland, so it’s a 2-for-1 deal. You can also opt to just marvel at the mountain’s beauty and historical relevance, take a photo, hike, or climb it. Whatever you’re in the mood for, Kirkjufell is clearly a landmark of opportunity here in Iceland.

 

With Kirkjufell being so close to the Ring Road, it also makes sense to rent a campervan in Reykjavik and take a road trip to explore the island. The campervan will also make it easy to stay close to Kirkjufell at the campground near the sea in Olafsvik.

 

This way, we can guarantee a day filled with breathtaking views of the mountain, the falls, and the Icelandic landscape, and one that ends with stunning views of the ocean. The only thing we can’t guarantee on this trip to Arrowhead Mountain in Iceland is a run-in with the Hound.


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