The Beautifully Symmetric Eldborg Crater in Snaefellsnes

  • by Yanshu
  • Snaefellsnes
  • 15 Jan 2024

Located within the diverse and dramatic landscapes of Iceland's Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Eldborg Crater stands as a striking landmark. With its distinctive geographical features and intriguing formation processes, this natural wonder offers a captivating subject for study. Moreover, it serves as a beloved hiking destination for locals, drawing visitors on weekends and holidays.

The Beautifully Symmetric Eldborg Crater in Snaefellsnes

Where is Eldborg Crater Located

Eldborg Crater proudly stands on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, a region renowned for its natural beauty and geological diversity, including the majestic Snæfellsjökull Glacier. The crater is situated in the western part of Iceland, accessible via a hike from the farm Snorrastaðir.

You can often spot it from afar while driving from Reykjavik to Snaefellsnes. Its beautifully shaped appearance attracts your attention effortlessly.

River running in front of Eldborg crater in summer, Snaefellsnes Peninsula.

Eldborg Crater Surrounding Landscape

The terrain surrounding Eldborg is characterized by the Barnaborgir hiking trail which leads visitors through varied scenery including the vast Barnaborg lava field. This landscape is dotted with aa lava fields, typical of Icelandic terrain, and is home to heather and scrub vegetation. Birdlife, such as ravens, can often be observed in this raw Icelandic environment.

The Formation of Eldborg Crater

The formation of Eldborg Crater is the result of a volcanic rift system that once produced a short, but intense, series of eruptions. Classified as a spatter cone, the crater is part of a volcanic system with a series of smaller scoria craters

Eldborg crater is exceptionally symmetric, an attribute that accentuates its beauty and impresses its visitors. The crater itself is a fissure eruption result, a reminder of the powerful volcanic forces that shape Iceland’s landscapes in many regions.

The view of Eldborg crater from above.

Hiking To Eldborg Crater

Eldborg Crater offers a unique hiking experience with well-defined trails, moderate difficulty, and essential visitor facilities. Now, let’s explore the route details, terrain challenges, and the amenities available for a comfortable hike.

Hiking to Eldborg crater is a popular activity among the locals and visitors.

Eldborg Hiking Trails and Routes

The hiking journey begins at the parking area near Snorrastaðir farm with two main hiking paths leading us to Eldborg Crater. You can opt for the longer Route 54, which offers scenic views, or select the Barnaborgir hiking trail, a shorter path that leads directly to the crater. The walking distance to Eldborg and back is approximately 6 kilometers, with clear, marked trails guiding us through.

  • Start Point: Snorrastaðir farm parking lot
  • Trail Options:
    • Route 54: Longer, scenic route
    • Barnaborgir: Shorter, more direct trail
Hiking trail to the top of the Eldborg crater.

Eldborg Hiking Trail Difficulty and Terrain

Though classified as an easy hike, the path to Eldborg Crater is not without its challenges. You  can expect a mixture of smooth footpaths and rocky stretches that might turn muddy in inclement weather. 

The trail involves a steep climb to the crater rim, with the possibility of using chains installed for safety. The terrain may be demanding, but it’s manageable, with a total elevation gain that requires some physical exertion.

  • Terrain Types: 
    • Smooth footpaths
    • Rocky patches
    • Potential muddy areas during wet weather
Eldborg crater in a distance. [Photo credit to Yanshu Li]

Useful Tips For Visitors to Eldborg

At the starting point, you’ll find a parking area equipped with basic services, including a toilet for your convenience. It’s essential to respect the seasonal access limitations, as the trail condition can vary significantly. For those planning a multi-day trek in the region, sleeping bag accommodation is available at Ynstu-garðar, where you can rest and prepare for your hike. While on the trail, you need to adhere to the guidelines provided, ensuring leaving no trace in this untouched environment.

  • Amenities at the Start Point:
    • Parking with ample space
    • Toilet facilities
  • Accommodation:
    • Ynstu-garðar for overnight stays
Seeing Eldborg crater from a distance on the Snaefellsnes minibus day tour. [Photo credit to Yanshu Li]

The Environment of Eldborg

Eldborg Crater, with its distinct geological features, also boasts a unique ecosystem. Within its protected status, the crater supports a rich tapestry of life that we will explore in detail.

Eldborg’s landscape is a tapestry of hardy flora and diverse fauna. The area boasts a purple carpet of blooming heather, interspersed with various scrub plants, adapted to Iceland’s climate. This greenery blankets the lava fields and slopes, creating a vibrant ecosystem. In the skies, acrobatic ravens are a common sight, while on the ground, free-roaming sheep graze, playing a crucial role in managing vegetation and preserving the area’s biodiversity.

Lush fields around Eldborg crater in summer.

Protected Area

The recognition of Eldborg Crater’s ecological importance is reflected in its status as a protected area. The safeguards in place ensure that its ecosystems continue to function and support the diverse array of species that call it home. The protections also ensure that the crater remains a site where nature can be observed undisturbed, providing opportunities for ecological studies and conservation efforts.

Eldborg crater from a distance.

What Do You Need to Know about Visiting Eldborg Crater

Before we head out to the awe-inspiring Eldborg Crater, it’s crucial to understand the logistics of getting there, the safety considerations you should keep in mind, and the nearby attractions that can enrich our experience. You’ll find that this area, once known as the “fortress of fire,” combines geological wonders with scenic vistas, making for an unforgettable visit.

How To Get To Eldborg Crater

To reach Eldborg Crater, you’ll drive along Route 54, which takes you through the stunning landscapes of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Your journey will take you towards Snorrastaðir Farm—the entry point for the hike to the crater. 

The parking area, referred to as Ystu-Garðar, is well-marked and serves as the trailhead. Remember to punch in the GPS coordinates 64.79621, -22.32112 or look up Snorrastaðir Farm on Google Maps to guide you. It’s about a 1.5-hour drive from Borgarnes, a town that could act as a base for our excursion.

  • Route: Take Route 54
  • GPS Coordinates: 64.79621, -22.32112
  • Trailhead: Snorrastaðir Farm (Ystu-Garðar)
Backdropped by silver-topped mountains, Eldborg crater is an awe-inpsiring natural landmark.

Visiting Eldborg Crater Safely

The hike to Eldborg is relatively undemanding, but proper preparation is the key to a safe adventure. 

You need to check the weather forecast before setting out as conditions can change swiftly in Iceland. Hiking boots with solid grip are advisable as the trail can get rocky, especially when wet. The marked trail is easy to follow, but you should always stay on the path to protect the delicate volcanic landscape and our own safety. 

Since the elevation change is gradual, reaching the crest of the crater at 60 meters above the surrounding lava field, even those with a moderate level of fitness can enjoy the hike without the need for climbing gear or chains.

  • Weather: Always check before hiking
  • Hiking Essentials: Sturdy boots, water, snacks, layers

Stay on Trail: To protect both the environment and ourselves

Sunlight shines over Eldborg crater, Snaefellsnes Peninsula.

Eldborg Crater’s Nearby Attractions

The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is often referred to as ‘Iceland in Miniature‘ because it includes a diverse array of the nation’s landscapes. In the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, numerous highlight attractions, situated in close proximity to the Eldborg crater, can easily be explored as part of a one-day tour itinerary.

The Snæfellsjökull Glacier is within sight and should definitely be part of our itinerary if time permits. Not only does it offer breathtaking views, but its historical significance and connection to Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth” provide an added layer of intrigue. 

View on Snaefellsjokull glacier
Snaefellsjokull glacier is the centerpiece of Snaefellsnes route. [Photo credit to Yanshu Li]

Gerduberg Basalt Column Cliffs

In Western Iceland, there are amazing cliffs called the Gerðuberg Basalt Columns. They look like giant organ pipes made of rock, formed when lava cooled down and cracked into hexagon shapes. These tall, stone walls stand out against the green land around them. They’re not just cool to look at, but also important in Icelandic stories and art. Visiting these cliffs lets you see how our planet changes and is a special experience in Iceland.

It’s just a 12-minute drive from the Eldborg crater to the cliffs of the Gerðuberg basalt columns.

Gerduberg basalt columns as a wall of cliffs, Snaefellsnes Peninsula. [Photo credit to Yanshu Li]

Berserkjahraun lava fields

In the mystical landscapes of Iceland’s Snaefellsnes Peninsula, the Berserkjahraun lava fields present a dramatic tableau. Originating over 4,000 years ago from volcanic eruptions, these fields are a testament to Iceland’s fiery underbelly. Enveloped in moss, the rugged, undulating lava formations create a surreal, almost otherworldly environment. Local lore adds a layer of mystique, with tales of berserkers, ancient Norse warriors, intertwined with its creation. 

Today, Berserkjahraun stands not just as a geological wonder, but also as a rich tapestry of history and myth, captivating visitors with its stark, wild beauty.

The Berserkjahraun lava fields are approximately 52 km (32.3 miles) away from the Eldborg crater, and it takes about 1 hour and 17 minutes to reach by car.

Berserkjahraun lava field Snaefellsnes in summer
Berserkjahraun lava fields in summer, Snaefellsnes Peninsula.

The Picturesque Town of Stykkisholmur

Located on the northern edge of Iceland’s Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Stykkishólmur is a charming port town, a gem amidst the stark Icelandic landscapes. With its colorful houses and historic wooden buildings, including the well-preserved Norwegian House, the town is a delightful blend of tradition and modernity. Stykkishólmur serves as the gateway to the remote yet stunning Westfjords across the Breidafjordur Bay, an area known for its myriad islands and diverse birdlife.

Stykkishólmur, though small, plays a pivotal role in connecting with Iceland’s maritime heritage, offering a unique glimpse into the country’s rich culture and nature.

From Eldborg, it takes about 1.5 hours to drive to Stykkisholmur.

The vibrant port town of Stykkisholmur, an important port on Snaefellsnes Peninsula.

Kirkjufell mountain and waterfall

Rising majestically on Iceland’s Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Kirkjufell Mountain is an iconic landmark, often hailed as the most photographed mountain in Iceland. This distinct, conical peak, resembling a wizard’s hat, is flanked by the serene Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall, creating a picturesque harmony of land and water. Revered by photographers for its stunning symmetry and the Northern Lights’ ethereal display, Kirkjufell offers a visual feast through the seasons.

Kirkjufell, a must-visit destination on the peninsula, is approximately 72 km (45 miles) away from the Eldborg crater when taking the shorter route.

A visitor is gazing at Kirkjufell mountain in winter. [Photo credit to Danni Arndt]

Búðir Black Church

In Iceland’s Snaefellsnes Peninsula, there’s a unique church known as the Búðir Black Church. It’s a small church painted completely black, standing alone in the vast, unspoiled Icelandic landscape. This makes it really stand out. 

The church was first built in 1703 and has been fixed up since then. It’s simple but beautiful, and it’s different from most other churches. It’s surrounded by fields of lava and the ocean, making it a peaceful and popular spot for people who like taking pictures or just want a quiet place to think.

Budir Black Church Is approximately one hour away by car from the Eldborg crater.

Budir black church at sunset, Snaefellsnes Peninsula. [Photo credit to Danni Arndt]

Ytri Tunga Beach

Ytri Tunga Beach, a serene coastal gem in Iceland’s Snaefellsnes Peninsula, offers a unique blend of natural beauty and wildlife observation. Distinguished by its golden sands, a rarity in a land known for black beaches, Ytri Tunga captivates with its tranquil sea views. 

The beach is renowned for its seal colonies, providing a rare opportunity to observe these playful creatures in their natural habitat. Beyond wildlife watching, Ytri Tunga’s peaceful ambiance makes it an ideal spot for a walk, where you can enjoy a softer side of Iceland’s rugged coastline.

Eldborg crater is about 52 km (32 miles) away from Ytri Tunga beach.

Spotting seals on the beach of Ytri Tunga. [Photo credit to Yanshu Li]

The Old Myth about Eldborg Crater

When you explore Iceland’s myths and legends, Eldborg Crater holds a special place. Known as the Fortress of Fire, its perfectly symmetrical form captures the imagination, resonating with stories from the past.

According to local folklore, Eldborg’s imposing presence is no accident. It’s said to be crafted by mighty beings, a bastion standing vigil over the land. This ties into the broader Icelandic belief in huldufólk, or hidden people, who weave through our tales, influencing the natural world in myriad ways.

Eldborg, with a name that translates to ‘Fortress of Fire,’ carries a legacy as fiery as its nomenclature suggests. This moniker not only reflects its history of volcanic eruptions but also evokes the image of ancient citadels, mirroring the crater’s enduring and imposing shape. The rich tapestry of its lore is further colored by historical narratives, such as those found in the Book of Settlements. One such tale recounts the tragic destruction of a farm due to volcanic activity, a story that lends a somber dimension to Eldborg’s past and perhaps explains the crater’s daunting name. These elements combined, Eldborg stands as a symbol of natural power and historical mystique, rooted deeply in Icelandic folklore.

Today, Icelanders remain custodians of these stories, passing them down through generations. While the scientific explanations for Eldborg’s creation are known, its value of the cultural narratives still gives it deeper meaning and connects the people in the land of fire and ice to the landscape. The mythology serves not just as entertainment, but as a bridge between the ancestors and the awe-inspiring power of Icelandic nature.

Icelandic horse riders traversing the land close to Eldborg crater in Snaefellsnes.
About the author
Yanshu
Yanshu
A journalist and photographer, Yanshu is driven by a deep passion for Iceland. She's on a mission to share her love for authentic travel experiences and exciting adventures with fellow explorers. Armed with her camera, she sets off on hikes, delving into Iceland's intricacies while mastering the art of Icelandic language whenever possible.

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