Jutting west into the North Atlantic Ocean, the Snæfellsnes peninsula is Iceland at its most stunning: moss-blanketed lava fields, misty fjords surrounded by craggy cliffs, and a volcano crowned with a glacier that dates back to the Ice Age. Do it as a road trip, starting with a night at the fire-engine-red Hotel Egilsen (egilsen.is; Kr21,500), in the tiny fishing town of Stykkisholmur.
The inn’s 10 cozy rooms are decorated in light blues and greens, and original sketches of local landmarks by Icelandic artist Tolli line the walls. Across the street, Narfeyrarstofa (narfeyrarstofa.is; Kr12,000), with its doilies and lace curtains, may look like someone’s grandmother’s house, but the restaurant serves the best lamb stew in town. It’s about a 130-kilometer drive around the tip of the peninsula—past waterfalls and golden beaches—to Hotel Búðir (hotelbudir.is; Kr24,000), the region’s game-changing property.
The 17thcentury trading post turned 28-room lodge is a destination in itself, with views of the Snæfell glacier or bay from every window, sitting areas with deep leather sofas and scores of old National Geographics to flip through, and a lobby bar with one of the country’s largest whiskey collections. If you’re looking to knock the northern lights off your bucket list, you’re in luck: an overnight concierge will wake you up for the show.