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Saxholl Crater is a stark reminder of Iceland's volcanic heritage and raw forces of nature. The impressive crater is a popular destination for hikers, photographers, and nature enthusiasts, offering breathtaking views from its top.

Tours Near Saxholl Crater

Where Is Saxhóll Crater Located?


Saxhóll Crater is located on the westernmost tip of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in Iceland. It is around 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) south of Hellissandur, a small village along the Ring Road (Route 1), Iceland's main highway. It is situated within the Snæfellsjökull National Park, a protected area renowned for its volcanic landscapes, lava fields, and diverse wildlife.


How To Get To Saxhóll Crater?

Car on road near Saxholl crater

Saxholl is located about 2.5 hours from Reykjavik and is easily accessible by car. If you go from Reykjavik, take the Ring Road (Route 1) west towards Borgarnes. From Borgarnes, take Route 54 south towards Hellissandur. About 15 kilometers (9 miles) south of Hellissandur, turn right onto Route 574 and follow the signs for Saxhóll Crater. The crater is about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) down the road. Once you arrive at the parking lot, it is a 10-minute walk to the top of the crater. The trail is well-maintained, with convenient stairs leading up to the crater rim.

General Information About Saxhóll Crater

  • Location Snæfellsnes Peninsula, West Iceland
  • Part of Snæfellsjökull National Park
  • Height 109 meters (358 feet)
  • Created by Phreatomagmatic eruption
  • Accessibility Car
  • Time to Visit All year
  • Activities Hiking, sightseeing, photography
Saxholl crater aerial view

What Is Saxhóll Crater Known For?

Saxhóll Crater is a prominent volcanic crater located in western Iceland. It is known for its spectacular panoramic views, easy accessibility, and unique geological features. It is a perfect example of a volcanic crater with a steep slope that leads to a collapsed core. On a clear day, visitors can see the Atlantic Ocean, the Snæfellsjökull Glacier, and the mossy lava fields that cover the peninsula. The crater is also notable for its vegetation, which is lush and green despite the dry climate of the peninsula.

History Of Saxhóll Crater

Saxhóll Crater is a young crater estimated to have formed 3,000 and 4,000 years ago. The crater's exact age remains uncertain due to a lack of historical records or volcanic ash layers. Geologists believe it originated from a phreatomagmatic eruption, which is a type of eruption that occurs when hot lava comes into contact with water. This type of eruption can be very explosive, and the Saxhóll Crater was likely formed in a single, violent event.

In addition to its geological significance, Saxhóll Crater has also been featured in literature. Jules Verne's 1864 science fiction novel, "Journey to the Center of the Earth," describes a group of explorers who descend into the Earth through a cave near Snæfellsjökull glacier. Some believe the crater may be the entrance to the Earth's core.

Hikers descending Saxholl crater staircase

Interesting Facts About Saxhóll Crater

Saxhóll Crater is also culturally significant to Icelanders. It is mentioned in the Saga of Erik the Red and is thought to have been the site of a sacrifice to the Norse god Thor.

According to Icelandic folklore, Saxhóll Crater is a passage for elves and fairies. Visitors have reported seeing and hearing strange phenomena in the area, such as flickering lights and music.

In 2018, the staircase at Saxhóll Crater was awarded the Rosa Barba International Landscape Prize for its innovative design and minimal impact on the surrounding environment. The staircase is made of low-set metal stairs that follow the path's course to the top.

What To Do At Saxhóll Crater?

  • Hike to the Crater Rim: Ascend the 100-meter (328-foot) high crater rim via a well-maintained path and a series of metal stairs. The hike is relatively easy and takes about 10-15 minutes. From there, you will relish the stunning views of the crater basin, the lava fields, the Snaefellsjökull Glacier, and the Atlantic Coast.

  • Take Photos: Saxhóll Crater is an excellent place to take photos from different angles. The scenery is simply breathtaking, and you will want to capture the moment.

  • Explore the Crater Basin: Venture into the crater basin, where you can see the remnants of volcanic activity and imagine the power of the eruption that formed this natural wonder. The crater floor is a mix of vegetation, black sand, and rock formations.

  • Explore the Surroundings: There are several other things to see and do in the area. You can visit the nearby Rauðhóll Crater, hike to the top of the Eldborg Crater, or go whale watching.

  • Enjoy the Tranquility: Saxholl Crater is a relatively secluded spot, providing a sense of tranquility and connection with nature. Take in the serenity of the surroundings and appreciate the beauty of Iceland's volcanic landscapes.

Best Time To Visit Saxhóll Crater

Saxhóll Crater is a year-round destination, but the most popular time to visit is between June and September. During these months, the weather is relatively mild and sunny, making it a comfortable time to hike to the top of the crater and enjoy the views. However, it can get crowded during this time. If you are looking for a more peaceful experience, you may want to visit in the shoulder seasons, around May or September.

Saxholl crater dramatic atmosphere

Where To Stay Near Saxhóll Crater?

  • Adventure Hotel Hellissandur is a cozy haven with restful rooms, hearty breakfasts, and friendly staff.

  • Fosshotel Hellnar is nested beneath the Snaefellsjokull glacier. It offers eco-friendly rooms with stunning ocean or glacier views and local cuisine.

  • Fossatún Country Hotel is a highly-rated hotel in the heart of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. The hotel offers a swimming pool, sauna, hot tub, and a restaurant that serves delicious Icelandic cuisine.

  • The Freezer Hostel is a fish factory transformed into a vibrant hub alive with music, theater, and art. Offering dorms and apartments, It is also a great base for observing the Northern Lights. 

  • Campsite Ólafsvik is excellent for budget-minded travelers. The campground has basic amenities but boasts stunning scenery - mountain and glacier views. It’s perfect for tents, campervans, and caravans and ideal for exploring the peninsula's wonders.

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