At the western tip of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, are some interesting places to visit and explore. Past the golden sandy Skarðsvík beach, a stark contrast to the majority of black sand beaches in Iceland, you reach the lava cliffs of Svörtuloft with its red lighthouse. An excellent viewing panel was put up by the cliffs not long ago for a better and secure view of the cliff dwelling seabirds. The natural arch by the lighthouse is a spectacular part of the cliff. This is one of the best places in Iceland (apart from the West Fjords) for spotting Brünnich's guillemot (Thick-billed Murre) and European Shag . There is a large colony with Razorbill , Common Guillemot , Kittiwake and Northern Fulmar . In summer look out for male Harlequin Duck at sea. It is also an excellent place to see Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) in early summer. On the grassy tops of the cliffs look out for Snow Bunting and Rock Ptarmigan .
From the main road at the tip of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula (called Útnesvegur in Icelandic), nr. 574, the distance to Svörtuloft is about five and a half kilometer after you take a turn west of Öndverðarnesvegur nr. 579. At the end of the bumpy gravel road, you take a turn south to Svörtuloft and drive a few kilometers. Here you will find a small parking lot (max. 8 vehicles).
Terrain and HabitatGrassland, Sea
ConditionsRocky, Open landscape
Is a telescope useful?Can be useful
Good birding seasonSpring, Summer
Best time to visitSummer
Difficulty walking trailAverage walk
Birdwatching hide / platformYes
Sailing by the tip of Snæfellsnes peninsula, past Svörtuloft is serious business. Throughout the centuries there have been drastic incidents and casualties. Ships have stranded, and as anyone can imagine looking at the sharp and black lava cliffs, this is not a good place to strand a ship. Most of them are quickly blown to pieces by the shore. When you add the strong currents attacking the shore from the Atlantic Ocean, it is most likely a place impossible to survive. This is perhaps one of the reasons that a lighthouse was built on the cliffs.