Lóndrangar – the Castle on the Coast

Explore the towering majesty of Lóndrangar, Iceland's iconic basalt cliffs rising dramatically from the sea. Learn about the geological forces that shaped these striking formations and discover the rich folklore and legends that surround them.

Lóndrangar

blog authorBy Johanna Sigurðardóttir shield verificationVerified Expert

The rocks in Iceland are more interesting than the rocks in your yard, we promise. The different rock formations on the island have been the pinnacle of many visitors’ travels, and Lóndrangar is no exception.

Come and check out a rock formation that fuels fantasy and makes you want to dig down and defend your castle. Keep reading to find out what stories surround this magical part of Iceland!

Lóndrangar Cliffs – the Lava Fortress of Snaefellsnes

Even though most of Europe has plenty of castles scattered all over the continent, Iceland is lacking in this department. What Iceland has, on the other hand, is a naturally formed castle made of jagged and intimidating basalt cliffs. This has never been used as a castle, but it looks like one from afar.

Londrangar in Iceland consists of two peaks, one of which sits on top of a wide and thin rock wall. The peaks are roughly 71 and 61 meters tall each, and yes, both have been climbed. The taller one was recorded to have been scaled in the 1700s already, whilst the shorter one wasn’t conquered until 1938. That is as far as we know. There might have been a Viking or two that climbed Lóndrangar earlier, but we can’t know for sure.

lóndrangar

The History of Lóndrangar

As we all know, the North Atlantic Ocean can be incredibly rough and violent at times. For Icelanders, this means dangerous trips out to sea to catch fish and trade with other countries. Natural harbors in Iceland have been incredibly important throughout history, and the one around the Lóndrangar Cliffs is no exception.

For a period in history, the natural harbor was often used by local fishermen and could take as many as 12 decent-sized fishing vessels at the same time. The high pillars of rock acted as beacons for the fishermen at sea, providing a good marker for setting course when turning back home.

Lóndrangar Legends

Like most sites on the island, Lóndrangar comes with a couple of folk tales of otherworldly nature.

The hills around Lóndrangar have never been used by local farmers in any agricultural way. The reason for this is that the site is believed to belong to the elves in the area, and if we’ve learned anything from Icelandic folk tales, it’s to leave the elves alone.

Another interesting tale from the area is the one about the nationwide known poet Kolbeinn Jöklaskáld, who challenged the Devil himself on these cliffs. In the 17th century, the poet challenged the Devil in poetic rhymes and eventually won. The punishment for losing was to be thrown off the cliffs into the raging North Atlantic, and the Devil was never again seen in the area.

londrangar cliffs

Where are the Lóndrangar Cliffs?

Like most places worth visiting, Lóndrangar is in a remote place, far away from modern areas like Reykjavík. You find the impressive Lóndrangar Cliffs on the southwestern part of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. The site is close to the road and not far from the southern part of the Snaefellsjökull Glacier.

The Geology of Lóndrangar

Even though the Lóndrangar basalt cliffs resemble what’s left of a castle, we know for sure this isn’t the case. The cliffs we see today are the remnants of a crater from a volcanic eruption a long time ago. As time went by, the coastline and the crater eroded from the harsh battering of the North Atlantic Ocean. This phenomenon is something we see in multiple spots in Iceland, like at the Reynisdrangar Rock Formation.

The areas around the Londrangar Cliffs are relatively young lava fields, only around 1,800 years young! It’s covered in shifting green moss that spreads out like a velvet blanket. We strongly suggest you take the time to walk from the parking to the cliff formations and see the lava field and moss up close.

londrangar view point

Finding Your Way to Lóndrangar

Given how remote the site is, you can’t get there using public transport. The only option is to get to the area using a rental car or on any of the tours.

Drive on Your Own

Driving from Reykjavík, you head north on Ring Road 1 until you reach Borgarnes. There, you need to get on Road 54 going northwest instead of following Ring Road 1 through the mountains. When you see Bjarnarfoss, you need to turn onto Útnesvegur going west and continue until you see the Lóndrangar view point on your left.

This will take about 2 hours and 45 minutes and will be almost exactly 200 kilometers.

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Go on a Tour

This gem is often a part of a Snaefellsnes tour. These tours can range from multi-day tours with stops all over western Iceland to a day trip from Reykjavík with a simple tour of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.

Buzzing With Life – A Bastion of Wildlife

The steep and irregular sides of the cliffs surrounding Lóndrangar make for protected nesting sites for the local birds. In the grooves of the cliffs, the birds can stay safe from predators as well as the worst of the weather. You will see the birds best from the Londrangar view point nearby.

The Londrangar basalt cliffs are a birdwatcher’s paradise, especially in the spring when the migrating birds return and are busy laying the foundation for the next generation. Here, you will spot some of the North Atlantic birds, such as the Fulmar, Kittiwake, Common Murre, and, of course, the Puffin – the sad clown bird of the sea.

lóndrangar basalt cliffs

What to do Around Lóndrangar

The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is full of stunning views and marvelous sightings. If you decide to spend some time exploring the area, we suggest you look into some of these spots:

  • Kirkjufell – Iceland’s most photographed mountain.

  • Djupalonssandur – A historical site on the western shore of the peninsula.

  • Malarrif – The guiding lighthouse for the fisherman at sea.

  • Vatnshellir Cave – an 8,000-year-old and 200-meter-long lava tube.

  • Lysulaugur Geothermal Bath – Rejuvenating bath to relax in after a long day.

Lóndrangar: A Destination Awaits

The Icelandic nature is world-renowned for its beauty and mysteriousness. When you get the chance to visit a castle built by lava that survived the constant bashing of the North Atlantic, you take it. Not far away from the capital, you can make this a day trip or part of a longer journey. The only next step is renting a car in Reykjavík and setting out on your Londrangar adventure!

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