Hellnar

With a year-round population of less than ten residents, it’s amazing to imagine this sleepy coastal village was for centuries one of the largest fishing towns beneath the Snaefellsjokull ice-cap. While the remnants of the fishing sheds built by Hellnar’s 11th-century settlers may suggest that this town hasn’t changed since the Vikings arrived, it has a contemporary commitment to preserving the environment.

Hellnar hosts the official visitor center for Snaefellsjokull National Park where exhibits reveal regional geology, trade history, geography and wildlife that can be found in the park. During summer everyone heads to the seaside cliffs at Hellnar to enjoy a lunch stop at Fjoruhusid, a tiny cafe located on the water. Their signature and life-affirming dish is a creamy seafood soup that is brimming with fish and scallops drawn fresh from the ocean directly off the peninsula.

An arch in the sea

The cliffs between Hellnar and Arnarstapi village are a Natural Reserve and the 2.5 kilometer (1.5 mi) hiking trail linking the two settlements offers spectacular scenery including Gatklettur, a magnificent arch extending into the sea. The peculiar Badstofa caves are known for their unique light refraction and colorful interior. Other natural highlights in the area are bizarre rock formations in the shapes of stacks, as well as cliffs swarming with huge colonies of birds.

The Hellnar church

In Hellnar, you'll also find a typically Icelandic church on top of a hill. With either the mountainous landscapes or the Snaefellsjokull glacier as a backdrop, the Hellnar church gives travellers yet another opportunity to capture some wonderful photos of the charming Icelandic landscape.

Where is Hellnar?

Hellnar is almost in the far end of Snaefellsnes peninsula, around 190 kilometres (two and a half hour drive) from Reykjavik city. Driving there is easy, and the route is well marked.

GPS: 64.745796 N, -23.67584 W