Walk along the steep coastline between Arnarstapi and Hellnar

  1. Iceland
  2. West Iceland
  3. Walk along the steep coastline between Arnarstapi and Hellnar
Written by SandrinePublished on 03/04/17
4km round trip

Arnarstapi and Hellnar are two tiny villages located at the end of the Snaefellsnes peninsula. The interest of the places lies mainly in exploring the coast, very beautiful at this place. Indeed, the 2 villages are essentially preserved to welcome tourism, even if the small port of Arnarstapi is still active.

1Discover the coastline in Arnarstapi

In Arnarstapi you can find some amenities and a small petrol station. The place is also an ideal base for a night stopover to discover the Snaefellsnes peninsula, as in Hellnar.

Win the heart of the village at 1.5 km south of Highway 574 and park in the small parking lot. You won't be able to miss the big stone dwarf who seems to keep the car park or the village (even if at the beginning, we notice a strange pile of stones).

The great stone dwarf seems to keep Arnarstapi.

From the great dwarf, several paths will allow you to discover the coastline bordered by superb basaltic forms coming from ancient lava flows cooled by the sea. In good weather, you will have very nice views of the whole peninsula.

This is what the arch of Gatklettur looks like.

Start your discovery by facing left (if you are facing the ocean). A path will take you to the beautiful Gatklettur arch. I don't remember if it was indicated, because we missed it when we knew it was near Arnarstapi! And foolishly, we confused it with Hellnar's ark.

After taking beautiful pictures of the arch, walk back to the dwarf and then take this time the path facing the ocean. Here, a footbridge has been installed to admire the steep walls colonized by thousands of birds. From the footbridge, you can see a pretty basalt cave bordered by a beautiful black sand beach.

A basalt cave at Arnarstapi, visible from the belvedere.

2Crossing the lava field between Arnarstapi and Hellnar

To continue the discovery of the coastline, we recommend that you follow the short hike to the nearby village of Hellnar, 2 km away. The walk is very pleasant and well signposted. It allows us to discover many wild nooks and crannies first at the water's edge and then during the crossing of a large lava field rather old.

Strange forms of basalt that can be seen on the edge of the path.

The path winds between the amazing basalt forms and offers beautiful ocean views. The path is flat, without any difficulty and after half an hour you will reach Hellnar.

AIt arrives in the small village of Hellnar, which rises at the end of the lava field.

3A short break in Hellnar

The village of Hellnar is much smaller than Arnarstapi. Here you can break the crust at the small café located just at the end of the path, you won't be able to miss it. It offers good pastries and drinks, even if the choice is rather limited with 3 homemade cakes and the prices are quite expensive (luckily as everywhere in Iceland).

Below, in the direction of the sea, you will be able to go down near the water to admire a small natural arch (the one that we mistakenly thought to be Gatklettur).

The ark of Hellnar that we have confused with Gatklettur.
The rock around the arch seems very friable and creates beautiful patterns!

To return to Arnarstapi, go back the same path. In total, the little walk will take you 1 hour round trip. It is possible to do it in both directions, but leaving from Arnarstapi seems more pleasant. You can also drive directly to Hellnar.r.

Our opinion
We like

The shredded coastline, forming beautiful basalt sculptures.

An easy, short and pleasant walk.

We don't like

Having missed the Gatklettur arch badly indicated.

About us

We are Sandrine and Flo, French thirty-somethings. In 2019 we quit everything to live our dream, become nomads and travel around the world. We left with our baby, Lena, who was only 5 months old at the time. After a first trip around the Pacific Ocean by plane and a long 3 months stay in Hawaii, we left to discover Iceland for 3 months on board our 4WD pickup truck and truck camper. Then we continued our adventure in North America.

Today, if we can continue this adventure, it is above all thanks to our blog, Smartrippers! We created it one day in 2016, with the desire to share our good travel tips, without thinking that it would lead us there! We have developed it a lot over the years and have become experts on our 3 favorite destinations: Hawaii, Iceland and the American West. We now guide you to these destinations to help you plan the trip of your dreams!

Follow our adventures!