Walk along the steep coastline between Arnarstapi and Hellnar

Written by Sandrine Published on 04/03/2017
4 km Round trip
1 heure

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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.

Discover 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.


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.

Crossing 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.


A 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).

Ark at Hellnar


To return to Arnarstapi, go back the other way. In total, the short walk will take you 1 hour to go back and forth. It is possible to do it in both directions, but the departure from Arnarstapi seems more enjoyable. You can also drive directly to Hellnar by car.

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