Hellnar is an old fishing village on the westernmost part of the Snaefellsnes peninsula. It used to be one of the largest fishing stations of the peninsula, with the oldest written record of seafaring there from 1560.
Historically, the settlement was a hub of activity, with many trading and fishing vessels pulling in and out of the harbour daily. There were many farms around the area, and by 1703, 38 houses.
Though by modern international standards this was nothing, it was rather significant for Iceland at the time.
Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, however, Iceland began to develop and industrialise, and its fishing and trading industries began to move to Reyjavík, bringing with them many people.
Hellnar, therefore, rapidly lost its population and importance, like many other places in Iceland particularly on the Snӕfellsnes Peninsula. The change in the economy hit Hellnar particularly hard, however, considering it was increasingly neglected for the neighbouring village of Arnarstapi, which was favoured by the ruling Danish.
The settlement was abandoned but for a few farms and a few resilient locals, until tourism began to boom in Iceland. Now, it is a centre for visitors in the area, with many options for rural accommodation.
Hellnar hosts the guesthouse for Snӕfellsnes National Park, which has a very interesting exhibition about the economy of former times, and on the geology, flora and fauna of the park.
At the shores of Hellnar are spectacular rock formations; much of the Snӕfellsnes Peninsula is incredibly dramatic along its coast, due to the previous volcanism of the area and the waves shattering the brittle lava rock that makes up the land.
Most notable amongst these that can be reached on foot is a protruding cliff called Valasnös. It has tunnels into the cliff, and its colouration is affected by the time of the day, the movements of the sea, and the prevailing weather conditions.
Large colonies of birds nest in the area, although it should be noted that puffins do not.
Hellnar, located at the tip of the peninsula, is a convenient hub for those travelling in their own car, offering easy access to the incredible natural sites nearby. These include the Lóndrangar sea stacks, the mountain Kirkjufell, and the Ytri Tunga seal watching beach.
Like many other places on Snӕfellsnes, it is easy to see the beautiful glacial capped volcano Snӕfellsjökullfrom the village.