Information about Arnarstapi

Beautiful coastal formations can be found at Arnarstapi.

Arnarstapi is a village in the southern side of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, once a fishing hub and now a place for travellers to refuel before entering Snæfellsjökull National Park. The area has several old and charming houses with interesting stories to them and is renowned for its beautiful nature.

History of Arnarstapi

Records of settlements around Arnarstapi date back to the Bárðar saga Snæfellsáss, an ancient Icelandic saga that tells of the the half-human, half-ogre who once lived on the Snæfellsnes peninsula; after his death he has been considered its guardian spirit.

The area was popular with settlers due to its natural harbour, meaning fishing in the rich herring grounds of the surrounding waters was easy. When Norway, and to a much greater extent when they took over, Denmark, were in control of Iceland, it grew increasingly as a trading port.

Denmark, in fact, invested a lot of money into Arnarstapi throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (for their own interests, unfortunately not those of the Icelanders). Many of the resulting buildings still stand today, being some of the oldest in the country, such as the Danish Prefect’s Residence, which was built in the 1770s.

In the industrial revolution, like around much of the country, Arnarstapi’s population radically shrunk. The vast majority of Iceland’s jobs were now centralised in Reykjavík, reducing opportunities for small-time fishermen and their businesses, and the town became little more than a hamlet as a result.

As Iceland’s infrastructure rapidly improved after independence in 1943, and people abroad more and more began to see the many wonders of this island as a travel destination, Arnarstapi, like many other settlements in the area, got a new lease on life.

Fishing and trade remain vital parts of the economy, but they now play second fiddle to tourism and services. The village has essential services for those travelling on the peninsula, a wide array of accommodation options, and tour companies operating from it.

Nature and Sites around Arnarstapi

There are many incredible sites around Arnarstapi.

The beach at Arnarstapi holds a particular attraction. It has an eroded circular stone arch, called Gatklettur, and here, the interplay of spectacular waves and the light of the sun create a fascinating spectacle. Large colonies of the arctic tern also nest in the area, and both these features make it very popular amongst photographers.

An old horse trail through the lava field Hellnahraun is highly popular for hiking, due to the impressiveness of the surrounding landscape.

Arnarstapi, however, should never be a too long a stop on a tour of the peninsula. As lovely as it is, the natural attractions nearby simply warrant more time. The village, for example, sits on the cusp of Snæfellsjökull National Park, home to the Snæfellsjökull glacier and volcano, the beauty of which has inspired writers and artists for centuries.

This is one of only three National Parks in the country, but it is to the credit of the peninsula’s beauty that it is far from the only must-see destination around. Very close to Arnarstapi is the Lóndrangar basalt cliffs, huge towers of lava that from a distance look like a fortress.

Vatnshellir and Sönghellir and two nearby lava caves (the former of which can only be entered on a guided tour). There is also a beautiful cleft in a mountainside called Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge that it is possible to climb into.

Though a little further away, on the north of the peninsula, Kirkjufell mountain is also a wonderful site to behold.

 

Services near Arnarstapi

All services in 50km radius

Attractions nearby Arnarstapi

Gatklettur

Gatklettur ("Hellnar Arch") is a famous, naturally formed stone arch found between the villages of Arnarstapi and Hellnar on the Snæ...

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Hellnar

  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 ...

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Sönghellir Cave

Sönghellir, or 'Song Cave', is a cave on the Snæfellsnes peninsula famed for its echoing quality. The acoustics inside have a magic...

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Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge

Wikimedia. Creative Commons. Emstrur.  Rauðfeldsgjá ("Red Mountain Rift") is a narrow gorge on the east side of the mountai...

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Snæfellsjökull

Snæfellsjökull (1446 m) is a glacier-capped volcano found on the tip of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in West Iceland, in one of the co...

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Snæfellsnes

Snæfellsnes is a large peninsula extending from West Iceland, often nicknamed ‘Iceland in Miniature’ due to its wealth and diversi...

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Vatnshellir Cave

Photo from Into the Underworld | Vatnshellir Caving Tour Vatnshellir is an 8,000-year-old lava tube on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and a popular ...

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Lóndrangar

The Lóndrangar basalt cliffs are amongst the many geological wonders of the Snæfellnes peninsula. Once a volcanic crater, all that rema...

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Snæfellsjökull National Park

Snæfellsjökull National Park is found on the tip of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and is one of three National Parks in Iceland. It is ...

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Búðir

Búðir is a small hamlet in the municipality of Snæfellsbær on the westernmost tip of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. The ha...

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Djúpalónssandur

Photo by Regína Hrönn Ragnarsdóttir Djúpalónssandur is an arched-shaped bay of dark cliffs and black sand, located o...

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Ölkelda

  Olkelda is a farm in the south of Snaefellsnes, taking its name from a renowned mineral spring close by. The pristine mineral spring by the O...

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Ólafsvík

Olafsvik is a fishing town of just over a 1000 people, located on the west side of the Snaefellsnes peninsula.  Economy and services Olafsvik h...

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Saxhóll

 Wikimedia. Creative Commons. Credit: Diego Delso.  Saxhóll is one of the most popular craters on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, f...

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Hellissandur

Photo above from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Chensiyuan Hellissandur is a village dating back to the 16th Century, found on the northwesternmost ...

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Skarðsvík Beach

Credit: Wikimedia, Creative Commons. Photo by Ulrich Latzenhofer.  A golden sandy beach found on the northwestern tip of the Snæfellsnes P...

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Kirkjufell

Kirkjufell, or Church Mountain, is a distinctly shaped peak found on the north shore of Iceland’s Snæfellsnes Peninsula, only a short di...

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Grundarfjörður

Wikimedia, Creative CommonsChensiyuan  Grundarfjörður is a small town found on the north coast of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula ...

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Ytri Tunga Beach

Credit: Wikimedia, Creative Commons. Photo by pjt56. Ytri Tunga is a beach by a farm of the same name on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Alongside ...

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Melrakkaey

Melrakkaey ("Fox Island") is a small island found at the mouth of Grundarfjörður. Melrakkaey was protected in 1972 and today, onl...

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Tours near Arnarstapi

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