Complete Guide to the fishing village in the south of Snaefellsnes Peninsula

The southern side of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula is blessed with a picturesque fishing village called Arnarstapi. Nicknamed as Stapi, it is sandwiched between Breiðavík and Hellnar. Keep reading to find out more about this scenic little village!

Guided day tours visiting Arnarstapi

Arnarstapi is an important highlight of most Snaefellsnes Peninsula trips and is most commonly photographed with a small white house and jagged black mountain in the background. The sky-scraping basalt stone arch of Gatklettur right in the middle of the ocean is also commonly circulating and the most viral picture of the region.

But there is definitely more to Arnarstapi than these two pictures! The small village is fast becoming the favorite getaway destination in Europe. How often does one see a fishing village so pristine and lovely? Located just two hours away from the capital, Arnarstapi is the ultimate destination to beat the heat and enjoy fresh fish delicacies!   

Hikers, there is something for you too! Lying between Arnarstapi and Hellnar, a popular hiking path awaits hikers with high spirits and stamina. As you traverse the topography and undertake this hour-long hike, you will be greeted with a lava field, Hellnahraun, sitting next to the beach, accompanied by otherwordly vistas.  

Arnarstapi also serves private fishing companies, which means a boat ride is a must-have experience here. Both the Snaefellsnes Peninsula and Arnarstapi have fishing and trade in common.

Historical Backdrop Of Arnarstapi

Arnarstapi is a clear example of how culture and folklore influence a region. Almost everything, be it places, things or nearby villages of Hellnar, is spawned from the myth of the half-human half-ogre Bárður, who is believed to have lived in the area.

The region possesses several natural wonders, including a natural harbor and is unlike many places in Iceland. Even though the topography of Iceland is too unique to even explain – Arnarstapi clearly stands out. It was ideal for a shipping port and thereby became a small fishing village. It is a crucial center for commercial services for West Iceland.   

Danish regalities controlled trade and commerce of the region since 1565. They continued to enjoy commercial rights over the harbor and the nearby land throughout centuries.

Where is Arnarstapi Located?

 in Snaefellsnes is closely situated alongside Rekjavik (193 km), Borgarnes (117 km), Akureyri (428 km).

How To Reach Arnarstapi?

Arnarstapi, given its low profile, seems like a difficult place to reach. On the contrary, the place is one of the easiest to commute to. While finding a way to reach the area, tourists will surely be surprised by how delightful it is.   

One of the most eye-catching aspects of the region is its architectural layout. The influence of Danish culture is pretty visible in the buildings of the region, especially in Amtmannshús, a two-story-high black and white timber house.

Fun Facts About Arnarstapi

  • Bárður, half-giant and half-man, is believed to be the guardian of the Arnarstapi area. 

  • Arnarstapi is popularly known as Stapi. 

  • Arnarstapi was a permanent residence of 150 people back in the 18th century! 

  • In Jules Verne’s book A Journey to the Center of the Earth, Arnarstapi has featured as the ultimate stop on the protagonist's journey before they ascended the Snaefellsjokull glacier volcano to enter the earth’s core.

A drive from Reykjavik to Arnarstapi is approximately about 2 hours and 30 minutes long, given that there is no stop en route. The scenic route takes you through the Ring Road, first into Borgarfjordur and then to the town Borgarnes. From here, take a left turn, west, at the roundabout to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Take road number 54, down the southern part of the peninsula, passing through Búðir and Lýsuhólslaug swimming pool before reaching Arnarstapi.

What To Do At Arnarstapi?

  • Hike from Arnarstapi to Hellnar – An hour-long hike involving soul reviving views of a sharp lava formation and the seascape. The Icelandic wonders during the hike pave the way for a large meal at the Hellnar cafe.
  • Visit the big statue of Bárður the ogre – or half-man half-ogre. A legendary stone statue lining the terrain of Iceland is a famous attraction and an important cultural spot for the locals, so paying a visit is a must.

  • Walk down to Gatklettur Stone Arch – the place with stunning natural forms is going to stir up just the right energy in you to take multiple snaps of the place.   

  • Walk down to the beach to see the basalt columns – the basalt cave, the gateway arch and the strong stone-built edge cannot be afforded as regrets!
  • Explore the vibrant bird life in the summer – the range of bird species found here will make you fall in love with nature itself.  The birds like the Arctic tern, the kittiwakes, gulls and fulmars are definitely worth your time.

  • Visit the Lóndrangar Basalt Rock Formations – captivating enough to forget about time! Pristine and unique, these rock formations are mysteriously charming.
  • Take a tour in the nearby Lava Caves – be it Lofthellir or Vatnshellir, these natural lava caves are something to die for!

  • Take a step inside the Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge – you are not a true GOT fan if you miss out on this place!

  • Visit Bjarnarfoss Waterfall – this one will surely leave gasping for more and it’s just a 15-minute drive to reach!

Where To Eat At Arnarstapi?

  1. Restaurant Snjofell – a great place to enjoy authentic and region-specific meals.  

  2. Fosshotel Hellnar – gorge on a mouthwatering variety of cuisines while taking in the spectacular vistas. 

  3. Mönsvagninn (open April to October) – the “munch wagon” simple and delectable fresh fish and chips are on the menu. 
  4. Fjöruhúsið (open April to October) – a cozy cafe offering majestic views at Hellnar. Excellent fish stew and freshly baked bread, pastries and cakes! 

  5. Samkomuhusid at Arnarstapi – home-cooked meals in an old community house. It also serves as an info center with friendly staff. Open from noon to 6 pm and closed on Sundays.

Read our detailed article about where to eat on the Snaefellsnes peninsula!

Staying At Arnarstapi?


  • Arnarstapi Hotel 

  • Fosshotel Hellnar 

  • Hotel Búðir 

  • Hotel Hellissandur 

  • Hotel Olafsvik 
  • Bodvarsholt HI Hostel 

  • The Freezer Hostel & Culture Centre 
    Guesthouses, B&Bs, Farmstays and Apartments 
  • Guesthouse Snjofell 

  • Gislabaer 

  • Öxl Guesthouse 

  • Kast Guesthouse 

  • West Park Guesthouse 

  • North Star Apartments 

  • Welcome Apartments Olafsvik 

  • Nattskjol Homestay 

  • Gisting og Galleri 

  • Við Hafið Guesthouse 

  • Bikers Paradise 
    Cabins and Cottages 
  • Arnarstapi Cottages

Camping Near Arnarstapi

The Snjofell Campsite is yet another or more commonly known name of the campsite of Arnarstapi. The vast stretches of land and ocean accompanied with majestic panoramas allow the visitor to loosen up and relax. The campsite offers decent amenities for a stay. 

Other nearby campsites are Lýsuhólslaug and á Eyrunum, Tradir.

Arnarstapi In Winter

Arnarstapi is a homey and quaint destination during the winter months, giving the perfect home away from home feeling. As soon as the snow starts pouring in, birds and buzz leave the place for the better. And peaceful mornings and tranquilizing evenings are the highlights.   

Nevertheless, Arnarstapi is open to serve its guests in restaurants and hotels with warm and cozy stay facilities and luscious meals. And is definitely worth a visit!

Note: the camping grounds are closed in winter!

Interesting Places Near Arnarstapi

  1. Hellnar 

  2. Bjarnarfoss Waterfall 

  3. Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge 

  4. Lóndrangar Basalt Columns 

  5. Lýsuhólslaug Geothermal Pool 

  6. Snaefellsjokull Glacier 

  7. Snaefellsjokull National Park 

  8. Hellissandur Village 

  9. Ólafsvík Village 

  10. Ytri Tunga Seal Beach 

  11. Grundarfjörður 

  12. Kirkjufell Mountain 

  13. Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall 

  14. Stykkishólmur 

  15. Búðir 

  16. Búðakirkja Black Church 

  17. Rauðfelsgjá Gully