A visit to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in Iceland is a magical experience. In this tiny region of Iceland, the Snaefellsnes Peninsula offers everything that makes Iceland special. The Snaefellsnes Peninsula has volcanoes, lava fields, mountains, waterfalls, fjords and big waves on rocky cliffs.
One of the best ways to experience the rugged beauty of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula is to enjoy the Arnarstapi to Hellnar hike along the North Atlantic coastline. This seaside Snaefellsnes Peninsula hike is incredibly beautiful, plus it’s short and easy enough to make it a kid-friendly hike too! We enjoyed the Arnarstapi to Hellnar hike so much, it landed in the top 5 of our best things to do in Iceland with kids.
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Arnarstapi to Hellnar Hike Trailhead Locations
The Hellnar to Arnarstapi hike is a point-to-point hiking trail. You have the choice of beginning this Snaefellsnes Peninsula coastal hike at either Arnarstapi or Hellnar. Our Snaefellsnes vacation home rental was located in Arnarstapi, therefore we started our hike to Hellnar from this end.
The Arnarstapi trailhead has a modest parking lot, but I imagine it’d get full pretty quick in high season. There is a viewing platform a short distance from the Arnarstapi parking lot which provides amazing views of the rugged coastline looking north. This incredible coastal Iceland scenery is sure to get you excited about the scenery to come on the Arnarstapi to Hellnar cliff walk.
The Hellnar Trailhead also has a modest sized parking lot. Not surprisingly, the Hellnar side of the hike also offers amazing coastal scenery, making it popular with sightseers and hikers alike.
As mentioned, we started this amazing Snaefellsnes Peninsula hike from Arnarstapi. The description of the hike below is from the Arnarstapi to Hellnar viewpoint. There was no compelling reason to begin this Iceland hiking trail at either location, so pick whichever trailhead is most convenient for you.
Arnarstapi to Hellnar Hike Highlights
Starting the hike at Arnarstapi, the coastal hike begins in a southward direction on an easy and well-maintained trail. The scenery in this first section of the Arnarstapi to Hellnar hike is breathtaking with crashing waves on rocky beaches inside charming little fjords, towering cliffs and hundreds of seabirds who make their home here while soaring all around.
The coastal hiking trail to Hellnar branches off in many locations to viewing platforms where you can soak in the world-class North Atlantic scenery as only Iceland can offer.
Be sure to take a few moments to visit the towering statue of Bardur Snaefellsnes, the half-man, half-troll for whom the Snaefellsnes Peninsula is named.
Another highlight of the Arnarstapi to Hellnar hike is Gatklettur, a dramatic natural stone arch just off the Snaefellsnes Peninsula coastline. There is a viewing platform just off the Arnarstapi to Hellnar hiking trail which gives the best vantage point of Gatklettur.
As you leave the town of Arnarstapi, Iceland you walk through a gate and all of a sudden the terrain around the hiking trail becomes much more volcanic. As you can see on this amazing satellite shot, the hiking trail from Arnarstapi to Hellnar goes through a lava bed from a past eruption from the nearby Snaefellsjokull volcano.
As you hike through this coastal lava field towards Hellnar, the trail surface becomes rockier, making it a little harder to find footing, especially if it’s wet. There are volcanic rocks of all sizes all around you with vibrant moss filling the gaps in-between.
You can’t help but feel you are on another planet as you wander through this unearthly scene. You just gotta love hiking in Iceland!
As you near the end of the Arnarstapi to Hellnar hike, the hiking trail transitions to a long, wide wooden pathway making for some smooth walking as you soak in the incredible Snaefellsnes Peninsula scenery.
Hiking Arnarstapi to Hellnar in Spring
We hiked the Hellnar to Arnarstapi trail in mid-May and the weather was around 5C (41F), windy with scattered showers.
As usual, it makes sense to dress in layers when hiking in Iceland in spring. We each wore a thermal base layer (top and bottom) with a t-shirt, a fleece and/or light down jacket with rainproof jacket and pants on top. The North Atlantic wind made it cold enough that we each wore a toque and mitts.
The ground was mostly dry, but there were mud puddles in spots and the rocks got a little slippery when it rained, so having waterproof hiking shoes is a good idea on this trail.
The Hellnar to Arnarstapi Hike with Kids
The Hellnar to Arnarstapi hike is officially 2.5 km (1.5 miles) long in a single direction, but it will be longer after you factor in all the viewpoints, chasing your kids, etc.
Our 4 year old daughter found the Arnarstapi to Hellnar hike easy enough to hike the whole way herself. Our two year old boy wanted to be carried for portions, which actually worked out nice as he’s a bit slower anyways.
There are portions of the Arnarstapi to Hellnar hike where you need to watch your kids closely, especially around the top of the oceanfront cliffs. There are typically little rope fences to warn you about the dangers, but they are completely ineffective at keeping a determined or distracted toddler out.
Where to Stay on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula with Kids
There are no major cities on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in Iceland, nor will you find any major hotel chains anywhere. If you are visiting the Snaefellsnes Peninsula as part of your Iceland family vacation, we recommend figuring out what you want to see and then find the best kid-friendly accommodation nearby.
If you are on an Iceland family trip to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, you’ll almost certainly have a rental car. This will give you the freedom to stay nearly anywhere on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
There’s only a handful of kid-friendly hotels on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. They are pretty spread out, so you should be able to find one in a location you like.
When traveling with kids, we have a strong preference for staying in a vacation home rental. We find that the kids sleep better when they have their own bedrooms, and it’s nice to have laundry facilities to wash our clothes.
Another big benefit of getting a vacation rental is having a kitchen to cook some of your own meals. Eating out is very expensive in Iceland, so having your own kitchen helps have an Iceland family vacation on a budget. We typically like to have a healthy breakfast at home, pack a good lunch, then reward ourselves to a great meal at a restaurant in the evening. Due to the expense of eating out in Iceland, we made nearly all our meals at our vacation home rental.
For our 2-day visit to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula with kids, we stayed at a cute vacation rental cabin in Arnarstapi. It had a great oceanfront location just minutes outside the Snaefellsjoekull National Park, home to most of the things we wanted to do with our kids on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
Visit Iceland with Kids
Looking for more adventures around Iceland with kids? Check out our full 7 day Iceland with kids itinerary. You can also see how we spent 2 days in the Golden Circle with kids and our adventures around Reykjavik with kids.
And if you’re wondering if you can visit the Blue Lagoon with kids? It is! We definitely recommend taking the time to visit the Blue Lagoon with kids!
Getting Kids to Sleep in Iceland without Darkness
If you are traveling to the Iceland with a toddler (or a baby) during the endless days of summer, your kids may have trouble sleeping without darkness.
If you are worried about your kids sleeping in Iceland, consider traveling with a Slumberpod. This ingenious product will create a dark sleeping area for your toddler, and it even works with the popular toddler travel beds like the Shrunks Junior.
If your kids are too big for a Slumberpod, travel blackout blinds are also an option to consider helping your kids sleep in Iceland.
Kid-Friendly Iceland Tours
If you are looking for an 8-day family-friendly Iceland tour which visits many of the locations from our Iceland family vacation, check out the Geysers, Glaciers and Fjords tour by National Geographic.
In addition to many of our Iceland family vacation ideas, this epic National Geographic family tour of Iceland includes whale watching, a visit to an Icelandic horse farm, explore a lava tunnel, and an excursion to the volcanic Westman Islands to search for puffins and whales.
Snaefellsnes Peninsula Tours
Iceland Family Vacation Packages to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula
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