What to do in Hellissandur?
Hellissandur is a small historic fishing village that sits at the northwest tip of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Snæfellsnes Peninsula, at the foot of Snæfellsjökull volcano and National Park. The 450 residents primarily work in fisheries and tourism, but many artists have chosen to live and work there in the past years. The influence is evident: There are three artist residencies and galleries in Hellissandur, and murals cover walls all over the town that has been nicknamed “The street art capital of Iceland”.
Hike along the shore - the history of fishing in Iceland
Hellissandur is one of Iceland's oldest towns and dates to medieval times when Iceland was first settled. The town rests on the southern shore of Breiðafjörður bay (meaning Broad-bay), which is one of Iceland's richest fishing grounds and an important habitat for many birds and marine mammals that can often be spotted from the coast.
An hour-long hike along the coast from Keflavík bay brings you through the town, between old boat landings and to the remains of an old harbor in Krossavík. Monuments and signs along the way, tell the story of fishing in Iceland from open rowing boats to engine boats. A perfect end of the stroll is to visit the Sjómannagarðurinn maritime museum in Hellissandur which represents the history of fisher's culture in Iceland and the way of life in earlier days. Among many interesting pieces in the museum is Iceland's oldest preserved rowing boat, Bliki, built in 1826. The museum is open during the summer.
Another path that lies from the campsite will take you into the mossy lava field that envelops the town.
Enjoy the arts - Galleries, sculptures, street art and culture center
Four outdoor sculptures by known sculpturers are found in Hellissandur:
- Skipið (The Ship) by Jón Gunnar Árnason is at the center street called Klettsbúð. Perhaps you will notice a resemblance with his other better known work The Sun Voyager, a key landmark in Reykjavík.
- Beðið í von (Waiting in hope) by Grímur Marinó stands above the main old boat landing on Hellisbraut street.
- Jöklarar (The glacier people) by Ragnar Kjartansson is in the garden of the Sjómannagarðurinn maritime museum.
- Frelsisviti (The lighthouse of freedom) is on the shore behind the Saltport art residency and was built there in 2022 by
Walking through town you will notice many murals covering the walls of large buildings, made by artists from all over the world taking part in the Street art festival of Hellissandur in 2018.
Food and Services
Options for food and drink are several during the summer season when Viðvík restaurant, Gilbakki café and Sjómannagarðurinn café are open, but the small grocery store at the N1 gas station is open year-round and offers soups, sandwiches and hot dogs as well as a surprising variety of groceries.
The neighboring town of Ólafsvík, 10 km East of Hellissandur has two restaurants and a large grocery store open year-round. There you will also find a nice little swimming pool with hot tubs and a sauna.