Hellissandur and Ingjaldshólskirkja

Date 31 March 2024

Hellissandur and Ingjaldshólskirkja

Hellissandur and Ingjaldshólskirkja

The village of Hellissandur is located at the western tip of the Snaefellsnes peninsula.

Despite a small population of 387, the village is culturally significant in the region, and famous for its very photogenic Ingjaldshólskirkja church, which is a delight for visitors.

Beyond the church, this quaint port has no shortage of attractions, so don't miss your chance to stop in Hellissandur.

How to get to Hellissandur

Carte Hellissandur

Getting to Hellissandur is easy as pie. The village is located along the main road that runs the coastline of the Snaefellsnes peninsula. After leaving Grundarfjörður on the north coast and heading west on Road 54 and then 574, we pass the villages of Olafsvik then Rif before arriving at Hellissandur.

The village is accessible by road in summer and winter, and it's only a 2H30 drive from Reykjavík (200 km).

Hellissandur's Street Art

Maisons traditionnelles Hellissandur

On the surface, the village is a quaint fishing port with quite a lot of activity in the region, and home to a regionally famous maritime museum. Hellissandur is where you can find Bliki, the oldest rowing boat in all of Iceland, which dates back to 1826.

There were no less than 60 fishing huts in the village in the early 17th century, a big community at the time, and this village has one of the oldest and most famous fishing ports in the country.

Next to the museum, you can test your strength with the round stallion stones that fishermen used to qualify for a spot on a fishing boat, just like those found on Djupalón Beach in Dritvik, a little further west. You'd better practice at home if you want to lift the big one!

The village has several traditional peat roof houses typical of Iceland.

Hellissandur like Rif located 3 kilometers away is known as a particularly good viewpoint for observing the midnight sun. Being located in the west of Iceland and far north enough, the view of the western horizon is the perfect place to see the never ending sunset.

Bird-watchers will also be in heaven here, as Hellissandur and Rif are near some of the biggest nesting areas for Arctic terns in Iceland.

Street Art Hellissandur

Street Art in Hellissandur: ©Gulfside Mike @Unsplash

When you arrive in Hellissandur, you will be struck by the vibrant artistic life. Street Art in particular plays an important role here. Indeed, Hellissandur is considered to be one of the nation's capitals of Street Art along with Reykjavík, of course, and Seyðisfjörður in the East.

The streets of the village are a true pleasure to wander, discovering the magnificent murals and spray paintings that decorate the walls of the houses and line the streets. There are over 30 major street art works in Hellissandur and around June 21st, Hellissandur hosts a festival organized by the Freezer Hostel, the Street Art Festival.

Ingjaldshólskirkja: the church

Ingjaldshólskirkja église Hellissandur

Hellissandur Church: Vadim Nefedov @Dreamstime

Located just outside the village, the church of Hellissandur: Ingjaldshólskirkja is not to be missed. You get there by taking a small road a few hundred meters inland on the way to Rif. There is only one road, so you really can't miss it, especially since you can see the church from a great distance, being located on a small hill.

This small church has become one of the most photographed in Iceland and a veritable social network phenomenon in recent years. The majestic snowy peaks of Snæfellsjökull in the background, and its small hilly road in the foreground, give this scene some real dramatic power.

In summer this landscape's beauty becomes even more devastating when the magnificent purple lupines bloom across the whole prairie making the place feel like a dream.

The best viewpoints to take photos of the church are:

  • Along the road about 100 meters before the church
  • In the fields among the lupines

While there are many churches in Iceland, some of incredible design and colour and in all kinds of landscapes, the panorama that frames the Ingjaldshól church is truly in a category of its own.

The church itself dates from 1903 and is the oldest concrete church in Iceland.

Things to see near Hellissandur

Very close by, as you can see on the map above, there are two waterfalls worth visiting:

  • Kerlingarfoss waterfall
  • Svoðufoss waterfall

Kerlingarfoss is located just after Olafsvik on the way to Hellissandur. This waterfall is 60 meters high and only a 500-meter walk from the road.

Svoðufoss is another beautiful waterfall, even more so in winter, as a large part of it is frozen over for the most beautiful effect. A small path, well maintained, with wooden footbridges allows you to right up to the water.

Hellissandur Church: ©TTstudio @fotolia