Olafsvik, according to the Book of Settlements, was originally settled by Olafur the Bloated. On the western end of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, it has a population of slightly more than 1,000, and has enjoyed municipal status since 1687 – longer than any other Icelandic community. Originally, it was a trading center, welcoming ships from Denmark and even as far away as Portugal.
In the 1950s, the harbor was rebuilt and greatly enlarged, making it the most productive fishing village on the peninsula.
Rif, another historic fishing village, features an excellent harbor which is used by the fishermen from Hellissandur. The town was one of the most important commercial ports on the peninsula until the Holmkelsa river changed course and damaged the harbor. The harbor has subsequently been rebuilt.
Nearby, large colonies of Arctic terns can be seen, and there are salmon in the Lysa lake area and in the Haffjardara and Straumfjardara rivers. Trout and char also can be found in the Lysa lake area, as well as in the neighboring Vatnsholtvotn, Langavatn, Stadarsveit, Hagayatn, and Midhusavatn lakes.
The local BIRF airport has oil-gravel runways, and accommodates round-trip daily flights on Eagle Air from Reykjavik to Stykkishholmur and back, Monday through Thursday. On Friday and Sunday, there are direct flights from Reykjavik.
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