West Iceland Day tour

 

You can download the printable version (pdf) here

 

Tour description:

- from Reykjavík drive road no. 1 (ring road) to the north

- pass the small town Mosfellsbær; continue until you reach the fjord Hvalfjörður

- when you reach Hvalfjörður, turn right onto road no. 47


Hvalfjörður

- the name means Whale Fjord, very picturesque landscape, very quiet area

- The fjord is about 30 km long and up to 84 km deep.

- There used to be a whaling station in Hvalfjörður, it was closed in 1992, but now it is in use again for a few days every year.

- experienced hikers can hike to the highest waterfall in Iceland, Glymur 210 m. It is at least a two hours hike, starting from the bottom of the fjord up through the valley Botnsdalur. Seek information before starting a hike.

- several viewpoints along the road

- There is an interesting photo exhibition at Ferstikla service station about a submarine station situated in Hvalfjörður during World War II as well on the former whaling station.

- just after passing the service station Ferstikla turn right onto road no. 520

- drive over the mountain pass Ferstikluskarð and through the valley Svínadalur with its three lakes

- continue on road no. 520, cross the valley Skorradalur


Skorradalur

- 28 km long narrow valley, several farms and many summerhouses

- widespread birch growth, extensive forestation

- lake Skorradalsvatn 16 km long, 60 m deep

- continue on road no. 520; turn right onto road no. 50

- turn right onto road no. 518 to get to Reykholt


Reykholt

- one of Iceland’s most important historical sites

- during the Middle Ages rich farm and a center of religion, culture and politics

- The famous writer and political leader Snorri Sturluson (1179-1261), author of the Snorra-Edda or prose Edda lived there. Today you can see a well-preserved thermal pool from the Middle Ages, where Snorri used to bathe. Snorri Sturluson was assassinated in a tunnel, which led from the bath to his house; you can see the entrance to this tunnel.

- modern church with a cultural center and a special library for mediaeval studies, changing exhibitions on mediaeval Icelandic literature and culture

- traditional church from 19th century

- statue of Snorri Sturluson by the Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland, a gift from Norway, unveiled 1947

- the big white building is a former boarding school, built during the 1930s by Guðjón Samúelsson

- continue on road no. 518 to Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls


Hraunfossar

 - waterfalls emerging from the junction of porous rock and basalt, falling into a 1 km long gorge created by the glacial river Hvítá

- very picturesque scene in the middle of a huge lava field (Hallmundarhraun)

- There are also walking paths on the lava field, notice especially the traditional cairns (vörður) on the walking paths, interesting vegetation

- Protected area. Please do not leave anything, and do not take lava stones or plants with you

- The name of this waterfall means the “lava falls”.

- service facilities
 

Barnafoss

- waterfall just upstream from Hraunfossar, just follow the walking path.

- Legend has it that two children drowned here when they tried to cross the river walking on a natural rock arch. The mother of these children had the arch broken down to prevent other families from having to experience the same ordeal. You can see the remains of that arch at the waterfall.

- The name means the “children’s waterfall”.

- if you are looking for refreshments continue on road no. 518 to go to Húsafell


Húsafell

- woodland and recreation area

- swimming pool, service station, restaurant, shop

- turn back, pass Reykholt, turn right onto road no. 50 (to the north), not far from the crossroads you will find Deildartunguhver


Deildartunguhver

- most powerful natural hot spring in the world, emits 200 liters of boiling water per second

- very impressive scene, seeing the hot water coming out of the rock

- many greenhouses, some sell delicious Icelandic tomatoes on the spot

- today the hot water is also used to heat the houses in Akranes and Borgarnes

- drive back onto road no. 50 (now to the south); continue on road no. 50, 52, and 53 until you reach the ring road no. 1


Borgarnes

- small town, 2.500 inhabitants, living on industry and services

- restaurant, services, shopping center, bank, hospital etc.

- one of the sites of the famous Saga of Egill Skallagrímsson

- interesting botanical garden with a relief sculpture of Egill Skallagrímsson

- drive road no. 1 to the south

- if you would like to visit Akranes, turn right onto road no. 51. Otherwise, you can just continue on road no. 1 driving through the tunnel underneath the fjord Hvalfjörður


Akranes

- small town, 5600 inhabitants

- all necessary service available

- former fishing village, today living on fishing, fish processing and industry

- nice beach with yellow sand, Langisandur

- interesting local folk and maritime museum, museum on sports and minerals

- continue on road no. 51, turn right onto road no. 1, drive through the tunnel underneath the fjord Hvalfjörður


Hvalfjarðargöng (Hvalfjörður Tunnel)

- tunnel under the Hvalfjörður fjord

- 5,7 km long, reaches a depth of 165 m below sea level

- openend in 1998

- speed limit is 70 km/h

- toll rate for private vehicles is 1000 ISK

- continue on road no. 1, passing Mosfellsbær to reach Reykjavík


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Highlights

Hvalfjörður fjord, Deildartunguhver hot spring, Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls, Reykholt historical site, Borgarnes and Akranes small towns

Total distance: approx. 300 km (including Akranes)

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