Hveragerði is a town and a municipality of about 2500 people at the southeastern corner of Iceland. Located only 45 minutes from the capital it is easy to reach almost any season and offers a wide variety of attractions enjoy and activities to join.
Hveragerði is often referred to as the town of flowers and geothermal activity and rightly so, pillars of steam are rising all around in the surrounding hills and the natural warmth makes it easy, affordable and sustainable to grow almost anything the heart might desire.
Hveragerði is a pearl that many miss when exploring the South Coast. When driving along the southern shores from Reykavík you are bound to drive past it but the Ring Road one leads you past it right at its border.
If you are smart, you will make a stop at this fertile and geothermally active town. Where one of the best public swimming pools is to find, where the most colorful flower market in Iceland is open all year round and the home to Ölverk, where the beer is brewed geothermally, the only place in the whole of Europe.
Hveragerði’s Geology and Geothermal Park
The town of Hveragerði is situated in a highly geothermal area and many of the people living in the town even have hot springs in their backyards! Underneath the town, you can find hot water running which pops up to the surface in the hot springs that surround Hveragerdi.
This has, understandably, had people curious and wanting to visit for a long time.
Photo by Luc Coekaerts
The positive aspect of having such immense natural boiling water is that allows greenhouses to flourish, creating cheap and sustainable energy all year round. This is, for example, how Hveragerði became famous for being the world’s northernmost place where bananas would grow. This was done on a trial basis but Hveragerði produced a considerable percentage of all the fruits and vegetables enjoyed in Iceland.
The hot water also gives flowers and herbs a good chance to grow and has earned Hveragerði the stamp as the “Flower Town of Iceland”. Its botanical gardens are well worth checking out!
Another positive point to the geothermal activity is the entertaining ways it invited people to both bake and cook. Bury a banana bread and let the earth take care of the baking or even boil an egg at a record time! This unique factor provides the restaurants with the tools to entertain their guests with the most amazingly cooked meals and treats. Loved both by locals and tourists!
The negative aspect of all this hot water is, of course, the danger it brings. When kids are playing around in town they need to be extra careful and considerate of the hot springs and some even learn it the hard way. Stories have also been told of hot springs suddenly opening up underneath people’s houses, of course, causing damages and risks to its residents.
Another important factor to mention is the possibility of an earthquake. The movement of the Mid-Atlantic rift greatly affects Hveragerði and has on many occasions resulted in an earthquake in the area. Thankfully, the houses in Hveragerði, like most places in Iceland, are built to handle these kinds of natural phenomenon and only on very rare occasions have there been any damages.
The Geothermal Park was founded to help people safely explore the area and in it, you can join different activities to really get to know the natural powers that underlay there.
You can take a footbath in a natural clay hot spring, you can bake bread in the ground and you can boil an egg in a hot spring. All of these experiences bring you up close and personal with the power of Iceland’s underworld and super fun to try!
Where is Hveragerdi located?
GPS POINTS N63° 59′ 56.297″ W21° 11′ 16.853″
The town of Hveragerdi is located about 46,6 km (28,9 mi) away from Reykjavík right below the Hellisheiði heath, often nicknamed Kambar. The closest town to Hveragerði is Selfoss, the capital of South Iceland only about 14,2 km away (8,8 mi).
How to get to Hveragerði?
Hveragerði is easily reachable and is a great stop to make on a road trip in Iceland.
Driving from Reykjavík to Hveragerði will take about 45 minutes and bring you along the road one. When leaving Reykjavík you will pass the stunning Rauðhólar pseudocraters, definitely worth the visit and then continue onwards up Hellisheiði heath passing the famous Hellisheiðarvirkjun Geothermal Plant. On the way down the mountain hills, you will start to catch a glimpse of the smoky hills and seconds after Hveragerði. Make a left at the roundabout to enter Hveragerði.
What to do in Hveragerði?
- Hike to a natural hot river and bathe – The Reykjadalur e. Smokey Valley is a true natural paradise and for many hiking, it feels like you just stepped into a fairytale. As you make your way up the valley you are greeted by multicolored hot springs and mud puddles that so beautifully shape the landscape. About an hour’s hike in you are high enough for the geothermal river to be a pleasant bathing temperature and then it’s time to soak. Enjoy and forget all your worries – Reykjadalur is heaven!
During recent years, The Reykjadalur trail had to be closed several times to visitors to protect the vegetation from damage. Visitors have left litter and bathing suits around the site. In muddy conditions, people walked off the trail, causing extensive damage to the vegetation.
Please, don’t leave anything behind – not even footprints! There are no trash cans, changing cabins or toilets in the area. Make sure that you can handle a few hours without a toilet stop. Do not ignore any warnings and restrictions, and please don’t leave any litter behind! A responsible traveler will also make an effort to clean trash left by other less civilized tourists.
- Try out some geothermally brewed beer! At Ölverk, a local family-owned restaurant you will find a wide range of different beers brewed on-site using geothermal energy. This is the only place you will be able to try this in Europe!
- Go swimming! Hveragerði offers two different swimming pools for you to enjoy. The first being the Laugarskarð Swimming Pool and the second Hveragerði Swimming Pool. The first one is more relaxed and the latter, more family-friendly.
- Treat your taste buds at Almarsbakarí – one of the best bakeries in Iceland. Their cheese salad will blow your mind!
- Visit Garðyrkjustöð Ingibjargar – Ingibjorg’s Garden Center / Plant Nursery is a colorful and fantastic place with the most wonderful ambiance.
- Join a Horse Riding Tour to Reykjadalur – not into hiking but still want to visit Reykjadalur? Why not try it on a horse!
- The Annual Festival Blómstrandi Dagar e. Blossoming Days – join the local party at the third weekend in August every year. Join to enjoy all the musical acts, workshops, art shows, markets, decorations and dances – Saturday being the biggest!
Where to stay at Hveragerði?
- Hotel Örk
- Heilsustofnun Spa Apartments
- Hotel Eldhestar
- Hot Springs Hostel
Guesthouses, B&Bs and Apartments
- Guesthouse Frost og Funi
- Iceland’s Guesthouse Axelshúsi
- Backyard Village
- Varmi Guest House Apartments
- Skyr Guesthouse
- Reykjadalur Guesthouse
- Hver Apartments
- Guesthouse Inga
- Gljúfurbústaðir Holiday Homes
Camping at Hveragerdi
The camping ground at Hveragerði is open all year round and offers fine facilities including electricity, toilets, running hot and cold water, showers, a hot tub, a swimming pool, washing machines, tumble dryers, a playground, and a BBQ.
Open: All year round.
Please note that it is forbidden to camp near the hot river! Wild camping is forbidden along the entire South Coast. Campers of all types are obliged to use designated campsites.
Where to eat at Hveragerði?
- Ölverk – real stone oven baked pizzas with the most delicious and quality ingredients and again, the incredibly yummy geothermally brewed beer!
- Almarsbakarí – baked goods and some delightful coffee, the perfect pit stop to energize for a day of Icelandic adventures. Pro tip: by some baked things to go and eat it during your hike in Reykjadalur.
- Restaurant Varma – the verdict is in and people just LOVE the Restaurant Varma.
- Ingolfsskali – the perfect place to try some traditional Icelandic food in the most unique Viking influence setting. Step back in time without having to through in the quality of the food!
- Hver Restaurant – the food is beautifully presented (in the most instagrammable way) and then the best surprise, tastes just as nice!
- Skyrgerðin Café and Bistro – this historic house has been completely restored and is now a cozy hotel and restaurant. Their menu is filled with all this tasty including lamb chops, burgers, soup, fish and chips and the most amazing cakes and tarts!
- Dalakaffi – the hot river café, the perfect stop pre or post the Reykjadalur hike. Offering delectable soups and cakes. We especially recommend the Skyr Cake!
- Kjot og Kunst – a great lunch buffet and excellent vegetarian and vegan options! Try their yummy cakes for an extra treat.
Hveragerdi in winter
Hveragerdi is just as nice in winter as it is in summer but if you are looking to explore Reykjadalur and the hot river you will need to bring spikes under your shoes and make sure to hike in daylight!
If you are staying at Hveragerdi you can easily walk up to the hills or drive a little away for a good chance to see the Northern Lights!
Interesting places near Hveragerdi
- Hengill Geothermal Area
- Reykjadalur e. Smokey Valley
- Fákasel – The Icelandic Horse Show
- Selfoss Town
- Ölfusá River
- Þorlákshöfn – Ferry to Vestmannaeyjar
- The Blue Lagoon
- Sólheimar Eco-Village
- Lake Laugarvatn
- Laugarvatn Fontana Spa
- Thingvellir National Park
- Kerið Volcanic Crater