Hafnarfjörður has a robust harbor culture and more than 29,000 inhabitants. The town’s name means “harbor fjord” and is a part of the Hofudborgarsvaedid region in Iceland.
Hafnarfjordur is also known as the “Town of Elves and Lava.” It’s often referred to as the center of modern Vikings and is an artsy paradise located in the middle of a lava field. This colorful town is a must-see for anyone looking to get a look into daily life in Iceland while enjoying a few slow-paced days.
Nature & Culture in Hafnarfjordur
Hafnarfjordur was built on lava and is surrounded by lava fields. The early settlers came to this area with great determination to find a good life. They made their living through fishing and merchandising. Hafnarfjordur became a major trading center in Iceland. Many dreamed of Hafnarfjordur becoming the capital of Iceland.
Hafnarfjordur has always been recognized for its unique center and rich art scene and many artists move to Hafnarfjordur to find peace and inspiration. The colorful houses in Hafnarfjordur make the small town life warm and vibrant.
With the 20th century came advances in technology and Hafnarfjordur has since been looking for new ways to prosper. Besides the rich cultural heritage, Hafnarfjordur also hosts many natural wonders and is close to many attractions.
Fun Facts About Hafnarfjordur
- Many wanted Hafnarfjordur to become Iceland’s capital.
- In the ’70s Hafnarfjordur used to have a Zoo, with monkeys, polar bears, snakes, lions, and more exotic animals.
- Hafnarfjordur is both known to be the town of Vikings and the town of Elves!
- Hafnarfjordur has two main sports team Haukar and FH and the rivalry is an ongoing tradition in the town. Haukar dress in red and FH in black and white.
Where is Hafnarfjordur Located
The small port town of Hafnarfjordur is located on the outskirts of Reykjavik. It’s distance is around 10 km (6 miles) southwest of Iceland’s capital city.
GPS Coordinates of Hafnarfjordur: 64°01’02.8″N, 21°57’17.9″W
How to get to Hafnarfjordur?
Follow Road 40 North from Reykjavik for 10 km to drive to Hafnarfjordur. If you’d like to take the bus, simply catch Strætó bus number 1 from Kringlan to Hellisgerði.
What To See in Hafnarfjordur
According to the locals, Hafnarfjordur is sitting on a 7300-year-old lava flow that hosts a parallel universe of elves. Mysteries aside, Hafnarfjordur is indeed a land of hidden gems and nature. The town offers endless activity and sightseeing options.
- The Harbor in Hafnarfjordur. Hafnarfjordur is known for its harbor, hence the name. It is a lively place with people from all over coming to look at the majestic ships, talk to the sailors and just generally enjoying the view. It’s a place of great charm and good walking paths.
- The view from Hamarinn (where Flensborg College sits). A high lava cliff rises from the center of the town and is called Hamarinn. Every year the place a Christmas tree on top and light it up for the town to see but in between trees it is also just a fantastic location to visit.
- The old charming houses around downtown in Norðurbær. Stroll around the houses to see all of their colors and flare.
- Hellisgerði Botanical Garden. For those who believe in elves, lore says you can see the hidden people there. This place is perfect for a picnic and a stroll around beautiful flora. A small café is located in the garden.
- Ástjörn Lake. Between the hiking paradise of Ásfjall and the Sports Center of one of Hafnarfjordur’s team Haukar you will find Ástjörn Lake. This beautiful location has a walking path going in a circle around it and a vivid birdlife. The rare bird Flórgoði (The horned grebe or Slavonian grebe) lives there in the summertime.
- Seltún-Krýsuvík Geothermal Area is Hafnarfjordur’s precious jewel hidden in its outskirts. There you will see maroon rocks, steel blue boiling mud pits and steaming hot springs constructing a breathing panorama under your eyes. Lake Kleifarvatn is nearby, as well as the Grænavatn Green Lake.
What To Do in Hafnarfjörður
A series of events and activities in or nearby have set the adventurous tone for this port town.
- Horse riding is popular and a must-try item when you are in town. Hafnarfjordur is a major riding area for Icelandic horses. The best route for horseback riding is in Mt. Helgafell area. Visitors usually sign up for a caving and riding combo day tour.
- Join one of the festivals Hafnarfjordur has to offer. The Hafnarfjordur Viking Festival is a famous summer event in the town. Other festivals include the Christmas Village in December and the Festival of the Sea on the first Sunday in June.
- Join popular day tours. Since Hafnarfjordur is an essential part of the capital region, not only it has plenty to offer itself, it also serves as a hub where travelers can go to the Golden Circle attractions or take a food walk in Reykjavik after only a short drive.
- Hafnarfjordur is also a hiker’s paradise. You can easily choose from walking around lakes like Ástjörn or Hvaleyrarvatn or challenge yourself on mountains such as Mt. Helgafell. Another smaller mountain to hike is Ásfjall. This is an easy hike and the view is well worth it!
- Visit the Blue Lagoon. This famous bathing paradise is located only a short distance from Hafnarfjordur (23-30 min away). A perfect activity when exploring the Viking Town.
- Visit the Sívertsen House/Museum. The oldest house in Hafnarfjordur. It’s also a museum that shows you just how the upper-class lived in Iceland in the 18th century.
Where to Eat in Hafnarfjordur
The Viking Village restaurants, where you can get authentic Icelandic food such as Kjötsúps (meat soup) and all sorts of meat, fish, burgers, pasta and other delicious dishes.
One of the newest restaurants and bar in the Hafnarfjordur food scene. The chef bailed on the busy downtown life and started this amazing place in central Hafnarfjordur, the locals are loving it. Something for everyone, meat, fish and veggie options!
One of the oldest restaurants in Hafnarfjordur (probably even Iceland) known for amazing fish meals. Always fresh, always of great quality and always a classic!
One of the town’s oldest. Great for trying authentic Icelandic meat options such as Icelandic horse, Icelandic lobster and minke whale.
If you are heading to Keflavík, Reykjanes or just generally in the mood for Asian this place is a great stop. Their Pad Thai is to die for.
The burger joint of Iceland and one of their shops is luckily located in Hafnarfjordur, a must for any burger lover.
Great coffee and great cakes, right next to the Sivertsen House museum a great combo.
This sourdough paradise is easy to highly recommend. This place is perfect for breakfast or lunch and the view is amazing. Their price is also fair!
Quality Coffee and the most relaxed atmosphere you will find, a true hipster paradise. Their scones are otherworldly.
Where to stay in Hafnarfjordur?
There are many accommodation options in Hafnarfjordur. The town spreads wide and far over the lava field it was established on, and each part of town has its own charm and character.
The area closest to downtown Hafnarfjordur, where the museums, restaurants, shops, and cafés are located is in postal code 200, Hafnarfjörður also has postal codes 221 and 222. So, we would recommend trying to stay in 220.
The Best-Rated Accommodation Options in Hafnarfjordur:
- Hotel Viking
- Hotel Vellir
- Norðurey Hotel
- Tjarna Hotel
- T10 Hostel Iceland
- Lava Hostel
- Vibrant Iceland Hostel
Guesthouses and B&B’s
- Harbourfront Guesthouse
- Edda’s Farmhouse in Town
- Helguhus B&B and Apartment
- Our Home in Hafnarfjörður
- Route 1 Guesthouse
- Guesthouse Álfar
- Cozy Family Apartment
- The Tiny House
Interesting places in or near Hafnarfjordur
- Pond Hamarkotslækur
- Pond Ástjörn
- Lake Hvaleyrarvatn
- Lake Urriðavatn
- Lake Vífilsstaðavatn
- Mt. Helgafell
- Mt. Ásfjall
- Golf Courses
- Urriðavöllur Golf Course
- Golfklúbburinn Setberg Golf Course
- GKG Golf Course
- Fríkirkja Hafnarfjarðar
- Swimming Pools
- Sundhöll Hafnarfjarðar
- Íþróttamiðstöð Álftaness
- Bessastaðir State Government Office (home to the President)
- Maríuhellar Cave