First-time visitors to Iceland might not have considered basing themselves in Hveragerði, but actually, it’s a convenient location for both Reykjavik and the Golden Circle, as well as an easy journey from Keflavik Airport. There’s also plenty to do in and around the town itself, so it’s worth thinking about staying here for a few days as part of a longer itinerary. If you’re interested in finding out more, here are some ideas for what to do in Hveragerði.
This geothermal valley is a must if you’re keen to experience Iceland’s hot springs in a natural setting. Located just a few kilometres north of the town centre, it’s a pretty hike upstream to reach the part of the river that’s warm enough to relax in but at the same time, not too hot to be dangerous. Along the way, the sight of steam rising from the hillside and bubbling hot pots is a real treat. It’s more rustic than spas like the Blue Lagoon, but that’s the point: a chance to unwind amidst spectacular, unspoilt scenery.
If you’re looking for an adrenaline-fuelled way to experience the Icelandic countryside, then Icebike Adventures is sure to tick a lot of boxes. This tour operator offers a number of fun routes on two wheels. Intermediate cyclists will enjoy the Geo Trails ride, a thrilling two to three hour ride on electric mountain bikes which showcases the lava fields, waterfalls and geothermal landscapes around Hveragerði. More advanced riders might prefer the Tectonic package, a three or four day adventure which requires more technical ability but rewards with stellar views of dormant volcanoes, lakes and breathtaking countryside.
Riding Iceland’s famous horses is a bucket list activity and you won’t be disappointed if you choose to ride near Hveragerði with Sólhestar. Conveniently located just ten minutes out of town, this established stables offers a wide range of horseback tours to suit riders of all abilities. Complete novices can opt for an introductory hour-long ride which is an easy jaunt suitable for all the family. More experienced riders can book longer trips including a fabulous day-long excursion which combines time in the saddle with the geothermal valley of Reykjadalur. Multi-day tours are also available if you’re keen to see the area’s volcanic scenery on horseback.
Listasafn Árnesinga Art Museum
If art’s your thing, then you won’t want to miss this museum, the oldest art museum open to the public outside Reykjavik. Focusing mainly on the work of modern and contemporary Icelandic artists, it stages a number of exhibitions each year. Its collection comprises around 500 pieces representing various disciplines. Alongside the work on display in its gallery, you can also sign up for workshops, artist talks and guided tours. Afterwards, chat about the work you’ve seen over coffee and cake in the museum café.
Quake 2008, Sunnumörk shopping centre
It might seem unusual to include a shopping centre in a roundup of things to do, but this place is a little unusual. It’s home to Quake 2008, an exhibition that tells the story of the earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale that struck the area more than a decade ago. Take a look at video footage and photographs recording the impact of the quake. There’s also an earthquake simulator and a chance to see the crack in the landscape – the gap between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates – which caused a small headache for engineers when the place was being built until they decided to make a feature of it.
This little waterfall is located on the River Varmá within Hveragerði’s botanical garden. In summer, it’s the ideal place to sit and enjoy a picnic while admiring the cascading water. For a different viewpoint, the team from Icelandic Adventures can arrange a private ziplining activity on a 90 metre long zipline over the waterfall. If you’re simply content to walk, follow the hiking trail that passes what’s left of an old wool factory. Built in 1902, it harnessed the waterfall’s power for hydroelectricity.