You may have noticed that we’ve mostly been discussing Reykjavík in our posts here. This should in no way be taken to mean that there is nothing exciting going on elsewhere in the country.
Iceland is a relatively large country with many amazing towns, each with their own special feature, and we will do our best to cover what we can over the course of the summer. To kick start this I figured what better way to begin than by covering my home area, the Reykjanes Peninsula.
Your first stop in Iceland will of course be the airport, which is located in the Reykjanesbær/Sandgerði area. As you drive away from the airport, the first roundabout you come across will give you the options of Sandgerði, Garður and Reykjanesbær (follow that road straight ahead to Reykjavík). Most travelers will take that option but I strongly recommend spending at least a day or two taking in the sights at the Peninsula. I’m not going to too deep into activities and things like that in this series, rather give a few pointers. For more detailed information on Reykjanes activities visit this link.
1. Sandgerði (Sandgerdi)
First on our list will be Sandgerði, so we will be taking the 3rd exit on that roundabout. The way that I am planning things should have you experiencing the entire area in a day or two, but you should definitely consider prolonging your visit there, to truly get the feel for life in a small Icelandic town.
Sandgerði is home to around 1800 people. The town’s main industry is fishing, and the harbor is well worth a look. Granted you probably aren’t going to spend an entire day here, but you should definitely drive, or even walk, around to get a good sense of what Icelanders are like.
I recommend taking a drive over to the church at Hvalsnes. It’s a beautiful piece of architecture, built in 1886. Inside the church you will find a broken piece of a tombstone. This tombstone belonged to Hallgrímur Pétursson’s daughter. Hallgrímur was the first priest in Sandgerði and is one of Iceland’s most famous psalm writers.
If you feel the hunger creeping up on you while you’re there why not stop by at Mamma Mía or Vitinn? Both places are located close to the harbor. If you want to unwind with a drink or two, then do not worry as both places are equipped with a bar.
Also by the harbor you will find the Nature Center. If you are interested in finding out more about Icelandic nature I highly recommend you stop by. The staff is well informed and eager to fulfill your thirst for knowledge.
From the Nature Center you can drive over to Garður, our next destination. If you plan on playing some golf while in Iceland then look out for Kirkjubólsvöllur located halfway between Sandgerði and Garður, a charming 18 hole course.
2. Garður (Gardur)
Garður is a town similar to Sandgerði, a bit smaller though. Head on over to the light house, take in the view and feel the ocean breeze kiss your skin. While you are there, why not stop by the Folk museum and learn about the town’s history. It’s another way to feed your mind and enrich your knowledge about Iceland.
On our drive away from Garður, we will be passing by another golf course, Leira. If you plan on staying in the area for a few days, you should take the opportunity to play through it.
Next up we’re go to Reykjanesbær (formerly Keflavík and Njarðvík respectively)
We’ve gone a full circle and are back next to the airport. We are in Reykjanesbær which is rather larger than Sandgerði and Garður.
There are plenty of activities for you to experience here. You can stop by the harbor and check out the Base museum. During WWII the U.S. Army came to Iceland and set up a Base here to protect us and to be better equipped to keep an eye on what was happening in Europe. They stayed after the war ended and left only a few years ago. The area that was previously occupied by the soldiers and their families are now being used for university housing. The museum gives you a good look at how the soldiers lived during these years and how they interacted with the Icelanders.
Reykjanesbær has an active night life. If you want to get down and shake your money maker, check out Yello or Manhattan, but if you want to experience a nice atmosphere with live music and an ice cold beer, check out Paddy’s pub. The Reykjanes peninsula is known for its variety of quality musicians and many of them tend to have gigs at Paddy’s.
Reykjanesbær is the largest town in the area so you should find plenty of things to keep yourself busy. Museums, bars, restaurants shops and more all at your disposal.
4. Grindavík (Grindavik)
On our drive away from Reykjanesbær towards Reykjavík, you can check out Grindavík. It’s close to the Blue Lagoon, so why not use the trip and take a dip in the lagoon? A decent idea for an activity in Grindavík would be the Salt fish museum for instance.
Remember that what we have written down here is only an example of what you can do in the area. There are several interesting things to experience in the towns and you should check out as much as you can. Also, the football season in Iceland is fast approaching, if you’re a football fan then be sure to catch a game or two.
The Reykjanes Peninsula also has the bridge between the two continents, Europe and America, the Reykjanes lighthouse with a beautiful view of the sea and the surrounding islands in that area, so make sure you read up on Reykjanes when you’re planning your trip.
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