Selfoss is a town in southern Iceland, situated on the banks of the Ölfusá River. It is the seat of the municipality of Árborg and is the centre of commerce, small industry, and, with a population of 6,512, the largest residential area in southern Iceland.
Due to Selfoss’ proximity to Reykjavik, it is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years along with the capital.
Selfoss: Things to Do
There is no shortage of activities to keep you occupied while in Selfoss. In fact, Selfoss is not far from one of the main attractions on Iceland’s Golden Circle, Geysir (or The Great Geysir).
Geysir was the first geyser known to modern Europeans, and it is on par with other great geysers of the world in Yellowstone National Park, USA and New Zealand.
Measuring 18m wide and 20m deep, watching it erupt would surely be a fascinating sight. Unfortunately, for some reason, it has remained dormant since 1916 (with the exception of an eruption in 1935).
While it is unknown if the Great Geysir will ever return to life, the area remains a hotbed of geothermal activity, with hot and cold springs, warm streams, hissing steam vents, and sulphurous mud pots of a variety of colours bubbling away.
While these mud pots do have a putrid odour, they are fascinating and appear like some sort of giant sinister potion that has been brewing for hundreds of years.
While the Great Geysir no longer erupts, there is still a very impressive geyser in the area, Strokkur, which can reach heights of up to 30 metres erupting roughly every 10 minutes.
Selfoss is also a short trip to the Kerið crater, another popular attraction for those travelling to see the Golden Circle.
It is believed that Kerið was once a cone volcano that depleted its magma chamber. Once that chamber was empty, the top of the cone collapsed in on itself, creating the large crater that remains.
The crater has been subsequently filled with water, the depth of which depends on the season and on precipitation levels. The caldera is about 55m deep, 170m wide, and 270m across.
Much of the caldera is composed of red volcanic rock, as is much of the surrounding area, which is somewhat unique to Iceland; most of the rest of the country is covered with black volcanic rock.
While the lake is fairly shallow, the mineral content of the rock gives the water a stunning, opaque aquamarine colour, which is only further emphasized by the contrasting red walls of the caldera.
The classically Nordic Skálholtskirkja church is also not far from Selfoss. Just a short drive down route 35 to route 31 and just south of Reyholt, the church was consecrated in 1963 by the bishop of Iceland.
It includes beautiful stained glass windows by renowned Icelandic artist Helgadóttur. The basement contains a variety of gravestones made out of ornate Icelandic tuff and basalt.
The church has been home to a number of concerts over the years, with people flocking to the area from far and wide to enjoy the music and the simple, yet elegant design of the Nordic church in a spectacular setting.
The Ölfusá River also provides for a number of interesting attractions and activities.
The river starts just north of Selfoss at the confluence of the Hvítá and Sog Rivers and runs for around 25 kilometres to the Atlantic Ocean. It is the largest river in Iceland in terms of average flow and discharge area.
It is also filled with salmon and is the centre of the salmon fishing industry in Iceland.
The river is also the home of the Flói Nature Reserve, located on the east shore of the river near its confluence with the Atlantic. The reserve is an Internationally Important Bird Area as recognized by BirdLife International.
There are around 27 different species of bird that have been reported on the reserve. The reserve boasts expansive vistas of the surrounding mountains and is a fantastic place for bird watchers or those who just want a nice view.
The Ölfusá River is also the home to a very unique sight. In the middle of the river is a relatively small rock outcrop with a lone tree growing on it. This is a fantastic place for a photo.
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Where to Stay – Selfoss
There are a number of accommodation options for those wishing to visit Selfoss.
The town is the home to a number of hotels and guesthouses (the guesthouse is a common variety of accommodation in Iceland) as well as hostels and campgrounds. The Hotel Selfoss is a popular option.
The modern building boasts 99 comfortably equipped rooms along with an in-house restaurant, the Riverside Restaurant, and a spa.
If luxury accommodation is what you are looking for, there is also the ION Luxury Adventure Hotel, which is a beautiful modern construction eco-hotel boasting 45 rooms. The Gesthus Selfoss is also a popular option.
The Gesthus Selfoss offers 22 rooms all in wooden bungalows featuring private facilities and kitchenettes.
The bungalows don’t have any of the luxury frills like the Hotel Selfoss, but they make for a perfect stay for those content with a simple, comfortable accommodation during their time in Selfoss.
The Gesthus Selfoss also offers a campsite for those who plan to camp during their Icelandic holiday.
Campsite guest has access to a separate service centre with a WC, hot showers, a big dining room, and a kitchen where they can cook. This camp-site is regarded as one of Iceland’s best and most beautiful.
those looking for a budget accommodation can stay in the Selfoss Hostel, located right in the centre of town.
It offers one to four-person rooms without private facilities, a well-equipped guest kitchen, and laundry facilities.
There is a spacious patio that serves as a great place to relax and get to know the others staying at the hostel with you.
Due to its ideal location near Reykjavik as well as a number of Iceland’s natural treasures, Selfoss is a popular destination and has a wide variety of accommodation options for a town of its size. You are sure to find something that will be suitable for you during your stay.
How to Get There – Selfoss
Selfoss sits right on the Ring Road, 50 kilometres east of Reykjavik. There are no trains in Iceland so if you hope to travel to Selfoss, you will either have to rent a car or take a bus.
Nearly all flights into Iceland come into Keflavik International Airport. Keflavik is about 30-45 minutes driving from Reykjavik.
There is regular bus service between the airport and the main bus terminal in Reykjavik. From there, you can catch a bus to Selfoss.
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