Grýta or Grýla as it is sometimes called is just outside of Hveragerði - above the town. The reason for it to have 2 names is due to a typo. Icelanders use either name, I use Grýta.
Grýta is Hveragerði´s best known hot spring, which used to erupt up to 15 meters in the air 24 times a day, i.e. every hour. Then it cooled down, as it were, and now one would hardly notice it.
There is now a picnic area by Grýta. One can only see the hot air coming from the ground, but we visit it while in Hveragerði, if only to pay it respect for what it used to be.
Hveragerði is in the main area where the tectonic plates meet and on the 29th of May 2008 there was an earthquake 6,3 on the Richter scale right under Mt. Ingólfsfjall. It caused a lot of damage in Hveragerði, Selfoss and surrounding areas.
There is now an exhibition next to the Hveragerði library on what damage the eartquake did to the houses in Hveragerði. And an eartquake simulator where you can walk into a shed and feel what it felt like during the earthquake.
Eden went bankrupt in December 2008 and was bought by another company who believe in the old Nordic gods "Ásatrúarmenn" and was reponed in May 2009 by the name of Iðavellir. It went bankrupt also and now (March 2010) it is closed. I hope it will reopen as this is a must stop while in this area.
On June 25th Eden was reopened in its original form - I am very happy about this as it is a must to stop there, buy some flowers and have a coffee. The owner is looking into buying 3 primates from Germany to keep in Eden - the kids will love it.
The Viking ship has gone from Eden, I guess it must have belonged to the former owners.
ON THE 22ND OF JULY 2011 EDEN BURNT DOWN :(
Eden is in Hveragerði and the drive from Reykjavík is about a 45 minutes. There are a lot of hot-springs in Hveragerði (hver=hot spring). Eden is a green-house with all kinds of plants for sale and banana-plants with real bananas, a souvenir shop with a wide variety of woolen goods and a sheep (which has paid a visit to the taxidermists) called Yeltsin, I include a picture of it here. The entrance door has beautiful carvings of Adam and Eve. Eden has a nice Viking-style restaurant and a café with lovely atmosphere. There is also a play-area for the children. It has new owners who have been renovating it, and their web-site is under construction (April 2008).
For us Icelanders it is a tradition to always stop there for a bite if in that area, and we have done so for as long as I can remember. It is a very popular place, by all means pay it a visit if you are in that are. The nearest town east of Hveragerði is Selfoss, and it is almost on the route to Gullfoss and Geysir. See my next tip for more pictures.
There is a geothermal area with hot springs just outside of Hveragerði town by the roots of the mountain Reykjafjall. When in Hveragerði it is well worth visiting this area. It is just a couple of minutes further up the main-road in Hveragerði and ca a 7 minutes' walk from the main road.
There was an earthquake here in May 2010 and it played havoc with this area, new hot springs opened and spouted high into the air. It was then a really dangerous and gruesome spot. Now it has calmed down and it is safe to visit the area.
The biggest hot spring is called Leirgerður - it opened in the earthquake.
Hveragerði is a pure geothermal town and "hver" means hot-spring. There is a geo-park inside of the town, Hveragarðurinn, much like other towns have parks. In the big earth-quake on the 29th of May 2008 new fissures opened and others closed, making it dangerous to hike on some hiking-trails above Hveragerði. On the day I visited the geo-park a person got burnt on his leg while hiking when the ground caved in under his leg. And in February 2009 another person got burnt in the same area above Hveragerði while hiking there and the earth caved in and one of his legs sunk into a hot-spring. This is But the geo-park is safe and well defined with signs.
The biggest and best known hot-spring in the geo-park is Blue spring which is 30-88 degrees hot, i.e. on one side it is 30 degrees C and on the other side it is 88 degrees C. Then there is Riverbank hot-spring and Anna's hot-spring, which were formed after earthquakes, and a hot-spring river from a hot water well. Riverbank hot-spring was used for heating, cooking and to wash clothes in. A dairy used the steam to pasteurize milk and make the brown cheese "mysa".
There is an information center by the entrance to the park with a lot of information on hot-springs and bor-holes.
The geo-park is open from June-August weekdays from 10:30-18 and weekends from 13-16. If you are travelling with a group and want to visit the park when it is closed you can contact the Tourist information center.
You can take a mud foot-bath here and cook your own eggs in a hot-spring. The mud is taken from hot-springs in the Hveragerði area, which have gone cold. The mud is said to be antibacterial and self-cleaning and anti-inflammatory - so it cannot hurt trying this.
In the park there are also colourful settlement chicken.
The geo-park is one of its kind in the world as nowhere else in the world there is a populated area so close to an active high-temperature geothermal area.
I have added a travelogue with more pictures.
The Flower festival in Hveragerði was held for the second time on the 25th-27th of June. This is such a good idea as Hveragerði, literally "Hot-spring Fence" goes by another name, Blómabærinn or "The Town of Flowers".
Hveragerði comes alive in the last weekend of June, the inhabitants do a very good job of decorating the town with flowers and there are many beautiful art-works, beginning with the round-about which leads to the town. As you enter Hveragerði you will be greeted by young people who will hand you a map of the festivities.
The main festival area is at the north-end of town, with singing and dancing, a tent with artists selling their lovely art, a lovely decorated fairy-tale house with Little Red riding-hood and the wolf, a witch and many more fairy-tale characters.
In a lovely park you will find more stalls and a big tent with Icelandic food for sale, f.ex. flatkökur (see my tip under Iceland), dulse, Icelandic moss products (including moss shots). There are also horse-carridge rides in the park - and everything is lovely decorated with flowers.
Inside the gymnasium there are more stalls, and by the gymnasium there is a barbeque with hot-dogs etc. for sale. On the other side of the gymnasium there is a small fun-fair.
In Hveragarðurinn "Hot-spring garden" you can get a free foot-bath in hot mud or a hot spring - and cook eggs in a hot spring (see my tip on the garden "The Geothermal area in Hveragerði").
All over Hveragerði there are private houses with a soup sign (see my photo) and there you can get free soup from the inhabitants from 16-18.
The festival is open from 13-17 and during this time there is a small bus which takes you to the main area and the Hot-spring garden, but it is only a short walk.
If you are ever in Iceland during this period don't miss The Flower festival :)
Inside the library in Hveragerði there is an earthquake-rift in the middle of the library. When construction work was started on the foundation of the shopping complex in Sunnumörk in 2004 they came across an earthquake-rift. The construction had to be stopped, but then it was decided to build the library on top of the chasm and cover it with glass and light it up so people could see it and walk on it. It has been a popular attraction for both locals and tourists alike and children love it!
Opening hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday: 14-19, Tuesday 14-21 and Saturday from 11-14.
Next to the library is The Tourist Information Center.
Hveragerði is located in the main area where the tectonic plates meet and on the 29th of May 2008 there was an earthquake 6,3 on the Richter scale right under Mt. Ingólfsfjall next to Hveragerði.
This is a shop where you can buy plants. There are some interesting plants up here. But nowadays it is a big tourist place. If you really want to go here, you should go. Otherwise you shouldn't go here.