The clicking hot-spring by the river
When I was staying at the Frost and Fire hotel by the river Varmá I especially liked sitting outside on the terrace listening to the clicking hot-spring on the other side of the river.
I have seen such clicking hot springs in Reykjadalur valley above Hveragerði. This happens when the hot-springs are located under a cliff and when they boil they touch the wall of the cliff and make a clicking sound.
These hot-springs by the river Varmá only came alive after the big earthquake (6,3 on the Richter scale) in this area in May 2008.
I took a video of the hot-spring and put on Youtube.
To see the hot-spring park by the hotel and walk behind the hotel. The hot-spring is on the river bank.
The Geothermal area above Hveragerði.
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 2008 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.
Stay within the boundaries, as the ground is boiling underneath and one can step through the ground and into a hot spring, which is a very serious accident.
The biggest hot spring is called Leirgerður - it opened in the earthquake.
Grýla (Grýta) - hot spring.
Grýta or Grýla as it is sometimes called is a hot spring 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 as that is what my parents called it. But its name is Grýla (the mother of the Yulelads).
It appears that another hot spring called "Leppalúði" (the father of the Yulelads) is north of the road ca 200 meters away from Grýla.
Grýla 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 Grýla. 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.
AN EARTHQUAKE FOR 300 KRONER
Hveragerdi is a town that is built on top of Iceland's geothermal area and we had a brief stop here at Sunnumörk shopping center (a few shops only) on our Golden Circle Tour. Before you reach the town you will be able to see on your left steam rising from the ground. This is where the geothermal plant is located. Hveragerdi has many green houses where vegetables are grown and they are heated from the geothermal energy.
A huge earthquake hit the area in 2008 and there is an exhibition in Sunnumork itself and you have the opportunity to enter a hut where you can experience a 6+ earthquake on the Richter scale. Pay 300 kroner, enter the hut, the light is turned off and the hut will start shaking for 30 seconds or so.
A hot spring beneath a house.
In 1977 a house in Hveragerði started rising and elevated a couple of cm. A rift appeared in the floor, so big that one could put an Icelandic "króna" down the rift.
Earlier a hot spring had opened up and started erupting in the kitchen of one house. This is a risk factor for the habitants living in Hveragerði. And during earthquakes when new hot springs appear this poses as an additional threat.
Here in Hverahlíð people had to move out because of a hot spring opening up under their house.
When visiting Hveragerði with foreigners we always drive to that hole in the ground where the house used to be located. I feel very sorry for the former owners of the house.
I add a map of the location of the house that used to be here.
How to make use of a hot spring in Hveragerði
Hveragerði is named after its numerous hot springs and the inhabitants of Hveragerði have found many ways to make use of their natural resources.
In Hveragerði there has been a geothermal swimming pool since 1938, making it one of the oldest swimming pools in Iceland and this swimming pool was once the biggest swimming pool in the country. The geothermal water in the pool comes from Reykir and there is a steady flow of water into the pool. There is also a steam-bath at the pool, the steam coming almost straight from the borhole. I love going to this pool.
Hveragerði is filled with green-houses, so one can feel like being in the tropics there.
It was not an unusual sight to see the women of Hveragerði running to and from the geothermal hot springs to prepare and get dinner and bread they had cooked in the hot springs.
There is an ice-cream factory in Hveragerði called "Kjörís". The factory uses geothermal steam to pasteurise ice-cream mix and ice-cream sauces. Milk and whey cheese has also been pasteurised by the geothermal fumes.
So as one can see the inhabitants of this lovely town have made the most of the hot springs in this area.
Reykjafoss waterfall and the wool factory.
The first sign of the development of the town of Hveragerði was back in 1902 when a wool factory was built by Reykjafoss waterfall in Varmá river. The wool factory was in operation from 1902-1914 or when the wool factory went bankrupt. The water from the river Varmá was harnessed to power the factory engines.
There was another wool factory like this at Álafoss in Mosfellsbær from 1896-1995.
The foundations of the wool factory can be seen on the river bank south of the waterfall. The river, Varmá, never freezes as it is so close to hot springs, that it is has got warm water, thus the name of the river "Varmá" or the Heated river.
Here by Varmá the first water powered electrical station east of Reykjavík was launched. Also the first street-lights in a rural area were put up in 1906-1907 here in Hveragerði, leading from the wool factory directly towards the old sheepcote, where the Hotel Örk is located now by the main street of Hveragerði. The street-lights were put up after a terrible accident happened, when a man fell into a hot spring when he was walking here during a blinding blizzard.
The Geothermal area in Hveragerði - Hveragarðurinn
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 centre by the entrance to the park with a lot of information on hot-springs and boreholes.
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.
One of the hot springs here, Önnuhver, goes by another name, "Ruslahver" or Garbage hot spring. In that hot spring the inhabitants of Hveragerði threw their garbage. Unfortunately in 1947 after an earthquake, the hot spring came alive and hurled all the garbage back from whence it came.
Another hot spring is called "Manndrápshver" or Homicide hot spring as a man fell into the hot spring in 1906 and died from his burns :(
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.
The geo-park is open from June-September 15th weekdays from 10:0-18:00 and weekends from 12:00-16:00. If you are travelling with a group and want to visit the park when it is closed you can contact the Tourist information centre.
I have added a travelogue with more pictures.
An earthquake simulator in Hveragerði.
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 - Hveragerði - and continues and continues.
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 - Hveragerði - the saga continues.
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.
The Flower festival "Blómahátíð" in Hveragerði.
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 :)
An earthquake-rift inside a library in Hveragerði.
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.
Geothermal Greenhouse at Eden.
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.
- Road Trip