Astjorn Lake in Hafnarfjordur Travel Guide
Astjorn, spelled Ástjörn in Icelandic, is a small lake in the beautiful port town of Hafnarfjordur, famous for birdwatching and strolling activities.
Travelers staying in Hafnarfjordur accommodations, like Hotel Vellir and Hotel Viking, can easily access the lake because of its proximity to the center. Hafnarfjordur is a town and part of the Greater Reykjavik Area.
Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Bjarki S. No edits made.
What is Astjorn Lake in Hafnarfjordur?
Astjorn is a small lake that covers a protected nature reserve in Hafnarfjordur. Although more people consider Astjorn a lake, some categorize it as a pond due to its small size compared to other lakes in Iceland.
You can find the Hafnarfjordur lake near the town's main square, just seven miles (12 kilometers) from Reykjavik.
Astjorn was created approximately 2,000 years ago when a lava flow blocked the lake's drainage to the sea until it filled up with the water catchment it is today. The water in Astjorn comes from a combination of sources. Still, it is primarily from underground springs from nearby mountains and rainwater runoff flowing into the lake.
Features of Lake Astjorn
Lake Astjorn serves as a peaceful oasis from the hustle and bustle of the town. It is an excellent relaxing spot because of the scenic views and walking trails around its water.
The most notable feature of the lake is its thriving fauna or birdlife. Over 40 species of birds have been spotted in the lake over the past years, although most are just temporary during the seasonal bird migration.
The most common bird and duck species nesting and visiting the lake are waterfowls, swans, seagulls, Arctic terns, and black-headed gulls. However, the most famous resident of Astjorn is the rare horned grebe, a small waterbird known for their pointed bills, black heads, and reddish necks.
During summer, the Icelandic lake transforms into a birdwatching haven due to the presence of these nesting birds. If you wish to see them, visiting from May to August is your best option. However, you can only see them from a distance as public traffic is limited during this time for the birds' protection.
The lake has several fish species, including brown trout and Arctic char. Visitors may also spot other aquatic creatures, such as freshwater snails, beetles, and dragonflies, that nourish the birds and ducks.
Meanwhile, the lake is surrounded by various plants and trees, including birch, willow, and alder trees. These trees provide a relaxing shade to anyone who wants to get close to Lake Astjorn. In addition, several shrubs and grasses, such as common reeds and bulrush, also grow around the lake's edges.
How to Get to Astjorn Lake Near Reykjavik
There are three ways for visitors to reach Lake Astjorn or Hafnarfjordur from Reykjavik.
The most convenient way is to rent a car and drive to the lake, with a travel time of only about 20 minutes, depending on traffic. There are available parking lots near the lake.
Your other options are taking a public bus or riding a taxi. While public transport is cheaper, it can take up to 30 minutes because of the few stops to pick up and drop off other passengers. Meanwhile, a taxi ride to Hafnarfjordur takes about 20 minutes but is more expensive.
After birdwatching and strolling around, don't miss out on visiting some top attractions near Astjorn lake.
Just 23 miles (37 kilometers) southwest of the lake is the Blue Lagoon, the most visited attraction in Iceland outside Reykjavik. The Blue Lagoon boasts milky-blue waters heated at 37 to 40 C (98 to 104 F) throughout the year. This mineral-rich lagoon is the best place to experience a relaxing geothermal bath.