Information about Hvalfjörður

Hvalfjordur, in west Iceland, translates to 'Whale Fjord'.

Hvalfjörður is a fjord in southwest Iceland. The fjord is approximately 30 kilometres (19 miles) long and five (three miles) kilometres wide.

Nature and Landscape

The landscape of Hvalfjörður is varied and beautiful, with wide areas of flat land along majestic mountains, green vegetation in summer and beaches cut with creeks.

The area is rich in bird life and is home to seals, but despite its name, which translates to ‘Whale Fjord,’ it is not known for its whale or dolphin populations. Two theories exist on how it got its name; either that it was once home to whales before fish stocks moved away, or because of the general shape of the bay.

The area has recently been part of Iceland’s successful reforestation effort. 

Natural attractions in the area are plentiful but most significant is Iceland's highest waterfall, Glymur, in the river Botnsá. There are also plenty of interesting hiking trails in the area, such as Síldarmannagotur, leading north, and Leggjabrjótur, leading east towards the area of Þingvellir National Park

History and Culture

Historically, Hvalfjörður was home to one of the main whaling stations in Iceland, with ships heading out into Faxaflói Bay. It was one of the most important naval stations in the North Atlantic during World War Two, when Iceland was occupied by the Allies after the Nazis conquered Denmark.

The old whaling station and a war museum can be found in the fjord. 

Iceland's main psalm poet, Hallgrímur Pétursson, writer of the ‘Passia Hymns,' lived in Hvalfjörður. The area was also the home of the late Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson, poet and performer and head of the Icelandic Pagan Association. 

Economy

Most inhabitants of the fjord live in rural areas, and there is some farming in the area. Until the 1990s those travelling between Borgarnes and Reykjavík had to take a long detour around the fjord, but this was solved with a tunnel that travels beneath it, finished in 1998.

Grundartangi promontory in Hvalfjörður has one of the largest harbours in the country and two industrial plants. One is a ferrosilicon plant, operated since 1979, the other an aluminium smelter, operated since 1998.

Both of these were controversial during their construction, and continue to be controversial during their ongoing operation. Along with whaling and hydroelectric dams, smelters and silicone plants are the hottest environmental debates going on in Iceland.

 

Services near Hvalfjörður

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Attractions nearby Hvalfjörður

Bjarteyjarsandur

Bjarteyjarsandur is a family farm in west Iceland, where visitors can enjoy an authentic, rural Icelandic experience. Located in Hvalfjörður...

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Valshamar

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Akrafjall

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Esjan

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Móskarðshnjúkar

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Kistufell

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Skalafell

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Þórufoss

Credit: Wikimedia, Creative Commons. Photo by Anna Jonna Ármannsdóttir. Þórufoss is an 18 m (62 ft) high waterfall found e...

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Glymur

Wikimedia, Creative Commons, photo credit: Andreas Tille Glymur is Iceland’s second-tallest waterfall, and the tallest that is easily accessibl...

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Hvanneyri

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Borgarnes

Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Chensiyuan Borgarnes is a town of fewer than 2000 people, located on a peninsula at the shore of Borgarfj&...

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Borgarfjörður

Borgarfjörður is a fjord and a district in south western Iceland, by Faxaflói bay. It covers the coastal land between Reykjaví...

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Akranes

Wikimedia, Creative Commons, Photo by Helgarun Akranes is a port town in the west of Iceland, approximately 42 kilometres (26 miles) from Reykjav&iac...

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Capital Region

The Capital Region refers to Reykjavík and its bordering towns. It holds well over half of the country’s population, in spite of taking...

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Laxnes

Laxnes is a farm in Mosfellsdalur Valley. Nobel author Halldor Laxness was partly brought up here and adopted the farm's name as his surname. Lax...

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Settlement Center

The Settlement Center is a museum in Borgarnes, a town of west Iceland. Here, you can visit two exhibitions, with one about the Age of Settlement, a...

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Mosfellsdalur

Credit: Wikimedia, Creative Commons. Photo by Stig Nygaard. Mosfellsdalur is a valley, located approximately 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Iceland&rs...

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Gljufrasteinn

“Whoever doesn't live in poetry cannot survive here on earth.” These are the words of the late Halldór Kiljan Laxness, a 1955 N...

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Borg á Mýrum

Borg á Mýrum is a farm and church estate just west of the town of Borgarnes in Iceland.  The estate is especially rich in settleme...

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Lundey

Lundey, otherwise known as ‘Puffin Island’, is a small, uninhabited island off the coast of Reykjavík, known for its incredible b...

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