Information about Selfoss (town)

The lights of Selfoss in Icelandic winter.Wikimedia, Creative Commons, Photo Credit: Christian Bickel

Selfoss is a town of about 6,512 people in South Iceland, by the banks of the river Olfusá, one of the largest rivers in the country. The town is a centre of commerce, farming, horticulture and small industries in South Iceland.

Located 50 kilometres (31 miles) from Reykjavík, it is the largest town outside of the capital area in the southwest. It sits on the Ring Road that encircles the country, and is one of the last stops en route to the South Coast.

The name is Selfoss is somewhat of an anomaly. The word ‘foss’ in Icelandic means ‘falls’, therefore place names such as Gullfoss, Goðafoss and Svartifoss all refer to waterfalls; there is even a waterfall in the north also called Selfoss. In the town, however, the river is flat, and no one is quite sure why it is named such.

History of Selfoss

Records of the lands near Selfoss date back to the first man to permanently move to Iceland, Ingólfur Arnarson; it was said he spent the winter of 873 to 874 AD here, beneath the mountain that overlooks the town, Ingólfsfjall. However, it was not permanently settled, according to the Book of Settlements, until just after 1000 AD.

Being inland, Selfoss was an agricultural centre, at a time when most economic centres were the fishing towns (the coastline is 15 kilometres, or nine miles, away). More commerce came to the region in 1891, when a suspension bridge was built over the river Olfusa, connecting the agricultural south to the capital. This bridge was so important to the country’s infrastructure and economy that is was guarded by British troops in World War Two, after the Allies invaded Iceland following the fall of its colonial ruler, Denmark, to the Nazis.

The town was small at the beginning of the 20th Century with just around 40 inhabitants. Its exponential growth over the next decades came from the rise in trade due to the bridge, and the establishment of a large dairy farm and local store which needed employees. More recently, it has become seen as a desirable place to move for those who want to escape the stresses of city living or raise a family closer to the nature. It also has a large college.

In 2008, an earthquake struck the town, damaging roads and buildings, killing a number of sheep, and injuring 30 people. The same geological forces that threaten the town, however, also provide opportunity for it, as the activity in the area means that the greenhouse industry has flourished.

Culture at Selfoss

Selfoss is a cultural hub in the southwest. Every year it has the Sumar á Selfossi festival, which translates to Summer in Selfoss, which includes a fete, musical performers, and an evening bonfire. The town also has the Bobby Fischer Centre, a museum on the life of chess champion; his grave is located nearby.

Sports are very popular in the town, most notably football, basketball and handball, largely due to the student population.

In 2018, the town announced that it was creating a new town centre, in which it would have reconstructions from historical buildings all around the country. This, no doubt, will only increase tourism and culture in the area.

 

Services near Selfoss (town)

All services in 50km radius

Attractions nearby Selfoss (town)

Ingólfsfjall

Credit: Wikimedia, Creative Commons. Photo by Bromr. Ingólfsfjall is a 551 metre (1807 feet) tall tuff mountain, named after the country&rsquo...

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Eyrarbakki

Eyrarbakki is a fishing village in south Iceland with a population of around 570 people, located at the end of the great Þjórsá&nb...

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Arnarhóll

Arnarhóll is a hill, situated on the eastern end of Reykjavík’s Old Harbour, and a district in the capital’s downtown area...

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Stokkseyri

Stokkseyri is a village of about 445 people in South Iceland, founded on the great Thjorsarhraun lava. In former times Stokkseyri was an important fis...

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Hveragerði

Hveragerði is a town and municipality in the southwest of Iceland. It is often nicknamed ‘the Earthquake Town’ or ‘the Hot Spr...

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Kerið

Kerið is a volcanic crater lake in the Grímsnes area of South Iceland. It is close to the three major sites that comprise Iceland’s...

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Urriðafoss

Credit: Wikimedia, Creative Commons. Photo by Árni Hjaltarson Urriðafoss is a waterfall in the Þjórsá river in so...

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Hengladalsá

Hengladalsa is a river in Southwest Iceland.  The river has its source by the Hengill area, from valleys Innstidalur, Middalur and Fremstidalur,...

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Reykjadalur

Reykjadalur, the Valley of Steam, is a beautiful geothermal region close to the southern town Hveragerði. It is a popular place for hiking and h...

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Hellisheiði

Wikimedia, Creative Commons, Photo Credit: ThinkGeoEnergy Hellisheiði is a lava plateau east of Reykavík, approximately 380 metres (1,247 ...

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Þjórsá

Wikimedia, Creative Commons, Photo Credit: Grunkhead The majestic Þjórsá is Iceland’s longest and second-most voluminous ri...

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Raufarhólshellir

Photo from The Lava Tunnel | Raufarholshellir Caving Tour Raufarhólshellir is the fourth longest lava tube in Iceland at 1,360 metres (4,...

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Ölfus

  Olfus is a area in Arnessysla county, with its boundaries at Olfusa in the east and the Hellisheidi plateau in the west. The landscape of Ol...

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Þorlákshöfn

Þórlakshöfn is the main town of the Öfus district in South Iceland, located on the South Shore. It has a population of about ...

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Ring Road

Iceland has one main road: Route 1, or the Icelandic Ring Road. This ring road goes all around the island and is 1,332 kilometres long (828 miles), ...

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Sólheimar Ecovillage

Sólheimar (“Home of the Sun”) is an eco-village in southwest Iceland, in the municipality of Grímsnes og Grafningshreppur,...

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The Geothermal Energy Exhibition

Photo from the Geothermal Exhibition The Geothermal Energy Exhibition is an interactive museum on Iceland’s volcanic processes at Hellisheið...

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Hellisheiðarvirkjun

The Hellisheidi Power Station is the largest geothermal powerstation in Iceland and the second-largest in the world. The power station is located by...

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Þrengsli and Þrengslavegur

Þrengslavegur is a road in Iceland that connects Route 1 to the towns along the southern coastline, whereas Þrengsli is a picturesque...

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Nesjavallavirkjun

Credit: Wikimedia, Creative Commons. Photo by Gretar Ivarsson. Nesjavallavirkjun is a geothermal power station in southwestern Iceland, operated by O...

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Tours near Selfoss (town)

Thorsmork Super Jeep Day Tour

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Thorsmork Valley & Volcano Eyjafjallajokull | Super Jeep Tour

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Personalised South Coast Day Tour from Reykjavik

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South Coast Sightseeing | Glaciers, Waterfalls & Black Sand Beaches

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Secrets of the South Coast | Sightseeing & Glacier Hiking Day Tour

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4-Day Northern Lights Adventure | South Coast with Glacier Hike

Join this incredible 4-day Super Jeep tour exploring the Valley of Þórsmörk where you will......

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Iceland by Bus | South Coast Bus Passport

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