Is it always this sunny on the new downtown square? In any case, the restaurants have lovely interior, too

A day in Selfoss: Home to skyr and the Bobby Fischer memorial  

Selfoss is a place where people sleep, eat and maybe do some fishing in the river Ölfusá: this commuter-town located an hour's drive from Reykjavík is the default Ring Road stop with an impressive number of restaurants and accommodation options.    

Ölfusá bridge in winter

The Ölfusá bridge. A new bridge is in the making east of town, to ease chronic traffic jams.

The New Downtown 

Selfoss has always been a hub for the surroundings: The town was established with the completion of a suspension bridge over the mighty glacier river Ölfusá, linking together the southern coast and the agrarian lowlands. Farmers and fishers had a meeting point. Today, Selfoss is a hub for Golden Circle and South Coast excursions. The Ölfusá Bridge remains central, like a harbor in seaside community.

Arriving over the bridge, the cluster of houses facing the incoming roundabout are the entrance to the New Downtown. The ambitious development, set to finish in 2026, is a recreation of buildings from Iceland's architectural past. The Old Dairy Food Hall, home to eight vendors, is modeled after the old the original diary factory in Selfoss, created by the first Icelander to receive education in architecture, Guðjón Samúelsson.

People viewing the Skyrland exhibition in the Old Dairy food hall

Viewing the interactive Skyrland exhibition inside the Old Dairy food hall.

Skyr and chess

Skyr, a type of yogurt, has conquered the world in recent years. Almost all skyr in Iceland is made in Selfoss – but how? To learn about this protein-rich ‘superfood’ head to the smart Skyrland exhibition in the basement of the Old Dairy food hall.  

Another peculiar exhibition, certainly more out of character for Selfoss, is the The Bobby Fischer Center honoring the memory of the American chess champion. To make a long story very short, Fischer was granted citizenship in Iceland 2004 after a dramatic escape from Japan. He passed away four years later and was buried in the middle of the night at a quiet cemetery by the small Laugardælakirkja outside of town.


Walking passed the new downtown on Austurvegur (Rte 1)

Walk along Main Street  

The variety of independent, family-owned stores and restaurants gives visitors a great sense for small-town Iceland. Most businesses are by the streets of Austurvegur and Eyrarvegur.  

Among landmark establishments are the Alvörubúðin knitting store, Pylsuvaginn hot dog stand, Ísbúð Huppu ice cream store, Motivo gift store, Karl úrsmiður watch store, Skóbúð Selfoss shoe shop, Bókakaffið second-hand bookstore, G&K artisan bakery and Baldvin og Þorvaldur horse equipment. 

For a more relaxed walk, the path along River Ölfusá, extending from the iconic Selfoss Church to the hospital, is a delightful stroll. For a longer walk, on the other side of the river, head to the public park at Hellisskógur public park, or hike the Ingólfsfjall mountain like the locals. 

Kayaking in Stokkseyri

Kayaking in the calm canals of Stokkseyri is a popular activity for groups

Stokkseyri and Eyrarbakki

Selfoss is the largest inland town in Iceland, but its local municipality (known as Árborg) has a coastal frontier. Stokkseyri and Eyrarbakki are twin towns, each with about 500 residents, rich with history and coastal life.

One of Iceland's oldest house, built by Danish traders in 1765, is Húsið (The House) in Eyrarbakki. The regional Heritage Museum is based inside Húsið, overlooking a street of timber houses from the heyday of trade and stature; home to the oldest primary school in the country. Restaurant Rauða Húsið (the Red House) is among the landmark buildings.

Between Eyrarbakki and Stokkseyri is Iceland's maximum security prison Litla-Hraun, with its surprisingly low fences.

Stokkseyri is known for langoustine (Icelandic lobster) at the restaurant Fjöruborðið, although the days of fishing and processing lobster have long passed. The town's former fish factory Hólmaröst is an art residency. Knarrarósviti Lighthouse, on its outskirts, is a good spot to explore the beach.

Kayaking in the calm canals of Stokkseyri is a popular activity for groups, reasonable for all levels of fitness and experience.

Getting to / from Eyrarbakki and Stokkseyri: Local buses, known as Árborgarstrætó, travel from Selfoss. The landscape is flat, with bike paths running alongside the road most of the way, too.

Get inspired

Experience some of Iceland's amazing routes and travel destinations in South Iceland.

A day in Selfoss: The New Downtown and a trip to Eyrarbakki