Selfoss

Probably the most picturesque building in Selfoss town is the local church by the Olfusa river. The river is tranquil here but more often it is raging ahead. PIC alf07

Should one wish to be mean-spirited it would be pretty easy to describe the town of Selfoss in the South of Iceland as little more than a  service stop.

Indeed, the description would actually be based on fact since Icelanders themselves more or less treat the town that way. But even trying our very, very best there is almost no reason to spend any serious time here.

Not to be confused with Selfoss waterfall located in the Northeast of Iceland

By Icelandic standards this place is pretty large and one would be forgiven for thinking it popular too if driving here in the summer months. But you would be wrong. Selfoss, although nicely situated on the banks of the powerful Olfusa river, has nothing to offer tourist other than food and services. Nothing at all.

This place has nothing to offer except services for the average tourist

Selfoss is part of the administrative area known as Arborg roughly an hours drive from the capital Reykjavik. Over six thousand make this their home and most work in service-related companies.

One thing this place has going for it is the mild temperatures. Of all the places in all of Iceland this area gets on average more hours of sunshine and warmth along with it. And truth be told part of the main street of Selfoss, Austurvegur road, lined with older and often colorful buildings is very nice to drive along. Driving along the riverbanks is also pretty picturesque and nice even if the Olfusa river is a forceful glacial river.

But nice setting is not the reason for its seeming popularity. On the contrary, it is solely on account of larger supermarkets, gas stations and such services that thousands come through here every day over summertime and on most weekends in the winter. The main reason is that Selfoss is the closest big place to the largest concentration of summer cottages in the whole of Iceland. Located a mere 25 minutes away in Ondverdarnes area are hundreds, if not thousands, of summer cabins and few locals let a weekend go by without visiting.

In any case, since time is limited for the majority of visitors to Iceland this cannot be recommended as a good base for anything. Within the town itself there is not much to do and not much to see and best advice to keep trucking onwards a.s.a.p.

Should you absolutely wish to spend time here and soon find yourself bored you could check out the local library which on occasion offers exhibitions of the work of local artists. A nice swimming pool with hot tubs is here and there is a decent golf course at the outskirts of town also partly on the banks of the Olfusa river. It is also possible to fish in the raging river at certain times and this can be fun. For permits contact the local tourist information agency directly across from the supermarket Kronan at Austurvegur road.

The Ring Road from Reykjavik runs straight into Selfoss town and through. A small and old bridge often creates a traffic bottleneck creating the sense this is quite a lively place. PIC SS

That said, there is a fine, if expensive hotel here. Hotel Selfoss cannot be missed being the very first building on the right after crossing the old bridge into the center of town. More affordable is the aparthotel Fosstun and at least two smaller guesthouses are found here; Guesthouse Bed & Breakfast and Guesthouse Menam. See map for details.

For food you are pretty limited to fast-food places unless you head to the hotel. Also here are three smaller coffeehouses worth spending a few minutes. The most cozy of those is Kaffi Krus at Austurvegur, right beside Kronan supermarket, another special place is Sunnlenska bokakaffið, which roughly translates as the Southern bookcoffee. This is an institution here and the ambiance quite special but not for all tastes. This place is also found at Austurvegur road. The last place to find something nice and special is at Kaffi Lif, a smallish place but often serving hardcore Icelandic dishes. And guess what! Also at Austurvegur road.

De Facto

Do as the locals. Stock up on stuff here before venturing elsewhere and do not believe those that say this is a good base for exploring anything.

Getting here

Easy as 1,2,3. The Ring Road goes through this place but a more scenic route would be to arrive from Eyrarbakka along the coast on route 34.

Our humble opinion

Selfoss has its appeal but it is limited and apart from the river there is nothing special in or around the town. Go onwards.


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