In the foreground the Bessastadir church and behind it the presidential residence of Iceland. PIC lovepro

J ust twenty minutes drive from the hectic, tourist-filled streets of downtown Reykjavik in Iceland one will find the official residence of the president of the country. Located in a low lying and small jagged peninsula called Alftanes the president´s place is often said the one thing to awe over here. But there is more.

We content, time allowing, you should absolutely visit Alftanes but not necessarily to oohh and aahh over the rather plain looking presidential place. While certainly nice it is still just a large farm as it was before there was even an Icelandic president in 1944. Any hope of seeing the president itself tiptoeing around is futile. While official residence this is only the place to receive dignitaries and diplomats and the man himself is seldom here. As evidenced by a total lack of security here at most times.

No! Take in the sight of Bessastadir and do enter the fine church but then head to the small sleepy village right across from the church. The village itself is, like the place, is called Alftanes which roughly means a place of swans although nowadays the village is part and parcel of the bigger Gardabaer municipality.

Again, the village itself is nothing to write home about but the coast around here is quite stunning and beautiful. In fact, in one little cove here you will find one of very, very few white sand beaches in the whole country. And totally natural too. Not too far away you can waste time away with mini-golf if that fancy strikes you but we recommend to drive slowly around until you get to the furthest end of this place. This is Hlid.

You will know it is the right place when you see the old-school type farmhouse. The one with the grass for roof. Today this is a hostel and a restaurant neither of which are very good although opinions vary. What is good, however, is the fantastic views over a large chunk of Faxafloi bay of which Reykjavik and the Greater Reykjavik area is part.

standing here when the fireworks starts one might well believe the whole of the coast is on fire

In fact, standing right here on New Year´s Eve when the fireworks starts one might well believe the whole of the coast is on fire. A great little-known photographers spot and that goes double for bird-lovers. This is a mecca for quite a number of birds.

Although the restaurant and hostel are privately owned and run access here is free for all as this is a public area. A wonderful natural outdoor spot smack in the middle of the Greater Reykjavik area so to speak.

PS: You may notice a giant swim hall in the middle of the village itself. Amazingly, the idiots running this tiny place of roughly two thousand people thought it a great idea to build here one of the largest swimming pools in Iceland with wave pools and the highest water slide in the country a few years ago. Which explains why Alftanes village is now being run from another municipality. They went bankrupt.

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