Beautiful Hvalfjordur on a fine summer day. The fjord is very scenic and a much nicer way than taking the undersea tunnel Hvalfjardagong. PIC Diana K

A s is often the case with us humans we tend to hurry so much as to forget the treasures found at our own doorsteps. This happens even when we are supposed to be relaxing on holiday.

A great case in point is a big and impressive fjord only 30 minutes away from Iceland´s capital Reykjavik. Hvalfjordur, Whale fjord, was once upon a time part of highway one in Iceland and hardly anyone could so much as make a short pit stop because of heavy traffic most days unless outside some roadside diner of which there were four in this fjord alone.

Then came the only underwater tunnel in Iceland underneath Hvalfjordur and since then fewer and fewer ever take the longer way. Driving all of Hvalfjordur takes almost 40 minutes non-stop compared to five minutes through the tunnel.

And this is why it is such a pleasure to drive leisurely away from the tunnel and take time cruising Hvalfjordur and stopping almost anywhere without much disturbances. It is a very fine place for berry-picking in late summer. Impressive rocks tower of parts of the road and in the deep end of this beautiful fjord you will find, but only on foot, the highest waterfall in Iceland.

Should you care little about waterfalls or have difficulty trekking there are ample other pleasures waiting roadside. A few farms are here and some farmers glad to meet foreigners. Some even sell their own produce at home to anyone who wants.

Less impressive, but worth an eyeball or two, is a whaling station right by the road. Still in use by Icelandic whalers and whatever you may think of whaling seeing the whalers in action is no less a sight to see than the giant whale carcasses themselves. This is only possible during whaling season each year and times vary from year to year. Next to the whaling station you see the remains of a British and later American base from the second world war.

Lots of history and legends are linked to Hvalfjordur. Take notice of one of the small islands in the fjord. One of those, straight across from the whaling station is Geirsholmi, is said to have been a haven for a woman and her two kids when attacked by a large group of men back in the day. Legend has it she swam to Geirsholmi carrying both her children on her back and made it out alive.

Lots more to witness during a nice drive in Hvalfjord but naturally there is a downside too. At the end of the fjord on the western side is a horrible looking aluminium plant polluting the clean air and ruining the marvellous experience.

All this you will miss by taking the easy way through the tunnel. Skip it and enjoy our fantastic country much more.

PS: please consider using nine-time World Champion Hotel Booking Site below. It is our only source of income.

View Sights and sounds of Hvalfjordur Iceland in a larger map