Garðabær literally means “garden town” and is an important part of the greater capital area with its own collection of diverse landscapes, stretching impressively from the beautiful Heiðmörk Nature Reserve to the pleasant Álftanes peninsula.
The town has a rich historic background, which can be explored in great detail at the Hofsstaðir Archaeological Park, where remains of the second largest farm from the settlement age are on exhibition. The site, located at Kirkjulundur, dates back to the end of the 9th century and bears testament to the ambition and drive possessed by the country’s first inhabitants. While visiting you can use your imagination to transport yourself back in time, or alternatively, you can get the official story via their rather modern touch-screen display. Free admission and open 24 hours a day.
There’s a long history of art and design in Iceland. Some of the creative results have been preserved in the Museum of Design & Applied Art at Garðatorg – the town centre. The Museum’s objective is to collect, study and present Icelandic design and crafts dating from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present day. Today the collection is comprised of countless objects: furniture, items of design, pottery, and glassware, clothing and graphic design. New exhibitions open regularly and creative souvenirs can be purchased from Kraum –a design shop situated in the museum. Daily 12:00-17:00, closed Mondays. Garðatorg 1, Tel. (+354) 512 1525.
Situated on a low-lying peninsula just south of the city centre, Álftanes is a small community of about 2,500 people. Both visitors and residents are drawn to this magnificent pastoral setting by the sea and although there aren’t many businesses or commercial centres, there’s still plenty for people to see and do.
Apart from it being home to the official presidential residence Bessastaðir—an ancient farmstead housing the nation’s leaders for centuries, one of its major attractions is the new thermal pool, featuring the largest waterslide in the country and Iceland’s only wave pool. If you’re a fan of the outdoor life and love to stretch your legs, then Álftanes is also a walkers’ paradise with trails spanning 9km (5, 1/2 miles) around the unique shoreline.
Those who are fascinated by the more feathery residents of Reykjavík will also be pleased to discover that the shoreline is filled with clear ponds bustling with migratory birdlife! In case you forget your thermos, not to worry, coffee loving folks can still indulge their taste buds at the newly opened cafeteria, where you can also grab a tasty bite to eat!