Selfoss – The Agricultural Center of Iceland

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Settlements in Iceland are a rare occurrence since the country has a total population of only about 360,000 people.  Towns, villages, and cities are limited but each one of them has great historical and economical importance for the country. The town of Selfoss is littered with small cafes, accommodation houses for tourists and guests, industrial landmarks, and beautiful natural attraction. Selfoss has recently become an important pillar of trade and commerce in Iceland and there has been no stopping in the development of the town after that. Along with numerous hotels, hostels, guests house, cafes, shops, and restaurants; the town contains some great tourist attractions like outdoor swimming pools, sauna, and hot tubs. Home to about 6,500 people today, Selfoss once used to be a town of only 40 inhabitants.

History of Selfoss

There are records in Iceland that mention that Selfoss is the town where the first ‘man’ of Iceland moved – permanently. The man is known by the name of Ingólfur Arnarson and it is said that he spent some time beneath Ingólfsfjall mountain that looks over the town, somewhere around 873 AD to 874 AD. The town itself was not permanently settled until 1000 AD, as recorded in the Book of Settlements of Iceland. When Selfoss finally got settled as an official colony, it became an agricultural center of the country which as very different than other settlements.  Most Icelandic economically important towns were a hotspot for fishing instead of agriculture. It wasn’t until the year 1891 that more commercial attention came to Selfoss. The suspension bridge over river Olfusa was built in 1891and after that the town started attracting attention from the capital city. The bridge was of such importance that special troops were sent to guard it when Denmark, as a colonial ruler, fell in World War 2 to Nazis.

The rise in trade brought an increase of inhabitants over the following few decades of the construction of the bridge. Mjólkurbú Flóamanna dairy farm and Kaupfélag Árnesinga general store were established as the first two industrial establishments and stayed as the primary employers for the citizen for a very long time. After that, the development didn’t stop. Cafes, restaurants, hotels, a college, and many other places established and flourished the business.

An Economical Center Close to Nature

Even though Selfoss has grown (economically) quite marvelously in the past century, it remains to be a place that is close to mother nature more than any other town in Iceland. People find escape in Selfoss and visit it often to get away from the commercial lives that they have in their hometowns. The town is close to several camping sites like Skjól, Þjórsárstofa and Thingvellir National park so you can get the supplies from the shops and head for a chat with nature to the campsite that suits you the best. The mos popular summer house area is also located next to Selfoss. Icelanders love to go to their summer houses in Grímsnes all year long for relaxation and spending time out in the nature. 

Culture and Festivals in Selfoss

Just like every other town in the world, Selfoss has its own culture, traditions, and festivals that go around and make it special. Apart from the beautiful new year and Christmas celebrations that the town holds, there is a Sumar á Selfossi festival – the Selfoss Summer Festival. An open festival, it includes food, banter, concerts and bonfire, and many other musical performances. Sports are also a rather big part of the towns culture. Basketball, handball, and football are very popular among the residents as well as visitors.

How to get there?

Selfoss is only 50 kilometers away from the capital city and is located on the South Coast of Iceland, but is also a part of the Golden Circle route. You can easily find the town when heading towards the southwest. It will be one of the first stops you can make when heading towards the south coast. Helliheiði heath will be a drive-through destination when you are heading towards Selfoss from the capital. This path is sometimes closed in winter due to bad weather conditions so, make sure to check ahead of time to avoid inconveniences.

Map of Selfoss

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