|Tourist Information Centre
small town by Reykjavik
Known as "The Town in the Lava," Hafnarfjordur, Iceland's third-largest town, has been a trading port longer than any other place in Iceland. In fact, the excellent natural harbour here gives the town its name, meaning "harbour fjord." Iceland's first trawler was based here nearly a century ago, and the thriving and expanding, full-service harbour remains important to town vigour, with about 1 million tonnes of goods being handled annually. Tourism activities, such as whale-watching and sea-angling voyages aboard the Húni II and Elding are also harbour-based. And Iceland's only Viking restaurant, Fjorukráin, is located on the waterfront.
Convenient to both Keflavík International Airport and Reykjavík, Hafnarfjordur, is uniquely situated on lava flows which are also setting for town parks and recreational areas, which include campground, golf course, hiking paths, swimming pools and nature preserves. Part of the charm of this town of 20,000 is its abiding respect for "Hidden People," the seldom-seen residents of the "Hidden World" who also live in the lava. In fact, local quirks in street and building patterns have resulted when mishaps indicated that unseen neighbours were annoyed. An actual map is available of the Hidden World from the Hafnarfjordur Tourist Information Centre.
Fishing, maritime industry and related services remain important in Hafnarfjordur, which over the centuries has undergone strong influence from English, German and Danish merchants. Today, Hafnarfjordur has a number of sister communities around the world. Co-operation with these and other ventures, both domestic and abroad has been made a municipal priority, as has fostering environmentally aware tourism potential. Seabird cliffs and hot springs at Krísuvík, the lakes of Ástjorn and Hvaleyrarvatn and horseback riding areas are among special outdoor attractions.
Culturally, Hafnarborg, the town's Institute of Culture and Fine Art, and three other museums: the Icelandic Maritime Museum; the Icelandic Museum of Cinematography and The Vest Norden Culture House are all here, in addition to the Hafnarfjordur Museum of Local History which has exhibits at three different places in town.
The town also hosts a biennial family-oriented International Viking Festival, in a living-history village setting during several days.
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