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Borgarnes

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Borgarnes is a town in West Iceland about 75 km north of Reykjavík, with a population of around 2000. It stands by a fjord called Borgarfjörður and is the centre of a vast municipality, Borgarbyggð.

Understand

While not traditionally a big tourist destination, Borgarnes is a town many people see on their travels in Iceland. This is because of its location on the Ring road between Reykjavík and North Iceland. Icelanders often don't know much more of the town other than its highway dining options. However, tourism grew in the 2010s with increased interest in the region's history. Borgarnes is a perfect getaway from Reykjavík: it only takes about an hour to get there, but the setting is completely different, much closer to what some people would term the "real" Iceland.

The name Borgarnes means "Borg peninsula" and refers to a farm of that name, Borg. Borg was the home of Egill Skallagrímsson, the titular character of Egil's saga.

Get in

Borgarnes lies on the ring road and is easily accessible by car. It's about an hours drive from Reykjavík, four hours from Akureyri. Borgarnes is also close to the junction where the road out to the Snæfellsnes peninsula splits off from the ring road and Stykkishólmur is just over an hour away by car. Between Reykjavík and Borgarnes there is a toll road, the tunnel under Hvalfjörður. The toll is 1000 kr each way for a normal car, but it's also possible to drive around the fjord adding just under an hour to your journey.

Several buses leave from BSÍ bus terminal in Reykjavík every day heading up to Borgarnes. Any northbound bus from Reykjavík should make a stop in Borgarnes. In addition, buses connect Borgarnes to Akureyri, Hólmavík and the towns on the north coast of Snæfellsnes.

Get around

Borgarnes is a small town and it can easily be explored on foot. There are no local buses or taxi companies.

See

  • Safnahús Borgarfjarðar (Borgarfjörður museums), Bjarnarbraut 4-6, ☏ +430 7200, ✉ safnahus@safnahus.is. M-F 13:00-18:00. Several small museums and collections are housed together in one building: a natural history collection, local history museum, an art collection, the local archives, and a library. 
  • Skallagrímsgarður. A small municipal park in the heart of town, perfect for a picnic. 
  • 1 The Settlement Center, Brákarbraut 13 - 15. 10:00-21:00. A media centre showcasing the Viking sagas, stories or descriptions of their everyday life. (updated Feb 2018)

Do

  • Borgarnes swimming pool (Sundlaugin í Borgarnesi), Þorsteinsgata 1, ☏ +354 437 1444, ✉ sundlaug@borgarbyggd.is. M-F 06:30-21:00, Sa Su 09:00-18:00. Like most Icelandic towns, Borgarnes has its own swimming pool. This one also has a steam bath, sauna, two hot tubs and three water slides. 
  • Settlement Centre (Landnámssetrið), Brákarbraut 13-15, ☏ +354 437 1600. A centre devoted to the saga age in Iceland's history. They regularly put on plays and other shows, and the centre hosts exhibitions on Egil's saga and the settlement of Iceland. Also a gift shop and a restaurant. 
  • Center for Puppet Arts (Brúðuheimar), Skúlagata 17, ☏ +354 530 5000. 10:00-22:00. Puppetry is not an art form with a long history in Iceland. Borgarnes, however, is the home of one of the country's few puppetteers and he has opened a center which functions both as an interactive museum of puppetry (you can try some of the puppets yourself) and as a puppet theatre. 

Eat and drink

Because of its location on the ring road, Borgarnes has several fast food eateries in gas stations along the road. The Settlement Centre, the Center for Puppet Arts and Hotel Bru have restaurants. The local liquor store is at Borgarbraut 58-60.

Reyka vodka is distilled in Borgarnes.

  • Dússabar, Brákarbraut 3. An Icelandic country bar and a Thai restaurant rolled into one. Very popular among the locals. 

Sleep

  • 1 Borgarnes Bed and Breakfast, Skúlagata 21, ☏ +354 433 1566, ✉ borgarnesbb@internet.is.   8,900-12,900 kr. 
  • Borgarnes Hostel, Borgarbraut 9-13, ☏ +354 695 3366, ✉ borgarnes@hostel.is. The hostel also runs a camping site. Dorm 3,100 kr, Double room 7,900 kr. 
  • Hótel Borgarnes, Egilsgata 16, ☏ +354 437 1119, ✉ info@hotelborgarnes.is. €150. 
  • 2 Hótel Brú, Hafnarskógur, Borgarnes, ☏ +354 437 2345, ✉ hotelbru@hotelbru.is. Hotel Bru offers eight rooms with private bathroom and eight rooms with a shared bathroom. All the rooms are well equipped, on the upper floor are the eight rooms with shared bathrooms, on the ground floor are eight rooms with a private bathroom and each with a private entrance. 9,500 - 14,900 kr. 

Connect

Go next

Borgarnes is the principal town in a primarily agricultural region often simply called Borgarfjörður, after the fjord it stands by. It's a good base for visits to some of the historical sites in the area, such as Reykholt, or the natural phenomena which include Europe's largest hot spring, Deildartunguhver.

Slightly further afield, Snæfellsnes with all its wonders is easily accessible from Borgarnes. Heading east all the way through the valley at the end of the fjord will bring you to the Interior, and the glacier Langjökull.



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