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  • Einar Páll Svavarsson

Árbær district in Reykjavík the capital of Iceland


Árbær district in Reykjavík
Árbær district in Reykjavík

The name of this district comes from an old farm meaning “the farm by the river.” It was the first land and building development in Reykjavík that was east of the river Elliðaá. The decision to develop this area was a kind of milestone since it gave people the impression that Reykjavík was growing rapidly. The project started in the sixties and spread over a rather large area. It was a real project for the future.


Árbær district is in Reykjavík on the Map of Iceland

Árbær district in Reykjavík is divided into four neighborhoods

Reykjavík Árbær district
Reykjavík Árbær district

From the start, the district was divided into four neighborhoods; Árbær, Ártúnsholt, Selás, and Norðlingaholt. The first neighborhood, Árbær, was built in the sixties. Ártúnsholt, which has a large commercial area in addition to single-family houses and apartment buildings, was built mainly in the eighties. The same time applies to Selás. The neighborhood Norðingarholt, on the other hand, is a recent development and is still under development.


Museum of old houses and history

Old houses at the Árbær museum
Old houses at the Árbær museum

In Árbær, there is an interesting museum featuring the old farmhouse, partially made from turf or sod, and old timber houses, mainly from Reykjavik. Some of the old houses are also from other places. There are, for example, two 18th-century houses from the village Vopnafjörður in the Eastern Region and a former turf church from Silfrastaðir in the Northern Region. The church is a favorite place for weddings, as one could spot if visiting during the weekend. There is a regular exhibition in many of the houses, depicting life in old Reykjavik, and sometimes special exhibitions in some of the houses. There is a museum shop at the entrance and a restaurant serving specialties of old Iceland, pancakes with jam and cream, and the Icelandic Kleinur. Sometimes there are folk dances, classic car shows, and special shows at the museum.

Árbær is a good place for families
Árbær is a good place for families

One of the oldest hydroelectric power plant


Árbær has a large area for businesses and companies.
Árbær has a large area for businesses and companies.

Close to the museum, there is the Elliðaár hydropower plant, the oldest operating in Iceland, built in 1921 and beautifully designed with marble meter boards and brass turbines. It is sometimes open to the public but can be arranged by phone to The Reykjavik Power Company. The power plant was built to utilize the Elliðaár salmon river but is only run in the winter months now in order not to disturb the salmon fished there. Along the river is a park with walking paths. Angling is only for members of Reykjavik angling club, for a low license fee. The angling season is 90 days, starting in June and two six-hour shifts a day with two to three hours of rest in the middle of the day. One of the most attractive swimming pools of Reykjavik is in Árbæjarhverfi.


Árbær district in Reykjavík


A district with good service and nice neighborhoods

Árbær has great options for outdor activities by the river Elliðaá
Árbær has great options for outdor activities by the river Elliðaá

Like all other districts in Reykjavík, the neighborhoods have their schools, preschool, and other services to fulfill the quality of city life demanded by the residents.


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