Einar Páll Svavarsson
Hafnarfjörður consists mostly of residential areas and two relatively large industrial areas in addition to the crucial harbor. This third largest town in Iceland has thus more characteristics of a town rather than just a suburb from Reykjavík. The population is 28.189 in 2016, according to official numbers. Hafnarfjörður, like Kópavogur and other towns in the larger capital city area, has gained considerably from its neighbor Reykjavík. One could argue that Reykjavík municipal lacked significantly in urban planning and land development for years, with the consequence that both businesses and people floated to the neighboring towns.
Hafnarfjörður is an attractive town with a significant history
In recent decades, the growth has been extensive in Hafnarfjörður. Unlike Kópavogur and Garðabær, though, the town has a much deeper and longer history. The name Hafnarfjörður has a clear historical reference. It means the bay of harbor. From early on, as far back as the 15th century, Hafnarfjörður was a trading post and later became a significant trading center. The harbor was also important in developing Iceland's fishing industry and fishing trade from the early 18th century. Over the years, new techniques in fishing and initiative in the fishing industry came from Hafnarfjörður. Today the fishing industry is still important to the town´s economy.
Hafnarfjörður, unfortunately, has a rather sad town center
The center of Hafnarfjörður is the oldest part of the town. Built on a beautiful slope that gives the town a unique character. Some of the old houses are quite impressive, and the old town is beautiful. Interestingly, many old houses have been renovated in recent years, and many are gorgeous. Sadly a major mistake occurred in Hafnarfjörður when the town’s main street and the center were rebuilt two or three decades ago. Instead of rebuilding old houses and keeping the town’s character, authorities decided to build huge and clumsy buildings in the center that totally overshadows the old and interesting part of the town.
People who live in Hafnarfjörður love it
Hafnarfjörður provides excellent services for its residents. Most people living in Hafnarfjörður are satisfied with the schools, kindergarten, swimming pools, sports teams, and welfare system for young and old in the community. Most would agree that living in Hafnarfjörður is nice. One of the most active and interesting cultural centers in Iceland is in Hafnarfjörður, Hafnarborg − The Hafnarfjörður Centre of Culture and Fine Art. Hafnarborg is probably one of the leading cultural centers in showing exciting new and old fine art.
From the 14th to the 17th of June every year, Hafnarfjörður becomes a modern-day paradise for Vikings and people interested in Viking history. Just days before Summer Solstice, the town celebrates the growing and popular Viking Festival.