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  • Writer's pictureEinar Páll Svavarsson

Suðurnesjabær village

Updated: May 17, 2023

The population of the town Sandgerði and Garður, which merged in 2020, is around 3700.


Sandgerði

Suðurnesjabær on the map of Iceland
Suðurnesjabær on the map of Iceland

Like, many small towns and villages by the coastline in Iceland, Sandgerði owes its existence to rich fishing grounds just off the coast. Most of those towns are fairly new in a historical sense and rarely trace their history farther back than to the late nineteenth century. Up until that time, Iceland was mostly an agricultural society, and towns like Sandgerði consisted of a cluster of fishing farms that formed a fishing post by the seaside.


Sandgerði started its fishing venture with motorboats

Lighthouse in Suðurnesjabær village
Lighthouse in Suðurnesjabær village

Sandgerði began to develop as a fishing village in the second half of the nineteenth century when motorboats took over the rowing boats. At that time, a new breed of Icelandic entrepreneurs realized the value of fish in the international business context. They started to utilize the fishing grounds, process the fish for export, and dive into the growing international food market.


Still a fishing community

Harbour in Suðurnesjabær village
Harbour in Suðurnesjabær village

Today Sandgerði has a fairly good position in the in fishing industry. The town survived the fishing quota system, created by the Icelandic government in 1990. The harbor is still the center of the town’s economy, and the town has many small boats and larger fishing vessels. In Sandgerði, some noticeable enterprises have also developed into growing tourist industry. One of the most interesting is the Sudurnes Science and Learning Center. A museum and research center, dedicated to natural science and related subjects like water and animal life near the sea. In Sandgerði, one can also find some industrial and commercial activity. Sandgerði also offers accommodation and has two restaurants. In addition, the whole area offers many opportunities for hiking and bird watching and other outdoor activities.


Sandgerði is located near the International Airport


Old church at Útskálar in Suðurnesjabær
Old church at Útskálar in Suðurnesjabær

It is not a puzzle that the tourist industry is growing since the main airport in Iceland, the Leifur Eiríksson International Airport is located in Sandgerði municipal.

Like most towns in Iceland, Sandgerði offers good service to its residents. The town has good schools, a typical outdoors swimming pool, sports center, a sports club, a golf course and a community center. The community also offers good social services and welfare. In Sandgerði, all houses are heated with geothermal heating from the Svartseingi geothermal heating and power plant.


Garður

The old lighthouse at Garður part of Suðurnesjabær
The old lighthouse at Garður part of Suðurnesjabær

Garður village on the tip of the Reykjanes Peninsula is a wonderful place to visit if you plan to travel to Iceland. Located right by the International airport, access is easy. On the town's website, Garður makes the claim that the area and land where the village is today are mentioned in the Icelandic book of settlements. Apparently, Ingólfur Arnarson, the first settler in Iceland, gave his cousin, Steinunni gömlu, an area "south by the sea." Similar to its neighbors and other municipals in Reykjanes Peninsula, Garður developed from a cluster of fishing farms to a fishing village beginning in the second half of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century. The distance from Garður to generous fishing grounds was relatively short and gave people who settled in the area a good livelihood. Like its neighbor, Sandgerði, Garður had some impressive entrepreneurs that help developed the fishing industry. Garður, on the other hand, never built an excellent harbor when the industry took off.


Garður is a nice community, a quiet option near the capital area

Swimmingpool at Suðurnesjabær
Swimmingpool at Suðurnesjabær

In Iceland, the first lighthouse was built in Garður in 1897 and served fishermen until a new one was built in 1944. Both lighthouses are still standing and of great interest due to their role in Icelandic fishing history and as buildings. As a community, Garður offers good service to its residents. The town has excellent schools, elementary and middle schools, a library, a music school, a sports club, a sports center and swimming pool, a community center, and most facilities necessary in modern-day society. One former pupil in the music school is Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir, vocalist and guitarist in the band Of Monsters and Man. A real testimony of how far you can take your talent, even though you grow up in a tiny little town.

The town consists mostly of single-family houses with large lots. Since the land has never been a problem in Garður, the hoses are unusually scattered. Like most homes and businesses in Iceland, the houses are heated with geothermal heating from the Svartseingi geothermal heat and power plant located by the Blue Lagoon. For decades, most Icelandic municipals have participated in the environmentally responsible green energy revolution and switched from oil heat to geothermal heating.


Great lighthouses and a museum


Grocery store in Suðurnesjabær town
Grocery store in Suðurnesjabær town

In Garður, there is an interesting local museum, The municipal museum in Garðskagi. The museum has many items connected to the town's history as a fishing town. The museum location is by the lighthouses on the northern point of the Reykjanes peninsula. Nearby is a camping site. Garðskagi is a favorite spot for locals, from Reykjanesbær and nearby towns and villages, to visit and view the sunset, which can be spectacular at this point.



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