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The food in the Golden Circle Area
In the Golden Circle area, agriculture is practiced extensively as there is a great tradition for milk production, vegetable growing where geothermal energy is used, and meat production, sea-fishing from Þorlákshöfn town as well as fishing in rivers and lakes.

Árborg, Flóinn and Ölfus
The sea and agriculture
Þorlákshöfn town possesses an excellent natural harbor and it is close to rich fishing grounds. In the period when rowing boats were used it was common for 30-40 boats to be fishing from Þorlákshöfn and many newcomers stayed there during the fishing season. To this day, the harbor in Þorlákshöfn is the most important link in the town's business activities. There are also restaurants and retail businesses that both tourists and locals enjoy.

Beets are grown in Hraun in Ölfus and there is also dulse picking. In addition to dulse picking in Ölfus, dulse has been used in the municipality of Flóinn for centuries, as many people were employed in dulse picking. People came as far from the east of the county Skaftafellssýsla to buy dulse.

Eyrarbakki town was an important trading place for the whole of the South as well as a fishing station. For a time, Eyrarbakki was the largest town in the country, larger than Reykjavík city, and for a long time, it looked like Eyrarbakki would become the capital of Iceland. Employment has now developed into the service sector and industry. At the beginning of the last century, extensive fish processing and fishing began, and three fish processing companies operated there until the turn of the century. The harbor at Eyrarbakki was closed in 1988 and since then the importance of the fishing industry for the residents’ livelihoods has diminished.

The same goes for the town of Stokkseyri. There fishing began just before the turn of the 19th century with a loading dock and a proper pier. Motorboats were the main means of livelihood of the village. After the bridge Óseyrarbrú was built, the harbors in Stokkseyri as well as in Eyrarbakki have been little used. The freezing plant of Stokkseyri, later known as the Cultural Centre Menningarverstöðin, was closed and the building is now used for art and culture and makes a big impression on the town's appearance.

In and around the river Ölfusá, eel fishing was practiced. The South of Iceland is well suited for fishing eel and it can be caught in traps. However, eel fishing has been prohibited since the summer of 2019. In the last century, many things have changed in the district Sandvíkurhreppur, especially farming methods. Sheep farming intensified towards the end of the 19th century. Around the year 1890, sheep were sold to England but stopped after six years. After that, the farming years were difficult until farmers established a creamery. The abattoir Sláturfélag Suðurlands was founded in 1907 and most farmers became founders. After the creameries closed, people began to make the most of selling lambs for slaughter. After the dairy Mjólkurbú Flóamanna was founded in 1929, farmers started selling cow's milk there. Horticulture was only for the home, but beetroot cultivation was done on few farms. As in most places, traditional agriculture has been declining, but the remaining farms are expanding. Most are cow farms, sheep farms are in decline, one is a chicken farm, one pig farm, and one farmer focuses on eider nesting and salmon fishing.

At the beginning of the 20th century, there were many cream and butter farms in Iceland. The creamery at the farm Baugsstaðir was a cooperative and an important part of the surrounding farmers' economy. Its prime was from the beginning of the century until 1920 and it closed in 1952. Butter and cheese were made from cream that farmers brought on horses and most of the production was sold abroad and to Reykjavík.

In the town of Selfoss, there is a strong product processing of southern agriculture and its service. There you can for example find the largest dairy farm in the country and the abattoir, Sláturfélag Suðurlands with deboning and packing stations. The great innovation and product development in the processing of agricultural products in Selfoss can without a doubt be attributed to decades of experience, knowledge, and professionalism in the area. Between the two salmon rivers, Hvítá and Þjórsá lies the municipality Flóinn. In the last century, one of the most important things for Flóinn was the making of the canals Flóaáveitan for irrigation. It covered over 12,000 hectares of land and heralded a major shift in farming and employment in the area. Agriculture is still the main industry in the region with growing tourism opportunities.

Greenhouse farming
Around 1929, the village Hveragerði began to form after a co-operation for the dairy Mjólkurbú Ölfusinga was established. At the same time, green farming began, and various attempts were made to utilize heat that is a characteristic of the town. Having a geothermal area in the center of the town is unique nationwide. Examples of the utilization of geothermal energy include a seaweed flour factory where seaweed flour was produced. The first students graduated from the state’s Horticultural School in Reykir in 1941. Many horticultural centers were built in the following years and Reykjavík residents began to get used to visiting Hveragerði to buy horticultural products. In 1946, the bakery Hverabakarí began its operations, now called Almar Bakari bakery. To this day, steam is used for baking in Hveragerði.

In the past, hot springs were stigmatized as accident traps for people and animals. Foreign gardeners, however, saw potential in using the hot water, and from 1900 and onwards, individuals and hobby groups began to make various cultivation experiments. The establishment of the state’s Horticultural School accelerated the development of horticulture in Iceland, where important activities are underway, as our future is based, among other things, on utilizing the resources that the country has to offer.

The state’s Horticultural School, which is now part of the Agricultural University of Iceland, is still operated in Reykir in Hveragerði. It is open to the public on the first day of summer of every year and there you can see exotic tropical plants, such as cocoa and banana plants. The banana crop is about a ton a year, it cannot be sold and therefore employees and students benefit from it.

The skyr making factory, Skyrgerðin in Hveragerði, was built in 1930 and was the first of its kind in Iceland. The unique Icelandic dairy product Skyr was the main product, but also the first yogurt in Iceland was produced there, called healthy milk. Today, skyr is still produced there the old-fashioned way and it is used in cooking, baking, and for mixed drinks at the restaurant Skyrgerðin.

In addition to vegetable production and flower production, one of the largest ice cream producers in the country is in Hveragerði, the family company Kjörís, which started operations in 1969.

Upcountry Árnessýsla
Geothermal energy, agriculture, and organic farming
There is a lot of geothermal energy in the upcountry of South Iceland, and it is a prerequisite for development in the area. In the 1940s, the awakening about horticulture in Iceland began and the development of horticultural centers. Horticulture is the largest in the South or about 67% in terms of operating income. Pumice from the volcano Hekla is also widely used, along with geothermal and environmentally friendly production where no toxins are used, and bees fertilize plants. Daily fresh products are sent out to consumers.

In earlier years, hot springs were used for cooking and coffee making. You can still see the areas where the hot springs were used for cooking and baking, and special utensils were used for this purpose. Early on, people began to use the hot water to heat houses, for greenhouses, and for bathing, a great bathing/swimming pool culture is in the area.

The village Flúðir was formed due to the geothermal energy in the area. There you can find the oldest swimming pool in Iceland and before that the area was a bathing place for centuries. A school in Flúðir was established where it was possible to use a hot spring to cook for school children. Iceland's largest mushroom farm is in Flúðir. The farm Flúðasveppir grows organic mushrooms from Icelandic ingredients. There are many horticultural stations in Flúðir, family businesses that engage in both horticulture and outdoor cultivation of vegetables.

The settlements Laugarvatn, Laugarás, and Reykholt were also formed due to the geothermal heat. It was decided that the district school would be located at Laugarvatn due to the geothermal heat there, and from there the village developed into an educational center for all school levels. Bread is baked in hot springs down by the lake Laugarvatn. Fishing is also possible in nearby rivers and lakes. In Reykholt, hot springs were harnessed, and settlements were built around them, from 1945 and onwards horticultural stations began to be built there. Construction also began in Laugarás around 1946 due to geothermal energy. At Laugarvatn you can fish in the rivers and lakes nearby and there is also geothermal energy. You can for example bake bread in the hot springs.

Organic farming in Iceland began at the village Sólheimar in Grímsnes and it is still one of the largest producers of organic vegetables in greenhouses in Iceland.

Skaftholt also has a sustainable organic farm, where people with developmental disabilities live. There is a cow farm, a chicken farm, and a sheep farm. As well as a variety of vegetable cultivation and processed products e.g., cheese making and vegetable processing.

In the lake Þingvallavatn, you can find trout and four species of char. The lake is popular for fishing and many frequently fish there.

The site Skálholt offers a medieval food experience: Spicy wine, vegetables, goose soup, blackbird, etc. Since people did not use spoons in the Middle Ages, the soup is drunk from bowls and servants dress in medieval clothing.

Rangárþing ytra and Ásahreppur
Fishing in rivers and lakes, horse meat and potatoes
The district Ásahreppur has diverse nature and moorland with ridges and hills with clustered farms in between. Agriculture, trade, and services are the main industries in the area and the largest breeding ground for graylag geese in Iceland is by the lake Frakkavatn.

Fishing lakes by Landmannaafréttir are a popular place for angling. Thousands of anglers go there every year as the lakes are rich with char and trout. Hella is a young town that was built around agricultural and commercial services. Hella stands by one of the best salmon fishing rivers in the country, Ytri Rangá. There are several food processing plants in Hella:

  • Reykjagarður / Holtakjúklingur produces toppings, sausages, cooked products, hot dishes, frozen and fresh chicken.
  • Fiskás is a fish store and processing plant in Hella. Founded in 2010 and works mainly with salmon products, as it is between two large salmon rivers, Ytri- and Eystri-Rangá. Fiskás services fishermen and buys fresh fish at fish markets for its fish store.
  • Villt og alið is a meat processing company that debones and packs meat from cattle, horses, lambs, and reindeer. It also sells products from the area, for example, pork from the pig farm Korngrís in Laxárdalur
  • Hella slaughterhouse

Around the former farm, Gunnarsholt there used to be a sandblast. After a great struggle with the sand, Gunnarsholt was deserted in 1925. The state’s sandblast organization Sandgræðslan bought the farm a year later and immediately started fencing and trying to stop sandstorms. In the 1940s, gravel plain and sand had been revegetated and the area is now the center of reclamation at Gunnarsholt. Now there are large and flat fields with windbreak belts, and it is possible to rent land for grain cultivation. At Gunnarsholt there is the first beef cattle farm in Iceland.

Þykkvibær is the oldest rural village in Iceland and it has great food and cultural history. The village Þykkvabær was established because from there the ocean could easily be reached from the mouth of the river Rangá and the good benefits of the area made it popular for people to live there. The residents of Þykkvabær were known for eating horse meat, which was considered scandalous and unchristian, but the neighboring farmers brought their animals to slaughter in Þykkvabær and the locals go to keep the meat. There was often so much meat left that there was not enough salt to store it so there was a foul smell in the cottages, but people ate the meat if they could.

It was always difficult to go to sea from Þykkvabær, but the last time it was attempted it was by a rowboat in 1955. The residents of Þykkvabær used Lyme grass and made thick porridge from it which they called dough (i. deig). It substituted bread, was plated and buttered. It was considered delicious, filling, and healthy.

Þykkvibær is now best known for its potato cultivation. It started in 1934 and later took over other farming. Farmers created homemade tools for planting. A barrel was taken, and wooden poles placed with regular intervals on it, and then it was rolled around the field like a wheelbarrow. The potato cultivation is the main cultural heritage of the people of Þykkvabær. The sandy soil and flat land are suitable for potato cultivation. Night frost is also less likely due to higher air temperatures along the coastline. Besides, it is conveniently close to the capital area and thereby the main market. Þykkvabær potato factory was established in 1981 and was a way to utilize potatoes that would otherwise have been discarded due to overproduction. Distribution and sales take place in Garðabær municipality in the Capital Region, but the factory still operates in Þykkvabær and is now owned by the food manufacturer Sómi ehf. In Þykkvabær, crackling is produced from dried horsemeat.

Álfur brewery is located in Kópavogur municipality in the Capital Region but it brews beer from Icelandic potato peelings and barley. About half of the raw material is peel from the potato factory in Þykkvabær.

Since 2005, the residence of Þykkvabær has held a potato ball called Kartöfluball, which came about after the traditional Icelandic winter celebration Þorrablót had to be canceled due to lack of participation.