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ARNES

One of Iceland's most popular tourist areas, inland Árnessýsla boasts a wealth of natural wonders and well-marked historical sites. Hot springs and geothermal heat characterise the region and make their impact on the culture of the area, as well as on the historical sites marking milestones in the history of the country and society of Iceland. The inlands in Árnessýsla stretch from Þingvellir to the Þjórsá river and into the central highlands. The inhabitants are abut 2600 and live in four municipalities: Bláskógabyggð, Grímsnes- og Grafningshreppur, Hrunamannahreppur and Skeiða- og Gnúpverjahreppur.

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ARNES
GPS Points N64° 0' 37.103" W20° 18' 19.460"
Postal codes

804

Travel directory for ARNES

The official travel index of Iceland

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Ásólfsstaðir
Guesthouses
  • Ásólfsstaðir 1
  • 804 Selfoss
  • 893-8889
Nature
Þjórsárdalur valley

In the days of the old Commonwealth the valley of the River Þjórsá was grassy and flourishing with about 20 farmsteads, but in 1104 the valley was laid waste by an eruption from Mt. Hekla. The farms that were buried under a layer of volcanic ash have been a goldmine for archaeologists. Sites of about 40 buildings have been unearthed in Þjórsárdalur and the best preserved and most remarkable is the farmhouse at Stöng excavated in 1939. Based upon the Stöng farmhouse a replica Saga-Age farmhouse was built in 1974 to mark the 1100 anniversary of the settlement of Iceland. The replica farmhouse stands at the mount of the valley, together with a replica of an early church.

Nature
Hjálparfoss Waterfall

Hjalparfoss is a beautiful, two stepped waterfall near the confluence of Rivers Thjorsa and Fossa in the Thjorsa Valley. The surrounding area is called Hjalp (Help), because the travellers across the Sprengisandur Route found great help in reaching a vegetated area to graze their horses after a long journey in the barren interior.

As elsewhere in the valley, the signs of the eruptions of Mt. Hekla are very prominent by the waterfall, ashes everywhere.

History and Culture
Stong, Commonwealth Settlement

Some early settlers of Iceland chose the fertile valley of Thjorsádal as the site for their farmsteads. They were unaware of the fact that the tranquil-looking, snow-capped mountain towering on the south was an active volcano. In 1104, there was a massive eruption in Mt. Hekla, and In 1939 Scandinavian archaeologists excavated Stöng and revealed what was left of the smothered Saga-age farm. The findings provided fresh data about the design and construction of Viking long-houses and their evolution up to the 12th century and other valuable information about the period known as the Commonwealth.the settlement in Thjorsádal was buried under tons of volcanic debris and ash.

In 1974, on the 1100th anniversary of the settlement of Iceland, architect Hordur Agustsson and a team of historians pieced together the available data and meticulously constructed a replica of Stöng at Skeljastadir, a few kilometers down the valley.


The reconstructed farm is called Thjodveldisbaer (Commonwealth Farm), and is perhaps the best representation of Icelandic medieval dwelling. What is actually left of the original farm at Stöng are some stone foundations, now covered by a large protective wooden shelter.


Stöng is also known for being the home of the prominent farmer and warrior Gaukur Trandilsson, who according to a brief account in Njáls Saga, was killed by Asgrimur Ellida-Grimsson, his foster-brother, in a duel of honor apparently over Gaukur's affair with a kinswoman of Grimsson. In the 19th century some old bones were discovered in a steep cliff on the north bank of Thjorsá River, further down the valley, supposed to be those of Gaukur from Stöng. The place is called Gaukshofdi (Gaukur's bluff).

Nature
Dynkur in Thjorsa river

Dynkur in Thjorsa river The waterfalls Hrauneyjarfoss and the sometimes turquoise coloured Sigjaldafoss are both easy to reach. It is also a good idea to drive and see the majestic waterfall Dynkur in the River Thjórsá. The road is signed but it is only suitable for jeeps and off-road vehicles. It is also an excellent trip to drive down to the waterfall Fagrifoss in the Kaldakvísl canyon on the way. There are also many other waterfalls to visit in the waterfilled flowing region.

Nature
Gjáin in Þjórsárdalur valley

This beautiful natural phenomenum and oasis at the edge of the central highlands should not be passed by, if you are travelling in the Thjorsar Valley. The Red River (Rauda) cascades into and through this gorge and the surroundings are amply vegetated. River Thjorsa ran through before a dike was built between the mountains Sandafell and Skeljafell to redirect it.

One of the younger Tungnaa-Lavas ran down the gorge leaving a thin layer on its bottom and walls as well as a thicker layer on the edges. The lava formations are worth taking a closer look at. An easy 10 minutes' walk takes you into this beautiful area from the archaeological excavations at Stong and another approach is from the car track on the edge.

Some find this place so beautiful they (secretly) have strewn their ashes in the river to be forever be united with monumental nature in this "paradise on earth".

Wild Life
Þjórsárdalsskógur Forest

The natural setting of the forest follows a varied landscape of intense contrasts, from flowering forests to unripe ash hake from Hekla. The forest is mostly birch, as well as spruce, pine and larch mixed forests. An ideal place for outdoor activities, as there is a number of marked and unmarked paths and forest roads in the forest.

Nature
Háifoss Waterfall

The waterfall Háifoss is situated near the volcano Hekla in the south of Iceland. The river Fossá, a tributary of Þjórsá, drops here from a height of 122 m. This is the second highest waterfall of the island.

From the historical farm Stöng, which was destroyed by a volcanic eruption of Hekla in the Middle Ages and reconstructed, it is possible to hike to the waterfall along the Fossá (5 to 6 hours both directions). Above the waterfall, there is also a parking lot, so the hiking can also be made in the other direction.

South Iceland

Towns & Villages

The south of Iceland has several towns and villages, each with its own style, charm and points of interest. Selfoss is the largest town and has a variety of shops, services, many restaurants and fast food places. Most towns are close to the main route, making them accessible and enjoyable.

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Map Höfn Kirkjubæjarklaustur Vík Vestmannaeyjar Hvolsvöllur Flúðir Laugarvatn Reykholt Laugarás Borg Brautarholt Hveragerði Árnes Selfoss Hella Stokkseyri Eyrarbakki Þykkvibær Þórlákshöfn