Coordinates: 63°50′36″N 22°26′10″W / 63.84333°N 22.43611°W / 63.84333; -22.43611
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Skyline of Grindavíkurbær
Skyline of Grindavíkurbær
Coat of arms of Grindavíkurbær
Location of Grindavíkurbær
Location of Grindavíkurbær
Grindavíkurbær is located in Iceland
Coordinates: 63°50′36″N 22°26′10″W / 63.84333°N 22.43611°W / 63.84333; -22.43611
RegionSouthern Peninsula
ConstituencySouthwest Constituency
 • MayorFannar Jónasson
 • Total425 km2 (164 sq mi)
 • Total~3,000
 • Density6.80/km2 (17.6/sq mi)
Postal code(s)
Municipal number2300

Grindavík (Icelandic pronunciation: [ˈkrɪntaˌviːk] ) is a fishing town in the Southern Peninsula district of Iceland, not far from Þorbjörn, a tuya (a type of flat-topped, steep-sided volcano).

It is one of the few towns with a harbour on this coast. Most of the inhabitants work in the fishing industry. The Blue Lagoon, Grindavík's premiere attraction, is located 5 kilometres (3 mi) from the town centre.

In November 2023, in the midst of escalating and severe seismic activity, a state of emergency was declared and the town evacuated.[1] On 18 December 2023, at around 22:00 local time (GMT), the Sundhnúkur volcano erupted. The eruption was close to Hagafell, about 3 kilometres (2 mi) northeast of Grindavík.[2] A risk was also posed to Svartsengi Power Station. Fountains of lava, up to 100 metres (330 ft) high, could be seen from Iceland's capital, Reykjavík. Authorities said they were highly prepared.[3] The volcano erupted again on February 8 for the third time since December. The residents of Grindavík had remained evacuated.[4]


Grindavík from the air in 2022

Landnáma or The Book of Settlements mentions that around 934, two Viking settlers, Molda-Gnúpur Hrólfsson [ˈmɔltaˌknuːpʏr ˈr̥oulsˌsɔːn] and Þórir Haustmyrkur Vígbjóðsson [ˈθouːrɪr ˈhœystˌmɪr̥kʏr ˈviɣˌpjouðsˌsɔːn], arrived in the Reykjanes area. Þórir settled in Selvogur and Krísuvík and Molda-Gnúpur in Grindavík.[5]

The sons of Moldar-Gnúpur established three settlements; Þórkötlustaðahverfi [ˈθourˌkʰœhtlʏˌstaːðaˌkʰvɛrvɪ], Járngerðarstaðarhverfi [ˈjau(r)tnˌcɛrðarˌstaːðarˌkʰvɛrvɪ] and Staðarhverfi [ˈstaːðarˌkʰvɛrvɪ]. The modern version of Grindavík is situated mainly in what was Járngerðarstaðarhverfi.

The town has been an important fishing station since medieval times. In the 13th century its fishing rights were owned by the Bishop of Skálholt, who took payment in stacks of salted cod. It was the scene of fierce disputes between English fishermen and German merchants in the 16th century, leading to 280 Germans storming the ship of John Breye (also known as John the Broad) in 1532 and killing 15 people, including John. The English were subsequently expelled from Iceland.[6][7]

In June 1627, Grindavík was raided by Barbary Pirates in an event known as the Turkish Abductions. Twelve Icelanders and three Danes, along with two vessels were taken, and with captives taken from other Icelandic settlements, transported into slavery in Salé.[8]

The origins of the municipality can be traced to Einar Einarsson's decision to move there to build and run a shop in 1897. During that time the population was only around 360. Fishing had for centuries been a crucial element in the survival of Grindavík's population, but fishing trips were often dangerous. Men were frequently lost at sea and the catch not always stable. However, when a safer access point to land was created at Hópið [ˈhouːpɪθ] in 1939, fishing conditions changed dramatically. From 1950 serious development in the fishing industry had begun to take place. Grindavík was declared a municipality in 1974.


The name 'Grindavík' combines two Icelandic elements. Vík means a shallow inlet, while grind has the meaning of a gate or gateway – possibly referring to an opening in a fence used to control the movement of livestock.[9] The Book of Settlements mentions Grindavík twice but gives no explanation for the name. "Grind" can furthermore signify a dock - that is where the boats are stored (in the sea or up on the land) as well as -Long-finned pilot whale, and in the old language any small whale, suggesting that the settlers may have found whales in the area.

Geography and geology[edit]

Grindavík is situated on the far south-western part of the Reykjanes Peninsula. The town stands on a lava field that erupted up to about 2,350 years ago from the Sundhnúkur crater chain just north of Grindavík, as well as from the Svartsengisfell volcanoes and fissures on Stora Skogsfell, both nearby.[10] The town is one of six communities on the peninsula that is situated on or near an eruptive fissure.[11]

Grindavík's harbour, called Hópið, was created by an eruption from Sundhnúkur approximately 2,800 years ago that created a peninsula south-east of where the town stands, 2 km (1.2 mi) long by 1 km (0.62 mi) wide, known as Hópsnes on the west side and Þórkötlustaðanes on the east side. A lighthouse, built in 1928, stands on the southern tip. The town's fishing industry originally operated from huts on Þórkötlustaðanes before moving to Grindavík harbour in 1939 after local residents dug a channel through a reef to connect Hópið to the sea.[11]

2023-24 volcanic eruptions[edit]

On 25 October 2023, an earthquake swarm started north of Grindavík[12] and escalated over the next few days. A state of emergency was issued on 10 November 2023 as continued earthquakes – by then numbering over 22,000 since 25 October – signalled a potentially impending volcanic eruption.[13] Inhabitants were ordered to evacuate on the evening of 10 November 2023,[14] after a magmatic intrusion was suspected to have formed beneath the town.[15] This occurred following weeks of recorded uplift and seismic unrest north of the town, near the Blue Lagoon.[15] Between midnight and 2 p.m. on 10 November 2023, almost 800 earthquakes were recorded, with the shallowest occurring at depths ranging from 3 to 3.5 kilometres (approximately 1.86 to 2.18 miles), as reported by the Icelandic Meteorological Office.[13]

The Icelandic Civil Protection Agency released statements expressing concerns that a magma dike under formation could extend towards Grindavík. Press photographs from Grindavík on 11 November showed the extent of damage to roads, and the golf course, due to fault movements caused by the activity.[16] On 18 December, a volcanic eruption north of Grindavík by Hagafell[17] prompted the evacuation of the town.

On the morning of 14 January 2024 at 8:00 local time, a volcanic fissure erupted 450 meters (approximately 0.27 miles) from the town, followed by a second fissure opening around noon.[18] Lava from the eruptions flowed into the town, breaching defensive barriers and destroying three houses.[19] Civilians were not endangered by the volcanic activity as they had already been evacuated overnight due to a series of earthquakes.[20]

On 9 February 2024, the Icelandic government published a bill to offer to buy residential property owned by individuals in Grindavík, and to take over housing loans on residential property in the town.[21][22]


Grindavík harbour

A short distance to the north, there is the Blue Lagoon (Icelandic: Bláa Lónið), a geothermal spa using hot and mineralized waters from the nearby Svartsengi power station.

Ungmennafélag Grindavíkur (Umfg) is the town's sport club, and the town contains the Grindavíkurvöllur stadium.

The Leif the Lucky Bridge spans the Álfagjá rift valley [ˈaulvaˌcauː] that marks the boundary of the Eurasian and North American continental tectonic plates. It was built in 2002 and named in honour of Icelandic explorer Leif Erikson, who travelled from Europe to explore North America 500 years before Columbus.

The Icelandic Saltfish Museum in Grindavík opened in 2002. It displays the story of salt fish production and its importance for the Icelandic economy throughout the centuries in a specially designed building of 650 square metres (7,000 sq ft).[23]


Grindavík has a football team playing in the Icelandic league.

Notable residents[edit]

The Icelandic writer Guðbergur Bergsson was born here, and Kalli Bjarni, the first winner of the Icelandic version of Pop Idol, lives in the town. The Spanish publisher and writer Jaime Salinas Bonmatí [es], engaged to Guðbergur Bergsson, lived, died and is buried here. Icelandic footballer Alfreð Finnbogason was also born in Grindavík.

Former Manchester United footballer, Lee Sharpe, had a spell with Grindavík football club, at the end of his career in 2003.[24]

Naval communication facility[edit]

Near Grindavík, the United States Navy operates Naval Radio Transmitter Facility Grindavik. It uses several antennas, including two guyed masts. The mast situated at 63°51′1″N 22°28′0″W was built in 1993 and is 304.8 metres (1,000 ft) tall. The other mast at 63°51′3″N 22°27′6″W was built in 1983 and is 182.9 metres (600 ft) tall. The taller mast replaced a 243.8 metres (800 ft) mast, and the second replaced a mast of the same height.

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Grindavík is twinned with:[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Iceland: experts predict feared volcanic eruption could destroy town near Reykjavik". The Guardian. Agence France-Presse. 12 November 2023. Retrieved 14 January 2024.
  2. ^ Taylor Ward; Mitchell McCluskey; Jessie Yeung (18 December 2023). "Volcano erupts on Iceland's Reykjanes peninsula". CNN. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  3. ^ Moses, Claire (18 December 2023). "After Weeks of Warnings, Iceland Volcano Erupts in Plumes of Fire". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  4. ^ di Marco, Marco (8 February 2024). "Volcano in south-western Iceland erupts for third time since December". The Irish News. Associated Press. Retrieved 10 February 2024.
  5. ^ "Grindavíkurbær". Retrieved 17 June 2023.
  6. ^ Evans, Andrew (2014). Iceland. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 210. ISBN 978-1-84162-499-0.
  7. ^ Holterman, Bart (21 September 2020). The Fish Lands. Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG. ISBN 978-3-11-065182-9.
  8. ^ "Hvað gerðist í Tyrkjaráninu?". Vísindavefurinn (in Icelandic). Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  9. ^ "Hvaðan kemur nafn Grindavíkur á Reykjanesskaga?" [Where does the name Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula come from?]. Vísindavefurinn (in Icelandic). 13 April 2007. Retrieved 13 November 2023.
  10. ^ Jenness, Maria H.; Clifton, Amy E. (17 February 2009). "Controls on the geometry of a Holocene crater row: a field study from southwest Iceland". Bulletin of Volcanology. Springer Science and Business Media LLC. 71 (7): 715–728. Bibcode:2009BVol...71..715J. doi:10.1007/s00445-009-0267-9. ISSN 0258-8900. S2CID 128405263.
  11. ^ a b "Visit Reykjanes – Hopsnes". Retrieved 13 November 2023.
  12. ^ "Óbreyttar líkur á eldgosi | Fréttir". Veðurstofa Íslands (in Icelandic). Retrieved 13 November 2023.
  13. ^ a b "State of emergency declared over possible volcanic eruption". 12 November 2023. Retrieved 12 November 2023.
  14. ^ Adam, Darren (10 November 2023). "Grindavík evacuated and Level of Danger: Live". RÚV. Archived from the original on 11 November 2023. Retrieved 11 November 2023.
  15. ^ a b "Magma intrusion possibly extending beneath Grindavík". Icelandic Meteorological Office. 25 October 2023. Archived from the original on 11 November 2023. Retrieved 11 November 2023.
  16. ^ Visage, Ruv/Ragnar (11 November 2023). "A general view of damage due to volcanic activity at a golf course, in Grindavik". Colorado Springs Gazette. Retrieved 11 November 2023.
  17. ^ Solsvik, Terje (19 December 2023). "Iceland volcano erupts near town after weeks of quake activity". Reuters. Retrieved 20 December 2023.
  18. ^ Bryant, Miranda (14 January 2024). "Houses set alight as lava from volcano eruption reaches Icelandic town". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 14 January 2024.
  19. ^ "Iceland volcano:Three Grindavik homes burn but lava defences save rest of town". The Independent. 15 January 2024. Retrieved 15 January 2024.
  20. ^ "Iceland volcano erupts, spewing lava toward town near country's main airport - CBS News". 14 January 2024. Retrieved 15 January 2024.
  21. ^ "State will offer to buy Grindavík residents' housing". RÚV. 9 February 2024. Retrieved 9 February 2024.
  22. ^ "Frumvarp um kaup íbúðarhúsnæðis í Grindavík". Stjórnarráð Íslands (in Icelandic). 9 February 2024. Retrieved 9 February 2024.
  23. ^ Iceland Review. H.J. Hamar. 2005. Retrieved 14 January 2024 – via
  24. ^ "Grindavík get Sharpe". UEFA. 18 March 2003. Retrieved 14 November 2023.
  25. ^ "Vinabæir". (in Icelandic). Grindavík. Retrieved 12 February 2020.

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