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Coordinates: 64°01′N 21°58′W / 64.02°N 21.97°W / 64.02; -21.97
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May 2017 view over Hafnarfjörður's town centre
May 2017 view over Hafnarfjörður's town centre
Coat of arms of Hafnarfjörður
Location of the municipality
Location of the municipality
RegionCapital Region
ConstituencySouthwest Constituency
 • MayorRósa Guðbjartsdóttir
 • Total143 km2 (55 sq mi)
 • Total29,971
 • Density208.38/km2 (539.7/sq mi)
Postal code(s)
220, 221, 222
Municipal number1400

Hafnarfjörður (Icelandic pronunciation: [ˈhapnarˌfjœrðʏr̥] ), officially Hafnarfjarðarkaupstaður ([ˈhapnarˌfjarðarˌkʰœypˌstaːðʏr̥]), is a port town and municipality in Iceland, located about 10 km (6 mi) south of Reykjavík. The municipality consists of two non-contiguous areas in the Capital Region, on the southwest coast of the country. At about 30,000 inhabitants, Hafnarfjörður is the third-most populous city in Iceland after Reykjavík and Kópavogur. It has established local industry and a variety of urban activities, with annual festival events.


The town is the site of an annual Viking festival, where Viking culture enthusiasts from around the world display reconstructions of Viking garb, handicraft, sword-fighting and longbow shooting. It takes place in June.[citation needed]

Local industry[edit]

Just two kilometres (1.2 miles) outside of Hafnarfjörður is an aluminium smelter, run by Alcan. The smelter was originally built in 1969.[2] Local elections were held in April 2007, where the people of the town voted against extension of the smelter.[3]


Population 1910 - 2015
1910 1,547
1920 2,366
1930 3,591
1940 3,686
1950 5,087
1960 7,160
1970 9,696
1980 12,205
1990 15,151
2000 19,640
2010 25,913
2015 28,200
2020 29,971

Hafnarfjörður takes its name (meaning harbour fjord) from the area's natural harbour. The town is built on top of Holocene lava fields erupted from the nearby Krýsuvík volcanic system, including the 8000-year-old Búrfellshraun and the much younger 2000-year-old Óbrinnishólabruni. There have been no new lava flows on the site since before the Settlement of Iceland, but the Krýsuvík system is still an active volcano, last erupting in 2021 at Fagradalsfjall further to the southwest.

Hafnarfjörður is first named in the medieval Landnámabók, and the earliest reports of voyages to Hafnarfjörður date from the end of the 14th century. Englishmen began trading in Hafnarfjörður in the 15th century, but German merchants followed in their wake and eventually drove the English out. In German documents, Hafnarfjörður was mentioned for the first time in 1391, and in another German document dating from 1486 the place was described as a trading place of merchants from Hamburg for the first time.[4]

The town of Hafnarfjörður became an official member of the Hanseatic League. The first Lutheran church in Iceland was raised at Háigrandi [ˈhauːɪˌkrantɪ], opposite Óseyri [ˈouːsˌeiːrɪ], just outside the small boat harbour in 1533. After that, the Hanseatic traders prevailed in town until 1602, based at Hvaleyri [ˈkʰvaːlˌeiːrɪ]. At this point, the Danish monarchy established a Danish trade monopoly in Iceland which lasted until late in the 18th century. During this period, Hafnarfjörður was the nation's busiest trade centre.

In 1793, Bjarni Sívertsen settled here and became influential in local business and international trade, setting up a major commercial fishing operation. His enterprise and initiative signalled the start of impressive commerce in the town. Ever since, he has been called "the father of Hafnarfjörður" and nicknamed "Sir Bjarni". His house in Vesturgata street, built in 1803, was transformed into a museum (Sívertsenshús).

Around 1870, dramatic changes took place in Icelandic fishing. Residents followed the growing trend in Iceland of using decked boats rather than row-boats. This led to even more employment and rapid growth, and Hafnarfjörður was the fifth town in Iceland to attain official municipal status in 1908. The first mayor was Páll Einarsson, who later became the mayor of Reykjavík. The first road between Reykjavík and Hafnarfjörður was finished in 1898. The first hydrological power plant in Iceland was built in Hafnarfjörður in 1904.

In 1890 Hafnarfjörður had 616 inhabitants and it was one of the largest towns in Iceland.[5] When Hafnarfjörður attained official municipal status on 1 June 1908 it had 1 400 inhabitants.[6] In 1920 Hafnarfjörður had 2 366 inhabitants, in 1940 3 686, in 1960 7 160 and in 1980 12 312.[7]

The Coot, Iceland's first trawler, operated from Hafnarfjörður between 1905 and 1908.[8] Its boiler stands by the roundabout on the junction of Reykjavíkurvegur, Strandgata and Vesturgata. A harbour for large commercial ships was raised in 1912, and the first car arrived in 1913.

After World War II, more advanced trawlers and numerous motorised ships were added to the fleet. The town's first stern trawler appeared in 1973. Today, Hafnarfjörður is one of the nation's largest fishing centres and the site of Iceland's first fish wholesalers' auction market. Through the years, Hafnarfjörður's dynamic local economy has been strongly linked to fishing, although freight transport has recently become the major harbour activity. And now, the town is Iceland's second-ranked import and export harbour. Hafnarfjörður is the third largest town of Iceland, after Reykjavík and Kópavogur.



The climate in Hafnarfjörður is subpolar oceanic climate (Köppen Cfc).

Climate data for Hafnarfjörður (1981-2010 normals)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 15.9
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 3.0
Daily mean °C (°F) 0.4
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) −2.1
Record low °C (°F) −15.3
Average precipitation mm (inches) 141.7
Source: Météo Climat[9][10]

Local festivals[edit]

Bright days[edit]

Each year in May, the Bright Days festival is held. The events include short movies, concerts and usually conclude on a day commemorating the sailors of Iceland.

Viking festival[edit]

Each year on the summer solstice a Viking festival is held in Hafnarfjörður. A local pub and restaurant, Fjörukráin, started the festival and maintains it to this day.


Pakkhúsið (1865, left) and Sívertsenshús (right, 1803)
Hellisgerði Park
Hafnarfjarðarkirkja, the oldest church in town

There are various old buildings left in the old town centre, e.g. Pakkhúsið [ˈpʰahkˌhuːsɪθ], a store house dating from 1865 which houses the Museum of Navigation (Sjóminjasafn Íslands [ˈsjouːˌmɪnjaˌsapn ˈistlan(t)s]). Sívertsenshús, an old dwelling house built in 1803, is the oldest building in Hafnarfjörður.[11] It is known by the name Hús Bjarna riddara Sívertsen as well and it was transformed into a museum in 1974.[12] Hafnarfjarðarkirkja [ˈhapnarˌfjarðarˌcʰɪr̥ca], the oldest church in town, was consecrated in 1914.[13] Strandgata [ˈstrantˌkaːta] and Fjarðargata [ˈfjarðarˌkaːta] are two old streets in the centre where some historical buildings are preserved. No. 55 of Strandargata is a former wooden store house which was built in 1841 and enlarged in 1880.[14] No. 57 is a wooden residential building dating from 1841.[15]

St. Joseph's Church (Sankti Jósefskirkja [ˈsan̥tɪ ˈjouːsɛfsˌcʰɪr̥ca]), one of the few Roman Catholic churches in Iceland whose parish was founded in 1926, can be visited in the South of the town centre.[16] Karmelklaustur [ˈkʰarmɛlˌkʰlœystʏr̥] is the only Catholic monastery in Iceland.[17] Fríkirkjan í Hafnarfirði [ˈfriːˌcʰɪr̥can ˈhapnarˌfɪrðɪ] is a Protestant church built in 1913.[18]

Hafnarborg [ˈhapnarˌpɔrk] is a centre of arts and culture where concerts and exhibitions are organized.[19] Hafnarfjörður boasts its own Municipal Theatre, the Icelandic Museum of Films (Kvikmyndasafn Íslands [ˈkʰvɪːkˌmɪntaˌsapn ˈistlan(t)s]) and a Museum of Telecommunication (Póst- og Símaminjasafnið [ˈpʰoust ɔːɣ ˈsiːmaˌmɪnjaˌsapnɪθ]).[20]

Many Icelanders believe in elves and trolls. Hellisgerði [ˈhɛtlɪsˌcɛrðɪ] is a small park with lava rocks in the centre of the town which is visited by many people believing that elves and trolls reside there. The northernmost Bonsai trees of the world grow in Hellisgerði as well.[21] Víðistaðatún [ˈviːðɪˌstaːðaˌtʰuːn] is a park in the town centre which is famous for its sculptures created by Icelandic and international well-known artists. Víðistaðakirkja [ˈviːðɪˌstaːðaˌcʰɪr̥ca] is a modern church, hemicycle in shape which was inaugurated in the park in 1988.[22] The symbol of Hafnarafjörður is Viti [ˈvɪːtɪ], a lighthouse built around 1900 which can be seen in a residential area on private property.

Swimming pools[edit]

Hafnarfjörður has three swimming pools: Suðurbæjarlaug, Ásvallalaug, and Sundhöll Hafnarfjarðar.

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Hafnarfjörður is twinned with:[23]


There are two major sport clubs in Hafnarfjörður: Fimleikafélag Hafnarfjarðar (FH) and Knattspyrnufélagið Haukar.

FH men's and women's football teams have won several national championships. FH have won the Icelandic Handball league in total of 25 times and have won the cup 6 times which makes them the most successful team competing in Icelandic handball.

Haukar have a magnificent history in handball with many titles. Haukar were champions in 1943, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2015 and cup holders in 1980, 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2010.

Hafnarfjörður also has a gymnastics club, Fimleikafélagið Björk, established on 1 July 1951.

Local swimming club, Sundfélag Hafnarfjarðar (SH), was established on 19 June 1945. The triathlon club 3SH, is part of the club.

Keilir Golf Club is an 18-hole golf club and course located on the Hvaleyri peninsula.[24]

Iceland Cricket opened the world's northernmost cricket field in 2019 in Hafnarfjörður. At a latitude of 64.07°N, the field broke the record previously held in Umeå, Sweden (63.84°N) by 25 km (15.5 mi). It was officially inaugurated by Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrín Jakobsdóttir.[25]

In popular culture[edit]

In the 1986 novel Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy, the Soviet Union gains a dramatic strategic advantage at the beginning of the war by seizing Iceland with a Guards Airborne division transported secretly by converted freighters. When the US Marine Corps retake Iceland, they initially land at Hafnarfjörður before advancing on Keflavik. Additionally, in the novella, The Odd Saga of the American and a Curious Icelandic Flock,[26] Snorri calls Alex in the middle of the night to tell him that he is passing through Hafnarfjörður and will be picking him up shortly for a trip to Snæfellsnes.

In 2017 a petition calling upon the Icelandic Prime Minister to erect a statue of Stefán Karl Stefánsson in his hometown of Hafnarfjörður “to forever immortalize and honour his amazing legacy” was created. After his death in 2018, there was a surge of signatures. There are now over 528,000 signatures.[27]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Population by municipalities, sex and age 1 January 1998-2020 - Current municipalities". PX-Web. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  2. ^ Háskólabókasafn, Landsbókasafn Íslands -. "Timarit.is". timarit.is (in Icelandic). Retrieved 31 May 2024.
  3. ^ Háskólabókasafn, Landsbókasafn Íslands -. "Timarit.is". timarit.is (in Icelandic). Retrieved 31 May 2024.
  4. ^ Oswald Dreyer-Eimbcke: Isländisches Jahrbuch, p. 88. Hamburg 1991.
  5. ^ Ewald Gläßer: Island, p. 174. Darmstadt 1986.
  6. ^ Ewald Gläßer: Island, p. 178. Darmstadt 1986.
  7. ^ Ewald Gläßer: Island, p. 179. Darmstadt 1986.
  8. ^ "Iceland: The Trawler Coot". Stampnews.com. 13 March 2004. Archived from the original on 25 August 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  9. ^ "Météo climat stats for Islande". Météo Climat. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  10. ^ "Météo climat stats for Hornafjordur (records)". Météo Climat. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  11. ^ Sjóminjasafn íslands, p. 5. Brochure of the Museum of Navigation (in Icelandic).
  12. ^ "Vesturgata 6, Hafnarfirði". Archived from the original on 12 February 2022. Retrieved 12 February 2022.
  13. ^ "Saga kirkjunnar".
  14. ^ "Strandgata 55 - Fjörukráin, Hafnarfirði". Archived from the original on 12 February 2022. Retrieved 12 February 2022.
  15. ^ "Strandgata 57 - Fjörukráin, Hafnarfirði". Archived from the original on 12 February 2022. Retrieved 12 February 2022.
  16. ^ "Sankti Jósefskirkja". Archived from the original on 10 April 2021. Retrieved 12 February 2022.
  17. ^ "St. Jósefssókn – Kaþólska Kirkjan á Íslandi".
  18. ^ "Fríkirkjan í Hafnarfirði". Archived from the original on 14 February 2022. Retrieved 12 February 2022.
  19. ^ Barbara und Jörg-Thomas Titz: Island und Färöer, p.288. Bielefeld 2003.
  20. ^ Barbara und Jörg-Thomas Titz: Island und Färöer, p.290. Bielefeld 2003.
  21. ^ Barbara und Jörg-Thomas Titz: Island und Färöer, p.287. Bielefeld 2003.
  22. ^ "Kirkjan – Víðistaðakirkja".
  23. ^ "Vinabærinn". hafnarfjordur.is (in Icelandic). Hafnarfjörður. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
  24. ^ Daley, Paul (2008). Golf Architecture: A Worldwide Perspective, Volume 3. Pelican Publishing Company. p. 94. ISBN 9781589806160.
  25. ^ Ćirić, Jelena (16 May 2019). "World's Northernmost Cricket Ground to Open in Iceland". Iceland Review. Retrieved 24 November 2022.
  26. ^ Ryan, E. E. (14 January 2012). The Odd Saga of the American and a Curious Icelandic Flock. ISBN 9781466383357. Retrieved 5 May 2012.
  27. ^ grapevine.is (23 August 2018). "Petition Circulating Calling For A Statue Of Stefán Karl Stefánsson In His Home Town - The Reykjavik Grapevine". Retrieved 12 September 2018.

External links[edit]

64°01′N 21°58′W / 64.02°N 21.97°W / 64.02; -21.97