The town of Mosfellsbær is only a 15-minute drive from midtown Reykjavík. The district includes an area
stretching to the Leiruvogur cove, which forms part of Kollafjörður fjord. Three rivers empty into the cove: Leirvogsá, Kaldakvísl and Varmá. Population 9,000.
Mosfellsbær provides numerous opportunities for outdoor and leisure activities. The proximity to untouched nature and beautiful sites is the town’s trademark, which is why many have chosen to live there – away from the hurly-burly of city living.
Mosfellsbær lies just 17 km north of Reykjavík. Often called “the green town”, this town enjoys thermal activity and quite a few greenhouses have been built here. Since 1933 it has supplied the capital area with natural hot water for house heating, swimming pools etc. The mountainous area around the town is ideal for walks and hikes, skiing and fishing for trout and char in the small lakes. The Nobel Prize laureate for literature in 1955, Halldór Laxness (1902-1998), was the honorary citizen of the town. He lived there all his life and based some of his novels on his experiences and impressions of his surroundings.
The natural landscape of Mosfellsbær is rugged, and 80% of the district lies more than 100 metres above sea level. Hills such as Mosfell, Grímannsfell, Helgafell and Úlfarsfell, all 200-300 metres high, dominate the landscape; their slopes are grassy with screes. Two valleys lie between the hills, Mosfellsdalur and Reykjadalur. Most of the district’s population live in the latter valley. In 1900, the population of the Mosfellsbær district (then Mosfellssveit) was a mere 400, but the community has grown rapidly, especially in the latter half of the 20th century. Utilisation of geothermal resources, and development of a woollens industry, led to growth of the community. The population of the community has risen steadily in recent decades, and was of 5849 on 1. December 1999.
The area around the Athletic Centre at Varmá is one of the country’s best recreational areas. Emphasis is focused on catering to a variety of sports for children as well as adults.
Mosfellsbær is a growing municipality in the Greater Reykjavík Area. Its population on 1 December 2006 was 7.501 inhabitants. The community has been called Mosfellsbær (Mosfell Town) since 1987, when it received its municipal charter. The residential area extends from Leiruvogur into the nearby valleys, and curves around the mountains. Close to beautiful nature, with an attractive and diverse community and cultural life, numerous possibilities for outdoor activities and a family-friendly environment… these are some the reasons why so many people choose to live there, far from the noise of the city yet only 15 minutes away by car from the Reykjavík city centre. Mosfellsbær offers the best of both: enjoyable country living and a city atmosphere.
Travellers who head out of Reykjavík for the west and north of Iceland will pass right through Mosfellsbær on route 1, while the road to the Þingvellir National Park, route 36, branches off in Mosfellsbær up the Mosfellsdalur valley.
The town is bordered by the ocean in Leiruvogur. Three rivers run to the sea: Leirvogsá, Kaldakvísl and Varmá.
Added interest in all types of sports and outdoor activities has been met with the systematic development of the outdoor recreation areas, for the benefit of town residents, visitors and tourists. The area next to the sports complex at Varmá has one of the best outdoor playing fields in Iceland, as well as a swimming pool, providing diverse possibilities for sporting activities, for both adults and children.
Walking, for health and recreation, is possible in locations throughout Mosfellsbær. The town has a number of footpaths, as well as designated “information paths”, where signs provide diverse information about the surroundings.
An enjoyable walking/cycling path runs from the Reykjavík-Mosfellsbær border, along the coastline, to the sports complex at Varmá. There is also a beautiful walking path along the information path that runs from Álafosskvos to Reykir.
View from Lágafellsklif
The top of Lágafellsklif provides an excellent view over the surrounding area. In good weather it’s possible to view the capital, Mt. Esja, Snæfellsjökul glacier and beyond. Landmarks and place names are marked on the viewing diagram. There is an information sign with the history of the church at the cemetery at Lágafell.
Álafosskvos – Stekkjarflöt
The wonderful sculpture, “Hús skáldsins – hús tímans” by Magnús Tómasson, stands at Stekkjarflöt at Álafosskvos. It is based on the town’s symbol and has references to the works of Halldór Laxness, Iceland’s Nobel Prize winner for literature in 1955. A large-scale wool industry built up around Álafoss waterfalls on the Varmá river between 1919 and 1955, and workers lived in the neighbourhood. Today, the old factory buildings have a new role: artists have turned them into workshops and galleries. The Álafoss factory outlet has objects from the old factories as well as photographs from that time, showing a fragment of the history of wool production in Mosfellsbær.
Halldór Laxness from Mosfellsbær
Nobel Prize winner Halldór Laxness would have been 100 years old on 23 April 2002. He was an incredibly prolific writer: 62 books over a 68-year period. Over 500 editions of his works have been published, and they have been translated into 43 languages. Halldór’s books are an important part of Iceland’s culture, and most Icelanders have read some of his works.
The Mosfellsdalur valley, where Halldór grew up on the farm Laxnes, is the site of the historical Mosfellskirkja church. On the valley’s south side is a cluster of friendly greenhouses. Halldór built a house for himself and his family at Köldukvísl, and named it Gljúfrasteinn. That house has now been turned into a museum. In his later years, Halldór wrote the book Í túninu heima (Home in the Hayfield), in which he described his childhood experiences at his home in the Mosfellsdalur valley.