Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag

Local Recommendations

Nothing beats Hólar in the winter time

By Sara McMahon

  • Hólar í Hjaltadal use to be the episcopal seat for the northern part of Iceland. The area is rich with history. Photo/GVA

Hafdís Arnardóttir is a student of rural tourism and event management at Hólar University, North Iceland. She divides her time between Hólar and her hometown of Reykjavík and says she absolutely loves being surrounded by mountains and silence in the country side.


What’s the best thing about Hólar and the neighbouring area:
“Having been raised in a big city, the isolation was completely new to me—and I absolutely loved it. The campus area is very small and completely surrounded by mountains; I loved getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city and living in such close proximity to nature.
“Even though Hólar is small, there is lots to do in the area. There are for example many hiking trails in the area, a brewery where you can learn to brew your own beer, a lovely swimming pool, the History Centre (Sögusetrið), which is dedicated to the Icelandic horse, and lots and lots of horses you can ride.
“The best thing about the Hólar area, in my opinion, is the solitude, the beautiful natural surroundings, and the calm.”

Where’s the best place to go for a little relaxation?
“I recommend taking a drive to the nearby town of Hofsós, where you can unwind in their beautiful infinity pool. If you’d rather take a dip in a historic site, I recommend Grettislaug.”

Hafdís Arnardóttir is a student at the Hólar University. Photo/Jerrel Lai

Name four interesting things one should not miss when in the Hólar region:
1) “The area is so rich with history, so I’d begin by walking around and getting to know the area better.
2) “Check out the cathedral, Nýjibær and Auðunarstofa, read about the archaeological dig on the site, and go for a short hike.
3) “I also recommend you pay a visit to the brewery and local pub, Bjórsetur Íslands.
4) “Finally, go horseback riding and learn a bit about the history of the Icelandic horse at Sögusetur Íslenska hestsins.”

What would you do for fun on a Saturday night?
“From early September until May, the Hólar University campus is full of life, so there is loads of fun to be had if you make contact with the locals. The neighbouring town of Sauðárkrókur also has a few pubs that often offer live music during the weekends.”

Best restaurant/café in the area?
Undir Byrðunni Restaurant and the local pub, Bjórsetur Íslands, are the only two eateries in the Hólar area, but you can always drive to Sauðárkrókur for a bite to eat, it is a short twenty-minute drive from Hólar. There is no grocery store in Hólar, so I highly recommend you bring all the necessities if you plan on staying in Hólar.”

What is your favourite landmark in the area and why?
“Hólar is very small in size and one could say it is a landmark in itself. Driving up to Hólar and seeing the cathedral always has a significant effect on me. The mountain range surrounding Hólar is probably my favourite landmark. During winter, Hólar gets lots of snow, darkness, and the wonderful northern lights—there is simply nothing like Hólar in the winter time.”

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