Hafnarfjordur is a little coastal town, renowned for having one of Iceland's largest colonies of elves, dwarves and hidden folk. We had read about the Icelandic fascination with elves and discussed it with our 9 year old before our trip. He was very interested in all of this, so when he heard this place was "home" to a large number of these mythical folk, this place was a must visit for us.
Apparently many Icelanders believed in a hidden world - the other worldly landscape of the country lends itself well to this. Many rocks stacks and formations are said to be trolls, petrified for committing bad deeds. There are wooden elf houses in some Icelandic people's gardens too - look out for these.
Elves, gnomes, fairies, dwarves, sprites etc. are, they say, prevalent in Hafnarfjordur because lines of mystical energy converge here. In times past, you were not allowed to build a house or a road in the area until it had been established that the plot was not occuped by elves!
It is quite a nice little town, but I would say only come for about half an hour and do not go out of your way to visit. We found car parking in the centre and set out to explore.
There is a hotel called the Viking Village in the town. It is unusual but a bit of a gimmicky place, themed with all things Viking. They have a Viking festival here later in the year, I think this would be great to see, but during our visit, it was all a bit quiet and subdued. We were the only people in the restaurant area. We decided not to eat here, it was all a bit too quiet but apparently they do Viking feasts in the evening. It is worth having a quick look inside - it is very well themed.
Folklore says whole families of elves live in the rocks that are part of the town. The Icelanders are superstitious people, in the past lots of building projects in this town have been stopped, moved or changed because of the belief it would disturb the elves!
We walked around a lava park in the town called Hellisgeroi Park. This is famous for its elves and there is a big cliff here where the Royal Family of the Hidden Folk are supposed to live. There are a few little statues, paths to explore but not really a lot to see.
The park is also quite small, so you can't really take a long walk. It is surrounded by a residential area.
After our park visit, we headed back to the town centre. We only managed to find one cafe which was open (it was very close to the car park). They did have a delicious selection of cakes and snacks, so it is a good place to visit.
We only spent about half an hour in Hafnarfjordur (including our peek inside the Viking hotel). It is a nice enough little town, but not really worth a trip in its own right, maybe we were expecting too much. I had read you can take a tour around the town with a guide, who tells you about the magical hidden world of the elves. Perhaps that might have been a better idea for us, it might have brought all the folklore and elf stories to life a bit better and would have been more entertaining for our 9 year old.
So, if you do decide to come here, visit during the Viking Festival (that looks great fun) and book on one of the elf tours!