The town of Hveragerði is different and like no other town in Iceland. Hot springs and hot water coming from the ground is the origin and the premise of the town's existence. For this reason, the livelihood of the residents is also different. It is a town of greenhouses, health spa and flowers. It is a town of warmth.
One could argue that the first five decades of the 20th century were a kind of a laboratory for utilization of energy in Hveragerði. In 1902 the small waterfall Reykjafoss in the river Varmá, which runs through the town today, a small hydroelectric power unit was built. The power was utilized to operate a wool factory. In the years following this experiment more opportunities started to appear also taking advantage of the hot springs as a power source. In the third decade of the 20th century, a small geothermal power unit was built and utilized for a small scale dairy industry. Soon after someone discovered how the hot water could be used for greenhouses. Heat a house made of glass with hot water from the ground and you can grow tropical fruit and vegetables in the frozen winter, and all year round for that matter. Soon after this discovery greenhouses popped up and Hveragerði became the gardening center in Iceland. The story of all the many experiments initiated over a period of forty years is quite a fascinating story that spans from small hay drying venture to larger scale operations in the emerging dairy industry.
A town of energy, greenhouses and culture
The first homes started to appear around the third and the fourth decade of the 20th century when experiments grew and demanded more people. At the same time, small service companies emerged, and the town started to grow. For many years Hveragerði was the primary producer of flowers and vegetables in Iceland. In recent years the town has seen a considerable decline in this production as most of the new development has moved to the upper part of the southern region, to Flúðir and Reykholt as those districts offered cheaper energy and more affordable land. Hveragerði is also the home of Iceland's largest spa and medical clinic founded in 1955. It is a wonderful town to live in except for the reason that it is literally built on hot springs and in an area quite vulnerable to earthquakes.
The town offers typical service to its residents. A preschool, primary and elementary schools. A sports center and a community center. It also has a great swimming pool and an art museum, the L.Á. Art Museum. It is a town of culture as it has been the home of many writers, poets, and artists. Most of the houses ar single family homes built in the fifties up to the eighties. In recent years, more people have moved do Hveragerði and built now houses, and partly the town has become a suburb of Reykjavík as the distance is less than an hours drive and homes much cheaper.
If you are going to visit the Southern Region in Iceland you might be looking for a places to stay. Here you can book from a selection of accommodationin the Hveragerði region.