Garðabær is probably best known to the locals as one of the more affluent towns in the greater Reykjavík area, but it wasn’t so long ago that it was just another lonely seaside rural community. While driving through it on the main highway connecting the capital area municipalities won’t show you much apart from a 24-hour supermarket, a gas station, and the homes of Iceland’s elite, this town has a secret: there is a road you can drive or even walk down that will take you back in time.
Start at the Hafnarfjörður public swimming pool on Herjólfsgata and walk west, along the sea. Before long, the road will slope northwards into some of this town’s famed lava fields, where you will soon reach a fork in the road. The left fork, Garðavegur, is the road you need to take.
Garðavegur snakes its way through the lava and then empties out into farmland. That’s right, farmland. Whole pastures of it, in fact. In the near distance, you’ll see a forest. I swear I’m not making this up. Keep walking. Once you reach this forest, turn to your left and you’ll see a tiny, non-descript yellow house with a red roof. This is Krókur.
This was once the home of an Icelandic family, but when the oldest matriarch to live there passed away, her progeny opted to donate the house to Garðabær. It is today a living museum, curated by Rúna K. Tetzschner. Don’t expect to see things cordoned off behind red velvet ropes beneath DO NOT TOUCH signs. At Krókur, you are encouraged to sit, relax, and engage with what used to be the family home of Icelanders who lived here over generations. Flip through their old photos, walk through their home, or sit by the window and watch the sea.
There is actually a love story behind the founding of this place, but it’s best you ask Rúna about that. As it’s only open on Sundays, and for as off the beaten path as it is (for now), chances are you won’t have to fight your way through a crowd, either.
Spend enough time at Krókur, and you’ll forget you’re in the 21st century, let alone in the capital area.