A half an hour’s drive inland from the ring road, Flúðir is a tiny town often overlooked by those looking to circle the island in their limited time in the country. The municipal area is home to 800 people, smack dab in the middle of the Golden Circle and, neighbouring such attractions as the Laugarvatn Fontana geothermal spa and Slakki petting zoo. But Flúðir itself is a great little community with plenty to explore in and of itself.
Stay: Guesthouse Flúðir & Icelandair Hotel
The luxurious Icelandair Hotel Flúðir is the major player in the area; Guesthouse Flúðir is less expensive and right across the street. Both are good options, along with the many summer cabins and cottages in the region, many of which can be booked through AirBnB.
The tomato-centric restaurant at Friðheimar received a boost when Kim, Kourtney and Kanye dined there last year. Their tomatoes are grown all year round in a artificially -lit greenhouses, with imported bees taking care of the pollinating. Visitors can walk among the plants and taste the crops in the airy restaurant. They also breed horses there, and put on horse shows in fourteen different languages.
Sports: All sorts of golf
Many golf enthusiasts own summer cabins outside of Flúðir and take advantage of Selsvöllur, the local 18-hole course. But less traditional versions of the sport also have a home in the area. Markavöllur, an 18-hole football/soccer golf course just outside of town, caters to those who would rather kick the ball than take a swing at it. And if you prefer to fling, there’s a free course for frisbee golf, AKA frolf, by the community centre—but you have to bring your own disc.
Swim: Secret Lagoon
What used to be known to locals as “Gamla laugin” (“The Old Pool”) has been rebranded and redeveloped as The Secret Lagoon. The owner claims that it’s the oldest swimming pool in Iceland, with geothermal water streaming in from a nearby hot spring, which erupts at five minute intervals. Despite renovations, it’s retained its charming, rustic qualities. For those looking to take a cheaper, less adventurous dip, the other pool in “downtown” Flúðir will do just fine.
You might not expect Flúðir to be a spot for Ethiopian food, but Minilik—named after the mythical son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba—is a local favourite run by an Icelandic-Ethiopian family. This unassuming cabin offers reasonably priced food and a wide selection of veggie options. Make sure to order the ceremonial coffee—the Ethiopian coffee beans are roasted in front of you, involving your senses in the ritual even before you take your first sip.
The area surrounding Flúðir is green and fertile, as evidenced by the local horticulture, including the biggest mushroom factory in Iceland. There’s plenty of hiking trails to choose from for experienced hikers, but for the more casual outdoorsman, the town mountain Miðfell is an easy climb. At the top, there’s a small lake, which is said to be the home of a Nykur, a horselike water spirit, which drowns anyone who dares straddle it. So watch out.
Distance from Reykjavík: 97km
How to get there: Route One south then Route 30, or Route 36/35 through Þingvellir for the scenic route
See more town guides here.