For most people driving north from Reykjavík, Mosfellsbær is the last N1 stop before you venture further along the ring road. This suburban city is bisected completely by Route 1, but if you take one of the exits off one of the many traffics circles in town you’ll quickly discover that not only does Mosfellsbær have plenty to offer—it might be the perfect place to take your significant other on a day trip. The sleepy suburb is a nice change of pace from the 101, while being just a quick car or bus ride from downtown.
Art and (dating) culture
Start your day off exploring the neighbourhood of Álafosskvos, which is home to a growing number of independent businesses and art studios. Grab some coffee and kleinur at Kaffihúsið Álafossi, where you can plan your day’s adventures surrounded by colourful local art. While you might be tempted to check out the famous Álafoss wool store, a bit further up the street is a local knifemaker with an open studio, so you can watch as he welds his wares. He’ll also probably point out the faces of Icelandic politicians that he’s printed on the floor of his studio, which he proudly tells us is where his dog likes to sleep.
Our next stop is, of course, the pool. Hrefna informs me that pools are an essential part of Icelandic dating culture, which is an idea I’m determined to bring back to Canada. Although I doubt the prospect of seeing so much skin so early on would fly in North America, there’s something honest and tasteful about it. We opt for Varmárlaug, the smaller of the two pools in town. Although it may have fewer amenities than the other pool, Lágafellslaug, its spacious sauna and magnificent views of Mt. Esja will make you feel like you’ve stumbled across a secret.
A change of pace
Sandwiches at Varmárlaug are only 300 krónur, so if you’re hungry after your swim (c’mon, who isn’t?), here’s your chance to eat the cheapest meal you’ll find in Iceland. By now, you and your significant other are probably looking for a change of pace, so head on down to the city library, where they have a small but wonderfully curated free art gallery. The current exhibition of oil paintings and mosaics by Steinunn Bergsteinsdóttir are thought-provoking works that comment on the impact of tourism, climate change and geopolitics on Iceland, so be sure to log this stuff away as good conversation pieces for your drive home.
Another favourite Icelandic dating activity, Hrefna tells me, is to go for ice cream. A new ice cream store has just opened in Mosfellsbær, but to be completely honest, getting ice cream in Iceland makes me nervous because there are just so many damn options. Thankfully, the store is empty when we arrive, giving me plenty of time to mull over my selection (caramel and liquorice) before basking in some parking lot sunshine. Again, I’m not sure how this dating tradition would fly in North America (too messy?), but I don’t think I’d be wrong to claim that fewer relationships would end in breakups if there was more ice cream involved.
Taking it to the next level
Your day trip to Mosfellsbær is nearly over, but if you think the date went well and if you’re feeling particularly ambitious it may be time to test your commitment. Back across the highway, just off Reykjarvegur, there’s a lush and sweet-smelling plant store tucked in the bushes. Plants are less work than a pet, and far less commitment than a child, so if you want to take your relationship to the next level this is the perfect opportunity. And if your plant dies, you can always make the trip back out to Mosfellsbær and do it all again.