Borgarnes town is the largest coastal community in Iceland that is not dependent on fishing. The town is built on a scenic headland jutting into the picturesque fjord of Borgarfjordur. It is close to the settlement of Borg, where the Viking poet and warrior, Egill Skallagrimsson lived in the 10th century.  He is the eponymous hero of Egill’s Saga, one of Iceland’s most famous Sagas.

Borgarnes became an official trading center in 1867 when merchant ships sailed to Borgarfjordur, and the town soon developed into an important center for commerce between different regions of Iceland.

Culture and history in Borgarnes

The first mention of Borgarnes is found in Egill’s Saga, where it is written that when Egill’s grandfather Kveld-Ulfur realized he would die at sea, he said that on his death his coffin should be thrown overboard and a settlement established wherever it came ashore. The coffin, so the story says, came ashore at Borgarnes.

What to do in Borgarnes area?

The Settlement Center in Borgarnes opened in 2006 and is worth a visit. It provides more detail about Egill’s Saga, mentioned above, and other sagas linked to the region.  Three buildings host the museum exhibitions. One permanent exhibition deals exclusively with Egill’s Saga, while another focuses on the settlement of Iceland. The Settlement Center also organises tours around the area, visiting places of particular interest in relation to Egill’s Saga.

Borgarnes area has a multitude of natural sites to explore with breathtaking waterfalls, moss covered lava fields and sparkling rivers brimming with fresh trout and salmon. Visitors can also enjoy the local swimming pool with exceptional views of the ocean.

If travelling with children, the Bjossa-rolo playground area is a great hidden gem to spend a couple of hours. A local craftsman designed and built the park using salvaged materials for all the equipment.

Check out our complete guide to the Golden Circle and West Iceland