Ellidaárdalur – a Green Oasis in Reykjavík


Ellidaárdalur – a Green Oasis in Reykjavík

Watch this video about Ellidaárdalur, a valley in the middle of Reykjavík which is a popular recreation area among city dwellers. The river Ellidaár, a popular salmon fishing river, runs through the six-kilometer long valley, cascading over several small waterfalls. The valley is a reforestation area and has a rich birdlife.

Video by Páll Kjartansson, narration by Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir – [email protected].

Click here to download the video.

The information in this video and accompanying article comes from Wikipedia and the guide 25 Beautiful Walks – Walking Trails of the Greater Reykjavík Area.


Reykjavík may often seem a busy and stressful capital with cars rushing past on all the main highways. However, there are many green areas in Reykjavík which provide an oasis for city-dwellers looking for a moment of peace outside in nature, yet close to home.

Ellidaár is formed by the outlet of Ellidavatn in the eastern suburban border of the city, which is fed by two small rivers that have their source in the volcanic mountain range of Bláfjöll and stream down to the lake. On their way, they pass through the nature reserve area of Heidmörk.

On its way to the sea, which is reached in the cove Ellidavogur in Reykjavík not far from the open-air folk museum Árbaejarsafn – Reykjavík City Museum, the river flows through the valley Ellidaárdalur, cascading over several small waterfalls. Salmon fishing in the river is very popular—the season is traditionally opened by the Reykjavík mayor.

The river, the lake, the valley and the cove are all named after the ship <i>Ellidi<p> on which one of the original settlers, Ketilbjörn, sailed from Norway to Iceland.

Ellidaárdalur, which spans six kilometers from Ellidavatn to Ellidavogur, is one of the green recreational areas of Reykjavík with hiking and bicycle paths. There is also a swimming pool and horse riding facilities in the vicinity. The valley is also a reforestation area with birches, firs and pine trees. It has a varied birdlife.

In 1921, the first hydroelectric power station in the country was constructed in Ellidaárdalur and it is still in use. A museum in the building tells the story of the electrification of Reykjavík. It also facilitates an innovation center.

Ellidaárdalur can be divided into three parts, each of which has its unique qualities: below the Höfdabakkabrú bridge and along the Ellidavogur bay, from the Árbaejarstífla dam and up to the Vatnsveitubrú bridge and from Threngsli just above Vatnsveiturbrú up to the road Breidholtsbraut.

A walk along the middle part of the valley, approximately 3.6 kilometers, is one of the best walks in the capital region. Parking in the parking lot by Árbaejarsafn, the walk leads under the road Höfdabakki and down the hill to the Árbaejarlón lagoon.

A good well-lit path takes walkers to the north towards Árbaejarkirkja church. Below the church is a beautiful water fountain, a gift from the Rotary Club of Árbaer on the club’s 100th anniversary.

When the path has led past the Árbaejarlaug swimming pool and Fylkir sports center there is only a short distance to the Vatnsveitubrú bridge. Cross it and you can walk back to the museum on the other side of the river and dam.

After crossing the dam, the final leg leads back up to Höfdabakki. The tunnel underneath the road follows along a noise barrier between Árbaejarsafn and the road where it is possible to catch a glimpse of two of the old houses in the museum: old markets from Vopnafjördur and a church from Silfrastadir in Skagafjördur.

Extending the walk to the museum grounds is well worth it. At the museum café in the Dillonshús building it is possible to order refreshments at the end of the journey.

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