Borgarnes is one of the biggest towns in West Iceland, and the only one that the Route 1 ring road runs directly through. It is also a misunderstood town with more going for it than a lot of people think.
The reason for the mis- understand- ing is that the road runs into town, past an impressive selection of petrol stations, eateries, shops and other services; and then goes to the right, through the town’s extensive housing area and out into the countryside again. The road completely misses the old town centre, which is to the left after the service stations. While practically every Icelander has been to Borgarnes at some point, many, many people have never been downtown.
Borgarnes is built on very rocky land, meaning that there are often huge boulders or small cliffs between buildings and craggy moss-covered rocks all over the place. This has also forced the town to be fairly sparsely built up; meaning there is plenty of space. This is an impression strengthened by the superb sea views and vistas of faraway mountains. Neither is there any shortage of fresh air, as Borgarnes is the windiest town in Iceland (although whether that is scientifically proven or just urban legend has yet to be scientifically proven).
The Settlement Centre of Iceland is in Borgarnes and is an essential stop for anybody interested in Viking history and how Iceland came to be, well, Iceland. It is also a fun and engaging visit for those not usually so enthusiastic about history.
At the other end of the scale is the impressive Bjössarólo kids’ playground. This pleasant park contains a beautiful array of play equipment made entirely from unwanted rubbish and driftwood. Bjössi (Björn Hjörtur Guðmundsson) built the park by hand because he wanted to teach children about waste and the environment. It has since become almost as popular with adults as with kids!