Route 518 runs 25km east from Reykholt to the pastoral hamlet of HÚSAFELL, a favourite activity centre for holidaying Icelanders and a fantastic place to fetch up for a couple of days of hiking and sightseeing. Though the main draw here was always the vast lavafield Hallmundarhraun, things are changing fast in little Húsafell, which has big aspirations thanks to its proximity to Iceland’s second-biggest glacier, Langjökull. A stylish new hotel has been built in the village, there are plans to revamp the swimming pool and transform it into a spa, and a new bistro has also opened. Although the locals are coy about all these developments, it’s plain to see that they’re linked with what’s been happening up on the glacier. Húsafell is now the departure point for adventure tours which not only go up onto the ice cap – nothing new there – but, quite extraordinarily, into it, as well .
Clearly, as thousands upon thousands of tourists flood in to shy and retiring Húsafell, the village is changing and, naturally, opinion is split across Iceland about whether offering tours inside a glacier is the right thing to do. Be that as it may, in Húsafell everyone wants a piece of the cake and more development will surely follow.
In addition to tours into Langjökull, Húsafell also makes a good base for some excellent hiking trails leading off into the Húsafellsskógur forest and, more adventurously, up to two other nearby glaciers, Eiríksjökull and Okjökull. In summer, you can also push further out from here for a taste of Iceland’s Interior, by following the Kaldidalur route (Route 550) southwest to Þingvellir. Public buses can get you as far as Reykholt, but from here you really need your own vehicle to explore.
Set amid dwarf birchwoods, the village itself consists of little more than a church, originally built in 1170 but today dating only from 1905, and a hundred or so private summer cottages, mostly owned by the trade unions (whose employees use the cottages in rotation) and individual families. Note that there are no street addresses in Húsafell – just head to the hotel and all services are located adjacent to it.