Outdoor recreation areas

104 Reykjavík


About Laugardalur

The Laugardalur is undoubtedly the most popular outdoor area for the people of Reykjavík since it is exceptional for being outdoors, is sheltered from the wind and lush with well-arranged hiking and biking paths.

Laugardalur is also one of the main centers of sports activity in Reykjavík and is home to many sports facilities such as Laugardalshöll Arena, Laugardalsvöllur Stadium, Laugardalslaug Pool, and Laugardalur Ice Rink. Laugardalur is also a hub for gardening with the Botanical Garden at the center of the valley. Popular with children and family alike, Laugardalur Family Park & Zoo is home to all Icelandic domestic animals and major wild terrestrial mammals such as foxes and reindeer, as well as the ever-popular seals. Laugardalur has geothermal heating, especially at the laundry pools (“Þvottalaugarnar”), where the people of Reykjavík used to wash their laundry in pools of hot water. Reykjavík’s main campsite is in Laugardalur, making the valley a popular destination for travelers.

Basic Information


  • Laugardalur is an important transit artery for pedestrians and cyclists, and trails run through the valley connecting it to nearby residential areas.
  • Parking is at Laugardalslaug Pool, Laugardalsvöllur Stadium, Laugardalshöll Arena, the Ice Rink/Botanical Garden/Family Park & Zoo.
  • Public bus: 2-14-17-19 – Stops: Nordica /Laugardalshöll Arena/ Orkuhúsið (2-17-19), Laugardalslaug Pool/Laugarásvegur/Holtavegur/Glæsibær Shopping Center (14).

It includes: Gardening – Playground – Sports Area – Swimming pool – Hiking Trails – Bike Paths – Café – Restaurant – Benches – Picnic Table – Birdlife – Artworks – Historic Site – Festivities – Zoo.


  • The name Laugardalur, or valley of pools, is not an old place name in this area, even though the place names Laugarnes (pool peninsula) and Laugamýri (moorland pools) are much older. Eiríkur Hjartarson and Valgerður Halldórsdóttir built themselves a house in 1929 on a lot a short distance east of the laundry pools and named the house Laugardalur after Laugardalur in the County of Árnes. Nine years later, they founded Laugardalur Garden Center, one of the first garden centers in Reykjavík, which was sold to the City in 1955.
  • The marshland in Laugardalur was mostly drained to make ornamental gardens and the Botanical Garden. There were plans to build a large avenue running through the valley—where the Botanical Garden and Reykjavík Family Park & Zoo are today—but it was never built.

Þvottalaugar or laundry pools

  • The laundry pools were hot pools located in the north of Laugardalur at Laugamýri, which once belonged to the ancient Laugarnes settlement. Maids and housewives used the pools for laundry in Reykjavík into the 20th century.
  • The pools fell out of use in 1930 with the opening of Laugarveita Utilities and Reykjavík began offering district heating. The pools are dry today, but traces of them have been preserved and information signs about their history have been posted on site.
  • The open-air work Þvottakonan, or the Laundrywoman, (1958) by Ásmundur Sveinsson stands in Laugardalur Valley in honor of the memory of the laundrywomen.

Sports activities

Laugardalsvöllur Stadium

  • Is home to the Icelandic national football teams. It also hosts the men’s and women’s cup finals and most of the European championship games.
  • The Laugardalsvöllur Stadium opened on June 17, 1959, but the first match was 2 years earlier against Norway.
  • In 1992 a running track was laid around the football field and since then it has been used for track-and-field.
  • The stadium can accommodate 15,000 spectators in two grand stands and standing room.
  • The Fencing Club of Iceland has training facilities at Baldurshagi.

Laugardalshöll Arena

  • Laugardalshöll Arena opened on December 6, 1965. In 2005, a large annex was built that houses, among other things, the track-and-field hall.
  • Laugardalshöll Arena is 20,000 square meters and has five sports halls – in addition to the arena there is a track-and-field hall, a weight-lifting gym, a ballet hall, and a golf practice area. In addition, it has a number of conference and banquet halls.
  • Laugardalshöll Arena is one of the most important sports and concert halls in Iceland and has hosted various major events such as the 1972 Fischer and Spassky championship match in chess, the 1995 World Handball Championships, and countless concerts by world-famous musicians such as Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Jethro Tull, Nick Cave, Coldplay, and Norah Jones.

Laugardalslaug Pool

  • Swimming and bathing were practiced in Laugardalur for hundreds of years. Boys were taught to swim as far back as 1824, and in 1907-1908 a pool was built, which was probably the first sport facility ever erected by the Reykjavík Town Council.
  • The construction of Laugardalslaug Pool began in 1958 and the pool opened ten years later.
  • An extension to the pool opened in 1986.
  • Laugardalslaug Pool has a 50-meter main outdoor pool, a large children’s pool, a wading pool, an aerated pool, and four hot tubs, a large water slide and more play equipment, as well as sunbathing facilities.
  • A 50-meter indoor pool—that meets international competition standards—opened in 2005 shortly after the World Class fitness center moved to their new premises alongside Laugardalslaug Pool.

Laugardalur Ice Rink

  • Opened in 1998. It is more than 3700 square meters, of which the skating rink is 1800 square meters. The Ice Rink accommodates up to a thousand people standing.
  • The Ice Rink has ice hockey and figure skating training.

Þróttur and Ármann Training Grounds

  • The Icelandic wrestling club, Ármann, and Þróttur FC have joint training facilities which opened in 2007 at Engjavegur 7 in Laugardalur Valley. The building includes training facilities for gymnastics, track-and-field, Icelandic wrestling, judo, weight lifting, taekwondo and more and the clubs also make use of Laugardalsvöllur Stadium, Laugardalshöll Arena, and Laugardalslaug Pool for training soccer, volleyball, handball, basketball, and swimming.

Botanical Garden

  • Founded in 1961 when the City of Reykjavík received a gift of 200 Icelandic plants from husband and wife Jón Sigurðsson and Katrín Viðar. The plants were placed at the City Cultivation Center in Laugardalur.
  • Sigurður Albert Jónsson was the first director of the Botanical Garden from 1961 to 1999 and built the Garden from the ground up. He also immediately began sowing and labeling plants, exchanging seed abroad, and various breeding experiments.
  • The farm of Laugatunga was added to the Botanical Garden in 1970.
  • The Botanical Garden has expanded in stages, slowly in the beginning and until 1990, when the tree museum opened, and again in 2011, when the Botanical Garden expanded by 2.4 hectares. It is now about 5.5 hectares.
  • A gazebo was moved to the Botanical Garden in 1980 and the greenhouse was built a few years later, where the café Café Flora is housed.

Reykjavík Family Park & Zoo

  • The Reykjavík Park & Zoo is the only zoo in Reykjavík and opened on May 19, 1990
  • At Reykjavík Park & Zoo you can find all Icelandic domestic animals and poultry as well as pets like guinea pigs and rabbits. The Zoo seeks to show variations, different colors, both sexes, and their offspring.
  • It also has wild mammals – foxes, minks, reindeer, and speckled seals.
  • Bees are bred in beehives in the Zoo.
  • The Zoo manages Þerney in Kollafjörður where the animals go for breaks in the summer.
  • The Zoo has facilities for injured wild birds. We have treated white-tailed eagles and falcons, as well as seabirds, that have been covered in oil.
  • The Family Park opened on June 24, 1993. It has a variety of playground equipment and outdoor and leisure facilities for the family. The design of the park references Nordic mythology and the Viking age. It focuses on using environmentally friendly equipment within the area.
  • In 2002, the Science World (“Vísindaveröldin”) opened in a tent near the seal pond at the Zoo, and in 2004, the Marine Mammal Museum was added.