Fast Track: Mountain Biking in the Reykjadalur Valley

Guide and biker Magne Kvam

Mountain biker and cycling guide Magne Kvam is an energetic guy with a grey beard and a sleek scalp. When he smiles, one of his cuspids protrudes endearingly. He describes himself as something of an oddball.

“I’m probably very, very strange,” he confesses, while inspecting the ground below us prior to our descent. I had joined Magne in Reykjadalur to watch him fix the trails before summer. “I like to be alone in the mountains,” he observes. “I’m an old soul.”

We head out to the mountains near Hveragerði to speak with Magne and learn more about this unique area.

Read the whole story here.

Nesjavellir to Hveragerði: A Hiking Adventure an Hour from Reykjavík

nesjavellir hike

It was recently the First Day of Summer, a holiday in Iceland where kids get presents and Icelanders flock outside in the hopes of catching some rays. It’s a tricky time of year in a lot of ways, equally likely to still have snow storms as bright, sunny days. It’s certainly a time of year when I’m itching to go for a hike, to go on the inaugural trip of what is hopefully many summer adventures.

Because the time of year can be a little tricky, I wanted to go on an overnight hike that felt like a real hike, but would still be manageable if the weather turned for the worse. I’d known for a long time that you can actually walk from Nesjavellir, a popular hiking area between the south coast of Þingvallavatn Lake and Hengill mountain, to Hveragerði, with a stop at the popular Reykjadalur hot springs along the way. But I’d never actually gotten around to it until this year. 

Who is this hike for?

Clocking in at around 20 km [12.5 mi] each way (some 5 to 6 hours of straight walking), this is a great hike for people who want an experience that really looks and feels like the highland, while still being able to sleep in a hotel at night, have a shower, and eat a dinner that hasn’t been freeze-dried. While trails like Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls are without doubt beautiful and worth doing, they can only be safely hiked in the proper high season. They are also harder to access, requiring transport by highland bus to either Þórsmörk or Landmannalaugar. I found this walk to be a great compromise of beautiful views, rewarding walking, and convenience. And while you still need proper gear like hiking boots, a day pack, a wind- and water-proof shell, water, hiking socks, and so on, you can ditch the tent and sleeping bag if you’re staying in Hveragerði, meaning that you save on weight. This makes for a much more comfortable hike, though if you want to save money and bring a tent and sleeping bag, Hveragerði does also have an easily accessible campground.

A caveat, however: Because we hiked early in the season, the snow was still melting up in the mountains, making the trail extremely muddy. It was probably a more difficult hike for us than it otherwise would have been, and for the preservation of the trail, I wouldn’t recommend hiking here until at least late May.

Getting to Nesjavellir

Nesjavellir is a popular hiking area for many capital area residents. It’s a part of the mountains (including Hengill) that separate the South Coast from the Þingvellir area. There’s a dense network of trails in this area, so it’s also entirely possible to just do a quick day hike here as well.

Best deals on renting a car in Iceland

 

We drove east from Reykjavík along Route 36, as if we were driving the Golden Circle towards Þingvellir. Near the lake, we turned onto road number 360, which took us to the south coast of the lake. Below you’ll find embedded a map of the route we took to get to the trailhead.

If you are driving from Reykjavík, you will see a small parking lot to the left of the road. There’s a sign that says camping is forbidden, but leaving your car here isn’t a problem.

The name of this particular hike is Kattatjarnarleið, and the navigation I used was the Alltrails app, which allows you to download topographical maps – very useful when hiking in areas with poor reception and few available maps.

nesjavellir hike
The drive to Nesjavellir is also a beautiful one, takng you along the south coast of Lake Þingvellir.

Day 1: Nesjavellir to Hveragerði

The trail begins in some fields that are overlooked by some vacation houses (the area is a popular weekend escape for Reykjavík residents). You’ll follow a stream for some time, and within 30 minutes of walking or so, you’ll have to wade across a shallow river. Nothing too daunting – though it did take us a minute to find a suitable path across.

hiking near þingvallavatn fording a stream
Soon into the hike, you'll have your first adventure - wading a small river.

Soon after wading across the river, you’ll go up a hill and find a gate consisting of two wooden poles. This closes the area off during the winter and is the start of the “real” part of the hike!

hiking near hengill
Beautiful mountain views just an hour from Reykjavík.

I’ll admit that I was really shocked by the first part of the hike. Following along a river gorge, with Hengill mountain to your front, it’s just amazingly beautiful on a nice day. You would really never guess that you were just an hour from Reykjavík. We also got lucky with the weather – it was late April and temperatures were around 10°C [50°F], with lots of sun and a healthy breeze the whole time. As far as I’m concerned, this is the perfect weather for hiking.

hiking signposts near hengill

About a third of the way into the hike, you’ll encounter this signpost. The major trails through this area run in a figure-eight around Hengill, and you can choose which way you want to take here. We opted to do one pass through the figure-eight on our way to Hveragerði, and take another leg of it back. Heading from North to South, we continued to Hveragerði and Reykjadalur by heading right, following the sign for Ölkelduháls and Hveragerði.

hiking boots
Muddy boots after a long day of walking.

A good two or three hours of walking later, and you’ll have a fine vantage point over the Reykjadalur hot spring area. We got a little bit of a late start and wanted to have dinner in Hveragerði, so we actually skipped the popular geothermal area for our way back.

I was also reserved in taking photos here, and I recommend other travellers and hikers act likewise. This popular bathing areas has some nice wooden walkways these days, but it is still fundamentally a wilderness experience. There are some wooden shelters for modesty, but no closed changing rooms for hikers to get into their bathing suits. That means that you’ll find people in various states of dress and undress here, so I suggest stowing the camera.

Once you’ve reached Reykjadalur, it’s a relatively short walk to Hveragerði itself. At the bottom of the hill where the Reykjadalur trail begins you’ll find a hospitality centre that offers some light refreshments, so if you’re starving and can’t wait to get back to town, it’s a fine place to have a beer.

From the Reykjadalur café, it’s about a 3km [1.8mi] walk into Hveragerði proper. It isn’t the most beautiful walk, mostly by the side of the road through a semi-residential area. So it’s not exactly cheating if you hitchhike or call a taxi into town from this point. If you’re lucky, you might also find an e-scooter lying around. On our trip, we weren’t so lucky. So, tired after a full day of walking, we hoofed it back into town and gratefully showered at our hotel and headed out to dinner.

Day 2: In Hveragerði

What to do in Hveragerði

Hveragerði is a quaint little town some 50 minutes away from Reykjavík. It’s well-known for the hot springs which bubble up from the nearby hills, and it’s historically been a centre for Icelandic agriculture, as the local geothermal springs have allowed the locals to raise all sorts of plants in the greenhouses the town is now famous for.

Eldhestar tours: One of the major horse-riding tour guides in Iceland has a facility right by Hveragerði. Taking a guided horse-riding tour is a very unique way to experience the local landscape, and it is certainly more relaxing than the hike you just took yesterday! With everything from tours for absolute beginners to more adventurous outings for the experienced equestrian, taking a horse tour is undoubtedly one of the most Icelandic ways imaginable to see your surroundings! See all of their tours here.

LÁ Art Museum: Listasafn Árnesinga is a charming little art museum that preserves a small collection of modern and contemporary visual art – this is a great little place to check out if you’re looking for something off the beaten path. In addition to the main exhibits, the museum also puts on a series of workshops and guided tours. Hveragerði is known locally as a very creative community, so we highly recommend checking out this small, but unique, art museum. Admission is free. During the summer, it’s open daily from 12pm to 5pm daily.

Mega Zipline in Hveragerði: The Mega Zipline near Hveragerði in Iceland is an exhilarating adventure, featuring the country’s longest and fastest zipline at exactly 1 km in length. Located close to the capital city, it offers an exciting experience for thrill-seekers. The zipline consists of two parallel lines, allowing for simultaneous rides, and offers breathtaking views of the Svartagljúfur gorge with its waterfalls, rocky formations, and lush hillsides.

Relax in the local swimming pool: If you’re like us, you’ll want to just relax and soak after the long walk you just took yesterday. Luckily, nearly every town in Iceland has a beautiful swimming pool, often equipped with a lap pool, cold pot, hot pot, and a steam room or sauna. There’s nothing better than soaking up the sun in a hot tub after a long day of walking. It’s a simple, but well-deserved, luxury. In the summer, the Hveragerði swimming pool is open Mon-Fri from 6:45am to 9:30pm, and Sat-Sun from 9:00am to 7:00pm. Admission for adults is 1,180 ISK [$8.40, €7.85]. Read more about swimming pools here.

Hveragerði Geothermal Park: This area of Iceland is known for its especially active hot springs, so if you’re a geology nerd (or you really want to boil an egg in a hot spring), this is a great stop on a day in Hveragerði. 

Visitors to the Geothermal Park can even get a clay footbath (said to have therapeutic effects) and visit the nearby greenhouses, where everything from bananas, to tomatoes and flowers are grown. Admission is 500 ISK [$3.60, €3.30] for adults and 300 ISK [$2.14, €2.00] for kids. During the summer, it’s open Mon-Sat 9am-6pm and Sun 9am-4pm.

Where to eat in Hveragerði

Hveragerði Foodhall: Look, I’ll admit it. I love food halls. A lot of them have sprung up in Reykjavík and across Iceland recently, so some of the cool kids are turning their nose up at them. But for anyone dining with a partner or family, it’s a great way for everyone to get what they want. The Hveragerði foodhall is known as the Greenhouse. It has a variety of options from burgers, tacos, fried chicken, casual fine dining, an elegant cocktail bar, and more. Prices are no different from Reykjavík. Expect to spend about 3,500 ISK [$25, €23] for an entree and about 1,100 ISK [$7.80, €7.30] for a beer.

Ölverk Pizza & Brewery: Pizza and beer is not exactly a hard sell. This popular eatery in Hveragerði serves up innovative pies, such as a Korean tunafish pizza, alongside tried-and-true classics, washed down with a selection of their own brewed beers. Appetizers are around 1500 ISK [$10.70, €10]. Pizzas begin around 2,300 ISK [$16.45, €15.30] for a basic margherita and go up to around 3,200 ISK [$22.90, €21.30] for more speciality offerings. Beers on offer include a full selection of German pilsners, red ales, and IPA, in addition to seasonal offerings as well.

Matkráin: Looking for something a little more local? Matkráin [The Gastropub] has you covered! Their menu – which is in Icelandic (something not to be taken for granted these days) – features a wide selection of Icelandic and Nordic favourites, with smoked salmon, open-faced sandwiches, smoked lamb, salads, and more. The open-faced sandwiches, which can be ordered either whole, or taken as half for a “take two” deal, are the feature of the menu and will run you about 2,800 ISK [$20, €18.60] or so.

Rósakaffi: Hveragerði is known for its greenhouses, so it’s only fitting to have a light lunch or coffee in one of the greenhouses! On offer are a selection of cakes, coffee, and lunch options such as wings and fries, meatballs, lamb shanks, potato gratin, and more. They have a generous lunch offer which includes a fish entree, with coffee and cake for dessert. The lunch offer will run you 2,490 ISK [$17.80, €16.60].

Where to stay in Hveragerði

Hveragerði isn’t the biggest tourism centre in the region, so it’s possible to find accommodations for a reasonable price. That said, all of the information provided here is to give you a general sense, but of course prices will fluctuate depending on the season, demand, the size of your party, and so on.

Hotels in Hveragerði

Hotel Örk is likely a good option for many. A traditional hotel that’s neither budget nor luxury, you’ll find it has reasonable options for couples and families. A stay here comes with a complimentary breakfast buffet, which we certainly took advantage of before our hike. The facilities also feature a heated outdoor swimming pool (complete with water slide) and hot pots. A 2-night weekend stay here for two adults in the high season (July) is currently around 71,000 ISK [$508, €472], but our stay was significantly cheaper, as April is something of an off-season.

The Frost and Fire Hotel may be a more intriguing offering for travellers looking for a more unique experience. Nestled beside bubbling geothermal springs in Hveragerði, this hotel boasts an outdoor pool, two hot tubs, and a sauna. Each room comes complete with bathrobes, slippers, and a flat-screen TV. Wi-Fi access is complimentary. Wooden floors, spacious beds, and private bathrooms are standard features, with some rooms providing scenic vistas of the River Varmá.

Guests can indulge in Icelandic haute cuisine at Restaurant Varmá, situated within the hotel and open for dinner reservations. The restaurant specializes in slow-cooked dishes prepared in the natural hot springs, offering patrons a delightful panorama of the river Varmá. The Frost and Fire Hotel is also a great option for hikers planning on doing this trail, as the hotel is located significantly closer to the trailhead. A 2-night weekend stay here for two adults in the high season (July) currently begins around 140,000 ISK [$1,000, €930].

The SKYR Guesthouse may be attractive for both budget-minded travellers and travellers looking for something more cosy. Located above the popular SKYR restaurant, this guesthouse has a lovely rural Bed and Breakfast atmosphere that would go well with a hike or weekend getaway to the countryside. Rooms come with free Wi-Fi, private bathrooms, flat-screen televisions, free parking, beautiful views, and of course, convenient access to the restaurant. A 2-night weekend stay here for two adults in the high season (July) currently begins around 51,000 ISK [$365, €340].

Camping in Hveragerði

As stated above, Hveragerði also has a campground. Surrounded by nature’s splendour and close to hiking trails, a swimming pool, a golf course, and horse rentals, it’s an ideal base for outdoor adventures. The campground provides most modern amenities, including toilets, showers, laundry facilities, and dishwashing areas. Pet-friendly and family-oriented, it features a playground and barbecue facilities. Services for mobile homes are available, along with an electric car charging station. Prices are reasonable, with adults at 2,000 ISK [$14, €13] and children under 15 free. It’s only open during the summer, however, and for this trip, we chose to sleep in a hotel to lighten our packs. The walk was much nicer without a tent and sleeping bag weighing us down!

Day 3: Hveragerði back to Nesjavellir (with a stop at Reykjadalur)

On the third day of our trip, we got up early, had our hotel buffet breakfast, and were out the door at a respectable 9am. We were, however, not particularly keen to walk the bit through town. It’s not very scenic, and it adds about 3km [1.8 mi] to the total walk. We opted to save some money and located two e-scooters in town – much cheaper than a taxi. Rural taxi services can be somewhat slow to respond and expensive. The road to the trailhead is well-paved and within the service range of the scooters as well. In total, out e-scooter journey turned out to be around 900 ISK [$6.40, €6] – a fair savings from taxi fare.

reykjadalur hike
A waterfall you will see en route to Reykjadalur.

The next bit of our hike will be familiar to anyone who has visited the popular Reykjadalur geothermal area. It’s about a 3 km [1.8 mi] walk from the Reykadalur café to the hot spring area, or about an hour of solid walking. The trail does ramp up very quickly in steepness – both my wife and I are in decent shape and were pretty winded within the first 15 minutes of the walk. The trail does, however, even out once you get into the hills.

view over reykjadalur
The Reykjadalur geothermal valley.

For this day of hiking, we had a bit more time to spare, so we did opt to hop into the hot river. As I noted before, this is a beautiful and special area, but many people are also changing out in the open, so I would recommend that you be respectful and play influencer elsewhere. It was a relatively warm and sunny day, but it’s always a little chilly to run through the cold mountain air in your swimsuit. It’s also worth noting that except for the wooden walkway and modesty screens, this area is unimproved. That means it is a real river, and as such, the river rocks are mostly sharp and hard to walk on. I hope this doesn’t need explaining, but it’s not a luxury spa – it’s a mountain stream. Still, our feet were still sore from our walk, so we gratefully soaked for a good half hour and had a quick lunch. Obviously, if you plan on going to Reykjadalur for a dip, I recommend bringing along a swimsuit and towel so you can dry off. Not very fun to complete the rest of the hike soaking wet!

hiking signposts

From the Reykjadalur area, we headed right, up the hill towards a fumarole on the side of the hill. Following that trail for another 15 minutes or so, you will come across this sign post. Since we took the route on the left on our way here, we decided to head right towards Kattatjörn, the mountain pond that serves as the namesake for this trail.

From here, the way is clear, and you’ll walk over a mountain meadow for about an hour until you arrive at a dramatic overlook point, where you can see Þingvallavatn Lake, and the glacier Langjökull in the distance.

After this vantage point, it’s all downhill! Quite literally, in fact, though there are still some difficult bits to the hike. As you descend from the mountains, you’ll pass through a rather Tolkien-esque river gorge. It’s a cool area, but we found the way to be a little tricky. The trail was very sandy in parts, making it hard to get a firm footing. But still, heading downhill back to civilization puts a certain spring in your step, and after a couple of hours, we found our way back to the car!

 

More than just Reykjadalur

The Reykjadalur hot spring area has become an extremely popular attraction in recent years, and I certainly can’t blame visitors for wanting to see this unique geothermal area. But the hiking around Hengill and Nesjavellir offers so much more, and I highly recommend this trail to anyone looking for a bit more of a serious outing than just a day hike, without the need to really plan out a true highland excursion. Nevertheless, some of the views we were rewarded with felt like true highland vistas, so I can’t recommend it enough. Though a word to the wise – do wait until at least the end of May to hike this. To say we were muddy by the end would be an understatement.

Red Cross Names Fifteen-Year-Old ‘First Aid Person of the Year’ 

Fifteen-year-old Arnór Ingi Davíðsson was named the Red Cross’ 2023 ‘First Aid Person of the Year’ in recognition for his quick thinking and cool head last year when his younger brother Bjarki Þór, then ten, was buried in an avalanche in Hveragerði, South Iceland, RÚV reports. The Red Cross gives out the award annually on the 112th day of the year as 112 is the phone number for emergency services in Iceland.

The brothers were playing near a cliff called Hamarinn when a snowbank slid down the mountainside and buried Bjarki Þór. Arnór Ingi acted quickly, locating his brother under the snow, digging it away to uncover his face, and then calling 112 for assistance. He followed emergency service’s instructions until ICE-SAR volunteers arrived at the scene and were able to take over.

Bjarki Þór Davíðsson, age 11; Screenshot via Red Cross Iceland

Arnór Ingi said calling 112 right away is the most important thing in an emergency situation. “I’m really thankful to have had the emergency line with me, it made all the difference. Just to keep him alive and conscious.”

Hjördís Garðarsdóttir, the dispatcher who answered Arnór Ingi’s 112 praised his bravery in the moment, and the care he took to keep his brother as calm as possible. “I think he did incredibly well,” she remarked in a video that was made for the awards ceremony. “Because if you listen to the call, he goes from being extremely scared to extremely reassuring for his brother.”

Even though his brother survived unharmed, Arnór Ingi says the incident still haunts him a year later.

“Sometimes, I can’t sleep and sometimes, I’m watching a movie and there’s an avalanche and something sticks. It’s uncomfortable to watch sometimes, I get flashbacks, but I’m feeling better about it now. It’s not as bad.”

The award was a real encouragement, said Arnór Ingi. “It’s a bit of a boost—crazy to get this recognition, I’m really proud.”

Hellisheiði Road Closed Tomorrow

Route One over Hellisheiði heath.

A section of Route 1 between Reykjavík and Hveragerði will be closed tomorrow in both directions for paving, RÚV reports. The road over Hellisheiði will be closed from 9.00am to 8.00pm tomorrow for the paving of its easternmost section. Traffic will be directed to detour via Þrengslavegur (Route 39).

The road was initially scheduled for paving today but the work has been delayed due to weather.

Icelanders Say ‘J’adore’ to Pink Poinsettias

A horticulturist in Hveragerði, South Iceland has been experimenting with multicolored poinsettia varieties and given the classic Christmas flower a makeover just in time for the holiday season. RÚV reports that Birgir Steinn Birgisson has successfully cultivated white, yellow, and hot pink poinsettias that will join their traditional red cousins on shelves this November.

Birgir Steinn gave reporters a tour of his greenhouse and was particularly pleased with the pink poinsettias. “We decided to give this variety—it’s called J’adore in French—a shot because October is a pink month,” he explained, referencing Breast Cancer Awareness Month and its pink ribbon campaign. “And also because this colour is so beautiful, which is why it got the name J’adore—that means ‘I love you,’ or ‘I like you,’ ‘you’re wonderful.’”

RÚV screenshot

The J’adore poinsettia cultivar was developed by the Dutch pot plant breeder Dümmen Orange and introduced to the market in 2017, but had not been successfully cultivated in Iceland before now.

Birgir Steinn’s first pink crop quickly sold out and he says that Icelanders have gone crazy for J’adore poinsettias already this year. He hopes the striking variety will continue to be cultivated in Iceland in the future and also that poinsettias return to their previous popularity in Iceland. The flower, which is called jólastjarna, or ‘Christmas star’ in Icelandic, was once a near-ubiquitous holiday decoration in Icelandic homes, but its popularity declined when the myth spread that the flower is poisonous, particularly to young children and pets.

The milky fluid in poinsettia leaves can cause mild irritation or allergic reactions if eaten in significant quantities, but Birgir Steinn says people needn’t be fearful and that most of the local crops are cultivated organically, without pesticides. As evidence of the flower’s harmlessness, he introduced his cat, a “good worker” who keeps the mice population in check around the greenhouse.

Reykjadalur Valley Hiking Trail to Reopen

reykjadalur iceland hveragerði

The popular hiking trail through the Reykjadalur geothermal valley will open this coming Sunday, May 31. Improvements have recently been made to trail footpaths and a new bridge has been installed over the Hengladalaá river.

The trail has undergone some changes, not least in that it has been redirected away from several hillside hot springs due to unsafe conditions around them. The previous bridge had spanned one such hot spring, but the new one has been moved to a safer location. Hikers are encouraged to remain vigilant of potentially dangerous conditions and always remain on the trail.

There are no restrooms or trash cans along the route, so hikers are asked to keep the bathing area clean, taking their swimsuits and towels back out of the valley as well as any other trash they bring in.

Efling Union and Municipalities Reach Agreement, Ending Strike

Fellaskóli school

A workers’ strike in Iceland that began on March 9, was suspended on March 24, and restarted on May 5, is now finally over. Efling Union and the municipalities of Kópavogur, Seltjarnarnes, Mosfellsbær, Ölfus, and Hveragerði have signed a collective contract that raises the lowest salaries of union members working for the municipalities. The strike affected preschools and primary schools in the municipalities, many of which were required to close when cleaning staff walked off the job.

According to a notice from Efling, the new contract increases base monthly salaries by ISK 90,000 ($613/€566) over the duration of the contract period and shortens the work week. The new contract also raises the lowest salaries “with a special additional payment modelled on Efling’s contract with Reykjavík City.”

Efling workers employed by the six municipalities returned to work today, though the contract remains subject to a vote by members.

Strike postponed due to COVID-19

The workers’ strike in the five municipalities began on March 9, after negotiations between Efling and the municipalities proved unsuccessful. The union’s negotiation committee had postponed strike action during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, but announced that the strike would be voted on again after Easter. Efling members voted to resume the strike on May 5. Efling’s main demand was an agreement with benefits comparable to those that had recently been won for the union’s members working for the City of Reykjavík.

“Once again Efling members […] have proven that just and determined struggle of low wage workers through their union is not only our right but also something that achieves results,” stated Efling chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir.

Efling Workers Resume Strike Next Week, Affecting Schools

Efling strike Reykjavík

Efling Union workers employed by five municipalities in the capital area and South Iceland will resume striking on Tuesday, May 5. The members working for the municipalities of Kópavogur, Seltjarnarnes, Mosfellsbær, Hveragerði, and Ölfus voted overwhelmingly in support of strike action. The union’s negotiation committee postponed strike action during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, but announced that the strike would be voted on again after Easter.

“The members of Efling who work for these municipalities demand an agreement with comparable benefits as those found in agreements between Efling and the City of Reykjavik and the government of Iceland,” reads a statement on Efling’s website. Efling members working for the City of Reykjavík reached an agreement with the municipality last month following a three-week strike that affected preschools and welfare services in the capital.

All members of Efling Union working for the five municipalities will stop work indefinitely on Tuesday, May 5, the day after COVID-19 restrictions are loosened and schools return from reduced to regular programming. The strike will affect elementary schools and home services.

Voter turnout among Efling members was high, with 65% of eligible members voting on the strike. A notable 89% voted in favour of a strike in elementary schools and 88% voted in favour of a strike in other workplaces.

“These are incredible results. They show amazing courage, the will to fight and the unity of our members. Low wage workers are going to get the recognition that society cannot function without them. Pandemic or not – The members of Efling will not allow themselves to be forced into submission,” said Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, Chairman of Efling.

Negotiations Postponed in Workers’ Strikes

Efling chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir.

A negotiation meeting between the Efling labour union and municipal leaders in Kópavogur, Seltjarnarnes, Mosfellsbær, Hveragerði, and Ölfus was postponed on Thursday, RÚV reports. The postponement came at the request of municipal negotiations committee chair Inga Rún Ólafsdóttir, who said the committee needed more time to do their homework in advance of the meeting.

See Also: Strikes Outside of Reykjavík Anticipated for Monday

Over 270 Efling workers in the abovementioned municipalities went on strike on Monday, overlapping with a three-week strike of Efling city employees in Reykjavík. While Reykjavík-based municipal employees reached an agreement with the City of Reykjavík on Tuesday, however, negotiations are still underway with workers outside of the capital. The strike has impacted schools in all of the striking municipalities, as well as services in government offices such as the Directorate of Immigration, which is located in Kópavogur.

See Also: Workers’ Strikes Update: One Avoided, One Begins, One Continues

According to the state mediator’s website, the next meeting between Efling and municipal leaders is scheduled for this coming Monday. “We’re waiting and stress that a meeting should be held as soon as possible,” said Efling chair Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir. “In our opinion, it’s unacceptable to go into the weekend without meeting.” Efling negotiators said they understood that people need more time to consider the terms and issues on the table, but is nevertheless pushing for talks to continue on Friday.

Strikes Outside of Reykjavík Anticipated for Monday

An indefinite strike of Efling members in municipalities outside of Reykjavík is set to start on Monday, March 9 at noon, “unless agreements have been signed before that time,” reads an announcement on the Efling website. According to Efling director Viðar Þorsteinsson, however, even though additional meetings between the union and local councils are scheduled for the weekend, there’s no indication that any agreement will be reached in time to prevent Efling members in Kópavogur, Seltjarnarnes, Mosfellsbær, Hveragerði, and Ölfus from joining the ongoing strike action currently underway in Reykjavík, Mbl.is reports.

A sympathy strike among workers in the Federation of Independent Schools in Iceland was also proposed for Monday, but Iceland’s Labour Court deemed the action illegal and Efling has stated that it “accepts the ruling and will not proceed with the strike.”

Just as the ongoing strike action has significantly impacted public services in Reykjavík, so will Monday’s strike significantly impact public services in the soon-to-strike municipalities. An announcement on the Kópavogur website said that the impact of the strike would be particularly felt in elementary schools, where cleaning services, after-school programming, and support for children with special needs will be significantly curtailed.

The Directorate of Immigration (ÚTL), which is also located in Kópavogur, also posted an announcement on its website, saying that services will be reduced and application processing will slow during the strike. The ÚTL office will be closed on March 9 and 10, “as well as other days during which the strike is in progress.” Telephone services will only be available between 9 and 12 with minimum staffing during the strike. ÚTL recommends that those who need to be in touch with their office do so via email, but should also expect slower replies.

Efling met again with City representatives on Friday afternoon, but no agreements were struck and no new meeting has been scheduled. “The ball’s in the City’s court now,” said Viðar.

Update March 9, 2020: BSRB members’ strike actions were called off after agreements were reached last night and this morning. Efling Union members in five municipalities outside Reykjavík began their strike at noon today.