Driving along Iceland’s South coast is a feast for the eyes. In the summer months the mountains sloping sharply sky-ward to one side are faced with an emerald green shroud of moss and lichen, while the flat expanse bridging the space between Route 1 and the sea alternates between fields of pillowy moss, sparse black sands, and ragged lava formations; all accented sporadically by crisp, clear rivers; towering waterfalls; and glimpses of glacial tongues stretching out between mountain passes.
And on the long stretch between the more touristy Vík and Höfn, is the tiny town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur, a spec of a place that boasts a population of just 120 but a host of sites and activities to make a visit well worth your while.
Case and point: the annual Kirkjubæjarklaustur Chamber Music Festival, or Kammertónleikar, going down June 27 through 29 this year. Founded by noted Icelandic pianist Edda Erlendsdóttir in 1991, the festival has since attracted Icelandic and international musicians, who fill the town with music for 3 days per year.
Just imagine being enveloped by this:
While surrounded by this:
And brace yourself for the wave of goosebumps that will ensue.
Completing the mise-en-scène, consider the town’s name, which references an old church farm and the local field of basalt column tops poking out from the soil to resemble the intricate tiling of an old chapel. A serene experience is all but guaranteed.
While a weekend of world-class music is reason enough to make the journey to Kirkjubæjarklaustur, there’s also Laki crater; and Skaftafell national park, with the incredible Svartifoss, nearby for you to trek to from your relaxing summerhouse.