Everyone has a favourite little place, a secret hideout or pitstop, that always makes you a little bit happier. I travel to the south coast of Iceland fairly regularly. Everytime a relative or friend comes to visit me from abroad or just taking a Sunday drive out of the big, bustling city of Reykjavík. It’s in the town of Selfoss where my special little spot is: Bókakaffið. 

Getting to Bókakaffið is the perfect length of drive before you need a coffee, a stretch and a bathroom break. Once inside, there’s a decent cup of coffee available and a selection of new and used books–in English and Icelandic! There’s old vintage books, rare prints, with strange inscriptions, funny notes and the occasional riddle. I’ve found rare gems hidden there: a 1929 printing of Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, The Diary Of Sherlock Holmes and even a collection of Donald Duck comics in Icelandic (that’s how I’m learning the language).

There is a steady stream of customers that stop in for a coffee, kleinur and quit browse. However, unlike some popular cafés in Reykjavík, Bókakaffið encourages you to linger, to drink a little slower, to take your time. Across the street is the Bobby Fischer Chess Center, a museum/memorial/chess club headquarters.

Selfoss is a beautiful town on a river and it deserves a little more attention. Yes, there’s KFC if you need something fast and quick to warm your bones after being soaked at seljalandsfoss, but don’t just stop in Selfoss on the way back. Stop when you’re still full of energy and everything is open–you’ll be surprised at how nice a walk through town can be.

With Christmas coming up, it’s the perfect place to find special book for that bibliophile on your Christmas list. Maybe you’ll find an Icelandic translation of your favourite book–might be exactly the inspiration you need to start learning the language.