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Saturday, July 2 update: Solheimar eco-village, Ljósafoss Power Station, and Þingvellir

We started our day by heading to Sólheimar eco-village. This is a small community centered around organic gardening and including all who want to be a part of it, including those with disabilities. Perhaps their “troll garden” explains it better:

solheimar troll garden

From a sign at the entrance, which is of course guarded by a giant wooden troll:  “The residents are encouraged to come and work in the garden; gardening is a very healing and nurturing work. People can get herbs, beans, salad or tomatoes for their own meals.”

solheimar troll guard

The village has a coffee shop inside of a greenhouse, called Graena Kannan. It’s the main gathering place in Solheimar, so you’ll see a mix of tourists and locals there.

solheimar Graena Kannan outside

The menu is mainly coffee, tea, and cakes, though you can also get a salad or the soup of the day with bread if you’re looking for something more substantial:

solheimar Graena Kannan menu

Across the parking lot is the village grocery store, Vala Market. You can buy the basics for a picnic lunch there, but they also sell organic baked goods and other products, all made in the village; I don’t think you will find many of these anywhere else in Iceland.

solheimar grocery store

I don’t think Solheimar is a must-see destination on the Golden Circle. But it was a nice quiet stop, and one that didn’t feel touristy.

Our final destination was Þingvellir National Park, but on the way we stopped at Ljósafoss Power Station, a hydroelectric power plant with a Visitor’s Center attached to it. Below you can see the dam in the background of the main building:

Ljósafoss outside

Inside is one of the best deals in Iceland: A beautiful, interactive museum that is completely free for everyone, and also offers free coffee drinks, hot chocolate, and orange juice.

Ljósafoss museum wall

Ljósafoss overview

You can also take a peek at the turbines that are generating electricity, the oldest of which have been operating since 1937:

Ljósafoss turbines

This is a great place to stop before or after Þingvellir. If nothing else, you can save the 200 krona Þingvellir will charge you to use the bathroom, and maybe also learn a thing or two about electricity.

We pulled ourselves away from the museum and headed north. There is a  Visitor’s Center at Þingvellir, but it’s small and isn’t the main draw here.

þingvellirvisitors center outside

That main draw would be nature itself; in this case, the rift between two continental plates. This is also the site of the first meetings of the Alþingi, or Parliament. These started in the year 930, and is considered the longest running Parliament in the world. You can imagine them reading the laws from the top with everyone gathered below:

[Update: On our next visit to Þingvellir with the kids, we found the law rock, from where the laws were read. SO they read them from down below, not up top!]

þingvellirvisitors rift

On the left side of the picture above, you can see a few cars and buses parked. We think it makes sense to park down here and hike up to the Visitor’s Center; it’s maybe a 10 minute hike. Either way, there are plenty of places to hike, and you can get a map from the Visitor’s Center.

þingvellirvisitors rift hike


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Saturday, July 2 update: Solheimar eco-village, Ljósafoss Power Station, and Þingvellir was last modified: January 8th, 2017 by Eric