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Tuesday, July 19 update: Suðurnes Science and Learning Center, Garður, Straumur

We headed to the Keflavik airport today, and stopped by a couple of the nearby towns, Suðurnes and Garður. Both places are the “wrong” way from the airport if you are heading to Reykjavik, and so I think most people skip them. And while I don’t think there are any “must-see” attractions here, they can be a good introduction to Iceland, and less than 15 minutes from the airport. And less than 10 minutes from each other.

We started with Sandgerði, at the Suðurnes Science and Learning Center. This is a working research facility, and includes researchers from the University of Iceland. On the lower level you’ll find a small art exhibition, and then the main museum is up the stairs.

sudurnes science and learning art ground floor

Here’s the art museum section

The museum costs 600 krona for adults 16+ (just under $5), 300 krona for kids 6-15 (just under $2.50), and is free for younger children. Coffee is 100 krona (82 cents); that alone might make the trip worthwhile for some? Note that the hours are somewhat limited, though.

The museum has two exhibitions. The one that was less interesting to our kids was about Jean-Baptiste Charcot, a French scientist and explorer who died in a storm off the coast of Iceland. The exhibition is in French and Icelandic, but the museum can provide you with a binder containing information in English.

sudurnes science and learning french explorer

The other side is all about animals and marine life. There are lots of animal specimens to see:

sudurnes science and learning animal display sudurnes science and learning foxes

They also have microscopes you can use to look at a collection of small shells and water samples.

sudurnes science and learning microscopes

On their web site, the museum talks about programs for school groups, where “students can collect live creatures at the shore or ponds that are close by, bring them to the center and inspect them closely in microscopes.” We didn’t pursue this, but I assume if you asked, the museum would provide you with the tools for collecting your own samples?

There are two restaurants that are walkable from the museum. Vitinn is directly across the street:

vitinn

This is a seafood restaurant that is known for their fish tanks in the dining area. According to one review on their web site: “The dining area is charming, with tanks of fish and crabs – some pets, some for eating!”

Unfortunately, we couldn’t check it out, since they were closed when we were there. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, but they take an afternoon break from 2-6 PM.

The other restaurant is Mamma Mia pizzeria.

mamma mia

Note that I took the pictures of both restaurants from the museum parking lot. On their Facebook page, they claim to only be open from 5-9 PM Tuesday – Sunday.

Of the two, Vitinn seems more interesting. And this review makes me want to go back and try Vitinn. I’ll let you know if we make it there when they are open.

Next, we headed 8 minutes up the coast to the very tip top point of the peninsula– the folk museum in Garður.

kef airport museum map

Actually, up there you’ll find a museum and two lighthouses. The older lighthouse, right by the shore, has a little tiny restaurant in it.

gardur shorter lighthouse

And the restaurant is your ticket to the top of the museum. You can either give them 500 krona to climb to the top, or buy some food. Perhaps you could buy something for under 500 krona? I didn’t ask, but there was a kleina for 200 krona, as well as muffins (500 krona), a couple of flatbreads, coffee, tea and juice.

This lighthouse is not associated with the museum. The taller one is part of the museum:

gardur overview from may

The taller lighthouse was closed when we were there, though the museum was now open. (It was closed when we first visited in May.) The museum was free, though I’m not sure if that’s because the lighthouse was not open?

The museum is a typical Icelandic folk museum, with lots of old stuff.gardur folk museum lots of stuff gardur folk museum radios

I think there used to be a restaurant in the museum called “Two Towers” (two lighthouses), but there may be a new cafeteria now in the museum called Flösin? I didn’t see anything open while we were there; I’ve reached out to the museum to ask.

On the way back to Reykjavik, we took a quick stop at a random point of interest sign. As you may or may not know, there is a flower-like symbol on signs that indicates a point of interest:

point of interest better june 13

(That happens to be a very cool playground in the Westfjords. But the symbol at the far right is found all over Iceland. Turns out it’s called a “looped square.”)

So, seeing one of those symbols, we stopped at a place called Straumur. We had a nice hike, and found some colorful flowers:

hafnarfjordur hike

As you wander, you can see some ruins of the fishing village that used to be here … in the 1400s! The parking area was just a minute off of road 49, and it will most likely be on your way from the airport to Reykjavik.


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Tuesday, July 19 update: Suðurnes Science and Learning Center, Garður, Straumur was last modified: November 12th, 2016 by Eric