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Thursday, July 21 update: Café Loki, Hallgrímskirkja, The Einar Jónsson Museum, and Skólavörðustígur

Before heading into the famous Hallgrímskirkja (Hallgrím’s Church) today, we stopped for lunch right across the street at Café Loki. Here’s your view of the church from the restaurant window:

hallgrims from cafe loki

Café Loki has a single item on the children’s menu: Lamb Soup with rye bread. But at 700 krona (about $5.70) it’s probably the cheapest kid’s meal we have seen.

cafe loki menu

So what you you get for 700 krona? A little cup of soup and a lot of bread:

cafe loki childrens lamb soup

A few minutes after we ordered, someone came to the table to ask if we wanted butter, cheese, or lamb paté on the rye bread. Pictured above is the bread with butter; if you can convince your child to go for the paté, that seems like a better deal to me?

This wasn’t enough food for our 10-year-old, but we supplemented with a little more soup from an adult portion. But at 700 krona, it’s a good deal for a not-too-hungry kid. This lovely but still fairly small meal (Icelandic Plate III) was 2230 krona; that’s more than the cost of 3 kid’s meals:

cafe loki special 3

Sticking with the lamb soup, for children or adults, seems like a cost-effective choice.

After lunch we headed across the street to Hallgrímskirkja. Here’s a picture not taken through a restaurant window:

hallgrims church

You can go inside the main lower part of the church for free:

hallgrims church inside

There is also an impressive pipe organ. Check out the church’s schedule of concerts over the summer. Or be lucky, as we were, and stumble across someone playing the organ at an unscheduled time:

hallgrims church organ concert

But the main draw of Hallgrímskirkja is heading up the elevator to get a view of Reykjavik. The church is the tallest structure in Reykjavik, and the 6th tallest structure in Iceland. (Strangely, even though that last fact is from Wikipedia, Wikipedia doesn’t have Hallgrímskirkja on their list of tallest structures in Iceland?)

The ride up the elevator costs 900 krona for adults 15+, and 100 krona for kids 7-15. You buy your tickets in the gift shop, and then head back to the front entrance to find the elevator on your right. The elevator only holds 6 people, and it takes a minute or so to go each direction, and so a line can form. If you see a line of people as you walk in, you may want to come back a little later.

The elevator takes you to a landing with some large circular windows, but you can (and should!) also walk up the 4 or so flights of stairs to get to the very top. The views are fantastic in any direction:

hallgrims vertical view

You can stay up there for as long as you like; just remember that there may also be a wait to catch the elevator back down!

hallgrims church top view better

View the same direction; here you can see Café Loki in the front left.

Also on the same circle, further to the left in the picture above, is The Einar Jónsson Museum. The sculptor Einar Jónsson lived here, but the building also served as an art museum; he lived on the top floor, used the main floor for exhibits, and the bottom was his studio.

If you walk all the way around to the back, you can walk through the free sculpture garden.

einar jónsson sculpture garden einar jónsson sculpture_

These are bronze casts of the original sculptures; you’ll find many of the originals inside the museum.

The guide at the museum shared some interesting information about Einar Jónsson. One tidbit is that Einar didn’t like the neighborhood children viewing his artwork; presumably they weren’t very well behaved? And in his will, he specified that kids shouldn’t be allowed in the museum. I can’t find a source for this; does anyone know?

So maybe I am doing a disservice to Einar’s wishes by even talking about the museum on a website called Iceland with Kids? They do have a price for children, and clearly children are welcome; just make sure they don’t touch anything! Admission to the building is 1000 krona for adults, and free for kids 18 and under.

The museum also specified that photographs weren’t allowed; they gave me permission, but I will still only show one picture:

kid huge sculpture - Copy

You can start in the sculpture garden, and then move on to pay for the museum if your family is interested. We enjoyed Einar’s style– even the kids!

One other free option that the museum kindly provides is this Einar Jónsson statue walk. This is a nice tour of Reykjavik, with the added bonus of seeing much of Einar’s work around town.

Finally, we spent some time walking around the street that leads up to Hallgrímskirkja, Skólavörðustígur. Here’s the view from the bottom of this street looking back up:

Skólavörðustígur toward church

There are lots of stores and restaurants along the Skólavörðustígur, and it eventually intersects with Laugavegur, another popular shopping street. Some stores have changed since this article was written 10 years ago, but I still love the title: I Love Skólavörðustígur. It provides a nice overview of the street.

One of our favorites on Skólavörðustígur is the Icelandic Handknitting Association store. You won’t find any bargains here, but you will find sweaters made of Icelandic wool handknitted in Iceland by Icelanders. (There has been some uproar in the last few years as other companies sell products not actually made in Iceland.)

handknitting store chaotic fun

It’s a store that’s appealing because of its chaos. Go ahead and try on a sweater! But don’t get too attached until after you’ve seen the price tag; these sweaters take a long time to knit by hand!


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Thursday, July 21 update: Café Loki, Hallgrímskirkja, The Einar Jónsson Museum, and Skólavörðustígur was last modified: July 24th, 2016 by Eric