Live From Iceland!

Sunday, July 31 update: Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach, Nordic House, The Volcano House

This morning I headed to Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach in Reykjavik.  Let’s cut to the chase: It’s free, and I think your kids will love it. Strangely, there is a fee for the locker rooms in the winter, but everything is free in the summer.

Nauthólsvík geothermal beach overview

This is definitely a place where you’ll find mostly locals. Well, in the summer you’ll still find some tourists, but also a lot of locals. One of the reasons for this is that it’s off the beaten path:

GIS, Map, Mapping Software, Geographic Information System, GIS, Geographic Information Software

The big circle is (very) roughly the main downtown tourist area. This is where you’ll find most of your boat tours, the best known museums and restaurants, etc.

The small back circle is Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach. It’s tucked in below the Reykjavik City airport (you won’t be using this airport unless you fly within Iceland or to Greenland.) But, if the flight paths work out, you’ll get some excellent up-close views of planes landing.

Note that you’ll only find a large parking lot once you get there– you can’t see the beach from the road. But head toward the water, and eventually you’ll see it!

In the picture above, furthest from the ocean you have a long rectangular hot tub, which is about 38 degrees Celsius, or right around 100 Fahrenheit. This is usually a good temperature for kids to enjoy; any warmer, and they tend to get too hot after a while. Closer to the water, off in the distance in the picture above, is a round pool which is colder, but still warm. Lots of kids seemed to be frolicking there. You can see it to the far right below:

Nauthólsvík geothermal beach beach area

Then you have the ocean water, which is actually heated a few degrees more than normal with geothermal hot water. It was definitely chilly, but also definitely not freezing cold.

There’s a snack bar that sells ice cream, drinks, and candy; you can also buy uncooked hot dogs, and grill them on the grills on site.

Nauthólsvík geothermal beach snack bar

The changing facilities are not as nice as what you’ll find at the other geothermal pool around town, or around the country. There are no lockers; you just leave your stuff in a crate, which is provided, and slide it onto a shelf. You can do as the locals do and just leave your valuables in your crate, or leave them behind in your car. And the locker rooms are busy and … fast-moving. You may want to visit another pool before trying this one, though it shouldn’t be a big deal. Just remember that, like everywhere else, you have to shower naked before swimming.

Locker rooms aside, Nauthólsvík is extremely nice. And extremely free in the summertime!

Back up top, at the far end of the parking lot, there is a fancy restaurant, Nauthóll. It’s open for lunch and dinner every day.

Nauthóll restaurant

I skipped it; I say it’s fancy only because the menu looked expensive. Fish soup was 3190 krona, or about $26.50. But the kids brunch, available only on Sundays. might be a good value. For 1550 for kids (3150 for adults), you get:

“The brunch dish contains leavened bread, serrano ham, camembert cheese, figs, american pancakes and high quality maple syrup, mini-muffin, baked egg, greek yogurt with homemade muesli, Icelandic vegetables and fruit.
Fresh orange juice comes with every brunch dish.”

In the afternoon, we tried something a little different: A greenhouse concert at the Nordic House. This is also out of the way from town, though closer– it’s just above the airport. Every Sunday in the summer, the Nordic House hosts concerts in their adorable greenhouse.

nordic house greenhouse concert

This day, we listened to Anna Jónsdóttir singing traditional Icelandic Folk music. The concert was about 45 minutes; the kids weren’t into it very much, but there are worse ways to spend 45 minutes than listening to an impressive singer while outside on a beautiful day. The concerts are free.

Then, we headed inside the Nordic House:

nordic house outside

to see a temporary exhibit called Century of the Child: Nordic design for children from 1900 to today.  This is a traveling exhibit that has been shown in Denmark and other Nordic countries before it made its way to Iceland. Admission is 1000 krona for adults and free for kids 17 and under.

nordic house children exhibit

What’s not to love about an exhibit that has a wooden toy train track running though it? The name of the exhibit seems like all kids would like it, but it seems like it will hold the interest of older kids a lot more. For the younger kids, there is a play area in the middle, with Nordic-designed toys that the kids can play with.

nordic house play area

The exhibit runs through February 27, 2017.

After the concert and the exhibit, we tried the Nordic House’s cafe for a snack. They had very nice homemade cakes and pies, with interesting crusts. There may have been nuts and/or seeds in the crust?

nordic house 1100 krona cheesecake

All of the cakes, like this blueberry cheesecake, cost 1100 krona. That’s at the high end of what you’ll pay for a dessert. They were good, but I don’t think the kids appreciated them more than less expensive desserts elsewhere.

In the area around the Nordic House, they have a couple of nice play areas; the kids really enjoyed these. If you head down here for a concert, definitely check these out afterwards!

nordic house kids climbing 2 nordic house kids climbing web

Finally, at night, we watched the movie at The Volcano House. This is the place that is attached to Icelandic Fish and Chips across the street from the Harbor. There’s a free museum part that you can visit; I’ve been there a few times, and it’s growing on me. It’s a great place to visit before or after a meal, and to maybe buy a cheap souvenir. They have pummice from volcanic eruptions you can buy. The pummice floats!

volcano house museum volcano house museum

You also have the option to watch their movie, which is 53 minutes long and plays once an hour from 10 AM until 9 PM. Actually, there are two movies; one about the Westman Islands eruption in 1973, and the other about Eyjafjallajökull in 2010. That second one was nominated for two Emmys in cinematography.

The movies have a little bit of overlap, but otherwise they are both very well done. We enjoyed the movies a lot more than the ones at The Volcano Show (though meeting the creator of that one is still a treat.)

volcano house cimema pretty

The movies may be a little bit long for younger children, but older children, or anyone with an interest in volcanoes, should enjoy these well-made films. It’s not cheap though: Adults cost 1990 krona, kids 12-16 are 1000, and kids 11 and under are free. The movie trailer may help you decide?

Either way, you should check out the free museum part, and grab a well-priced kid’s fish and chips next door at Icelandic Fish and Chips. One commenter on our site said their family wandered through the museum and bought postcards while they waited for their food. It’s a good combination!


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Sunday, July 31 update: Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach, Nordic House, The Volcano House was last modified: July 15th, 2017 by Eric