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Monday, August 1 update, part 1: Viðey Island

In our quest to visit as many museums in Reykjavik as we can, this morning we took the short boat ride to Viðey Island. It seems strange to call an island a museum, but it is indeed one of the Reykjavik City Museums.

videy island from reykjavik

This is a view of the island from the closest port in Reykjavik. The building you can see out  there is the restaurant on the island. As you may guess from the picture, this is a very short ferry ride– maybe 5 or 7 minutes? This is a good “starter” trip for a younger child who isn’t sure if they like boat rides.

In the summertime, there are actually multiple places where you can catch the ferry to Viðey. You can see the ferry schedule here. Boats leave from: The Old Harbor area (1), where most whale watching trips from; behind Harpa concert hall (2); or from Skarfabakki pier (3). But Skarfabakki is much closer to the island, and departures are much more frequent. And, that’s your only choice in the winter. Here’s a rough map:

You can see Viðey  Island just above the 3, which is Skarfabakki pier. You can choose to leave from any of the ports, and return to any of them, even if it’s not the same. They don’t even check your tickets on the way back– they assume if you made it to the island, you must have purchased a ticket and now you need to get back! There is only one boat; if there are multiple ports scheduled for the trip, the boat will go from Viðey to Skarfabakki, and then on to the other ports.

The ferry is a small boat as ferries go; it can only hold maybe 20 or 30 passengers comfortably. I was told that the boat almost never fills up; if it does, they will just have it turn around and make a second trip. So you can just get to the port a few minutes early and buy your tickets before you board. (We did this at Skarfabakki, though I assume it works the same way for the other ports.)

boat to videy

What all of this means is that you will probably have 50 or fewer people with you on a large island. It’s a nice way to get to a more remote place without having to go very far at all. Here’s a view of the area you will first get to:

videy highest point view

The boat dock is to the left, and you’ll walk up the hill toward the restaurant on the right. There’s a church next to the restaurant; feel free to open the door and explore inside. Behind the church and restaurant there are a couple of picnic tables and a small playground for the kids.

The restaurant seems overpriced, though I guess they have to get all of the food out there on a boat. I forgot to take a picture of the menu, but this menu posted online shows a children’s hamburger that costs 1890 krona– that’s about the most expensive I’ve seen.

But you can bring a picnic lunch if you’d like, and just explore the island. There are lots of meandering hiking trails; it’s tough to tell where some of them are going, though it seems pretty hard to get lost on the island. The hikes may take longer than you expected; make sure you don’t miss the last ferry back!

videy paths wander

There are two art installations you can check out if you are interested. The first is far more famous– the Imagine Peace Tower by Yoko Ono. During the summer, it’s just a big round white thing, with “Imagine Peace” written on it in many many languages:

videy imagine peace tower

videy imagine peace tower close up

But, during certain times in the winter (see the schedule on the web site) they turn on the extremely powerful lights inside; the lights are visible from miles away.

videy imagine peace tower nighttime

It’s not something that is a must see, but it’s a nice destination for a 20 or 25 minute hike.

The second art installation is called Áfangar, by American artist Richard Serra. It’s tough to explain, and maybe tough to understand from an explanation:

videy afangar sculpture

Basically, there are a bunch of pairs of pillars, each of which goes to the same height above sea level. So some will be tall and some will be short, based on how high above sea level you are at a particular place on the island. But the pillars in each pair are of different heights, so they will be placed closer together or further apart based on how much the ground slopes.

Áfangar sculpture videy from boat (1 of 1)

Again, you don’t need to see this. But it’s an interesting and large sculpture, spread over a large chuck of the island, that some kids may find very interesting.

The ferry to Videy costs 1200 krona for adults 16 and older, 600 krona for kids 6-12, and is free for kids 5 and under. That’s the total cost for the round trip. The trip is what you make of it– don’t expect to be entertained on the island! But if you budget a couple of hours to explore the island, it’s a great and peaceful getaway. Bring a snack or a picnic lunch!

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Monday, August 1 update, part 1: Viðey Island was last modified: August 8th, 2016 by Eric