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Thursday, August 4 update: Þúfa sculpture, Seltjarnarnes: Grótta lighthouse, Nesstofa Pharmacy Museum

We spent some time today (and yesterday) visiting some less popular attractions in and around Reykjavik. The first is one that I’ve seen from a boat in the Reykjavik Harbor, but I wasn’t quite sure what it was:

Þúfa sculpture from boat

Turns out it’s a climbable sculpture called Þúfa (or, I guess, Thufa.) You can see the spiraling pathway you walk around to climb to the top of the mound.

Þúfa mound better

The climb up the hill is just a gentle incline; it’s a longer walk than I imagined, and it’s also a little scary. As you get higher and higher, you realize you’re standing very close to the edge:

Þúfa stairs better

At the top, you’ll be rewarded with a nice view of the harbor, and a small wooden shed with some drying fish inside.

Þúfa mound top

It’s a nice piece of interactive art that the whole family should enjoy, at least if the weather is nice. You can find it by getting directions to HB Grandi; the parking lot right next to Þúfa is around here.

Next, we headed on to Seltjarnarnes, a municipality west of the harbor area in Reykjavik.

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

Right away, you may notice the two land areas jutting out on the left side of the map. The lower land mass is a golf course, though there is a nature reserve just above the golf course. And there’s a restaurant in the clubhouse, which we didn’t go to.

But the main attraction is the top land mass, where the Grótta lighthouse is located.

grotta sign lighthouseHere’s the fun part: the small bit of land which leads to the lighthouse is only open during low tide. If you get your times wrong, you’ll get stuck by the lighthouse for 6 hours as the water rises around you. In the original version of this post, I downplayed this possibility. Surely someone closes off the road, and no one actually gets stuck. But see the comment below– apparently people can and do get stuck!

grotta lighthouse low tide

So, before you go make sure you check out the flood table at this link. It’s also posted the parking lot. It looks like this:

flood table grotta

The blue times are the two low tide times of the day; the surrounding numbers show the time the road will open and close. Our trip was the afternoon of August 4th, so the road was open from 11:24 AM until 3:24 PM.

It’s a short hike from the parking lot, and you end up at the lighthouse.walking to grotta

grotta lighthouse

There wasn’t much to do here. I think the attraction is two-fold. First, you get to walk to what is technically an island; having to be aware of the tide is cool and interesting. Second, this is a very quiet natural area that’s very close to Reykjavik. In fact, you can walk here from the harbor area in about an hour.

If you do walk, be sure to look for the warm water footbath that you’ll find on the way. It was actually made by the same person who made the sculpture Þúfa above! We didn’t see it, as it’s out of the way if you drive to the parking lot. Which seems fitting– we didn’t walk far enough to need a warm foot soak!

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

Just a minute or two down the road from Grótta is the Nesstofa Pharmacy Museum. Actually, Nesstofa is the house on the left where the pharmacist lived; to the right is the Pharmacy Museum.

pharmacy museum buildings

The house was built in the 1760s as the residence for the first doctor and pharmacist in Iceland. The house has some art inside of it:

pharmacy museum Nesstofa

Perhaps more interesting for kids is the Pharmacy, which houses lots of old objects related to medicine:

pharmacy museum bottles

The museum is free, and is worth a stop if you’re in the area. You can get here regardless of the tide, but the hours are limited: 1-5 PM, closed Mondays. It’s tricky to coordinate those hours with a visit to Grótta lighthouse.

As you head back to Reykjavik, but still in Seltjarnarnes, you will find the Seltjarnarnes swimming pool. This is yet another thermal pool in Reykjavik City. This one features a sea water pool, a waterslide, and the usual assortment of hot tubs.

seltjarnarnes swimming pool overview

If you have one of the Reykjavik thermal pools close by, check the list. If there’s a children’s pool or two, and / or a waterslide or two, your family will have a good time. Actually, you’ll probably have fun no matter what; check the Grapevine’s reviews. And they’re cheap– a family of four will pay something like $12 total to swim here. There’s a tiny cafe next door, with sandwiches and smoothies.

If you’re in the mood, Seltjarnarnes can be a relaxing place to escape the crowds in Reykjavik.

Finally, back in Reykjavik, the kids visited Reykjavik Escape. They have several escape rooms, where your group has 60 minutes to find clues and solve puzzles in order to escape.

reykjavik escape room outside

I couldn’t take pictures of the room, so you’ll have to settle for the outside. These are popping up in cities all over the world; I don’t think there is anything special about the Reykjavik site, but the people were nice and the kids had a good time.


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Thursday, August 4 update: Þúfa sculpture, Seltjarnarnes: Grótta lighthouse, Nesstofa Pharmacy Museum was last modified: January 8th, 2017 by Eric