Viðey is the Perfect Reykjavik Island for a Family Day Out
Yes, you read that right. If you find yourself stuck in Reykjavik with your family and you are looking for a diversion for yourself and the kids look no further than the island of Videy.
It is only a stone´s throw from Reykjavik harbor and the ferry takes only five minutes to get there. When you disembark after the short journey you are all of a certain in a different world from Reykjavik.
Viðey island has everything the family needs. Rich history and a loads of good clean fun. When I went there with my own family last weekend I got this great map with loads of information at small house that poses as the “ferry terminal” – it is pretty cool as an aid to explore this really nice island.
To cut a long story short it has the following diversions for the family:
- Horse back riding
- The short boat trip to and from the island
- A nice cafe/resturant in an more than 250 year old stone building – one of the oldest stone houses in Iceland
- A church from 1774 with the original interior inside
- Hiking trails
- Puffins and other sea birds
- The Imagine Peace Tower – a landmark for Reykjavik
- Many beaches and coves
The island has many hillocks and grassy fields which provide the perfect setting for a nice picnic. It is also perfect for hiking but please take care not to disturb the birds when they are nesting.
Videy has a really rich history, both modern and ancient. Archaeological digs indicate that the island has been inhabited since Viking times (ninth century) and during the middle ages the island had a rich monastery which was sacked during the reformation. The island has one of oldest stone houses in Iceland and the second oldest stone church. Stone houses were a rare luxury in the 18th and 19th century Iceland. Viðey was the home of Skúli Magnússon, the 18th century magnate Treasurer who is often called the father of Reykjavik because of his efforts to bring industry and progress to the rather unimpressive hamlet of Reykjavik.
War and peace
On the 24th of October the Canadian destroyer Skeena ran aground on the west side of the island after the captain attempted to seek shelter from a vicious storm with 15 meter high waves. 15 sailors were drowned in the tempest. However, mostly due to the heroic efforts of the sailor Einar Sigurðsson, MBE, 198 sailors were rescued. This is just one of the many disasters at sea that have taken place in the vicinity of Viðey island.
The latest addition to Viðey is the landmark Imagine Peace tower which was conceived by the artist Yoko Ono. It is a large beacon of light that is lit between the date of John´s Lennon birthday on October 9th and the date of his death on December 8th. It is also lit on the winter´s solstice, New Year´s Eve and the first week of spring. It is quite a lovely sight on dark winter nights.
How to get there
The ferry terminal is located at Reykjavik (Sundahofn) harbour
Written by Jón Heiðar Þorsteinsson