When most travelers fly into Reykjavik, they've got a lot of different activities on their mind. They're ready to experience the icy glacier hikes, bubbling hot springs, breathtaking waterfalls, and more. But did you know there's a small island paradise just off the coast of Iceland's capital city? Videy island (Viðey island) makes for the perfect day trip from Reykjavik . And what's more, the ferry rides to reach the island are free if you’ve picked up a Reykjavik City card.
Videy Island: A hidden gem
So what is there to see on Videy Island exactly? Well, there are a few things. The first is the Imagine Peace Tower dedicated to John Lennon. Also, Milestones by Richard Serra, a striking and modern work of art resides on the island. This haven is also known for its wildlife and fauna, especially its puffins, and the more than 30 species of bird life that you'll find here. Coming to visit on a sunny day to go bird watching is an exciting activity for ornithologists and nature lovers alike.
Let's hop on the ferry and take a trip to Videy island.
The Imagine Peace Tower
The Imagine Peace Tower is probably what I would call the island’s star attraction. It was inaugurated in 2007 by John Lennon's widow, artist Yoko Ono. The installation was meant to honor both Lennon and convey their desired message to achieve peace around the world. It's something that was extremely important to them back when John was alive and Yoko continues this work.
The tower of light shines brightly straight into the Icelandic sky and lights up throughout the year, including on Lennon's birthday. If you want to send your wish for peace you could do so directly via social media or email. It's a unique art installation that you won't find anywhere else on Earth.
Richard Serra’s Milestones: A modern work of art
This is another work of art to view on the island by artist Richard Serra. The exhibition is called Milestones and was originally part of the 1990 Reykjavik Art Festival. It was quite popular, so they left it standing in its place. it looks a bit like an Icelandic Stonehenge, with its nine pairs of basalt columns. Each of the pairs frames landmarks and other important things of note in the area. Be sure to come check it out.
Puffin watching on Viðey Island
Nature lovers will be in heaven when they come to visit this lovely island off the coast of Reykjavik. Iceland is a place that's known for its natural beauty and unique geology, and we've also got plenty of wonderful flora and fauna. One of the most famous our North Atlantic Icelandic puffins who come here every summer to nest and form their colonies. This is a great spot to come if you'd like to see puffins up close.
Even if you're not into puffins particularly, there are about 30 species of bird life on Viðey Island to keep you occupied.
You can also check around on one of the island’s many hiking trails. But you'll have to be aware that during nesting season certain ones close. Our precious birds and their natural habitat need protection, and we don't want people stomping through the place where they've just laid their eggs and have made their home. You can rent a bike to travel around this area or go by foot. And while you're there, be sure to take in the magnificent views of Snaefellsnes peninsula off in the distance.
Videy’s historical side
Many people are surprised when they discover that Iceland has a lot of historical sites. We are on an island that the Vikings came to pre-10th century from Scandinavia and they settled here. One of the first places they started to explore after they put down roots in Iceland was Viðey Island. At one point the richest Monastery in Iceland was located here.
The island was also owned for a period of around 200 years by the Royal Bessastaðir estate. And in 1755, Viðey House (Viðeyjarstofa) opened. One of the most powerful men in Iceland, Skúli Magnússon, commissioned this as his home and official residence. It's an architectural gem with a lot of historical weight. There's a display where you can learn more and the building's basement also has a restaurant to grab a bite to eat during your day out.
How to arrive
It's quite easy to reach the island by ferry. They leave frequently from Ægisgarður harbor and the Skarfabakki pier daily in the summer. For all intents and purposes this starts in the middle of May and finishes at the end of September. The first boat heading out leaves around 10:15 a.m. and the last one coming back is at 6:30 p.m.
A fun Reykjavik day trip to Videy Island
If you find yourself in Reykjavik City and you're looking something fun to do, consider taking a day trip to the island just off the coast. You’ll have beautiful views of the city, get to spend some time in nature, and enjoy some modern art. What could be better than that? It’s a great activity for families, friends, solo travelers, and couples alike.