The magical trails of Viðey Island

Exploring Reykjavik was great, but nothing left me more impressed than my short visit to Viðey Island (or Videy Island). And it’s a bit of a chance that I went there. The weather forecasted rain all day and I planned to spend the afternoon in museums. Finally, the sun was out, and I realized by visiting the Old Harbor of Reykjavik that you could buy tickets for the ferry to Videy Island. So I decided to change my plans: and I did not regret it.

Videy Island is located in the bay north of Reykjavik, about 20 minutes by ferry from the Old Harbor (ferries are also leaving from Harpa and Skarfabakki wharf). In addition to being a true natural paradise (many populations of seabirds nest on its shores), the island has some historic buildings. The church is one of the oldest in Iceland and the large white house you can see upon your arrival on the island is the oldest stone house in the country. The island was home to Iceland’s first treasurer, Skuli Magnusson (he built the house and the church in the 18th century), and then to Olafur Stephensen, the first governor of Iceland.

Viðey Island
The oldest stone house in Iceland

On the eastern tip of the island, there are also the ruins of a village that was settled after the establishment of a fishing company in the early 20th century. Up to 130 people lived there and the village had its school, a wharf and fish processing facilities. The company went bankrupt a few dozen years later and the last inhabitant of the village left in 1943.

Ruins on Viðey Island
Ruins of the old village on Videy Island

There are several trails that go around the island and allow you to explore the area at your leisure. At times, I was completely alone on the trail, with for only companions the sea, the mountains and sometimes an Icelandic horse. There is also a sculpture on the island designed by Yoko Ono called Imagine Peace. I unfortunately did not see it because I was lost in the contemplation of the beautiful Icelandic landscape and I had to hurry back to the dock to catch the last ferry to the Old Harbor of Reykjavik.

A horse on Viðey Island
One of the horse of the island

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