Sitting on Reykjavik’s waterfront, facing the impressive figure of Mt. Esja across the bay, the gleaming sculpture of Sun Voyager (Solfar) makes for an excellent photo opportunity. The 60-foot-long stainless steel artwork resembles the skeletal frame of a boat and sits on a circle of granite slabs jutting into the sea.
Solfar was created by Jon Gunnar Arnason, who developed the concept during the late 1980s. It was the winning entry in a competition for an outdoor sculpture to honor the city of Reykjavik’s 200th anniversary. The full-scale version was unveiled in 1990, a year after the artist's death. City walking tours usually include a stop at Solfar. You can also see it from the water on a whale-watching cruise.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Solfar is a must-see for art enthusiasts and culture lovers.
- There is no charge to see the sculpture.
- Solfar sits on Reykjavik’s Sculpture and Shore Walk, a popular trail that leads to landmarks, including Harpa Concert Hall and the Partnership sculpture by Pétur Bjarnason.
How to Get There
Solfar is located on Saebraut road, a few minutes’ walk southeast of Harpa and a 15-minute walk from the center of Reykjavik. Bus routes 1, 3, 6, 11, 12, and 13 all stop at Lækjartorg, a 10-minute walk away.
When to Get There
You can visit the sculpture any time of day, any day of the week. Seeing it under the midnight sun during the height of summer offers a great opportunity to appreciate the significance of its name. Otherwise, the glow of dawn or dusk creates an attractive backdrop any time of year.
The Viking Myth
A common misconception of the sculpture is that it represents a Viking ship. This is understandable, because Solfar does resemble a ship and Iceland is, of course, the land of the Sagas. However, the artist’s original intent was to create a “dream boat” honoring the sun, the promise of undiscovered territory, hope, progress, and freedom.