The Best Museums Along the Ring Road in Iceland
A glance at a map of Reykjavík will show you the museums in the city, but there are equally many exciting museums waiting to be discovered around Iceland´s main artery, the Ring Road.
Some are very unusual, others are tiny, a few, especially considering their remote locations, are unexpectedly grand. Almost all reflect the colossal hard work and enthusiasm for life which are powerful characteristics of the Icelandic people. To get to many of them you will have to take a detour from the Ring Road but not, usually, so many kilometers. That extra distance will always reward you with fabulous scenery. Some are open all year and others just in the summer
We are all different in what we appreciate, so I have just taken a journey through my favorites traveling around the Ring Road in a southerly direction.
Photo: Skógar Museum – Skógasafn
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Museums in South Iceland
The Geothermal Energy Exhibition
A large exhibition showing geothermal energy use and its development in Iceland. Multimedia installations, displays and a presentation is included in the basic entry and tour fee, more extensive presentations and packages can also be selected here.
Open daily 09:00 to 17:00
Entry fee: Basic entry fee and tour 1950 ISK – Children under 12 are free.
Location: The Geothermal Energy Exhibition, Hellisheiðarvirkjun, 816 Hveragerði, 25 km (15.5 mi) from Reykjavík.
Lá Art Museum – Listasafn Arnesinga
Four or five quite ambitious and fun exhibitions are hosted every year.
Open daily May to September & Thursday to Sunday, October to April 12:00 to 18:00.
Entry fee: FREE.
Location: Lá Art Museum – Listasafn Arnesinga, Austurmörk 21, 810 Hveragerði, 39.5 km (24.5 mi) from Reykjavík.
The Earthquake 2008 Exhibition
See real-time security camera footage of the havoc caused by the 6.3 magnitude quake. The experience of residents and the damage to buildings is shown, together with local geological and earthquake facts. There is even an earthquake simulator for the brave-hearted who want to know what a 6.6 magnitude quake feels like!
FREE entry but a small charge is made to use the simulator.
Open Monday to Friday 08.30 to 17:00 – Saturday & Sunday 09:00 to 13:00
Entry fee: Access to the exhibition is free but fee (ISK 400) is taken for the earthquake simulator.
Location: The Earthquake 2008 Exhibition, Sunnumörk 2, 810 Hveragerði, at the Tourist Information Center 39.5 km (24.5 mi) from Reykjavík.
Ljósbrá Stone and Mineral Museum
This small exhibition is packed with geological exhibits and related items which were lovingly collected by generations of the Ljósbrá family, who run this museum. Quality handicrafts and knitwear are also available to purchase.
Open Monday to Friday 09:00 to 17:00 – Saturday & Sunday 10:00 to 17:00
Entry is FREE
Location: Ljósbrá Stone and Mineral Museum, Breiðmörk 1, 810 Hveragerði, beside the gas station 39.5 km (24.5 mi) from Reykjavík.
Árnessýsla Heritage Museum
This folk museum, housed in one of the oldest buildings in Iceland, shows artifacts relating to local people between 1850 and 1950. The Maritime Museum displays seamanship artifacts.
Open daily May to September 11:00 to 18:00. May be opened by arrangement at other times.
Location: Árnessýsla Heritage Museum,820 Eyrarbakki, 52.9 km (32.9 mi) from Reykjavík and 28.4 km (15.2 mi) from Hveragerði.
Bobbie Fischer Center
Memorabilia from Bobbie Fischer´s chess career and the background to his move to Iceland.
Open daily May to September 13:00 to 16:00
Entry fee: Adult 1000 ISK – under 14 free.
Location: Bobbie Fischer Center, Austurvegur 21, 800 Selfoss, 51 km (31.7 mi) from Reykjavík and 14 km (8.7 mi) from Hveragerði.
Ljósafoss Power Station
The exhibition shows the development of electricity production in Iceland from the beginning to present day hydro and geothermal electricity and new sustainable electricity ideas for the future.
Open daily from 10:00 to 17:00
Entry is FREE.
Location: Ljósafoss Power Station, Ljósafoss, 801 Selfoss, Iceland, 67.2 km (42 mi) from Reykjavík and 28.9 km (18 mi) from Hveragerði.
The Visitor Centre Sagnagarður
Great natural history and folk museum focusing mostly on local life during the last 200 years.
Open 1st June to 1st September 09:00 to 17:00.
Entry fees: Adult 1000 ISK, Seniors, Disabled & Students 700 ISK, Youths (12 to 17) 500 ISK, under 12 years free.
Location: The Visitor Centre Sagnagarður, Gunnarsholt, 851 Hella, 87.6 km (54.4 mi) from Reykjavík and 37 km (23 mi) from Selfoss.
The Lava Centre
Photo: The Lava Centre
A fascinating state-of-the-art exhibition showcasing Iceland´s magnificent volcanoes and the amazing geology of this epic land of fire and ice. Get to know Iceland´s fiery heart.
Open daily 09:00 to 19:00. The Katla Restaurant is open 09:00 to 21:00.
Entry fees: Exhibition only 2400 ISK, Cinema only 1200 ISK, Cinema & Exhibition 3200 ISK, Family ticket 5940 ISK.
Location: The Lava Centre, Austurvegur 14, 860 Hvolsvöllur, 99 km (61.5 mi) from Reykjavík and 12.2 km (7.6 mi) from Hella.
Skógar Museum, Skógasafn 1, Skógar, 861 Hvolsvöllur
In my view, this is the best folk museum in Iceland, fishing, agriculture, domestic life, transportation and natural history are all covered. There are also extensive open air and technical museums together with an original turf farmhouse and other fascinating buildings.
Open daily June, July & August 09:00 to 18:00 and September to May 10:00 to 17:00.
Entry fees: Adults 2000 ISK, Youth (12-17) 1000, Children (under 12) are free.
Location: Skógar Museum, Skógasafn 1, Skógar, 861 Hvolsvöllur, 148 km (92 mi) from Reykjavík and 49.4 km (30.7 mi) from Hvolsvöllur.
Museums in East Iceland
The Thorbergur Center
The Þórbergur Center at the Hali Country Hotel is a Cultural heritage museum about the author, Þórbergur Þórðarson, and commemorating the days when life in this area, beneath Vatnajökull glacier, was incredibly harsh and isolated. Photos show life as it was just several decades ago.
Open daily 09:00 to 20:00
Entry fee: 1000 ISK.
Location: The Thorbergur Center, South East Iceland, Hali, 781 Höfn 385 km (239 mi) from Reykjavík and 239 km (148 mi) from Skógar Museum.
Gamlabúð Visitor Center
This Vatnajökull National Park Visitor Center displays a wealth of information about the natural history and life in the area. Plentiful information about the birds whose migratory patterns bring them to this very remote part of Iceland, and great photographs depicting local life.
Open daily October to April 09 to 17:00, May and September 09 to 18:00 June to August 09:00 to 19:00.
Entry is FREE
Location: Gamlabúð Visitor Center, Heppuvegur 1, 780 Höfn í Hornafirði 451 km (280 mi) from Reykjavík and 66 km (41 mi) from Hali.
Breiðdalssetur, Gamla Kaupfélagið
Housed in the old Co-op building, this geological, stone and local history museum is also a research center. The rocks and minerals are especially interesting, including the famous Icelandic Silfurberg, also known as the Viking stone, Icelandic spa, and optical calcite.
Open by appointment – email email@example.com, or phone 470 5565 – more info here
Location: Breiðdalssetur, Gamla Kaupfélagið, Sæberg 1, 760 Breiðdalsvík, 606 km (376.5 mi) from Reykjavík and 165 km (102.5 mi) from Höfn í Hornafirði.
Petra’s Stone Collection
From childhood, Petra Sveinsdóttir collected stones, crystals, shells and sometimes other items from the nature around Stöðvarfjörður, the fjord where she lived her entire life. Her former home and garden are filled with these amazing finds. Her home has been kept as it was, so you get a great insight into Icelandic country living, and the life led by this strong and fascinating woman. Comments in the guestbook bear testimony to her collection being akin to a work of art.
Photo: Petra’s stone collection
Open daily May to Mid-October 09:00 to 18:00
Entry fee: 1500 ISK, Child (0-13) free.
Location: Petra´s Stone Collection, Fjarðarbraut 21, 755 Stöðvarfjörður, 624 km (388 mi) from Reykjavík and 183 km (113.7) from Höfn í Hornafirði.
Skriðuklaustur, Cultural Center – Egilsstaðir
The charming house was the home and institute of Gunnar Gunnarsson, an Icelandic author, who got nominated for the Nobel prize in 1918, 1921, 1922 and 1955, learning about his work is fascinating. Archaeological research on the remains of an important Augustinian monastery in the grounds has greatly assisted research into pre-reformation monastic life in Iceland. The house and grounds are beautiful, as well as informative, with a good restaurant and a gallery.
Open daily June to August 10 to 18, May & September 11 to 17, April & October 12 to 16.
Entry fees: museum and guide adult 1100 ISK, Student 750 ISK, Seniors or Disabled 550 ISK, Children under 16 free.
Location: Skriðuklaustur, Egilsstaðir, 678 km (421.2 mi) from Reykjavík, completing your journey along the Ring Road, and 88.5 km (55 mi) from Fáskrúðsfjörður. The scenic journey from the Ring Road at Egilsstaðir is around 40 km (25 mi) in each direction.
East Iceland Heritage Museum
This little museum is packed full of local items from the 19th century, showing everything from exquisite needlework, home-goods and handicrafts to information about the local reindeer. The charming turf house was owned by a prosperous local farming family.
Open daily 1st June to 31st August 10:00 to 18:00, September to May Tuesday to Friday 11:00 to 16:00
Entry fee: Adults 1000 ISK, under 18 free.
Location: East Iceland Heritage Museum, Laufskógar 1, 700 Egilsstaðir, 644 km (400 mi) from Reykjavík, continuing northwards and completing the Ring Road.
The Icelandic Wartime Museum
The little island of Iceland was, strategically, in quite an important location during the 2nd World War. British military personnel were, thus, stationed at Reyðarfjörður and many other remote places during World War II. Diverse exhibits relating to all aspects of life touched by the war, and fascinating recordings of Icelanders and UK soldiers telling their wartime stories.
Open daily June to August 10:00 to 17:00
Location: The Icelandic Wartime Museum, Heiðarvegur 37, 730 Reyðarfjörður 34 km (21.1 km) from Egilsstaðir – Reyðarfjörður is a dramatic and beautiful fjord which you shouldn´t miss.
The Technical Museum of East Iceland
This local heritage museum traces Iceland´s development from a very poor nation in 1900, through the exciting technological developments which happened between 1880 and 1950. Life was revolutionized, particularly in rural areas. Many exhibitions are animated, re-creating the atmosphere of the times they represent. Nice outdoor areas around the museum.
Open 01 June to 15 September on weekdays 11:00 to 17:00
Entry fees: Adults 1000 ISK, Seniors (67+) 800 ISK, Disabled & Children (0 to 17) free.
Location: The Technical Museum of East Iceland, Hafnargata 44, Seyðisfjörður, 27.8 km (17.3 mi) from Egilsstaðir – Seyðisfjörður is arty, with a picturesque church.
Museums in North East Iceland
Múlastofa Cultural Center Exhibition
Memorial to the creative brothers, Jón Múli and Jónas Árnarson, their work in music, theatre, lyrics and art is very well known in Iceland. You will find a lovely cafe, the East Emigration Center mentioned below and local folk exhibits housed in the same building, so this detour from the Ring Road will show you quite a lot!
Open in summer but the times vary. Phone 473 1331 for info.
Entry fee 600 ISK, under 17 free.
Location: Múlastofa Cultural Center Exhibition, Kaupvangur, Hafnarbyggð 4a, 690 Vopnafjörður, 132 km (82 mi) from Egilsstaðir, 52 km (32.3 mi) each way detour from the Ring Road.
East Iceland Emigration Center
Summer exhibition commemorating the mass emigration to both South and North America from Iceland after the devastating Askja eruption of 1875 and other hardships. The Center also works with Iceland Roots, assisting people with Icelandic roots to trace genealogies and find cousins.
Open September to 15th May Mondays & Thursdays 10 to 16:00, 15th May to 31st August Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays 10:00 to 16:00. Sometimes open at other times by arrangement Email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 473 1200.
Entry fee 600 ISK.
Location: East Iceland Emigration Center, Kaupvangur 2, Hafnarbyggð 4a, 690 Vopnafjörður132 km (82 mi) from Egilsstaðir, 234 km and 133 km to Reykjahlíð, Lake Mývatn.
Museums in North Iceland
Sigurgeirs Bird Museum
Principally a bird museum with interactive displays and stuffed birds representing almost every bird which nests in the Mývatn area. There is another exhibition in the Boat House, showing how vital boats and Lake Mývatn were to the lives of local people even just a few decades ago.
Open all year – for details of times please see the museum website.
Entry fees: Adults and children over 14 years 1200 ISK, Children (7 to 14) 600 ISK & under 6 free, Seniors 750 ISK.
Location: Sigurgeirs Bird Museum, Ytri-Neslöndum, Reykjahlið, 660 Mývatn – Fuglasafn Sigurgeirs, 165 km (102.5 mi) from Egilsstaðir, and 101 km (63.8 mi) to Akureyri.
The Old Farmhouse – Laufás Museum, Gamla Bærinn
Well preserved wealthy vicarage and farm buildings. The various buildings date back to between 1600 and 1800. See how well-to-do people lived in the countryside by Eyjafjörður fjord.
Open daily June to September 09:00 to 17:00
Entry fees: 1400 ISK, under 18 free.
Location: The Old Farmhouse, Laufás Museum, Laufás, 91 km (56.5 mi) from Rekjahlíð, 20 km to Akureyri, the detour from the Ring Road is just 10 km (6.2 mi) each way, turn sharply onto the road signposted to Grenavík.
The Icelandic Folk and Outsider Art Museum
This intriguing museum is totally charming, featuring as the name says, rather unusual but thought-provoking exhibits, mostly related to the local area, including an extensive antique doll collection. A browse in the small library is always interesting, some books are in English.
Open daily 12th May to 9th September 10:00 to 17:00
Entry fees: Adults 1000 ISK, Groups, Seniors & Disabled 900 ISK, Children (under 16) free.
Location: The Icelandic Folk and Outsider Art Museum, Safnasafnið, Svalbarðsströnd, 601 Akureyri, 252 km (157 mi) from Egilsstaðir, and 86 km (53 mi), from Reykjahlið.
Charming exhibits show life in Akureyri since around 1728, when Danish merchants established the town around the great natural harbor. There is also an exhibited which changes every few months. Fascinating maps, artifacts, photos, and nature information. The stroll along the edge of the fjord is sensational – if you fancy an ice cream get the best ice cream in town at Brynja.
Open daily June to September 09:00 to 17:00, October to May 13:00 to 17:00
Entry fees: Adults 1400 ISK, under 18 free.
Location: Akureyri Museum, Adalstræti 58, 600 Akureyri, 2.0 km (1.25 mi) from the center of Akureyri, and 383 km (238 mi) from Reyjavík.
Norðurslóð – Into the Arctic
A very large number of Arctic exhibits including some fascinating archive footage. The challenges of life in the Arctic, history, wildlife, the settlement of Iceland, maps, Greenland expeditions, expeditions to the Canadian Arctic, dog sledding, handicrafts and the work and ideas of the Arctic anthropologist and explorer, Vilhjálmur Stefánsson are featured.
Photo: Into the Arctic museum
Open daily, weekdays 11:00 to 18:00, weekends 11 to 17:00.
Entry fee Adults 1500 ISK, Children under 12 are free.
Location: Norðurslóð – Into the Arctic, Strandgata 53, 600 Akureyri, in the heart of Akureyri, and 380 km (236 mi) from Reykjavík.
The Icelandic Aviation Museum
28 small planes are on display together with plenty of aviation history information. Learn all about Icelandic aviation and see the incredible early ‘flying machines’.
Open daily from June to September 11:00 to 17:00
Entry fee: over 12 years 1500 ISK.
Location: The Icelandic Aviation Museum, Flugsafn Íslands, Flugvallarvegur, 3.5 km (2.2 mi) from the center of Akureyri, and 385 km (239.2 mi) from Reykjavík.
The Motorcycle Museum of Iceland
A must-see for motorcycle enthusiasts. An exceptional collection of English motorcycles from the 1930´s to the 1990´s, and other motorbikes. The owner is really passionate about bikes!
Open daily from 10:00 to 17:00.
Entry fee: Adult ISK 1.000, free entry for 15 years and younger
Location: The Motorcycle Museum of Iceland, Mótorhjólasafn Íslands, Krókeyri 2, 600 Akureyri 2.5 km (1.56 mi) from the center of Akureyri, and 383 km (238 mi) from Reykjavík.
Akureyri Art Museum
Fabulous, thought-provoking, and often very original exhibitions are held in the bright, spacious and very peaceful galleries. Details of current and upcoming exhibitions can be found here.
Open daily June to August 10:00 to 17:00, September to May Tuesday to Saturday 12:00 to 17:00
Entry fee 500 ISK
Location: Akureyri Art Museum, Kaupvangsstræti 8, in the heart of Akureyri, the Capital of the North, 380 km (236 mi) from Reykjavík.
The Herring Era Museum
This huge museum (in various adjacent buildings) commemorates the herring fishing boom in the first part of the 20th century. Great attention to detail, everything related to the fishing industry during those very exciting days, you can even explore the lodging house where the female workers lived, everything just as it would have been, giving a great atmosphere.
Open daily June to August 10:00 to 18:00, May & September 13 to 17.
Entry fee 1800 ISK.
Location: The Herring Era Museum, Snorragata 10, 580 Siglufjörður, 78.5 km from Akureyri, and 380 km from Reykjavík. The detour from the Ring Road is about 70 km each way, or you could continue around the coastline to Hofsós.
The Icelandic Emigration Center
Everything you could wish to discover about the people who relocated to North America and Canada between 1870 and 1914. Stories of their experiences and those of their descendants have been meticulously put together. Photographs and the letters which passed between them and their families back in Iceland have been meticulously collated, together with newspaper articles from the times (translated, or summarized in English). I loved this place, the lives these intrepid souls lived on the prairies of their new land were just so interesting. Some, like the poet Davið Stefánsson, felt they really belonged neither in Iceland nor in their new country.
Open daily June to August 11:00 to 18:00
Entry fee for 2018 is not confirmed – about 1400 ISK.
Location: The Icelandic Emigration Center, Kvosin, 566 Hofsós 133 km (82.6 mi) from Akureyri leaving the Ring road at Varmahlíð, 61 km (37.8 mi) from Siglufjörður, and 321 km (199.5 mi) from Reykjavík.
The Heritage Museum – Minjahúsið
A local heritage museum with some fascinating items related to this sheep farming area, there is even a stuffed polar bear – I would not have wanted to meet this fellow when he swam ashore! If you like folk museums this is a great one to go to. Sauðárkrókur is a lovely rural village/small town, making a detour to visit the museum doubly worthwhile.
Open daily June to August 12:00 to 17:00
Entry is FREE.
Location: The Heritage Museum, Aðalgata 16b, 550 Sauðárkrókur 38.2 km (23.7 mi) from Hofsós, 199 km 123.7 mi) from Akureyri, and 283 km (176 mi) from Reykjavík. The detour from the Ring Road is 32 km (19.9 mi) each way.
Skagafjörður Heritage Museum
This old turf farmhouse and two 19th century timber buildings offer a wonderful insight into life in the remote countryside of Iceland just a few generations ago.
Open daily 20th May to 20th September 10:00 to 18:00, Monday to Friday 1st April to 19th May 10:00 to 16:00, and 21st September to October 20th Monday to Friday 10:00 to 16:00.
Entry fees: Adult 1700 ISK, Students 1500 ISK, Children 17 and under are free.
Location: Skagafjörður Heritage Museum, Glaumbær, 560 Varmahlið, 101 km (62.8 mi) from Akureyri, 295 km (183.3 mi) from Reykjavík, and 18.2 km (11.3 mi) from Sauðárkrókur. The detour from the Ring Road is about 10 km (6.2 mi) each way.
The Museum of Prophecies
One of the earliest residents of Skagaströnd was a fortune teller named Þórðís, exhibits and a presentation tell her fascinating story, and give many interesting facts about fortune telling in Iceland. You can have your fortune told using cards, runes or your palm for 4000 ISK, or enjoy refreshments in the comfy coffee area, there are a few books in English to browse through.
Open June to August from Tuesday to Sunday 13:00 to 18:00
Entry fee 1000 ISK.
Location: The Museum of Prophecies, Spákonuhof, Oddagata 6, Skagaströnd, 161 km (100.5 mi) from Akureyri, 53 km (33mi) from Sauðárkrókur and 259 km (161 mi) from Reykjavík. The detour from the Ring Road is 20 km (12.5) each way.
Museums in West Iceland
Photo: Into the Arctic museum
The Snorri Sturluson Museum
This museum and cultural research center are dedicated to the life and literary works of one of Iceland´s most famous men, Snorri Sturluson, a powerful early 13th Century chieftain, lawyer, Icelandic Saga writer, and historian. Very interesting information about life, religion and power in Iceland around the early 13th Century, in English, Icelandic, Norwegian, German and French.
Open daily April to September, October to March weekdays only 10 to 17.
Entry fees: 1200 ISK, short tour: 1500 ISK, long tour 2000 ISK.
Location: The Snorri Sturluson Museum, Snorrastofa, Möðruvellir 4, Reykholt, 316 km (196.4 mi) from Akureyri, 231 km (143.5 mi) from Glaumbær, and 101 km (62.8 mi) from Reykjavík. The detour from the Ring Road is about 22 km (13.7 mi) each way.
The Settlement Center
Really two exhibitions, one telling the story of Egil Skallagrímsson, a famous poet and Viking warrior in settlement times. The other focuses more widely on the settlement of Iceland. Great exhibits and audio guidance are available in 14 languages. A nice restaurant and shop too.
Open daily 10:00 to 21:00.
Entry fees: Adults 2500 ISK, Seniors & Students 1400 ISK, Children (under 14) are free.
Location: The Settlement Center, Landnámssetur, Brakarbraut 13 – 15, 310 Borgarnes, 314 km (195 mi) from Akureyri,43.6 km from Snorrastofa (27.1 mi), and 68.2 km (42.4 mi) from Reykjavík. The detour from the Ring Road is 1.2 km (0.75 mi).
Akranes Folk Museum
This charming local museum is well worth your time, fishing, farming, housekeeping and life in the rural farming and fishing areas around Akranes.
Open daily 15th May to 15th September 10:00 to 17:00, 16th September to 14th May 14:00 to 17:00.
Entry fees: Adult 800 ISK, Seniors, Disabled & Students 500 ISK, Children under 18 free.
Location: Akranes Folk Museum, Garðaholt 3, 300 Akranes, 38.5 km (24 mi) from Borgarnes and 41 km (25.5 km) from Reykjavík. The detour from the Ring Road is 17 km (10.6 mi) each way.
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