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Top 10 Museums in Iceland

Explore the best cultural places in the country

|December 5, 2023
Loves writing, food, runes, Reykjavík life, traveling in Iceland and being out in nature. Born in England but fell in love with Iceland in 2010 and moved here, been here since.

Icelandic history is so rich that the island has numerous museums to tell you many fantastic stories and introduce you to Icelandic culture. Here is a blog on the best museums to visit while in Iceland, perfect for bad weather or history geeks out there!

There is an amazing choice, but I am going to share my 10 favorites with you. We all enjoy different things, but whatever your interests are, there is a museum or several for you! These include some top family activities for kids of all ages.

1. The Settlement Exhibition

This museum, also known by its Icelandic name, Landnámssýningin, will take you back into the Viking Age. When you step into the main exhibition hall at The Settlement Museum, you will walk in the footsteps of the Vikings who settled in Iceland and lived in this hall between 930 and 1000 AD. The remains of the hall have been meticulously reconstructed, and many other archeological finds are on display. Here, you will find information about every aspect of Viking life. Touch screens give access to some fascinating facts about them, how they expanded their territories, and their cultural influence, particularly in Iceland. The changes within Icelandic nature over the centuries are also highlighted.

The Settlement Museum is located at Aðalstræti 10 & 16, 101 Reykjavík
Open daily from 10:00 to 17:00
Entrance fees: Adult 2740 ISK – Children 0 to 17 years – Seniors (67+) and Disabled are free

2. The National Museum of Iceland

A ship model in the National Museum of Iceland

This museum (Þjóðminjasafn Íslands) is the place to go when you want to learn about Icelandic life through the centuries. Everything related to this island nation, from belief and religion to seafaring, farming, culture, costume, and the development of trade relationships from the beginning to the present day, can be found here. The exhibits are beautifully displayed in the various sections with lots of info. Audio displays tell some fascinating stories while computers give access to a wealth of additional facts. A photography exhibition is always on show.

The National Museum of Iceland is located at Suðurgata 41, 101 Reykjavík
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 17:00
Entrance fees:
Adults 2500 ISK – Children 0 – 17 & Disabled free – Seniors (67+) and Students 1200 ISK

3. Perlan

Building of the Perlan Museum in Reykjavik

“The Pearl” is an extraordinary and modern-looking building with a glass dome. It is one of the most visited museums in Reykjavik. It offers a stunning view of the city and the surrounding nature. But the inside of the Perlan Museum is as fascinating as the outside, with different displays that help us understand Earth’s wonders. Here, you’ll find an indoor ice cave, the Northern Lights planetarium, a lava show, and so much more.

The Perlan Museum is located at Öskjuhlíð, 105 Reykjavík, Iceland
Open daily from 9:00 to 22:00
Entrance fees:
Adult 5490 ISK – Children (6-17) 3290 ISK – Family ticket (2 adults+2 children) 13990 ISK

4. Reykjavík Maritime Museum

This museum (Sjóminjasafnid) is fabulous. What was the most fascinating aspect for me? As a Brit, it was amazing to get an Icelandic perspective on the ‘Cod Wars’, it differed greatly from news stories told in the UK. I think the Icelanders were in the right, but the methods they adopted were not always so great! Having lived close to a major fishing community in the UK, I loved learning about life in Icelandic fishing families and villages. Tales of strong men and women who coupled their resilience with a great capacity to enjoy life despite their hardships and sometimes tragedies. You can also take a guided tour around the Coast Guard Vessel, Óðinn.

Reykjavík Maritime Museum is located at Grandagarður 8, 101 Reykjavík
Open daily 10:00 to 17:00

Entrance fees: Adult 2220 ISK – Children 0 to 17 years – Seniors (67+) and Disabled are free
Guided tour of Óðinn 1710 ISK – Museum and Óðinn 3410 ISK

5. The Saga Museum

If you want the Icelandic Sagas to come alive, this is the place to go. Amazingly lifelike statues of important and controversial people from the Icelandic Sagas will make you feel as if you have time-traveled to some of the most dramatic events from ancient times. Audio guidance is available in English, Icelandic, German, Russian, French, Spanish and Swedish. A booklet may be obtained from reception for those who prefer to read or who want to get a permanent copy.

The Saga Museum (Sögu Setrið) is located at Grandagarður 2, 101 Reykjavík
Open daily from 10:00 to 17:00
Entrance fees: Adult 3600 ISK – Child (6-12) 1000 ISK – Student 3000 ISK – Disabled 3000 ISK Senior 3000 ISK

6. Aurora Reykjavík

Nothing can quite compete with the moment when nature´s radiant light show paints the night sky. However, this is a great second best when nature fails to deliver! The stunning images and interesting information about the northern lights will leave you with a good understanding of how the lights are formed. You can even embark on your own northern lights hunt after your visit to the museum with our Northern Lights & Aurora Museum combo tour.

Aurora Reykjavík is located at Grandagarður 2, 101 Reykjavík
Open daily from 09:00 to 21:00
Entrance fee: Adults 2900 ISK – Children (6-16) 1500 ISK – Students 2500 ISK

7. The Phallological Museum

Remember I mentioned unusual museums? Well, this is the only penis museum in the world! Around 200 penises or penis parts, belonging to almost every land and sea creature which can be found in Iceland, are on show. This is the largest collection of such items in the world.

The Penis Museum is located at Hafnartorg, Kalkofnsvegur 2, 101, Reykjavík
Open daily from 10:00 to 19:00
Entrance fees: Adults 2750 ISK – Children (under 13) free

8. Árbær Open Air Museum

This museum will show you what life was like for Icelanders not that many generations ago, picturing the lives of the great, great-grandparents of some people who are still alive. Real houses from the period, together with everyday domestic, farm, and fishing implements, have been carefully set up here. It's worth going on a guided tour (included in the entrance fee) because of how the guides here tell the stories of the past, wearing costumes from previous centuries.

Árbær Open Air Museum is at Kistuhylur 4, 110 Reykjavík
Open daily June to August from 10:00 to 17:00 – September & May from 13:00 to 17:00
Entrance fees:
Adults 2220 ISK – Student with student card 1370 ISK – Child (0 to 17) free – Senior (67+) & Disabled free

9. Viking World

This museum is at Keflavík, right by the ocean’s edge. I recommend this place if you want to acquaint yourself with Viking lore as soon as you arrive. In this museum, three main exhibitions await. Here, you will see a stunning replica of the Viking ship, Gokstad, discovered in a very well-preserved condition in Norway. You will also see another exhibition, Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga, which was put together by the Smithsonian Institute, relating to the discovery of America by Viking explorers. The third exposition displays proof that explains the settlement in Iceland.

Viking World is located at Víkingabraut 1, 260 Reykjanesbær
Open daily from 10:00 to 16:00
Entrance fees: Adult 3420 ISK – Children (7-16) 2160 ISK – Student 2160 ISK

10. Whales of Iceland

A whale in the exhibition of Whales of Iceland Museum

Whales of Iceland is known as the largest museum of this kind in Europe, located near Reykjavik's city center. Here, you'll get to see 23 realistically-looking species of whales and learn all about them by listening to an audio guide prepared by specialists such as marine biologists and tour guides. The museum is suitable for people of all ages, so it's a great place to spend time with your family. Walk among these underwater giants: North Atlantic right whales, blue whales, sperm whales, and many more.

Whales of Iceland Museum is located at Fiskislóð 23-25, 101 Reykjavík
Open daily from 10:00 to 17:00
Entrance fees: Adults 3900 ISK – Children (0-6) free, (7-15) 1950 ISK – Families (2 adults and 2 children) 7800 ISK

Save this list for your next adventure in Reykjavík!

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