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 and the island has numerous museums to tell you these 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. I am going to share my 10 favorites with you. We all enjoy different things, but whatever your interests there is a museum or several for you! There are some top family activities in this list for kids of all ages.
The Settlement Exhibition
This museum, also known by its Icelandic name, Landnámssýningin, really 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 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. Information about every aspect of Viking life can be found here. Touch screens give access to some fascinating facts about the Vikings, 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 16, 101 Reykjavík Open daily 09:00 to 18:00 Entrance fees: Adult 1650 ISK – Children 0 to 17 years – Seniors (67+) and Disabled are free
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. The exhibits are beautifully displayed in the various sections with lots of info. Audio displays tell some fascinating stories and 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 10:00 to 17:00 Entrance fees: Adults 2000 ISK – Children 0 – 17 & Disabled free – Seniors (67+) and Students 1000 ISK
The Culture House
This popular museum features Icelandic manuscripts and other cultural artifacts, with a lot of thought provoking exhibits. There is also an art exhibition which changes from time to time. The building itself is one of the most elegant in Reykjavík, over the years it has been home to some important events.
The Culture House is located at Hverfisgata 15, 101 Reykjavík Open Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 to 17:00 Entrance fees: Adults 2000 ISK – Child & Under 18 free – Seniors 1000 ISK
Reykjavík Maritime Museum
This museum (Sjóminjasafnid) is fabulous, the most fascinating aspect for me? As a Brit, it was amazing to get an Icelandic perspective on the ‘Cod Wars’, this 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. I loved it! You can also take a guided tour around the Coast Guard Vessel, Óðinn, if you want to. Reykjavík Maritime Museum is located at Grandagarður 8, 101 Reykjavík Open daily 10:00 to 17:00 (closed for renovation until 16.02.18)
Entrance fees: Adult 1650 ISK – Children 0 to 17 years – Seniors (67+) and Disabled are free Guided tour of Óðinn 1300 ISK – Museum and Óðinn 2600 ISK Guided tours of Óðinn are operated daily at 13:00, 14:00 & 15:00
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 you have taken a time-travel-journey into some of the most dramatic events from these 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 10:00 to 18:00 Entrance fees: Adult 2100 ISK – Child (0-12) 800 ISK – Student 1600 ISK – Disabled 1600 ISK Senior 1600 ISK
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 northern lights information 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 09:00 to 21:00 Entrance fee: Adults 1600 ISK – Child (6-18) – Students 1400 ISK – Seniors 1400 ISK
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 Laugavegur 116, 105 Reykjavík Open daily 10:00 to 18:00 Entrance fees: Adults 1500 ISK
Árbær Open Air Museum
This museum will show you what life was like was like for Icelanders not that many generations ago, 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 lovingly set up here. The staff are clad in the costumes of the times. The guided tours at 13:00 really bring the life and times of these people alive (included in the entrance fee).
Árbær Open Air Museum is at Kistuhylur 4, 110 Reykjavík Open daily June to August 10:00 to 17:00 – September & May 13:00 to 17:00 Entrance fees: Adults 1650 ISK – Student with student card 1100 ISK – Child (0 to 17) free – Senior (67+) & Disabled free
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, they even open at 07:00 to welcome early arrivals! 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. Outside you will find some nice child-friendly exhibits.
Viking World is located at Víkingabraut 1, 260 Reykjanesbær Open daily 07:00 to 18:00 Entrance fees: Adult 1350 ISK – Child (0-12) Free – Student with 10% online discount 1170 ISK
The Settlement Center – Borgarnes
There are two exhibitions, one focuses on the history and experiences of Iceland’s first settlers, the other on Egil’s Saga, the story of Egil Skallagrímsson, a famous poet and Viking warrior. Egil’s father was one of the first Icelandic settlers and landowners, Skallagrímur Kveldúlfsson. He established the farm at Borg, from which Borgarnes takes its name. Audio guidance is available in 14 languages.
The Settlement Center (Landnámssetur) is located at Brakarbraut 13-15, 310 Borgarnes Open daily 10:00 to 21:00 Entrance fees: Adults 2500 ISK – Seniors & Students: 1400 ISK – Child (under 14) Free
These museums are my top 10, which one is your favorite?