Top 10 Most Interesting Museums in Iceland
Updated: Apr 12
Iceland’s natural beauty is renowned, but the country’s rich history and culture are also fascinating to discover. In fact, Iceland has some exceptional museums and cultural centers with some really innovative and fun exhibits. Visiting them is a great compliment to any trip. We all know about Iceland’s famous weather. So what better way to make use of a rainy day or two than whiling away a few hours in a museum? Many are found in the capital Reykjavik, but there are several more that you can visit with your RV rental around the country. Read on for our top ten most interesting museums in Iceland.
1. The National Museum of Iceland
This is one of the best museums for a really well-rounded insight into the history, and culture of Iceland. Exhibits are beautifully presented and interactive displays allow you to find out a raft of interesting facts and stories. Visitors can see traditional dress and artifacts relating to everyday life. They will also find out about the development of trade, seafaring, and farming. Religious beliefs and rituals are explored and there’s often a changing photography exhibition included. Overall The National Museum of Iceland is a well-thought-out and engaging museum. If you only visit one museum on Icelandic history, we’d recommend this one in Reykjavik.
Address: Suðurgata 41, Reykjavik
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm
2. The Penis Museum
Otherwise known as The Icelandic Phallological Museum. Yes, that’s right, a whole museum dedicated to the phallus! There’s not too much more to say about this one, other than they put on a stand-up show. The museum hosts around 200 different penises from a wide range of animal species. Quite the collection!
Address: Laugavegur 116, Reykjavik.
Opening hours: daily, 10 am – 6 pm
3. Árbær Open Air Museum
This open-air folk museum is located in a suburb of Reykjavik, so it’s ideal to visit if you are heading out of the city on a campervan road trip. The Árbær Open Air Museum is set up as a small town with around 20 buildings. Visitors gain an insight into what life was like before the industrialization of Iceland. Staff and tour guides dress in traditional 19th Century attire. Visitors can take a look inside the homes of laborers, clerks, and shopkeepers learning about everyday domestic and farming life.
Address: Kistuhylur 4, Reikjavik
Opening hours: daily 10 am – 5 pm (June to August) and 1 pm – 5 pm (Sep to May)
4. Reykjavik Maritime Museum
Showcasing Iceland’s relationship with the ocean, the Reykjavik Maritime Museum is another of the country’s really well-put-together heritage museums. Visitors will learn all about boat building and the lives of fishing families. Archive photography brings the theme to life and you can see all sorts of interesting fishing paraphernalia and take a tour of a lifeboat.
Address: Grandagarður 8, Reykjavik
Opening hours: daily 10 am – 5 pm
5. Viking World
This fantastic museum offers an engaging insight into Viking history and culture. Viking World is perched on the edge of the sea in the town of Njardvik in South West Iceland. Visitors will find out about Viking lore and mythology, touching on the Icelandic sagas, as well as seeing archaeological finds. There is an excellent reproduction of a Viking ship dominating the main exhibition hall.
Address: Víkingabraut, 260 Njardvik
Opening hours: daily 7 am – 6 pm
6. Perlan Wonders of Iceland
Housed in the monumental Perlan building this impressive exhibition takes you on a journey through the wild forces of nature. Visitors will walk through an actual ice cave and see the northern lights in a planetarium show. They will find out about glaciers and geothermal activity, as well as spot wildlife with the help of virtual reality. This is a great exhibition to visit before heading off on a golden circle tour as it gives great insight into the natural world that you will encounter.
Address: Varmahlíð 1, Reykjavik
Opening hours: daily 9 am – 7 pm
7. The Settlement Exhibition
This underground museum has been built around the exciting finds of an archaeological dig in Reykjavik. The remnants of buildings here are thought to date from the very beginning of Icelandic culture. So when you set foot in the main hall of The Settlement Exhibition, you are treading the same ground that the original Vikings did when they settled Iceland in around 930 AD. There are the remains of a Viking long house along with other relics on display. Touch screens give insights into Viking culture and the changing nature of Iceland over the centuries.
Address: Aðalstræti 16, Reykjavik
Opening hours: daily 9 am – 6 pm
8. Culture House
Reykjavik’s Culture House is one of the capital’s most elegant buildings. Behind its handsome white façade are four floors celebrating Icelandic culture in its many forms. Visitors will find paintings and sculptures alongside important manuscripts and historical artifacts. The top floor hosts a contemporary Icelandic art exhibition and offers a great introduction to the other art museums in Reykjavik.
Address: Hverfisgata 15, Reykjavik
Opening hours: 10 am – 5 pm (closed on Mondays Sep-May)
9. The Saga Museum
A visit to The Saga Museum brings Icelandic history to life. The museum is designed as a walk through the Icelandic sagas with life-size models of important figures in Icelandic history. Visitors are given an audio guide upon entering and follow a route around the museum. It is a great way of getting an overview of the rich history of Iceland.
Address: Grandagarður 2, Reykjavik
Opening hours: daily 10 am – 6 pm
10. Aurora Reykjavik
This museum offers a multimedia experience where you can learn all about the northern lights. Visitors to the Aurora Museum can interact with digital play and display exhibits and find out about the myths, legends, and facts surrounding the beautiful aurora borealis in Iceland. If you visit Iceland in summer when there is no chance to see the lights for yourself, this is a great alternative and teaser for your next trip.
Address: Grandagarður 2, Reykjavik
Opening hours: daily 10 am – 10 pm
You might also be interested in our article on the top art galleries in Iceland.