Among all the other amazing things the country has to offer, the Iceland museum scene is a sight to behold. Visitors have the option of a whole host of Reykjavik museums to choose from, as well as some other fantastic museums throughout the country. If you want to check out the Iceland museum offerings but aren’t sure where to start, here are a few worth exploring.
Viking World Museum
This incredible museum features a historic Viking ship called the Icelander. The ship was built in 1996 by Gunnar Marel Eggertsson in 1996. Eggertsson modeled it after a ninth century Viking ship, using similar building materials and methods. As a result, the structure is about as authentic as it gets. In 2000, the ship was even sailed to New York.
The ship is astounding, but it’s not the only benefit of the Viking World Museum. The museum includes five exhibits, a lovely view of the ocean, and even features a playground and outdoor teaching space—it’s definitely kid-friendly. Another perk is that the Viking World Museum is fairly close to Keflavik Airport, so it’s a perfect stop just before or after a flight.
Arbaer Open Air Museum
This phenomenal space is more than a museum, it’s a three-dimensional outdoor experience. The Arbaer Open Air Museum is an exhibit of more than twenty preserved buildings that were once used and inhabited by historic Icelanders.
The buildings of the open air museum have been relocated from across Iceland to a community outside Reykjavik. They now make up what looks like a small village, with a farm and community square. As a visitor, you can explore the inside of each house, experience what life was like for Icelanders who lived off the land, and even take a look at traditional Icelandic clothing. You’ll also get to enjoy some fresh country air in the process.
Vikin Maritime Museum
Vikin Maritime Museum is located in Reykjavik’s vibrant harbor area, so you can easily make an afternoon of your visit by stopping at nearby restaurants and scenic destinations. This popular Iceland museum takes a look at the nation’s maritime legacy through the course of history.
Fishing and maritime exploration have always been important to Iceland’s culture, so the Vikin Maritime Museum has plenty of source material to choose from. At the museum, you can take a look at some of the vessels that have carried Iceland’s sailors. You can also explore Reykjavik’s harbor through the years, and explore an Icelandic Coast Guard ship which once partook in the Cod Wars against the United Kingdom. (Oh, and for what it’s worth, the gift shop is awesome.)
The Saga Museum
The Saga Museum is one of the most popular Reykjavik museums, and it’s easy to see why. The Saga Museum takes visitors on a tour through Iceland’s history with the help of life-size recreations of Icelanders past.
The museum is named after the Sagas, a series of prose narratives based on Icelandic history and Icelandic family legacies. The exhibits in the museum were designed with the help of the Viking Sagas. If you’re interested in the Vikings, you’ll definitely enjoy your visit here.
The National Museum of Iceland
The title of this Iceland museum says it all. It’s a great stop for any visitor looking to learn more about the history of Iceland. Here, you’ll discover what factors influenced today’s Icelandic culture. You’ll get to explore Iceland’s history from the medieval era all the way up until modern times. You’ll also get an up-close look at thousands of Icelandic historic artifacts from all around the nation. What’s especially exciting is that you’ll get to take a look at a door covered in intricate medieval engravings. If that weren’t breathtaking enough on its own, the architecture of the building itself is also beautiful.
The Icelandic Punk Museum
Most of us know that Iceland has a great music scene, but did you know that the island had a well-known presence in the punk world as well? One of the lesser-known Reykjavik museums, the Icelandic Punk Museum sits in a tiny underground space downtown. (There truly is an Iceland museum for every interest!)
The museum takes a look at the punk scene’s rise from the ‘70s through the ‘90s. The space is covered in posters, photos, guitars, and other hip-looking relics of the punk era. You’ll be able to take a look at historic concert footage from both international artists who paid a visit to Iceland and local Icelandic talents who became worldwide names. (Sigur Ros, anyone?) If you’re looking to fully immersive yourself in the world of punk, you can take a personal listen to Icelandic punk albums or try on some hardcore rock star jackets.
Art, culture and music connoisseurs will want to include any (or all) of these museums in their Iceland vacation itinerary. These Iceland museums are definitely not to be missed by any patron of the arts!