11 Fabulous Reykjavik Museums & How to Choose Which Ones See

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Reykjavik has some truly fabulous museums, but it has so many of them that it can be hard to choose which to add to your Reykjavik itinerary! Whether you’re looking for Icelandic history, art, or culture, there’s a Reykjavik museum (or two) that’s perfect for you! Here are the ten best museums in Reykjavik and how to visit. 

 

If you think picking them out yourself is a bit daunting, check out my itineraries for what to do in Reykjavik in three days and what to do if you only have one day in Reykjavik.

 

Read next: 13 Steps to Flawlessly Planning a Trip to Iceland

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Best Museums in Reykjavik

 

 

Best Reykjavik Museums

Here are the best museums in Reykjavik and tips for visiting.

 

 

Reykjavik Art Museum

 

Iceland - Reykjavik - Reykjavik Art Museum Listasafn Reykjavikur

 

Open: Daily 10 am to 5 pm with extended hours until 10 pm on Thursdays. Check holiday hours.

Reykjavik City Cardholders: Admission free

 

The Reykjavik Art Museum has three locations, but you want to go to the one by the harbor (on the map). Built in an old fishing warehouse, here you’ll find works by Iceland’s most famous artist, the postmodern master Erró.

 

The aesthetic here is really fun Scandinavian modern, and you’ll definitely walk away having seen some amazing and thought-provoking art. One of my favorite pieces I’ve ever seen in real life is 

 

 

National Museum of Iceland

 

Iceland - Reykjavik - National Icelandic Museum
By Jo DusepoOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

 

Open: Daily 10 am to 5 pm (Monday closed from 6th September to 30th May). Check holiday hours. 

Reykjavik City Cardholders: Admission free

 

Follow Iceland’s journey through time in the National Museum which is a treasure trove of the country’s historic items. There is a vast collection of artifacts dating back to the Viking era, including a vessel in which they crossed the seas to arrive at their new home. The upper floor showcases items spanning from 1600 to the modern era.

 

 

The Settlement Exhibition

 

Iceland - Reykjavik - Settlement Exhibition

 

Open: Daily from 9 am to 6 pm with special hours between Christmas Eve and New Year’s

Reykjavik City CardholdersAdmission Free

 

I almost didn’t go to this museum, but on my last morning in Reykjavik, I rushed across the city to make sure that I didn’t miss it, and I was not disappointed. Aside from buying some fun Icelandic souvenirs in their gift shop, I learned so much about how the city was founded and the first Viking settlers.

 

The  Settlement Exhibition is built around a real archeological site of a Viking hall built during Iceland’s Settlement age. Scholarly theories about life during this era are presented along with the site.

 

 

Perlan Museum – Wonders of Iceland

 

Iceland - Reykjavik - Perlan Perlan Built in 1988 on top of Oskjuhlid Hill, Perlan in Reykjavik is where beauty meets function as a glass dome sits atop the city’s reservoirs in six huge tanks, each with the capacity to hold over

 

Open: Daily from 12 am to 6 pm. Check holiday hours.

Reykjavik City Cardholders: Not included.

 

While the Observation Deck is a must-see (and one of Reykjavik’s most Instagrammable places), the Wonders of Iceland exhibit is another great place to learn about the country.

 

You can learn about the Northern Lights in the Perlan Planetarium and the geology of Iceland in the exhibition.

 

 

Whales of Iceland

 

Iceland - Reykjavik - Whales of Iceland Museum
Milan Nykodym from Kutna Hora, Czech Republic / CC BY-SA

 

Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm. Check holiday hours.

Reykjavik City Cardholders: 30% discount

 

Located inside a former warehouse in the Grandi area of the city, the Museum houses replicas of all the 23 whale species found in Iceland. The sound and light effects give a real feeling as if you are underwater with these lovely marine animals. An app can be downloaded to learn more about the behavior of these creatures.

 

This is a great stop if you’re planning to go on a whale watching tour in Reykjavik while you’re here.

 

 

The Icelandic Phallological Museum

 

Iceland - Reykjavik - Phallological Museum
By ThomasWFOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

 

Open: Daily from 10 am – 6 pm. Check holiday hours.

Reykjavik City CardholdersNot included.

 

Dedicated to the study of male genitalia, The Icelandic Phallological Museum contains over two hundred specimens of animal penises from around the country.  While it’s a fun topic for a museum, you’ll learn a ton here about anatomy and biology. And of course, the gift shop here is an absolute must-see.

 

 

Arbaer Open-Air Museum

 

Arbaer Open Air Museum. Homes covered with grass in Iceland.

 

Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm from June to August and from 1 pm to 6 pm from September to May. Check holiday hours.

Reykjavik City Cardholders: Admission free

 

Twenty small buildings that resemble a small town have been constructed to display what ancient houses in the country looked like. Even the staff dresses in traditional attire representing the story each home depicts. Ideal for families and culture buffs. Definitely come here if you aren’t going to make it to the Skogar Museum near Skogafoss.

 

 

Iceland Punk Museum

 

Iceland - Reykjavik - Staircase in Reykjavik at the Icelandic Punk Museum - No Disco, No Hate, No Bullshit

 

Open: Weekdays from 10 am to 12 pm and weekends from 12 am to 12 pm. Check holiday hours.

Reykjavik City Cardholders: Admission free

 

Music is as important as history and culture which is aptly reflected in the punk scene displayed from early years to present day uprising. With its convenient underground location, right below a public toilet, this museum houses stalls with punk songs blaring at full volume and all sorts of punk memorabilia on display.

 

 

Culture House

 

Iceland - Reykjavik - Culture House
By DougsimOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

 

Open: 10 am to 5 pm. Daily (Monday closed between 16th September to 30th May). Check holiday hours.

Reykjavik City Cardholders: Free

 

Said to be the most beautiful of all buildings in Iceland, the Culture House came into existence in 1908 as the home of the National Library. The beautiful exteriors and interiors have stood the test of time, as can be seen in the oak furniture lying there since it’s inception. This is a great place to visit if you love architecture. 

 

 

Maritime Museum

 

Iceland - Reykjavik - Maritime Museum Dry fish tail

 

Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm. Check holiday hours.

Reykjavik City Cardholders: Free

 

The first word synonymous with Iceland is fishing, and not surprisingly this whole museum is dedicated to the maritime history of the country. Old fishing gear, compasses, and ship models give visitors a good idea about the way of life of the local fishermen and their gradual growth to modern-day fishing methods.

 

The Cod War section vividly portrays the story of the fishing conflict between Iceland and the United Kingdom. One can tour the original coast guard vessel – Odin, which took part in one of these three wars.

 

 

Tales from Iceland

Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm. Check holiday hours. 

Reykjavik City Cardholders: 20% discount

 

Recently commissioned, this new building provides visitors a deep insight into the country through beautiful videos. There are a total of 14 screens, each with comfortable seating, spread across two floors which display the exhibits about Iceland during the Cold War. Roam around with a complimentary cup of tea or coffee as you see real footage.

 

 

Reykjavik Travel Tips

 

Iceland - Reykjavik - Keflavik Airport

 

Getting to Reykjavik from Keflavik Airport and Back

The airport is about forty-five minutes outside of the city. Taxis are heinously expensive, and there’s no Uber. However, there are several bus companies that operate on this route. You can pre-book your Keflavik Airport: Reykjavik City Bus Transfer (just make sure to book both directions). Note there’s a difference in price if you want to get dropped off at your hotel instead of at a central location.

 

>>Book a Keflavik Airport: Reykjavik City Bus Transfer or Check Transfer Reviews<<

 

 

Getting Around Reykjavik

Most places in Reykjavik are easily reachable on foot, but you can also take advantage of the public buses and the taxis (though taxis are pricey). For this itinerary, every section is walkable once you get into the city from the airport.

 

 

5 Things to Pack for Reykjavik

 

Canada - Toronto -Luggage

 

I have an entire Iceland packing list for those looking for what to bring to Iceland, but here are the five items you absolutely can’t leave home without!

 

  • The Lonely Planet Iceland guidebook or the Rick Steves Iceland guidebook for your trip. It can be kind of a pain to find the major guidebooks once you land, or you’ll find them overpriced. I always like to pick mine up ahead of time.
  • Tech-friendly gloves like these and warm wool socks to keep your fingers and toes toasty. Iceland gets cold! Even in summer, you want to have access to warm layers for particularly windy spots.
  • A Camera since Iceland is super photogenic. I used a mix of my Nikon D810 and my  Samsung8 smartphone.
  • Sunscreen since you’ll be outside a lot more than back home.
  • Backup Charging Bank so you can keep your cell phone charged for long day trips without access to an electrical outlet.

 

Read: Definitive Iceland Packing List: What to Pack for Iceland for Women & Men

 

 

More Iceland Travel Resources

 

Iceland - Reykjavik - Stephanie Selfie

 

Here are my resources to help you plan your trip. Start with my Iceland packing list so you know what to bring with you year-round. Next, check out my guide to planning a trip to Iceland, which covers budgets, visas, money, and more.

 

If you’re still deciding your itinerary, you can check out my guide for 3 Days in Reykjavik and one day in Reykjavik.

 

If this will be one of your first trips abroad, you may want to read my common-sense travel safety tips for staying safe in Reykjavik. It’s a super safe city, but there are smart things every traveler should know.

 

Next, check out my guide to Icelandic souvenirs, which also includes more awesome Reykjavik shopping tips, plus this guide to the best Reykjavik Instagram spots and how to go whale watching in Reykjavik.

 

Do you like to listen to information to help you plan your trip? If so, check out my interview about Iceland’s Thingvellir plus the list of my favorite travel podcasts.

 

If you’re looking to get inspired before your trip, check out my post on beautiful quotes about Iceland, puns for Iceland Instagram Captions, and 30 Reykjavik Pictures that Prove It’s Time to Visit Iceland.

 

 

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Never travel without a valid travel insurance policy, because accidents happen on the road. I pay for World Nomads, and I happily recommend them. It’s especially important to get travel insurance when you’ll be doing any outdoor activities (like…ahem…whale watching) since accidents happen.

 

I have been a paying customer of World Nomads for travel insurance for three years, and I happily recommend them.  It’s especially important to get travel insurance when participating in outdoor activities or driving in foreign countries. Even in the cities, though, you’ll be happy when you’re able to replace your stuff if it’s lost or stolen.

 

>>Get a travel insurance quote for your trip.<<

 

 

Pin this guide to Reykjavik in a Day for Your Trip

 

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