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Herjolfstown Museum Rejseguide

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Herjolfstown is housed inside a replica of one of the oldest stone houses in Iceland.The Herjolfstown Museum, also known as the Viking Wax Museum, is a unique cultural attraction in the Westman Islands with engaging exhibits about the Viking history of Iceland.

Iceland has a rich Viking history and culture that remains essential to the modern day and you can find many cultural attractions in Iceland where you can learn about this time. Exhibitions like Herjolfstown, or "Herjólfsbær" in Icelandic, pay tribute to this early heritage of the country, and it's unique for its incorporation of life-size figures of real and fictional Icelanders.

Herjolfstown is located on Heimaey in the stunning Vestmannaeyjar archipelago, just off the South Coast of Iceland, and it's also sometimes called the Viking Wax Museum. It's a wonderful location to spend a day or two during self-drive tours with a rental car where you can stay in great Westman Island accommodation. You can then explore Herjolfstown as a side trip on your tours in the Westman Island!

Photo above from Regína Hrönn Ragnarsdóttir.

What is Herjolfstown in Iceland?

Two of the life-size wax figures inside the Herjolfstown museum in the Westman Islands.

Photo from Regína Hrönn Ragnarsdóttir.

The Herjolfstown Viking Museum is an interesting attraction in the Westman Islands, which opened in 2023. The exhibition pays tribute to the Viking history of the island, particularly to its first settler, Herjólfur Bárðarson, and his supposed family.

The story goes that Herjólfur first settled in the Westman Islands around the year 900 AD, and archeological remains have been discovered in the Herjolfsdalur valley that supports this. The Herjolfstown exhibition is housed in a farmstead built on the Heimaey island some years ago and was inspired by what is believed to be the original home of Herjólfur.

The farm has a longhouse and outhouse made from natural materials like turf, rocks, and wood. This type of dwelling was common during the Viking era and throughout all of Iceland's history, as the materials were easily accessible in the surrounding nature and it offered excellent insulation.

Herjolfstown is open daily from April to October, from 11 AM to 5 PM. The entrance fee is around 1500 ISK (10 USD) for adults, 1000 ISK (7 USD) for children between five and twelve years old, and free for guests below the age of five.

Features of the Herjolfstown Viking Exhibition

More information about the Viking Wax Museum in Vestmannaeyjar.

Photo from Regína Hrönn Ragnarsdóttir.

One of the standout features of the Herjolfstown Viking Wax Museum is its attention to detail. The exhibits are based on extensive research, archaeological findings, and artistic imagination, ensuring that visitors gain a genuine insight into Viking culture and society in the most immersive way.

The museum has life-size wax figures of Herjólfur and imagined members of his family. The family members are the wife, Freyja, and children named Vilborg, Floki, Melkorka, and Asvor. There are also other Viking characters in the area, such as the Norwegian King Haraldur, a man named Ubbe, and enslaved people Imma and Kormakur.

Besides the life-size Viking personalities, the museum and the farmstead have recreations of Viking objects and artifacts. Inside, you'll see traditional Viking clothing, wooden tables and chairs, food items, and more. Through these displays, guests can step back in time and explore the daily lives, customs, and traditions of the Vikings.

In the future, Herjolfstown plans to expand the exhibition with more Viking characters with the help of a local elementary school as an educational project.

How to Visit the Herjolfstown Museum

The ferry to the Westman Islands departs multiple times per day

Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Michał Strzelecki.

Herjolfstown is located in the Herjolfsdalur valley on Heimaey, the biggest island of the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago. The Viking Wax Museum nestles on the lush valley of Herjolfsdalur, roughly one mile (two kilometers) from the town center of Vestmannaeyjabaer.

Getting to Herjolfstown and the Westman Islands takes more effort than some other popular attractions in Iceland. If you're traveling from Reykjavik, you need to travel approximately three hours by land and sea.

From Reykjavik, you'll travel 84 miles (135 kilometers) to reach the Landeyjahofn harbor in South Iceland. From Landeyjahofn, you'll board the Herjolfur ferry, named after the island's first settler, that will take you to the Westman Islands within 45 minutes. Sometimes, the ferry departs from the town of Thorlakshofn, so make sure to check the Herjolfur ferry schedule. If you're bringing your rental car with you, make sure to book ahead to ensure space.

Why Visit Herjolfstown

The nature of the Westman Islands is stunning

Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Thomas Quine. No edits made.

A visit to the Herjolfstown Viking Wax Museum offers a fun opportunity to learn about this interesting time in Iceland's history in an engaging and interactive way. 

Whether you're interested in Viking history or Norse mythology or enjoy immersive museum experiences, the Herjolfstown Viking Wax Museum has something to offer everyone. With its lifelike exhibits, educational displays, immersive presentations, and great guided tours, the museum provides an unforgettable journey into the world of the Vikings.

Nearby Attractions in Westman Islands

A panoramic view of the islands and houses of the Westman Islands.After learning about Viking history at Herjolfstown, there are more beautiful attractions to explore in the Westman Islands.

One of the best things to do in the Westman Islands is to hike the Eldfell volcano, which dominates the landscape of Heimaey island. Eldfell is best known for its dramatic eruption in 1973, which reshaped the island and captured the world's attention. Visitors can hike to the summit of Eldfell and witness firsthand the volcanic landscape and panoramic views of the islands and coastline. You can also learn all about the eruption at the Eldheimar Museum!

Another must-visit attraction in the Westman Islands is Storhofdi, a scenic peninsula on the southern tip of Heimaey. It is renowned for its stunning coastal landscapes and birdwatching opportunities. It's one of the best places to see puffins in Iceland, as the Westman Islands are home to one of the largest puffin colonies in the world! These charming seabirds can be seen nesting on the cliffs and flying or diving for food around the island, especially at Storhofdi.

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