Visit the 6 best museums in Reykjavik to learn about the history of Iceland, settlement and culture. The museums are listed in no particular order.
The Museum of Penises - Redursafnið
The Icelandic Phallological Museum, aka the Penis Museum. Right here in Reykjavik, you can find the world's largest display of penises. Some 280 penises from more than 90 animals are displayed, including the penises of some Icelandic elves!
It received its first human specimen penis in 2011, and has an artwork of the 15 erect penises of the Icelandic National Handball team – sculpted in silver to commemorate their 2008 silver medal in the Beijing Olympic Games.
The museum was founded in 1997 and housed in Húsavik for a while before moving back to Reykjavik, and now you can find it downtown on the main shopping street Laugavegur 116. It's open daily from 11:00-18:00.
The Settlement Exhibition - Landnámssýningin
The Settlement Exhibition is the perfect place to step into the Viking age. The museum is based on a 2001 excavation of the area that discovered the oldest archaeological evidence of human settlement of Iceland, dating from 871 plus or minus 2 years (always good to have a confidence interval). The finds include a house, plus a collection of artefacts that give you a glimpse into the everyday life of life in the Viking age.
The interactive display of the museum, including various multimedia technologies, make it fun, informative and interesting for people of all ages.
The museum is located in downtown Reykjavik (beside Hotel Reykjavik Centrum) and is open every day from 10:00-17:00.
The National Museum of Iceland - Þjóðminjasafn Íslands
Iceland's national museum, is located next the University of Iceland campus. It's in a large house, 3 storeys high, with a cosy café and a rotating exhibition on the first floor.
It was established in 1863, but moved to its current location in 1944, the same year Iceland became an independent republic. One of the most important, valuable, and unknown figurines ever found from the Viking age is a small statue of either Thor or Christ, no one's quite sure, but it is the first display you see when entering.
The museum houses a vast collection of art and crafts, tools and furniture, religious artefacts and archeological remains. It is primarily organised chronologically, and includes displays from as late as the mid 20th century.
The National Museum of Iceland is also open 10-17 daily, but closed on Mondays during the winter. English guided tours are offered at 11am on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays during the summer (May 1st – Sept 15th).
The Culture House - Þjóðmenningarhúsið
The National centre for Culture Heritage is located on Suðurgata street downtown.
The National centre for Culture Heritage has a beautiful view down to the harbour and Harpa, Iceland's new shiny concert and conference hall. A gift shop and coffee shop inside make it worth half a day's visit. It has been open since 1909 and is designed by Danish architect Johanes Nielsen in a neoclassical style.
There are bookable meeting rooms and concerts sometimes held in the entrance hall, and the central reading room houses some of Iceland´s oldest manuscripts and other literature important to Icelandic heritage.
There are guided tours available of the Medieval Manuscripts on Mondays and Fridays at 3pm all year. In the summer (June 1 – Aug 31) these guided tours are also on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3pm. The museum is open every day from 11:00-17:00.
Árbær Open Air Museum - Árbæjarsafn
Árbær museum is not located downtown, but you can easily take a bus there. It is a recreated typical Icelandic village, with more than 20 buildings forming a town square and a farm. It gives you a sense of how Icelanders used to live before and after industrialisation came to Iceland, with turf roofed houses and vintage cars spread all around.
The employees and tour guides dress in traditional Icelandic clothing, and give tours all year round. During the winter season (Sept 1st to May 31st) visits are only offered for guided tours at 13:00, but during the summer it's open daily from 10:00 – 17:00 and all the museum's houses are open to explore.
Contact email@example.com to make a tour booking.
Víkin Maritime Museum - Safnið við sjóinn
The Maritime Museum´s exhibition tells the story of Icelandic maritime history throughout the ages. The development of our seafaring, which was so important to Icelandic history and survival, is displayed from rowing boats to modern trawlers, and trading vessels and trading routes throughout the times are shown.
It also traces the history of the construction of Reykjavik Harbour. Included in a visit to the museum is the Coast Guard vessel Oðinn, docked at the pier, which survived 3 Cod wars against Britain.
Víkin is located in the newly renovated part of the Reykjavik harbour, across from the trendy Icelandair Marina hotel and restaurant. It's open from 11:00-17:00 Tuesday to Sunday during the winter (Sept 16th – may 31st) and every day from 10:00 – 17:00 during the summer.