An old Viking grave on display in Iceland's National Museum

What are the best museums in Reykjavík? Check out our list of the 9 best museums in Reykjavík and find out where should you go to learn about Icelandic history and culture.

Iceland is known for its stunning landscape, but equally impressive is the country's history and culture. In Reykjavík, there are numerous museums and exhibitions where you can soak up some knowledge about Iceland.  So if you're spending some time in Reykjavík, why not check out a museum or two (or nine)? 

At Reykjavík's City Hall, you can purchase a City Card which will get you free admission, or a discount, to most of the museums on this list. You'll also receive a discount to numerous restaurants, free admission on the city buses and a free entry to Reykjavík's swimming pools

Note that this list does not contain any art museums, as we have a special article dedicated to Reykjavík's Best Art Museums and Photo Exhibitions.

9. The Saga Museum

Visitors have the choice to be guided through the museum with an audio device and can choose between 7 languages.Photo from The Saga Museum

Located in the Grandi area is the  Saga Museum (Sögusafnið), where history comes alive. The museum uses life-like replicas of historical Icelandic figures depicting Iceland's history.

The replicas were created based on descriptions found in the Viking Sagas and chronicles and the clothes, weapons and everyday objects have all been hand-crafted using traditional methods. 

Visitors are guided with an audio tour and have 7 languages to choose from: Icelandic, English, French, German, Russian, Spanish and Swedish.

Saga Museum
- Address:
Grandagarður 2, 101 Reykjavík
- Open: Every day from 10-18 
- City Card holders will receive a 10% discount on the admission

8. Viking Maritime Museum 

Víkin Maritime MuseumThe Maritime Museum on Seamen Day.

The Maritime Museum's exhibition portrays Icelandic maritime history throughout the ages. The country's seafaring heritage shows how important the fishing industry was to Icelandic history and the nation's survival.

In the museum, you'll see everything from rowing boats to modern trawlers, but it also traces the history of the construction of Reykjavík's Harbour. Included in the entrance fee is a visit to the Coast Guard vessel Óðinn, which survived 3 Cod wars against Britain, but is now permanently docked at the pier. 

Víkin Maritime Museum is located in the newly renovated part of the Reykjavík's harbour, known as the Grandi—an area dotted with café's, bars, restaurants and galleries. Guided tours to the Óðinn coast guard vessel are available several times a day. 

The Maritime Museum
- Address: 
Grandagarður 8, 101 Reykjavík
- Open: Every day from 10-17 
- Admission is free for City Card holders

7. Culture House - Safnahúsið

An old manuscript on display in the Culture House.Photo from Safnahúsið

The Culture House (Menningarhúsið) is an exhibition space on Hverfisgata, the street parallel to the Laugavegur shopping street. It currently houses the exhibition 'Points of View', displaying items and artefacts from Iceland's three leading public museums: the National Gallery of Iceland, the Icelandic Museum of Natural History and the Icelandic National Museum.

Many consider the Culture House to be amongst Iceland's most beautiful buildings and great care was taken in designing both its interior and exterior. It was built in 1906-1908 by Danish architect Johannes Magdahl Nielsen to house the National Library. Nielsen's colleague, Frederick Kiörboe designed the oak furniture that can still be found there. 

The Culture House offers a free web guide and if you don't have a smartphone, you can rent one on location. Your ticket to the Culture house is also valid for the National Museum and vice versa.

The Culture House
- Address: 
Hverfisgata 15, 101 Reykjavík
- Open: Every day from 10-17 (closed on Mondays from 16th of September to 30th of May)
-Admission is free for City Card holders

6. The Icelandic Punk Museum

In the true punk spirit, the Punk Museum is located in an abandoned public toilet.Photo from The Punk Museum

At the end of Laugavegur, near the Lækjartorg square is The Icelandic Punk Museum. The museum was officially opened by one of the world's most famous punk rockers, John Lyndon aka Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols in November 2016. In the true punk spirit, the Punk Museum is located in an abandoned public toilet.

Exhibiting photographs and objects related to the period around 1980, the Punk Museum conveys an unmatched view of Iceland's punk history. Icelandic music history is chronicled from the early years to the days punk and the new wave uprising which paved the way for some of the nation's most beloved artists, including Björk and Sigur Rós. 

The Museum salutes the Icelandic punk and new wave scene that started in Iceland in 1978. 

The Icelandic Punk Museum
- Address: Bankastræti 2, 101 Reykjavík
- Open: Weekdays from 10-22 and on weekends 12-22

5. The Settlement Exhibition - Landnámssýningin

The Settlement Exhibition is about life in Viking Age ReykjavíkPhoto from The Settlement Exhibition.

The Settlement Exhibition is the perfect place to step into the Viking age. The museum is based on a 2001 excavation of the area where archaeologist discovered the oldest evidence of Icelandic settlement, dating from 871, plus or minus 2 years (always good to have a confidence interval).

The finds include a house and a collection of artefacts that give you a glimpse into the everyday life of the Viking settlers. The interactive display of the museum, including various multimedia technologies, make it fun, engaging and informative for people of all ages.

The Settlement Exhibition
- Address: 
Aðalstræti 16, 101 Reykjavík
- Open: Every day from 9-18
- Admission is free for City Card holders

4. Arbaer Open Air Museum

The Ãrbær Open Air Museum offers a first hand experience of Iceland in ancient times.Photo from Árbær Open Air Museum.

The Árbær Open Air Museum is a display of ancient Icelandic houses. It consists of more than 20 buildings that have been preserved and relocated to form a small town, a square and a farm, giving visitors a sense of how Icelanders used to live before the country underwent its period of industrialisation.

Spread around a large green area overlooking Reykjavík, are traditional Icelandic turf houses and vintage cars. The employees and tour guides dress in traditional Icelandic attire and give tours all year round. The museum opens daily during summer, and all its houses are open for exploration. Also check out the Christmas opening at Árbæjarsafn museum.

Árbær Open Air Museum
- Address: 
Kistuhylur 4, 110 Reykjavík
- Open: Open every day from 10-17 in June-August and from 13-17 in September-May.
 - Admission is free for City Card holders

3. Whales of Iceland

The Whales of Iceland museum is bound to excite and inspire the entire family.Photo from Whales of Iceland 

A short walking distance from Víkin Maritime Museum is the Whales of Iceland exhibition, the largest exhibit of its kind in Europe, and possibly the world.

The exhibition features 23 life-size models of whales which hang from the ceiling, including a humpback whale, a killer whale and a blue whale. You can download an app (there is free wifi there) and go on a guided audio tour of the exhibition where you'll learn everything there is to know about these giants of the sea.

Whales of Iceland
- Address: 
Fiskislóð 23-25, 101 Reykjavík
Open: Every day from 10-17
- City Card holders will receive a 30% discount on the admission

2. The National Museum of Iceland

The National Museum is located next to the University of Iceland, in a large house on three floors, 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.

Viking swords on display in the National Museum Photo from The National Museum

The museum houses a vast collection of art and crafts, tools and furniture, religious artefacts and archaeological remains. It is primarily organised chronologically and includes displays from as late as the mid 20th century.

English guided tours are available for groups of 10 or more booked in advanced and audio tours are available for individuals. Remember that your ticket to the National Museum is also valid for the Culture House.

The National Museum of Iceland
- Address: Suðurgata 41, 101 Reykjavík
- Open: Every day from 10-17 (closed on Mondays from 16th of September to 30th of May)
Admission is free for City Card holders

1. The Phallological Museum

A selection of the artefacts on display in the Phallological Museum.Photo from the Icelandic Phallological Museum

No list of Iceland's museums could be considered complete without mentioning the Icelandic Phallological Museum. There you will find a collection of over two hundred penises and penile parts from almost all of the land and sea mammals in Iceland. Including parts from sixteen types of whales, seven types of seals and walruses, a polar bear and a homo sapiens.  

Visitors can also see a large collection of toys, trinkets and utensils related to the museum’s themeThe museum was founded in 1997 and was housed in Húsavík before it was relocated to Reykjavík, where you can find it on the main shopping street Laugavegur, near Hlemmur Square.  

The Phallological Museum
- Address: Laugavegur 116, 105 Reykjavík
- Open: Every day from 10-18
- City Card holders will receive a 20% discount on the admission

Have you visited these museums? What did you think? Are there other museums you would have liked to see on this list?