Photo by Regína Hrönn Ragnarsdóttir
Laufás is a turf house located in north Iceland. It is approximately 20 minute’s drive from the ‘Capital of the North’, Akureyri.
Explore this area of Iceland on a self drive tour.
There has been a turf house at the site of Laufás since for over a millennium; considering it was mentioned in the Book of Settlements, it has become an important cultural site. This is particularly the case seeming as turf houses, once widespread around the country, were largely abandoned in the 20th Century, and few of historical significance survived the transition to modernity.
Like all turf houses, Laufás has been rebuilt many times over the centuries, in many different styles; the makeshift structure of these buildings means that they quickly succumb to the elements. The houses on-site today were built between 1866 and 1870 by the reverend Björn Halldórsson, although parts date back to 1840.
Laufás was designed to house up to thirty people; turf farms would often be quite crowded, with the household, their staff, dependents of the state, seasonal workers and often vagrants and travellers (inhospitality was considered extremely taboo in Iceland’s history). To accommodate this number, it has several houses adjoined together, with a few more buildings dotted around them.
Laufás is considered a notable feat of Icelandic architecture because the structure has many gables lined next to each other, a traditional custom of the time almost lost to history.
Laufás was bought by the National Museum of Iceland in the 20th Century and they are now responsible for its preservation. As with most of turf houses that have been restored, it now functions as a museum of its own. Furnished with items from around the year 1900, it is a perfect example of how Icelanders lived before the industrial revolution took hold here.
There is also a beautiful church that can be entered on site. Built in 1869, its home to quite a significant Icelandic artefact; the pulpit dates back to the 17th Century.
The church can be entered for free, while the museum is 1,600 ISK for adults and 800 ISK for seniors; groups of ten or more receive a fifteen percent discount.
Laufás is accessible throughout the year, although the museum is only open during the summer months between 09:00 and 17:00. Winter travellers may have their chance to explore if they contact the museum before and request a visit.
To reach it, drive Route 1 travelling west from Akureyri, then right onto Route 82. After a short drive along the coast of Eyjafjörður, Laufás will be signposted to the right. There is a carpark at the museum.