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Top 10 Best Museums in Iceland

Although nature may be what first attracts you to Iceland, there is so much more to the land of fire and ice for visitors to discover. Iceland has a rich cultural history, and what better way to experience it than by visiting museums that showcase what the country has to offer? From the quirky to the scientific and everything in between, there are many interesting museums to uncover in Iceland. 

1. The Maritime Museum in the Fishermen’s Garden 

Located in Hellissandur, West Iceland, the Maritime Museum in the Fishermen’s Garden is home to an assortment of exhibits from the town's extensive fishing history. Given that Hellissandur is one of the oldest fishing villages in Iceland, it seems the most suitable place to discover artefacts and even explore the living conditions of fishermen in the past.

Maritime Museum in Hellissandur, Iceland

2. Davíð Stefánsson Memorial Museum

Akureyri was home to Icelandic poet Davíð Stefánsson until he died in 1964. The house he built and lived in until his death was passed on to the local municipality. The upper floor of the house has been preserved to display the poet's living conditions and his large library of works. 

This museum has limited opening hours and you will only be able to visit on Tuesdays-Saturdays in June, July, and August. 

3. Akureyri Toy Museum

The Toy Museum in Akureyri is a must-see for children of all ages! Here you can discover a collection of 20th-century toys including toy cars and dolls. Not only are the contents of this museum representative of Icelandic history but the building itself, Friðbjarnarhús, is one of the oldest buildings in the town.

Akureyri Toy Museum is open from June - September 1st and upon request for groups outside of these months. 

4. Nonnahús Museum

Also situated in Akureyri, Nonnahús is the former home of Jón Sveinsson who, like many Icelandic men named Jón, was referred to as Nonni. 

Nonni travelled to France at the age of 12 to attend a Catholic college and later became the first and only (to date) Jesuit priest from Iceland. He then became a well-known writer who wrote 12 children’s books about his life. These books have been translated from their original language of German to around 40 languages. 

Nonnahús displays a variety of Nonni’s books in various languages as well as the preserved rooms in which he lived. 

5. Ystafell Transportation Museum

Car enthusiasts are in for a treat at Ystafell, the oldest car museum in Iceland. Here you will find one of the largest car collections in the country alongside a variety of other antique delights. The role of the museum, which can be found in Húsavík, is to preserve and showcase cars and other modes of transport through the years. 

6. Skógar Museum

In South Iceland, the Skógar Museum hosts a large collection of cultural artefacts across 6 historical buildings. The museum comprises of a folk museum, open-air museum, and technical museum, with items representing everything from Icelandic myths and legends to Icelandic architecture. 

Located just off Route One, the museum is an easy stop during a road trip around the Ring Road. 

Traditional Icelandic turf houses at the front of Skógar Museum

7. Safnasafnið - The Icelandic Folk and Outsider Art Museum 

Aimed at collecting artwork from those who are seen as outside of the cultural mainstream, Safnasafnið boasts exhibitions that are truly original and creative in ways you may never have seen before. This is what influenced the “Outsider” section of the name. While the majority of the artwork you will see at this museum is of a contemporary style, there are also collections on show from professional artists. 

There are 10 galleries within the museum, which is just a 10-minute drive from Akureyri.

8. Museum of Sorcery and Witchcraft

Want to learn about Icelandic witchcraft? There’s no greater place than this unique museum in Hólmavík, a village with a history that's steeped in sorcery. Be warned though, that some of the artefacts here are a little out of the ordinary and some may say, aren't for the faint-hearted.

Displays of magical staves, zombies, and even a pair of pants made of human skin await those who step inside. 

9. Icelandic Wonders

Enter the hidden world of Icelandic elves and ghosts at the Icelandic Wonders Museum. Experience stories told in wonderful surroundings that truly set the scene and allow your imagination to display the important folklore that forms such a key part of Icelandic culture. 

The museum is also home to a theatre that shows the tales of the Northern Lights

10. Sigurgeir’s Bird Museum

Iceland is home to a plethora of birdlife, many species of which can be seen nesting in the cliffs along the Icelandic coastline. Located in the Lake Mývatn area, Sigurgeir’s Bird Museum showcases a private collection of specimens of all the Icelandic breeding birds, missing only one - the grey phalarope. The displays are interactive with buttons to press for more information about the birds on display. 

Of course, you’ll need a reliable vehicle if you’re planning to explore Iceland’s best museums. Rent a car with Iceland Car Rental and enjoy low prices, new cars, unlimited mileage, and 24-hour roadside assistance. 

If you’re looking for cultural experiences closer to the city centre, the top art galleries and museums in Reykjavík offer an insight into the history and arts of Iceland.