Beginning of main content

National Museum of Iceland

From Viking feasts and battles to the independence movement of the 20th century, Iceland’s premier museum preserves every detail of the nation’s history. 

The National Museum of Iceland traces the history of Iceland from the early Viking settlements to the present day through over 2,000 artifacts, photographs and multimedia displays. A major overhaul of the building in 2004 has created an interactive, state-of-the-art space, which offers plenty of visitor participation. Pick up a telephone and chat with a medieval chieftain or try on some ancient armor and jewelry. The museum is a wonderful hands-on learning experience for all ages.

Start with the main permanent exhibition, Making of A Nation, which illustrates Iceland’s challenging journey to nationhood. Divided into four sections, the first, Work and the Way of Life, details the resourcefulness and adaptability of Icelanders since settlement in 870. In the second section, learn about the settlement patterns of Iceland. The third section focuses on arts and crafts and the final section explores the social culture and language of Iceland.

Trace Iceland’s political history from early domination by Christian chieftains to Norwegian rule, then Danish rule and finally sovereign statehood as the Republic of Iceland in 1944.

Several artifacts are extremely popular, including a beautifully carved wooden door from the 12th century and the first Bible printed in Iceland in 1584. In addition to the permanent display, there are always several temporary exhibitions covering a wealth of subjects. Don’t miss the National Gallery of Photography on the ground floor, which is free of charge. 

The museum has a café and an excellent shop stocked with original gift items. Allow three to four hours to explore the museum in full.

The National Museum of Iceland is a few minutes' walk from the city center and is accessible via several bus routes. It is open all year, with reduced hours during the winter months. Always free for children, it’s also free for adults to visit every Wednesday in winter.


Guide to Exploring around National Museum of Iceland


Trip Type
Flight 1
Flight 2
Flight 3
Flight 4
Flight 5
Map

Lodging Near National Museum of Iceland

See all 164 Hotels near National Museum of Iceland
$110
CenterHotel Plaza

CenterHotel Plaza

Adalstraeti 4, Reykjavik
4.0
of 5, from 1,468 reviews
3.5 out of 5.0

Located in Reykjavík 101, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Reykjavik City Library and Reykjavik City Hall. Hallgrimskirkja and National Museum of Iceland are also within 15 minutes.

$201
CenterHotel Thingholt

CenterHotel Thingholt

Thingholtsstraeti 3-5, Reykjavik
4.4
of 5, from 1,798 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Housed in a renovated printing factory, this boutique hotel is located in downtown Reykjavik, 20 meters from the main shopping area and 50 meters from the Icelandic National Theater.

$91
Apartment K

Apartment K

Thingholtsstraeti 2-4, Reykjavik
4.0
of 5, from 1,458 reviews
3.5 out of 5.0

Located in Reykjavík 101, this apartment is within a 10-minute walk of National Theatre of Iceland and Reykjavik City Hall. Hallgrimskirkja and National Museum of Iceland are also within 15 minutes.

$105
CenterHotel Klopp

CenterHotel Klopp

Klapparstig 26, Reykjavik
4.0
of 5, from 732 reviews
3.5 out of 5.0

Located in Reykjavík 101, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of National Theatre of Iceland and Hallgrimskirkja. Reykjavik City Hall and National Museum of Iceland are also within 1 mi (2 km).

$147
Radisson Blu Saga Hotel, Reykjavik

Radisson Blu Saga Hotel, Reykjavik

Hagatorg, Reykjavik
3.6
of 5, from 766 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Radisson Blue Saga Hotel offers elegance and warmth in the center of Reykjavik. A 35-minute drive from Keflavik Airport, it’s surrounded by most of the city’s main sights. Laugavegur boulevard is a 9-minute drive, while the National Museum of Reykjavik is a 6-minute walk away.

$188
Hotel Reykjavik Centrum

Hotel Reykjavik Centrum

Adalstraeti 16, Reykjavik
4.5
of 5, from 1,138 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Opened in 2005, this hotel is made up of historical Reykjavik buildings, located in the old city center and next door to Althing (the parliament).

$250
Reykjavik Residence Hotel

Reykjavik Residence Hotel

Hverfisgata 45, Reykjavik
4.8
of 5, from 1,005 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Reykjavik Residence Hotel combines hotel services with self-catering apartments that offer modern kitchen facilities, soundproof accommodation just around the corner of Reykjavik's main street, Laugavegur.

$121
Guesthouse Sunna

Guesthouse Sunna

Þorsgata 26, Reykjavik
4.3
of 5, from 557 reviews
3.5 out of 5.0

Located in Reykjavík 101, this guesthouse is steps from Einar Jonsson Museum and Hallgrimskirkja. Reykjavik City Hall and National Museum of Iceland are also within 15 minutes.