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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 National Museum of Iceland


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CenterHotel Plaza £115
CenterHotel Plaza

CenterHotel Plaza

Adalstraeti 4, Reykjavik
     
    3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

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

    Hotel Oddsson £98
    Hotel Oddsson

    Hotel Oddsson

    Grensásvegur 16a, Reykjavik
       
      3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Reykjavík East, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Reykjavik Park and Zoo and Laugavegur. Perlan and Hallgrimskirkja are also within 3 miles (5 km).

      Room With A View Hotel £138
      Room With A View Hotel

      Room With A View Hotel

      Laugavegur 18, Reykjavik
         
        4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Reykjavík 101, this apartment building is within a 10-minute walk of Laugavegur, Hallgrimskirkja and Harpa. Reykjavik Harbour and National Museum of Iceland are also within 1 mile (2 km).

        Radisson Blu Saga Hotel, Reykjavik £152
        Radisson Blu Saga Hotel, Reykjavik

        Radisson Blu Saga Hotel, Reykjavik

        Hagatorg, Reykjavik
           
          4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Vesturbær, this romantic hotel is within a 5-minute walk of National and University Library of Iceland, National Museum of Iceland, and University of Iceland. Laugavegur and Reykjavik Harbour are also within 1 mile (2 km).

          Hotel Reykjavik Centrum £117
          Hotel Reykjavik Centrum

          Hotel Reykjavik Centrum

          Adalstraeti 16, Reykjavik
             
            4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Reykjavík 101, this historic hotel is steps away from Parliament House and Reykjavik City Hall. Laugavegur and Reykjavik Harbour are also within 10 minutes.

            Sand Hotel by Keahotels £174
            Sand Hotel by Keahotels

            Sand Hotel by Keahotels

            Laugavegur 36, Reykjavik
               
              4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Reykjavík 101, this boutique hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Laugavegur, Hallgrimskirkja, and Harpa. Reykjavik Harbour and National Museum of Iceland are also within 1 mile (2 km).

              Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina £162
              Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina

              Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina

              Mýrargata 2, Reykjavik
                 
                4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

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

                Kvosin Downtown Hotel £252
                Kvosin Downtown Hotel

                Kvosin Downtown Hotel

                Kirkjutorg 4, Reykjavik
                   
                  4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Reykjavík 101, this boutique hotel is steps away from National Cathedral, Laugavegur and Reykjavik City Hall. Reykjavik Harbour and Harpa are also within 10 minutes.