Of course, Iceland’s most famous attraction is its breathtaking nature. However, when you drive through the country, you quickly notice how many unique museums there are! Some are big, some are small, some offer incredible interactive experiences, others can be very peculiar yet informative. What they all have in common is that they offer a glimpse into the rich historical and cultural heritage of Icelandic people. Also, it is a great activity if you need to take a break from Icelandic weather. Let’s take a look at 8 one-of-the-kind of museums in Iceland.
Whales of Iceland is an exhibition of 23 human-made life-size models of the different whales that one can found swimming around Iceland. If you ever wanted to measure yourself against the blue whale – this is the place to do it. Another option would be to jump in the ice-cold water and try to swim next to one, but I wouldn’t recommend it. A detailed audio guide, whale sounds, and ambient lighting create a unique experience. It feels like you are walking underwater among these giant mammals, except you can breathe and stay dry. There are many interactive parts, and you can touch the squishy whales – all of this makes it a great experience for adults and children.
This museum is not as family-friendly as the previous one, but nevertheless, it is a popular destination for many curious tourists. The Icelandic Phallological Museum, also known as the Penis Museum, contains a collection of over 200 penises and penile parts belonging to almost all the land and sea mammals that can be found in Iceland. On top of that, you will find over 300 various objects that fit the overall theme of the museum. Definitely, one of the most unique places in all of Iceland.
Beautiful Strandir is one of the most remote corners of Iceland. Nevertheless, if you take your time to explore it, you will find many sorcery and folklore locations. In Hólmavík, you will find the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft. Don’t be fooled by the small size of the museum – it tells many important stories. Learn more about the history of 17th-century witch-hunts in Iceland – from people involved to accusations and strange punishments, as well as what role sorcery and witches have played throughout the centuries of Icelandic folklore. Do not expect this to be anything close to a Harry Potter-themed tour.
I believe that most people discover this interesting room while trying to hide from harsh Icelandic weather. Library of Water is an installation of 24 glass columns with water samples from Icelandic glaciers. You can observe the sun’s rays play between the water and glass columns. It may not look like much, but many visitors reported a very calming experience inviting for some quiet self-reflection. Tickets for the Library of Water are sold at the Volcano Museum and the Norwegian House.
There are a few museums around Iceland dedicated to volcanoes, but Eldheimar is definitely a unique museum. In 1973 a sudden eruption on Heimaey island forced over 5000 people to evacuate in the middle of the night. This museum was built in remembrance of those events. Many people lost their houses, and they are still buried under the nearby lava field. However, after 40 years, one house has been excavated and is in the center of a museum. Visitors can see up close what a powerful force nature can be. The interactive exhibition is very informative and educational. On the second floor, you will learn more about the geology of Iceland and another eruption in the area. Ten years earlier, an underwater eruption created a brand new island Surtsey. Today the island is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Speaking of volcanoes, if you are looking for a truly unique experience – do not drive past Vík without stopping at the Icelandic Lava Show. The founders were inspired by the Fimmvörðuháls eruption in 2010 and wanted to create an opportunity for people to see hot lava “putting on” a mesmerizing show of fire and ice. You won’t see lava in action anywhere in Iceland. Not even at Fagradalsfjall volcano. If you need one more reason to visit – Happy Campers customers get 15% off.
We stopped in Bíldudalur (Westfjords) for some coffee and ice cream during a road trip last summer when we stumbled upon The Sea Monster Museum. We probably all heard of the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland. In Iceland, sea monsters played a colorful role in Icelandic folk culture for centuries. There are thousands of written eye-witness accounts, many of whom can be explored in Bildudalur.
What is the theme of the Nonsense Museum? There isn’t one. That’s what’s fun about it. You probably know a person in your life that collects things, maybe teaspoons, or cups, or postcards. Well, imagine if those people came together and decided to put their random collections of things into one place. That place would be the Nonsense Museum.