National Museum

Top choice museum in Old Reykjavík

Artifacts from settlement to the modern age fill the creative display spaces of Iceland's superb National Museum. Exhibits give an excellent overview of Iceland’s history and culture, and the free smartphone audio guide adds a wealth of detail. The strongest section describes the Settlement Era – including the rule of the chieftans and the introduction of Christianity – and features swords, drinking horns, silver hoards and a powerful bronze figure of Thor. The priceless 13th-century Valþjófsstaðir church door is carved with the story of a knight, his faithful lion and a passel of dragons.

Upstairs, collections span from 1600 to today and give a clear sense of how Iceland struggled under foreign rule and finally gained independence. Simple objects utilise every scrap of materials; check out the gaming pieces made from cod ear bones, and the wooden doll that doubled as a kitchen utensil. There are free guided tours in English at 11am on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Entry also covers admission to the Culture House.


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