8 Museums in Reykjavík for Huge Whales, Northern Lights, and Lots of Penises
Iceland’s capital may be small, but it packs a punch. There are more than 60 galleries and museums in Reykjavík, giving the culturally inclined, and those who want to escape the brutal, ever-changing weather, a large choice of places to spend a couple of afternoons. The selection below includes eight museums in Reykjavík to suit every type of travelers, from those who want to learn about the natural wonders of Iceland to those who want to dive deep into the country’s art scene. And if it’s ogling at a large collection of penises you’re after, there’s that too.
- Where are the best museums in Reykjavík located?
- Museums in Reykjavík for nature and science
- Museums in Reykjavík for art
- Museums in Reykjavík for history
- Where to stay in Reykjavík to be near the city’s best museums
Where are the best museums in Reykjavík located?
The best museums in Reykjavík for nature and science
Whales of Iceland
At Whales of Iceland, you can observe 23 handcrafted, life-size replicas of whale species historically found in Iceland. Marvel at, and even touch, a 82-foot-long blue whale or an endangered North Atlantic right whale, among many others. All the replicas have been handmade and hand-painted, and each and everyone of them is based on a real whale. With calming underwater lighting and whale sounds played throughout, the exhibition will transport you into the great depth of the North Atlantic.
Address: Fiskislóð 23-25, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Hours of operation: Daily from 10 AM to 5 PM. Closed on December 25.
Cost: Adults $24.20 (3,400 ISK) / families (two adults and two children) $48.35 (6,800 ISK) / children (between the ages of seven and 15) $12.10 (1,700 ISK) / children under the age of seven enter for free. Each ticket includes a guided tour at 11:00 AM or 15:00 PM.
Inside the stunning building that houses the Perlan Museum lies a unique and innovative nature exhibition. You’ll be awed by Europe’s largest bird cliff replica and and you’ll get lost inside a breathtaking 330-foot-long ice cave. There are also a 4K planetarium show featuring the beautiful northern lights, a viewing platform for magnificent 360° views over the city, and even a café and an ice cream shop.
Address: Öskjuhlíð, 105 Reykjavík, Iceland
Hours of operation: Daily from 9 AM to 10 PM
Cost: Adults $35.50 (4,990 ISK) / families $92.40 (12,990 ISK) / children (between the ages of six and 17) $21.30 (2,990 ISK) / children under the age of six enter for free.
Aurora Reykjavík — The Northern Lights Center
At Aurora Reykjavík, you’ll learn everything you’ve ever wondered about the northern lights, and more. You’ll hear about how civilizations from across the globe have spun their own legends around this celestial phenomenon, and as you meander through the interactive displays, you’ll also get the actual scientific explanation behind the aurora borealis. Relax at the end of your visit with an unforgettable experience: A 20-minutes movie of the best northern lights ever captured in Iceland will play out before you on a giant screen.
Address: Grandagarður 2, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Hours of operation: Daily from 9 AM to 9 PM
Cost: Adults $17.80 (2,500 ISK) / students and seniors (age 67 and above) $15.65 (2,200 ISK) / children (between the ages of six and 16) $8.55 (1,200 ISK)
Icelandic Phallological Museum, AKA the Penis Museum
The Icelandic Phallological Museum, also know as the Penis Museum, is exactly what you expect it to be. It has on display a penis from every mammal found in Iceland, as well as from 16 types of whale, seven kinds of seal and walrus, and 46 different land mammals, including humans. But the museum offers more than the unique novelty of more than 300 penis specimens — it has historical artifacts, oddities, and artwork on the topic of male genitalia. You’ll have the giggles, but you’ll learn a lot too.
Address: Hafnartorg, Kalkofnsvegur 2, 101 Reykjavík
Hours of operation: Daily from 10 AM to 7 PM
Cost: $19.55 (2750 ISK)
Museums in Reykjavík for art
There is a surprisingly large number of art galleries and museums in Reykjavík. The selection below includes only a sample of the many varied art offerings that you’ll find in the Icelandic capital.
Museum of Design and Applied Art
The Museum of Design and Applied Art is an institution that celebrates Icelandic design. They collect, preserve, and showcase over 5000 objects of Icelandic design from the 20th and 21st centuries, from posters to household items such as furniture, textiles, books, and more. The Museum of Design and Applied Art is located outside the city center but is easily reached by bus.
Address: Gardatorg 1, 210 Gardabaer, Iceland
Hours of operation: Tuesday to Sunday from 12:00 PM (noon) to 5 PM. Closed Monday.
Cost: Adults $7.10 (1,000 ISK) / students and seniors $3.60 (500 ISK) / children under the age of 18 and people with disabilities enter for free.
Reykjavík Museum of Photography
The Reykjavík Museum of Photography houses a vast array of historical and contemporary photography (the oldest photograph in the collection dates back to 1860 while the most recent is from 2004). The museum features photographs from both professional and amateur photographers, from varied contexts, whether they be industrial, press, or even family photographs.
Address:Grófarhús, Tryggvagata 15, top floor, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Hours of operation: Monday to Thursday from 10 to 6 PM; Friday from 11 AM to 6 PM; Saturday and Sunday from 1 PM to 5 PM. Visit the official website for closure on statutory holidays.
Cost: Adults $8.55 (1,200 ISK) / students $5.83 (820 ISK) / children under the age of 18 and people with disabilities enter for free.
National Gallery of Iceland
If you want to learn more about Icelandic art, this is the place to check out. Located on the banks of Lake Reykjavík, the National Gallery of Iceland was originally constructed as an icehouse and is now home to a collection of historical Icelandic artwork and contemporary pieces.
Address: Laufásvegur 12, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Hours of operation: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 AM to 5 PM. Closed Monday.
Cost: Adults $14.20 (2,00 ISK) / students $7.10 (1,000 ISK) / children under the age of 18 enter for free. Visitors to the National Gallery of Iceland get free admission into famous Icelandic painter Ásgrímur Jónsson’s home museum.
Museum in Reykjavík for history
There are several museums dedicated to the history of Iceland in Reykjavík. We selected one that focuses on the larger picture of Icelandic history, but other museums like The Settlement Exhibition or the Árbær Open Air Museum drill on specifics and may be more appropriate to your taste or your interest.
The National Museum of Iceland
Understand the development of Iceland as a country with a visit to the National Museum of Iceland‘s permanent exhibition: “Making of a Nation — Heritage and History in Iceland”. Using over 2,000 artifacts from various time periods, as well as 1,000 photographs from the 20th century, visitors can explore what makes up this small nation’s history — from its settlement in the Middle Ages all the way until present day when its citizens are part of an ever-growing global community. In between these two stops lies centuries worth of knowledge about culture, heritage, and identity waiting for you to uncover.
Address: Suðurgata 41, 102 Reykjavík, Iceland
Hours of operation: Daily from 10:00 AM to 5 PM. Closed Monday.
Cost: Adults $17.80 (2,500 ISK) / students and seniors (age 67 and above) $8.55 (1,200 ISK) / children under the age of 18 and people with disabilities enter for free.
Where to stay in Reykjavík to be near the city’s best museums
We hope you love the spaces and stays we recommend in Reykjavík! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay.
Bohemian loft apartment in heart of Reykjavík
This beautiful loft apartment located in the center of Reykjavík, is the ideal location for those who want to spend time around Laugarvegur (the city’s main shopping street), be near Hallgrímskirkja (the famous Modernist church and the tallest building in Reykjavík), and walk to most of the museums on this list. The decor in this loft apartment is cozy and calming, with natural colors throughout and many plants — guests will feel right at home! The apartment can accommodate two guests in the one bedroom. There is one bathroom, a fully equipped kitchen, and a balcony for views of the city.
Beautiful three-bedroom home by the ocean
This spacious and beautifully decorated three-bedroom oceanside home is just a few minutes away from Whales of Iceland and Aurora Reykjavík, two museums that are perfect for families. The modern home can accommodate up to six guests in three bedrooms fitted with a king-size bed, a queen-size bed, and two single beds. There is also one bathroom, a washing machine and dryer, and a small, but functional kitchen.
Eyja Guldsmeden Hotel
This upscale, modern hotel, located in the city center near most of the museums on this list, has beautiful rooms, all fitted with four-poster beds and Bali-style wooden furniture. You can choose a room with views of the ocean, mountain, or the city, depending on your preference. The hotel has a fitness center, a bar, and you can rent bicycles from the front desk to explore a little more of the city. The breakfast at his hotel is said to be superb.