Culture in Iceland is reflected in the many museums, art galleries, music venues and active libraries all over the country. If you are interested in exploring culture in Reykjavik & Iceland, this is the page for you .
The culture of Iceland goes back to the Vikings whose lives were recorded in the sagas of Iceland, one of the most popular being Grettir’s Saga. The Icelandic sagas are an interesting read for all those that are fascinated by our history and old culture in Iceland.
Literacy in Iceland is at 99,9%, taking 3rd place in the world, so it’s no surprise that reading is a popular cultural activity. Iceland has award-winning writers, such as the Nobel prize winner, Halldór Laxness, who is widely read in Iceland and worldwide. Other Icelandic writers on the international bookshelf are mystery novelists Yrsa Sigurðadóttir and Arnaldur Indriðason as well as poet and novelist, Sjón whose works are translated into several different languages. The traditional Christmas gift in Iceland is a book from the vast collection of publications published for the Christmas season.
The music scene in Iceland is vibrant and varied and has a few international stars to its name. Björk and Sigurós are world famous, putting Icelandic music onto the global map. Other musicians such as Kaleo, Ásgeir Trausti, Emiliana Torrini, Of Monsters and Men and Mugison have also travelled the world with their Icelandic beats. You can enjoy more Icelandic bands and Icelandic music culture at various festivals in Iceland, such as Reykjavík Blues in March, Reykjavík Jazz in September and Iceland Airwaves in November to name but a few.
The Icelandic love for all things new can be seen in the interesting architecture of buildings such as Harpa Concert Hall, used by symphonic orchestras and rock bands alike and the Perlan museum with its unique exhibition of glaciers or the City Hall on the edge of the city pond. Unusual museums such as the Whale Museum, the Penis Museum and the Icelandic Museum of Rock ‘n Roll are unique to Iceland and well worth a visit.
Culture in the Countryside
Rural Iceland has its own form of art and culture. Wherever you go in the countryside, there will be some museum or gallery celebrating the culture of the area. Museums showing the history and lifestyle of the Icelandic farming/fishing society take on a more personal feel as they are usually private collections of people in the area. A good example of this is Stykkishólmur on Snæfellsnes, West Iceland which is a small fishing village. The Norwegian House and the Volcano Museum are two excellent museums and the Library of Water is an unusual display of water, glass and light.
But you can also experience ultra-modern virtual reality displays of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions at the Lava Centre in Hvolsvöllur or learn about the sea monsters of Iceland in Bildudalur in the West fjords. Art and handcrafts are also found in the many towns of the Icelandic countryside where talents often go undiscovered. In east Iceland, the art festival LungA attracts young artistic talent from all over the world. Handcraft galleries are a feature of many small villages dotted around the country where, in each woollen jumper or carved wooden figurine, you will realize the ethic of hard work that Icelanders have.
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Ljósafoss Power Station uses sustainable energy from nature. It is a short drive from Reykjavik and a great place to experience the evolution of electricity. Here you can understand the significant steps the human race has taken to successfully harness this energy source.
The Reykjavik Maritime Museum has both permanent and temporary exhibitions depicting the fishing history of Iceland as well as other exhibits pertaining to the ocean. The latest exhibition is Melckmeyt 1659 - Underwater Archaeological Survey.
Volcano museum of remembrance. A unique volcanic and geological exhibition about two of the most spectacular volcanos in Iceland.
Surtsey, the island from 1963, listed as a natural wonder on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Heimaey, the dramatic eruption in 1973.
The National Gallery of Iceland was founded in October 1884 in Copenhagen by Björn Bjarnarson (1853–1918), later district commissioner. The founding collection was based on gifts, mainly by Danish artists.
An interesting museum for the entire family. Interesting and unique artifacts can be found in the exhibitions relating to the Viking period, Ages, religion and everyday life in Eyjafjörður and Akureyri in the past.
As you stroll along one of the best harbours in Iceland, you will arrive at the Icelandic Saltfish Museum, where you can learn more about the industry that is an important element in Iceland's economic development and prosperity.
At the Icelandic Museum of Rock ‘n’ Roll guests can walk through the history of Icelandic pop and rock music throughout the years. Guests can dive deeper into the history of each artist and listen to their music with the help of the Rock ‘n’ Roll app on the iPad guests receive during the visit.
Skógar Museum was founded in 1949 and now hosts a collection of more than 18,000 regional artifacts, exhibited in 3 Museums. It is located 150 km east from Reykjavík just off Ring Road 1 and 30 km west of Vík.
RIFF – Reykjavík International Film Festival – is one of the biggest and most diverse cultural events in Iceland. For eleven days every Fall since 2004, Icelandic locals and tourists alike are able to go to the cinema and enjoy the best and freshest of international film making.
A biennial festival with a special focus on new commissions and the creative intersection of the arts. Since its inception in 1970, Reykjavík Arts Festival has invited hundreds of artists from all parts of the globe to perform or exhibit at the festival.
The Icelandic Sea Monster Museum is located in Bíldudalur. Stories of monsters have been around in Iceland for centuries, but now you can get to know them better at this museum. The museum is only open between 15. May til 15. Sept. Admission is 1.250 kr. but only 1.000 kr. per person for groups counting 10 people or more.
Tales from Iceland is a Video Museum about Iceland and Icelanders. It is a museum like none you’ve ever seen. Our team of producers and cameramen have created numerous short but very informative cinematic features about a multitude of Icelandic topics.
Eiriksstaðir is a historical site, a ruin of a 10th-century longhouse and a replica made in the 21st century with only 10th-century technology. You can join us by the fire, hear tales of the original inhabitants of Eiriksstaðir.
Iceland Airwaves has come a long way since its inception in an airplane hangar at Reykjavík Airport. Nowadays the festival is regarded as the biggest celebration of music in Iceland and boasts an unrivaled line-up of established and up-and-coming artists.
The most distinguished landmark of Reykjavik is the cultural heart of the city. This glass edifice is the main venue for international music concerts and is home to the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra, and the Opera.