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 .

Icelandic Literature

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.

Icelandic Music

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. Click here for information on more festivals in Iceland.

Museums & Art Galleries

If you are interested in Icelandic Art, then head for the many galleries in the city centre, such as the National Gallery of Iceland or the Reykjavík Art Museum.  The Reykjavík Art Festival in May is a celebration of various art forms making up the art culture in Iceland.

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 is the Wilderness Centre near Egilsstaðir or Maritime Museum in Bolungarvík.

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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  • Powering the future

    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.

    Exhibition
  • Viðey Island

    Viðey Island is situated just off the coast of Reykjavík and is set in beautiful natural surroundings. The Island has a rich historical background and is home to the Imagine Peace Tower.

    Small island
  • Árbær Open Air Museum

    Árbæjarsafn is an open-air museum and comprises a collection of over 20 houses from the 19.th century that guests are invited to visit.

    Museum
  • Reykjavík Maritime Museum

    Downtown Reykjavik (+354) 411 6300 Website

    The Reykjavík Maritime Museum is temporarily closed due to renovations and changing of exhibitions. The Museum will open again in March with a new underwater archaeology exhibition.

    Museum
  • Akureyri Museum

    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.

    Museum
  • The Wilderness Centre

    The Wilderness Centre, in Fljóts-dalshérað on road 9340, is a museum offering a variety of activities like, riding, fishing, mountain biking, cable bridge adventure and hiking trails.

    Museum
  • Reykjavík Museum of Photography

    Downtown Reykjavik (+354) 411 6300 Website

    A collection of six million photographs recording the rich history of Reykjavík and contemporary life. Various other exhibitions are held each year.

    Museum
  • Gerðarsafn Art Museum

    Gerðarsafn is a progressive museum with an emphasis on modern and contemporary art, located in the heart of Kópavogur.

    Museum
  • The Settlement Exhibition

    Downtown Reykjavik (+354) 411 6370 Website

    The exhibition gives an insight into the life and work of Iceland´s first settlers. The focus of the exhibition is around the remains of the oldest habitation in Reykjavik.

    Exhibition
  • Icelandic Museum of Rock ‘N’ Roll

    Reykjanes Peninsula +354 420 1030 Website

    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.

    Museum
  • Whales of Iceland

    Downtown Reykjavik (+354) 571 0077 Website

    The largest whale exhibition in Europe, located at Grandi District, about a 15-minute walk from the town centre. The exhibition displays 23 man-made, life size models of the whales.

    Exhibition
  • National Museum of Iceland

    Downtown Reykjavik +354 530 2200 Website

    The National Museum gives a comprehensive picture of Iceland's history. Making of a Nation, Heritage and History in Iceland is a permanent exhibition.

    Museum
  • Aurora Reykjavík

    Downtown Reykjavik +354 780-4500 Website

    Immerse yourself in the fascinating spectacle of the Northern Lights, discover how cultures around the world perceive them, and learn to adjust your camera’s settings to best capture the auroras.

    Exhibition
  • Gljúfrasteinn

    Gljúfrasteinn, the home of Nobel Prize winner Halldór Laxness, is located in the Mosfellsdalur Valley only 20 minutes’ drive from Reykjavík.

    Museum
  • The Culture House

    Downtown Reykjavik +354 530 2210 Website

    The Culture House offers the exhibition, Points of View, which takes guests on a journey through the Icelandic visual world of past and present.

    Exhibition
  • Salurinn Concert Hall

    Reykjavik Area 411 7500 Website

    Salurinn was the first specially designed concert hall in Iceland and holds a variety of concerts, featuring music from the renaissance period to modern day music.

    Concert Hall
  • The Icelandic Phallological Museum

    Close to Downtown +354 561 6663 Website

    The internationally renowned penis museum is the only museum in the world which contains a collection of phallic specimens belonging to every species of mammal found in a single country.

    Museum
  • The Design Museum of Iceland

    Located in the centre of Garðabær, the museum collects and preserves items in connection with Icelandic design history, from the beginning of the 20th century to present day.

    Museum
  • Reykjavik Art Museum

    Downtown Reykjavik +354 411 6400 Website

    Reykjavik Art Museum is the leading art museum in Iceland and has 3 locations in Reykjavik: Hafnarhus, Kjarvalsstadir and Asmundarsafn.

    Museum
  • Sænautasel

    East Iceland +354 853 6491

    Sænautasel on the Jökulsheiði heath is another turf farm-turned-museum. It was evacuated during the Askja eruption in 1875. This farm has a restaurant in the old sheep cote.

    Museum
  • First Day of Summer

    Reykjavik Area

    The first Thursday after April 18, is a public holiday celebrating the brightening of the days with parades all around the country.

    Public Holiday
  • June 17, National Day

    Reykjavik Area

    This is the day Icelanders celebrate independence. Parades and festivities for people of all ages all around the country.

    Public Holiday
  • Katla Geopark Exhibition

    South Iceland +354 487 1395

    The Katla Geopark Exhibition is located in the Tourist Information Centre in Vík. It includes information, pictures, maps and history about Katla Geopark, mostly about the volcanoes from the region.

    Exhibition
  • At Home Music Festival

    Reykjavik Area

    A music festival held in private homes in Hafnarfjörður. Guests stroll from house to house enjoying live music and meeting locals in their own homes.

    Music Festival
  • Saga Museum

    Downtown Reykjavik +354 511 1517

    The Saga Museum recreates key moments of Icelandic history and brings the sagas to life whilst visitors listen to the audio guide.

    Museum
  • Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum

    West Iceland +354 438 1581

    Bjarnarhöfn is a shark farm and private museum depicting the history, hunting and processing of shark. The museum is filled with shark hunting paraphernalia and memorabilia.

    Museum
  • Skriðuklaustur

    East Iceland +354 471 2990

    Skriðuklaustur was originally the home of Gunnar Gunnarsson, renowned author, but now this unique building houses the Centre of Culture and History in Fljótsdalur.

    Museum
  • The Sigurgeirs Bird Museum

    North East Iceland +354 464 4477

    The Sigurgeir’s Bird Museum at Ytri-Neslönd on the shores of Lake Mývatn is a comprehensive private bird collection resulting from one man’s passion, Sigurgeir Stefánsson.

    Museum
  • Tré og List Gallery

    South Iceland +354 894 4835

    Back to Road 1 at Selfoss, and taking a small detour towards the coastline onto Road 305 will not disappoint as it leads to the Tré og List gallery on the farm, Forsæti.

    Museum
  • Settlement Centre

    West Iceland +354 437 1600

    Offering a wealth of information, the Settlement Centre provides a wonderful insight into Iceland’s history. It also gives you the chance to put your visit into the context of the country’s past.

    Exhibition
  • Reykjavík Jazz Festival

    Downtown Reykjavik

    Nationally and internationally recognised artists play in different venues across the city.

    Music Festival
  • Bustarfell

    East Iceland +354 437 1466

    Bustarfell on Road 85 is a farm and folk museum with well-preserved turf houses dating back to 1770. Take a step back in time to this ancient manor which makes history come alive.

    Museum
  • Einar Jónsson Sculpture Museum

    Downtown Reykjavik +354 551 3797

    Sculpture museum and garden dedicated to the works of Einar Jónsson, one of Iceland’s most beloved sculptors.

    Museum
  • Icelandic Music Experiments

    Downtown Reykjavik

    This music competition (battle of the bands) has been the main musical outlet for new bands in Iceland since 1982 and a milestone event for many promising new bands in Iceland.

    Music Festival
  • Reykjavík Fashion Festival

    Downtown Reykjavik

    This festival introduces the latest developments and opportunities in the Icelandic fashion industry. RFF collaborates with Design March, where the best of the creative scene is introduced.

    Art & Fashion Festival
  • Í Túninu Heima Town Festival

    Reykjavik Area +354 6946426

    Mosfellsbær town festival, Í túninu heima, is held on the last weekend of August each year. It is truly a family festival which spans over three days where everyone should find something they like.

    Folk & Food Festival
  • Reykjavík Arts Festival

    Reykjavik Area

    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.

    Art & Fashion Festival
  • Reykjavik International Film Festival

    Downtown Reykjavik +354 411 7055

    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.

    Art & Fashion Festival
  • Skaftfellingur Museum

    South Iceland +354 487 1395

    The Skaftfellingur Museum is located across the Tourist Information Centre. The museum shows the story about the 100 year old ship, which was used by Icelanders between 1918 and 1974.

    Museum
  • Museum of Prophecies

    North West Iceland +354 861 5089

    Spákonuhof in Skagaströnd is the Museum of Prophecies where futures, pasts and presents come together. Focusing on Þórdís, the famous soothsayer and first inhabitant of the area.

    Museum
  • National Gallery of Iceland

    Downtown Reykjavik +354 515 9600

    The National Gallery puts emphasis on 19th and 20th century Icelandic art, although international art is also shown in the museum.

    Museum
  • Children’s Cultural Festival

    Downtown Reykjavik +34 411 6000

    One of the largest festivals held by the City of Reykjavík. Participation and interaction is what makes this event particularly appealing to artists in children.

    Art & Fashion Festival
  • Dark Music Days

    Downtown Reykjavik

    Hosted by the Society of Icelandic Composers in collaboration with Iceland’s finest performers.

    Music Festival
  • Labour Day (May 1)

    Reykjavik Area

    Labour Day is on the 1st of May and is a public holiday in Iceland that is celebrated all over the country with a parade and festivities.

    Public Holiday
  • Eiríksstaðir

    West Iceland +354 666 0434

    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.

    Museum
  • Icelandic Opera

    The Icelandic Opera produces a versatile programme each season with the participation of Icelandic artists. The repertoire ranges from classical to new pieces by Icelandic composers.

    Music Band or Orchestra
  • Reykjavík Blues Festival

    Reykjavik Area

    An annual congregation of blues artists from Iceland and North America creating unique jam sessions in different venues.

    Music Festival
  • Reykjavik Pride

    Downtown Reykjavik +354 70989

    Thousands of people gather in a large, international parade to march through the streets of the city to celebrate the diversity of humankind and aims to advance local LGBTIQ culture..

    Folk & Food Festival
  • Secret Solstice

    Close to Downtown

    Iceland’s Secret Solstice Festival, the bucket-list event held during 96 hours of straight sunlight, returns to Reykjavik for it’s fifth-year anniversary edition from June 21-24, 2018

    Music Festival
  • Easter

    Reykjavik Area

    Holy Thursday marks the start of the Easter holidays for Icelanders, who enjoy a 5-day weekend where businesses, banks, government institutions and most shops are closed.

    Public Holiday
  • The Sheep Farming Museum

    The West Fjords +354 451 3324

    The Sheep Farming Museum is a fun stop for people of all ages. There are various events and displays as well as handcrafts and a coffee shop.

    Museum
  • Art without Borders

    Reykjavik Area +354 691-8756

    The aim of the festival is to celebrate diversity and participation of people with disabilities. The festival celebrates mixed media of art, music and theatre.

    Art & Fashion Festival
  • Museum of Sorcery & Witchcraft

    The West Fjords +354 897 6525

    The Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft is situated in Hólmavík. This area has been associated with witchcraft since the 17th century.

    Museum
  • Harpa Concert Hall

    Downtown Reykjavik (+354) 528 5000

    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.

    Concert Hall
  • Iceland Symphony Orchestra

    Downtown Reykjavik (+354) 545 2500

    The Icelandic Symphony Orchestra is a major orchestra and is renowned for its excellent interpretation of great classical works. The Orchestra has also enjoyed good reviews.

    Music Band or Orchestra
  • The Color Run

    Downtown Reykjavik

    Come and run with us through five kilometers of exploding coloured powder. The aim of this event is to bring Color Running mania to the world.

    Sport Event
  • Þorrablót

    Reykjavik Area

    Food & drink festivities held in the old winter month of “Þorri”. People gather to sing songs, drink and eat traditional Icelandic food such fermented shark, dried fish and sheep head.

    Folk & Food Festival
  • Reykjavík Marathon

    Close to Downtown +354 5353700

    Thousands of people of all ages from all over the world take part and run through the streets of the city.

    Sport Event
  • International Organ Summer

    Downtown Reykjavik +354 510 1000

    Every year from June - August. Lunchtime organ concerts on Thursdays at noon at Hallgrímskirkja Church. Various musicians perform different pieces of organ music.

    Concert
  • Reykjavík Cultural Night

    Downtown Reykjavik +354-411-6000

    The celebration takes place in the city centre with the participation of many artists, cultural institutions, shops and cafés. The evening ends with a big firework display down by the harbour.

    Folk & Food Festival
  • The Nordic House

    Downtown Reykjavik +354 551 7030

    The Nordic house, designed by architectural and design legend Alvar Aalto in 1968, is a cultural institution that organizes a diverse program of cultural events and exhibitions.

    Museum
  • The Icelandic Wartime Museum

    East Iceland +354 470 9063

    The Icelandic Wartime Museum in Reyðarfjörður is a must for anyone interested in war history. The perspective is from soldiers and inhabitants alike and is one of a kind in Iceland.

    Museum
  • Sigurjón Ólafsson Museum

    Close to Downtown +354 553 2906

    Exhibition on sculptures, sketches and drawings by Sigurjón Ólafsson.

    Museum
  • The Icelandic Sea Monster Museum

    The West Fjords +354 456 6666

    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.

    Museum
  • Iceland Airwaves

    Reykjavik Area +354 558 4400

    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.

    Music Festival
  • Byggðasafn Skagfirðinga

    North West Iceland +354 453 6173

    Glaumbær farm and museum offers a wonderful opportunity to experience conditions in a turf home and gain insight into the harsh living conditions of Icelanders in the past.

    Museum
  • Hafnarborg

    Reykjavik Area (+354) 585 5790

    Hafnarfjörður Culture and Fine Arts Institute features leading artists from Iceland and abroad. The museum has two exhibitions which are both free, one for adults and one for children.

    Museum
  • The Viking Festival

    Reykjavik Area +354 5651213

    A week long festival, held in and around the Viking Village in Hafnarfjörður. Swordfighting, craftsmen at work, magic, music and real Vikings.

    Folk & Food Festival
  • Ósvör Maritime Museum

    The West Fjords +354 892 1616

    Ósvör Maritime Museum is a replica of the old fishing station from the 19th century and shows very well how fisherman lived and worked in those times.

    Museum
  • Skogar Museum

    South Iceland +354 487 8845

    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.

    Museum
  • Winter Lights Festival

    Reykjavik Area +354 411 6000

    An annual 3-day festival that brightens up the dark winter hours. A family event bringing a mixture of art, sport and technology together to entertain and delight.

    Art & Fashion Festival
  • Festival of the Sea

    Reykjavik Area +354 696 3984

    An annual event honoring the lives and livelihoods of the fishermen of Iceland. Festivities include ancient activities and games such as tug of war, races and pillow fights.

    Folk & Food Festival
  • Food & Fun Festival

    Reykjavik Area +354 822 0220

    An annual week-long festival featuring well-known foreign chefs visiting Iceland to compete with their counterparts.

    Folk & Food Festival