You can immerse yourself in Icelandic culture and history by visiting any region in Iceland. The entire country offers distinct experiences as unique as the island itself! Dive deep into the past with visits to homesteads, traditional turf houses, and significant Viking sites, all while learning about pre-Christian Scandinavia and Iceland's settlement period. In addition, the country's culture offers interesting experiences like learning about sea monsters, visiting the Arctic Henge sundial, and perusing thousands of artifacts.
Check Out the Museums
There are a lot of museums in Iceland, but three, in particular, offer a glimpse into the country's unique history and culture. Learn about Iceland's sea monsters, discover what life was like in the early 20th century, and experience several eras of Icelandic architecture.
When traveling through Iceland's South Coast, make a stop at the Skogar Museum. You'll find six historical turf buildings housing three museums and over 18,000 regional artifacts. The buildings include folk and technical museums, plus an open-air museum featuring several eras of Icelandic architecture. View an old schoolhouse, church, farmhouse, and more, plus displays on fisheries, agriculture, crafts, and transportation. Read More
The Cave People Museum
We're talking about the "cave people" from the Ice Age, but, rather, the cave people from Iceland's cave dwellings, where people have lived for centuries. Most recently, two young couples lived in these caves (thought to be first carved from the rock in the 9th century) in 1910 and 1918. Restored to their early 20th-century glory, you can tour the Cave People Museum and learn about the residents who lived here amongst the elements. Read More
Icelandic Sea Monster Museum
Dive deep into Icelandic folklore with a visit to the Sea Monster Museum near the coastal town of Bíldudalur. This village sits along the Arnarfjörður fjord, known to be rich in sea monster activity and sightings. The museum brings eyewitness accounts and academic theory together in a stimulating and interactive mix of audio, video, imagery, and written word. Learn more about the stories behind the monsters and view some of the artifacts meant to prove the monsters' existence. Read More
Learn About the Vikings
Iceland and the Vikings go hand in hand, and that's because these seafaring people made their home in Scandinavia. View relics the Vikings left behind and learn how this iconic population influenced the country.
Eiriksstadir Viking Longhouse
Visit the reconstructed homestead of Erik the Red and the birthplace of Leif Eiríksson, a Norse explorer who many believe was one of the first Europeans to reach North America. At the Eiriksstadir Viking Longhouse, you can step back in time to the era of the Vikings and enjoy this interactive museum, where you can wear Viking clothing and helmets and try out the weapons. You'll get a true feel for what life was like during Iceland's settlement period. Read More
Vikingheimar Viking World Museum
Learn all about Iceland's Viking history with a trip to the Vikingheimar, the Viking World Museum. Experience four historical exhibits: Icelander Viking Ship, Vikings of the North Atlantic, Settlement of Iceland, and Fate of the Gods. You'll view a replica of the famous Gokstad ship, learn about the Vikings' settlement of Iceland and across the North Atlantic, and discover the religious views of Scandinavians in their pre-Christian world. Read More
The best way to learn about a country's cultural history is to dive right in and experience it first-hand, from folklore, sundials, and homesteads!
Learn a bit about Icelandic folklore, pagan rituals, and Eddic poems by visiting the Arctic Henge. Although still under construction, this huge sundial sits just below the Arctic Circle and acts similarly to Stonehenge, its ancient predecessor. However, the structure also incorporates the names of the dwarfs in the poem Voluspa, plus seasons and sun alignment to create personalities based on birthdates. Read More
Visit an Ancestral Homestead
Do you have Icelandic heritage or roots? Do you know in which town or farm your ancestors once lived? If so, you can work with one of kimkim's Iceland travel specialists to arrange a visit to your own family's Icelandic homestead! Enjoy the special feeling as you stand upon the very ground that your ancestors called home, and embrace the emotions that overcome you as you learn more about your family's past. If you don't have Icelandic heritage or ancestry, ask our specialists to arrange a visit to a homestead or farm where you can experience the locals' way of life. Read More
How to Craft the Perfect Cultural & Historical Itinerary
Luckily, you can find cultural activities throughout the country, so it's easy to weave these experiences into any Icelandic itinerary. Visiting museums and historical or cultural sites balance nicely with popular active experiences in Iceland, plus they help give your trip more context.
As far as how many days to spend in Iceland, much depends on what you hope to see and do. You don't necessarily need to plan a lot of extra time, because you can easily add these cultural and historical experiences to days with other activities (like soaking in hot springs, chasing waterfalls, or visiting glaciers). Instead, consider how far you'd like to travel within the country and go from there.
If you fly into Reykjavík, common regions to visit include Westfjords, the Golden Circle, and the South Coast. You can fit these areas into one week in Iceland. But if you'd like to add Northern Iceland or the East Fjords, try to give yourself about two weeks.
Past kimkim travelers have enjoyed the following itineraries that include cultural and historical experiences: