Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Viking Sties & Museums in Iceland

Iceland was uninhabited until Norse settlers arrived in the 9th century AD. Here they established what is recognised as the world’s oldest parliament, the Althing. Over the following centuries Vikings and Celtic settlers travelled to Iceland seeking land and freedom from the growing power of Norwegian kings. The Age of Settlement gave way to the Commonwealth Period from 930-1262 AD, during which Iceland developed a rich literary tradition seen in texts like the medieval Eddic and Sagas. Today, Iceland offers many insights into its Viking heritage through historic sites such as Thingvellir National Park and the Settlement Exhibition in Reykjavik.

Viking Sites & Landmarks in Iceland

Alþing – Iceland’s First Parliament

In 930 AD the Vikings established an open-air assembly or parliament, making this the world’s oldest Parliament. The assembly continued to meet here until 1798, before relocating to Reykjavik in 1844. Around the Althing archaeologists have found the remains of human habitation from the 10th to the 19th century. Not only is Þingvellir a protected national site, it is situated with in the Þingvellir National Park, part of which is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site (2004), in recognition of its archaeological and geological importance.

Eiríksstaðir - Eiriksstadir Viking Home

The Eiriksstadir Viking Home museum is a replica of a Viking turf house that was built next to the archaeological remains of the house of Eric the Red. And where his son, Leifr Eiriksson was born. From this part of Iceland the Vikings set sail westwards. Eric is thought to have been the first Viking to reach Greenland, while his son the first European to reach North America. Viking re-enactors guide visitors around the site showing them what life was like around 1,000 years ago.

Glaumbær Farm & Museum

Glaumbær is a historic church village that is now an open-air museum. People were living in the turf houses here up until 1947; the earliest evidence of human habitation is the 9th century. According to the Grænlendinga saga Snorri Þorfinnsson was one of the inhabitants. Snorri is said to be the first European to be born in North America in 11th century. Snorri built the first church in the village. The onsite museum is housed in a historic timber framed building.

Laufas Heritage Site & Museum

Earliest records of the historic site of Laufás date to the 10th century, although the buildings that make up the village today date from the mid 19th century. Including the church, which is dedicated to Saint Peter. On display in the turf houses are clothes, furniture, general household items and objects of everyday life from the 19th century. Of particular note is the church pulpit, made in 1698. One of the houses recreates the living room of an Icelandic Viking living room.

The Settlement Exhibition, Reykjavik

In 2001 workers digging in Reykjavik city centre came across the remains of a Viking longhouse dating to the 10th century. Later excavations revealed that the building was on top of an earlier structure dated to 871 ±2 AD – making this the oldest evidence of human habitation on the island. The remarkable find has been preserved in situ, and an extraordinary multimedia exhibition using state-of-the-art interactive technologies suitable for people of all ages reveals the world of Iceland’s earliest settlers.

Viking Museums in Iceland

National Museum of Iceland, Reykjavik

A permanent exhibition entitled ‘Points of View’ is an extraordinary exploration of the visual cultures of Iceland. Objects from six Icelandic museums and institutions are on display; juxtaposing contemporary artworks of various style, medium and date with museum artefacts and archival objects such as books and maps. A highlight of the museum is the display of the Icelandic Law Code, the Jónsbók – 14 illuminated manuscripts dating from the 13th century to the present day.

Saga Museum

The Saga Museum tells the story of Iceland’s history from when settlers first arrived in the 800s through to the 1550s. Key points of this period, known as the Saga Age, are reconstructed in life-size dioramas. An audio-guided tour, available in a number of different languages, explains the displays. There are 17 in total, from the making of Iceland to the first inhabitants, from the lack Death to the Reformation. The tour concludes with a silent film on the museum’s creation by owner and artist Ernst Backman.