South Iceland contains many of the most popular trips and best galleries and museums in the country. Close to Reykjavík is the Reykjanes Peninsula, with the Blue Lagoon, Keflavík Airport, and many wild spots and charming villages; over the Hellisheiði mountain pass lies the tranquil farmland and small towns like Hveragerði, Selfoss and Flúður. The Golden Circle and south coast roads are busy during the summer, and there are several glaciers dotting the coast and volcanoes silhouetted against the skyline. Vík í Myrdal is the halfway point, and Höfn—beneath the mighty Vatnajökull—marks the gateway to the east. To help you out along the way, here are our panel’s best South Iceland galleries and museums.
There’s a huge range of museums in South Iceland, from old-time folky town museums, to exciting technology museums. The Lava Centre is one of the latter, boasting engaging interactive displays and ingenious visualisations of Iceland’s volatile geography. “The museum displays exciting and interactive scientific information from knowledgeable Icelandic volcanologists,“ said the panel. A memorable highlight is a huge model of the glowing tectonic rift below the country, which really puts things in perspective.
Gerðisbraut 10, Vestmannaeyjabær
Well-conceived, entertaining and informative, this modern museum focuses on the Westman Islands’ eruption of 1973. Indeed, it’s built around two houses that were half-buried in molten lava. Interactive displays show the spread of lava over the island, and video footage from the time brings the disaster to life.
Austurmörk 21, Hveragerði
The Listasafn Árnesinga art museum brings local and international contemporary art to Hveragerði year round. It’s a beautiful white space, with carefully curated shows that are always worth a look. “They have the best exhibitions,” said the panel. “There’s always something interesting to see—and there’s a lovely café there as well.”
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