Viking World: Keflavik, Iceland

On a trip to Iceland in November, we decided to visit Viking World on our second morning. It’s a small museum adjacent to the Faxafloi Bay in the town of Reykjanes in Keflavik, Iceland. 

The Viking World building was designed by Guðmundur Jónsson and opened on May 9, 2009. A formal grand opening took place on Icelandic National Day: June 17. The huge windows on both sides give a beautiful view of the Íslendingur ship.

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This statue is just outside the entrance to Viking World. Hrafna-Flóki is the nickname of Flóki Vilgerðarson, the first Norseman to deliberately sail to Iceland.

The story of Flóki Vilgerðarson is documented in the Landnáma saga, along with many other explorers and early settlers of Iceland.  His nickname means “Raven-Flóki,” because he used three ravens to find his way back to Iceland after a journey farther West to the Faroe Islands. The first raven flew back to the Faroes, the second flew up in the air and back on board, but the third flew northwest and did not return. For this reason, Flóki knew they were close to land, and they followed the third raven to the bay where this museum is currently situated.

We were staying just down the road, making it an easy decision to add Viking World to our 2-day stopover. Aside from being very conveniently located, this museum packed a lot into a small space, including a beautifully illustrated overview of the sagas, interactive exhibits and a permanent display of the Íslendingur, the replica of the Gokstad Viking ship built by Gunnar Marel Eggertsson in 1996. In 2000, Íslendingur was sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to Newfoundland for the millennial celebrations of Leif Ericsson’s voyage.

Aboard the historic Íslendingur, which was sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in 2000.
Aboard the Íslendingur, which was sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in 2000.

 

The landscape surrounding the museum is beautiful, including a black rocky beach and a view of snow-capped mountains across the bay. Across the parking lot, a small petting zoo is open to visitors during the summer. It’s clear the museum is making expansions to the grounds surrounding the main building and from what I could find online, those expansions include a viking playground, campground and even plans to build a new boat!

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A free petting zoo on the property features traditional turf roofing material on all the buildings.

Viking World is worth a visit, even in the off season. We learned so much about the history of the island and got to see a beautiful piece of modern history up close. The several hours we spent here inspired me to begin planning my next trip to Iceland; I can’t wait to get back and see more remote parts of the country that are filled with even more beauty and history.

For more information: vikingaheimar.is.

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