Unique, Unusual , & Offbeat Things to Do in Iceland
Iceland’s been on my bucket list for quite some time now, mostly because I’m filled with a mix of jealousy and rage that so many other folks are getting to experience this wonderfully odd country before me. So I’ve compiled a list of things to do in Iceland, wonderfully odd things of course, so I’ll save myself (and hopefully you) the trouble of doing the research once there.
The Viking Village
When one thinks of Iceland, Vikings don’t necessarily come top of mind. The Viking connection here is an abandoned Viking village that was created as a movie set for an Icelandic movie that was never filmed. Located down a side gravel road from the main route between Höfn and Djúpivogur, the village has the look and feel of the real McCoy — buildings both inside and out are true to the era. For a nominal fee visitors can visit the set located on the land of a local farmer.
Besides the large range of buildings, A Viking Café to feed the masses, and a dungeon to house the damned are also a must to visit. Take the Viking Quiz to see how well you’d fare at pillaging before you go.
The Penis Museum
This has got must-see written all over it. Proving that bigger is indeed better, the folks at the Icelandic Phallological Museum in Reykjavík have worked hard to curate the the world’s largest collection of penises and penile parts.
The endowment sports over 280 specimens from species as varied as whales, seals, various land mammals, and purportedly even Icelandic trolls and Huldufólk — Iceland’s wee little elves.
And yes, there is even a human penis, what some might call the “jewel” of the collection. Icleander Pall Arason pledged his penis to the museum in 1996, and had his wish granted when he died in 2011. Poor Pall’s member wasn’t preserved correctly however, and now sits shrivelled in a jar in what may very well be the world’s most embarrassingly public case of shrinkage.
Samúel Jónsson’s Art Farm
Samúel Jónsson’s Art Farm is the art farm that almost wasn’t. You see, Samúel lived all by his lonesome on a farm in a remote valley called Selárdalur. After his farming days were done, he turned his hand to his true passion — creating art. And create he did.
From the mid-1950s up until his death in 1969, Samúel fabricated a number of unique masterpieces, including a circle of lions inspired by a postcard he saw of Spain’s Alhambra, a life-size chapel, and a slew of other one-of-a-kind creations he fashioned from concrete mixed from the sand of a nearby beach.
Upon his passing, the farm and its art were left abandoned to the elements until the government stepped in to save the site. Although the art farm is in a remote area, the drive out there is stunningly beautiful and makes a great pit stop if you’re planning an Iceland road trip.
The Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft
Opened in 2000, the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft wasted no time in becoming one of Iceland’s creepiest attractions. Animals skulls, runes, potions, and all manner of relics dedicated to the Black Arts vie for attention in this small (but potent!) museum.
By far the most disturbing artifact on display is a pair of “necropants” — pants fashioned from a dead man’s dried skin from the waist down. It was used in an elaborate scheme to cast a spell to gain riches. Museum manager Sigurdur Atlason told the Iceland Review how the pants worked:
“The owner of necropants had to make a deal with a male friend while still alive about digging up his body after a natural cause of death, skinning it below the waist and wearing the skin as necropants. Then the necropants-owner would have to steal money from a poor widow and draw a magical symbol on a piece of parchment. After placing both in the necropants’ ‘pouch,’ the owner would magically come into possession of money.”
Creepy, but oh so cool.
What’s the quirkiest attraction you’ve ever seen?
Note: I was asked to share my Iceland wish list by Guide to Iceland, but all opinions and views are my own