Icelandic Museum of Rock’N’Roll

When you think of Iceland you probably imagine dramatic landscapes, powerful geysers, active volcanoes and ice blue glaciers.  What you may not realise is that Iceland also has an amazing and thriving music industry and has been hosting the 5 day Airwaves Festival in Reykjavik for the last 17 years.

Despite having a population of just over 300,000, this arctic country has produced a huge amount of musical talent, the most well known artists being the Sucarcubes, Björk, Sigur Rós, and Of Monsters and Men but as you walk round the displays at the Museum of Rock’N’Roll in Keflavik, you realise there has been musical acts coming out of Iceland for decades.

Rokksatn Islands or Rock'n'Roll Museum

The museum, also known as Rokksafn Islands is an unassuming white building set back from the main road through Keflavik on Route 41.  Once inside, you will enjoy the musical timeline of Icelandic rock and pop music from 1835 through to 2015 and learn about the music award winners in the spacious and colourful hall of fame. You can relax in trendy vibrant chairs, enjoy a local coffee, and delve deeper into the lives of the artists through their books in the gift shop.  You can even take in an Icelandic music movie in the comfortable cinema.

View of Museum from Second Floor
Until November 2016, the main exhibition depicted the life of Paul Oscar or Páll Óskar as he is known in Iceland.   

Paul Oscar Exhibition
That exhibition has now been moved upstairs and in its place is a new exhibition dedicated to Björgvin Halldórsson, an Icelandic singer songwriter who was awarded Iceland’s Pop Star of the Year in 1969 and represented Iceland in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1995.  When I visited the museum in early November, the Halldorsson exhibition was in the process of being built and the iPads that are normally lent out to provide you with even more information about the exhibits, were being updated.

Björgvin Halldórsson

That did not detract from my visit though as one of the best features of the museum is the sound lab.  For those of you who harbour a secret desire to be in a rock band you can try out various instruments including an electric drum set, electric guitars and sing your heart out in the karaoke booth.  

Sound Booth @ Rock'n'Roll Museum
However, despite what looks like a tight fitting glass door on the booth, the karaoke booth is not soundproof.  I had the pleasure of listening to Icelandic singer songwriter Kristjana Stefánsdóttir trying it out with a beautiful rendition of I Want to know what Love is by Foreigner.  It was her first visit to the museum and she told me that she really loved it and couldn’t believe that she knew and had worked with so many of the people being exhibited there.  She promptly took a picture of the Emilíana Torrini display and sent it to her in a text message saying she’d just seen her in the Rock’N’Roll museum. 

Emiliana Torrini Display at Rock'n'Roll Museum
Kristjana isn’t the only famous musician to have visited the museum since it opened in 2014.  The autograph wall is almost full and the museum has also had the seal of approval from David Fricke of the Rolling Stone Magazine.

The Karaoke Booth at Rock'n'Roll Museum
So, if you find yourself with a few hours before your flight home and you’ve seen all the waterfalls, geysers, volcanoes and glaciers you can take, wander over to the Museum of Rock’n’Roll in Keflavik. It’s less than 10 minutes from the airport and serviced by local buses.


  1. Love your tips Fiona and Iceland is on the short list for a future trip for us as well. Thank you!!

  2. Thank you. Yes, if you get the chance you must go. Happy Travels!