Tips for cruise ship passengers in Reykjavik

During the summer we have a large number of cruise ships docking around Iceland.
November 18, 2019
Carlos Prieto Casquero

During the summer we have a large number of cruise ships docking around Iceland. Most ships go around Iceland allowing the passengers to a take tour from Akureyri to see lake mývatn, Reykjavik and the Seyðisfjörður in the east of Iceland. Some may even get a few hours in the Westfjords with their ship also docking in Ísafjörður.

Reykjavik Habrour view for cruise passengers
Mount Esja as seen from Reykjavik harbour

 Doing a long cruise you may be overwhelmed by the large number of day trips you are offered at the many locations.  A vacation should be relaxing but you do not want to muss out on the opportunity to explore the unique nature of Iceland.  There are many different ways to explore such as guided tours, renting a car or simply walking around the city.  Your cruise line is likely to offer you tours they recommend. They usually are operated for your particular ship with starting and ending times making sure that you do not miss the boat, but make the most of your time.

The only problem may be for some, that these tours are operated with large coaches, sometimes even more than one at once. So you may go on a golden circle tour in a 70 seater bus being followed and following 1, 2 or more other ones doing the exact same tour. Like that you reach gullfoss waterfall with a few hundred other people at once.

Especially for tours from Reykjavik we recommend private tours. Like that your shore excursion becomes a unique and personal experience. Depending on the size of your party  we may send small vans or mini buses with your own driver.  The driver will wait for you at the harbour and take you back in time. During the day you can add smaller stops which are not possible  with large vehicles and groups.

The most popular tours for cruise passengers are:

The Golden Circle: Iceland´s most popular day tour.  It covers the history of Iceland with the visit of Thingvellir national park.  The visit of Hot Springs with the stop at the famous Geysir, and of course Iceland´s most beautiful waterfall: Gullfoss. The tour takes about 8 hours, but is also easily done in 6-7 hours, which makes it ideal if you have nothing but an afternoon, or an afternoon and the full next day. If you have the full day you can also go for the luxury/ adventure option and do it by superjeep, this is not only a cool way to travel but you get driven up a glacier, something you cannot do everywhere.

Geysir in iceland
Strokkur in the sunset

The South Coast Tour: Along the south coast of Iceland you will visit the waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss. You will also pass the famous Eyjafjallajökull volcano which stopped air traffic back in 2010.  At ten hours many people may not be able to do it during a ship´s stop. But if you have the time you should definitely give it a try. Not often can you experience such dramatic coastlines, beaches and waterfalls in one day.  

The Reykjanes tour: At 6 hours it can during the long days of summer be done after dinner. The peninsula is close to Reykjavik but still seems like a hidden gem. Its most visited attraction is the world famous blue lagoon, which you can add to the tour. But Reykjanes is so much more with its geothermal fields, beautiful lake Kleifarvatn and coastline.

If you are more interested in society than nature or simply do not have the time you can have a private driver show you the city of Reykjavik. A city tour can take anything from 2-3 hours to 4 or 5, which allows you to stop for coffee or lunch somewhere during the tour.

One thing we cannot do during summer is taking you on a northern lights tour since they are a winter phenomenon. To see them you have to come back in winter to experience Iceland.


Got a question? Send us a message:

At Travel Reykjavik, we realise that booking a trip can be a confusing process. You might have specific questions or requests. Feel free to drop us a line and we´ll get back to you as soon as possible!

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