The sheer, vast beauty of Iceland is best seen both on land and by sea. You’re at the top of Europe, treading in the footsteps of the Vikings. And an Iceland cruise from Reykjavík, the country’s capital city, is a fantastic way to experience the traditions, culture, and spirit of adventure this island nation has to offer.
Iceland is one of the world’s remote regions in the north. Often cruise guests who have already experienced a transatlantic crossing, a cruise in the Mediterranean, or an Alaska cruise look towards this island for their next big adventure.
And Reykjavik cruises have cruise itineraries that will want you coming back for more.
Reykjavík is easy to reach. Major airlines such as Icelandair, Air Canada, Delta, United Airlines, and British Airways all fly to Reykjavík–Keflavík Airport, the international airport (IATA code KEF). Flight time is just 3 hours from London or under 6 hours from New York.
Flight prices vary greatly depending on when you book, Generally, we always recommend booking early (a flight can be booked within11 months prior to your departure date). And you most likely will need a connection to get to Iceland.
Check out our useful tips and information about what to look out for when booking your flights. And remember to speak to the cruise line and ask for a package price to include flights, hotels, and a cruise.
Iceland cruises take place during the summer seasons of June, July, and August.
Keflavík International Airport
You fly into Keflavík International Airport. It is also known as Reykjavík–Keflavík Airport and is the international airport for all flights into and out of Iceland.
Reykjavík–Keflavík Airport is very easy to navigate. It has just one terminal, and everything is clearly signposted in English.
The airport is clean and modern. There are charging points in all public areas and free airport wifi. The modern lounges have a good number of restaurant options, and there are free strollers available if you are traveling through the airport with young children.
How to get from Reykjavík–Keflavík Airport to Reykjavík city center
The airport is located 50km southwest of Reykjavík. Many cruise lines will offer an airport transfer at the price of your cruise if you are booking flights with them too.
If you are arranging your own transport, there are regular “Flybus” buses that run from the airport to the city center. The journey time is 45 minutes. Purchase your ticket at the machine in the arrivals hall, or online before you leave home. The bus transfer costs around 25USD per person.
There are taxis outside of the terminal. But the journey can be very expensive, upwards of $150USD for a one-way journey. Flybus is readily available and a better, more affordable way to travel.
Car rental is available through 4 major companies, each of which has desks in the arrival hall: Avis, Europcar, Budget, and Hertz.
The Golden Circle – Iceland’s natural wonders
There are 3 spots in Iceland that most guests want to explore when on an Iceland cruise, and these together are known as Iceland’s Golden Circle: Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall, and Geysir Geothermal Lava Fields.
Gullfoss Waterfall is one of the first sights a visitor usually sees as it is located just 1.5 hours from Reykjavík. There are numerous viewing points. Head to the visitor’s center for information maps to find out which viewing platforms are open. Inside the center, there are also cafes and restrooms for you to use.
A short distance away are the Geysir lava fields. Simply known as Geysir, this is the king of all geysers in Iceland. Witness the boiling water heated from deep within the earth’s cruise being shot majestically into the air. It’s an awesome natural phenomenon.
Thingvellir National Park represents all that is spectacular in the nature of Iceland. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Expect dramatic waterfalls, panoramic views, beautiful mountains, Atlantic puffins, and crystal clear water.
There is no place quite like it anywhere else in the world.
Drive Iceland’s Ring Road encircling the entire country
The entire island can be driven in one ring road of around 1300 kilometers (around 800 miles). If you have the time and budget to do this, it’s an unforgettable adventure.
To really make the most of your grand tour you will need at least a week. The Ring Road is best traveled from May through to September. And if you are there to see the midnight sun you’ll want to travel in June.
Roads in Iceland are winding and it can be quite a challenge to do this drive yourself. Make sure you do your research well and plan everything in advance. We would actually recommend that you book a private or semi-private tour with transport and choose a guided excursion for this fantastic journey.
Highlights of your trip to Iceland that should not be missed
If you want to join a guided tour there are many itineraries available suited to the number of days you want to spend traveling before you start your cruise.
Journey to Seljalandsfoss, just 1.5 hours from Reykjavík. Seljalandsfoss is a waterfall of pure glacial water that, in the summertime, you can walk around completely. Nearby Skógafoss is even more powerful and if you’re lucky you’ll see a double rainbow.
Continue on to see more of the astonishing landscape. Visit the village of Vik, a remote village with stunning views all around. The Black Beach, Reynisfjara, is at the foot of the mountain Reynisfjall. Here you will see the basalt sea stacks called Reynisdrangar.
Heading northwards takes you to landscapes of volcanoes, lava pillars, geothermal springs, immense caves, and colonies of puffins.
If you want to see Eyjafjallajökull volcano up close, there is the option of a helicopter tour. Otherwise view this powerful volcano from your tour bus. Learn all about the changing geography of Iceland caused by the mid-Atlantic ridge from an experienced guide.
The best thing about traveling with a guide is all the stories and legends you will hear associated with each and every wondrous sight. And we have named just a few in this article.
The best Iceland cruise from Reykjavík
Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Line all offer excellent itineraries that include stops in Iceland. However, we like Viking Cruises which starts their cruises in Reykjavík. They are very destination-focused and have excellent shore excursions to choose between.
Shore excursions are included in the price of your cruise. And a knowledgeable guide is always on hand to ensure you get the best experience possible.
It starts with having access to fantastic information about your destinations on board the ship. Check out the library and listen to guest lecturers. Ask questions to knowledgeable historians and local culture and history experts.
You will find with Viking Ocean Cruises that you not only see the most popular sights in every port on a Reykjavik cruise but also the unusual local gems that most tourists miss.
Viking Ocean Cruises offer a journey of exploration on their "Iceland's Natural Beauty" cruise. Here is a sample itinerary of one of our favorite cruises: Reykjavík (with overnight in port) - ĺsafjördur (one of the largest fjords when you can do whale-watching) - Akureyri (think geo-baths and fantastic waterfalls) - Seydisfjördur (home of Icelandic folklore, hot springs and breath-taking landscapes) - Djúpivogur (hike the ice lagoons and black beaches) - Westman Islands (explore the mountains and wildlife) - Reykjavík
2 days in Reykjavík before your Iceland cruise
Most cruise guests spend 2 nights in the city before starting a cruise. And if this is all you have time for, we highly recommend booking the 2-night pre-cruise extension with Viking Cruises.
It includes transfer from the airport to your hotel, and from the hotel to your cruise ship. Hotel accommodation is often at Hilton Reykjavik Nordica, a 4-star hotel. Breakfast is included.
You also have the services of a Viking staff member host during the two days to help you plan your stay. They offer a trip to the famous Blue Lagoon – a mineral-rich lagoon in a lava field, where you can take a dip in the milky warm water.
Viking also offers a tour of the Golden Triangle. During this time you have a great opportunity to meet other fellow cruise guests even before you board your cruise ship.
Iceland cruise optional extra: journey to Greenland
We love it when the cruise company becomes your one-stop shop for your travel planning. And Viking Cruises are just this when planning your Iceland cruise land and sea adventure.
And now they offer the exciting possibility to extend your visit to include Greenland. This 3-day itinerary includes round-trip airfare from and to Reykjavik.
Visit the northern extremes of Greenland and experience the arctic landscape for yourself. Meet the locals, see the wildlife, and have an unforgettable experience in the land of the midnight sun. Now how’s that for ticking off another bucket-list destination?