Iceland is an incredible destination, with so much to see and do. Whether it’s relaxing in the extraordinary Blue Lagoon, climbing a volcano or wandering around the bustling streets of Reykjavik, there will never be a dull moment throughout your Iceland adventure.
If you’re planning a trip to Iceland in the near future, you’ll probably be wondering what the top Iceland attractions are, which cruise lines offer getaways to Iceland and how much a holiday to Iceland costs. To help guide you in the right direction, we’ve created a handy article you can use when you’re planning your Iceland trip.
- Holidays to Iceland
- Can You Cruise to Iceland?
- Top Must-See Attractions in Iceland
- What to do in Iceland For a Day
- What's the Best Time of Year to go to Iceland?
- What to do in Ísafjörður Iceland Off a Cruise Ship
- What to Bring on Holiday to Iceland
- How Much Does a Holiday to Iceland Cost?
- Is an Iceland Cruise Worth it?
Holidays to Iceland
There’s no denying that Iceland is beautiful. With such varied landscapes and a host of attractions and activities to enjoy, you’ll find activities to fill every hour of the day there.
What is Iceland Famous for?
Renowned for being one of the best places to see the northern lights, volcanoes, glaciers and other must-sees, alongside having a long history that dates back millions of years, the “land of fire and ice” truly is a remarkable country that’s begging to be explored.
Where to Stay in Iceland
When looking at accommodation in Iceland, you might be wondering where the best place to stay is. And whilst Reykjavik is often the main place people stay due to its amenities and nearby attractions, there are other cities and towns that offer awe-inspiring scenery and sights. These include:
Overnight Stays in Iceland
A lot of cruise lines also offer overnight stays in Iceland, often in Reykjavik. Giving you a chance to explore all that the city has to offer, before you board a cruise ship, these overnight stays will start your holiday off with a bang.
Can You Cruise to Iceland?
Arguably the best way to discover Iceland and all of its extraordinary sights is by opting for a cruise. Sailing to different destinations throughout the country, you can relax and unwind as you watch Iceland’s beautiful scenery pass you by before heading out to explore.
Do Any Cruise Ships go to Iceland?
Due to Iceland’s popularity, a variety of cruise lines sail to it throughout the year, with each of them offering extraordinary itineraries. From budget-friendly cruises, to luxury cruises, whatever type of Iceland cruise you’re looking for, you’ll find the perfect one for you. Cruise lines that visit Iceland include:
- Norwegian Cruise Line
- Holland America Line
- Oceania Cruises
- Princess Cruises
- Silversea Cruises
- Regent Seven Seas
- Celebrity Cruises
- Azamara Cruises
- Fred. Olsen
- Explora Journeys
- Royal Caribbean
- P&O Cruises
- MSC Cruises
- Scenic Discovery Yacht
- Ambassador Cruise Line
- Carnival Cruise Line
- Disney Cruise Line
A lot of the cruise lines also offer tours around the country, including trips out to some of the attractions mentioned above. Giving you enough time to explore each destination you stop at, you’ll get a true taste of Iceland and why so many people visit it each year.
Where do Cruise Ships Dock in Iceland?
Despite its small size, there are several destinations throughout Iceland that can accommodate cruise ships. Offering docks for cruise ships of different sizes, from the port, you’re able to explore an array of nearby attractions or venture further afield whilst stopping off there for the day.
Reykjavik is arguably the most popular place to stop off or start a cruise. The vibrant capital of Iceland, it acts as a great base to start your Iceland adventure. There are two ports in Reykjavik; the Old Harbour, which is typically used for smaller ships and the Skarfabakki cruise port.
Not only does the cruise port itself offer all the amenities you require, but it’s within easy reach of the city centre. The Perlan Natural History Museum, unique Hallgrimskirkja Church and the Blue Lagoon are all within easy reach of Reykjavik.
Other major Iceland ports include:
What Cruise Lines go to Iceland and Greenland?
Alongside Iceland, there are a number of cruise lines that offer cruises that also stop off in Greenland. Known as the ‘world’s largest island’ this sparse, yet beautiful destination is home to 56,000 people and has numerous attractions to discover including the Nuuk Art Museum, the Northeast Greenland National Park and the Katuaq Cultural Centre.
Top Must-See Attractions in Iceland
As mentioned above, there are so many incredible must-see attractions in Iceland. And whilst the Blue Lagoon is often considered to be the top attraction to visit, it’s not the only must-see attraction in the country. Whether you’ve opted for a 5 night or a 20 night cruise around Iceland, here are our top 10 famous landmarks in Iceland you should visit.
The Golden Circle
The impressive Golden Circle is a scenic route with famous landmarks, significant historic places and picturesque scenery along the way. Only 25 miles from Reykjavik, along the way you can venture into the stunning Thingvellir National Park, to the out-of-this-world Gulfoss waterfall and the Skálholt cathedral. You can either rent a car to do this, or opt for a transfer/tour to take you to the attractions that surround it.
The Crystal Ice Cave
Even though there are other ice caves around Iceland, including the Katla and Langjokull ice cave, the Crystal ice cave is arguably the most beautiful. Accessible between mid-October and March, this breathtaking attraction features impressive ice walls and rock sculptures. Ice caves formed by the water running through a glacier are constantly changing; meaning that they can look different day by day.
You can visit the Crystal ice cave by booking an excursion to them- which includes the chance to explore the ice cave with the guidance of a knowledgeable expert throughout the tour.
The Blue Lagoon
Although this popular attraction is mentioned above, it’s clear that it deserves its own section of this list due to the number of amenities it has on offer. Situated in southwestern Iceland, just over 30 miles from Reykjavijk (which is frequently voted as one of the top 10 global disability friendly tourist destinations) , the Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa which draws in tourists from around the world throughout the year. It’s also accessibility friendly, making it a great attraction for those with mobility issues.
The water within the Blue Lagoon is said to have regenerative qualities, due to the sulphur and silica content of the water. With a temperature of 39°C, it’s the ultimate place to unwind whilst on your trip and you can even put a clay face mask on to make your time in the water that bit more relaxing!. There’s also a restaurant, sauna, steam room, a waterfall, cafe and spa that offers indulgent treatments such as massages.
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Another top attraction you should visit is the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. Surrounded by high mountain peaks and towering icebergs that were carved from the nearby Breidamerkurjokull glacier, it’s located east of the capital. The deepest lake in Iceland, measuring an incredible 250 metres deep in parts, you can enjoy boat tours around it throughout summer and winter.
Snæfellsjökull National Park
Next up is the pretty Snaefellsjokull National Park. Established in 2001, it boasts beautiful flora and fauna, including a stratovolcano (a volcano created by lots of layers of hardened tephra and lava).
The beauty of the national park has inspired painters and novelists throughout the years; including Jules Verne who was so inspired by it that much of the landscapes described in Journey to the Center of the Earth was based off of it.
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Iceland is known for its black, volcanic beaches. And perhaps the most iconic of them all is the Reynisfjara. This mystical and awe-inspiring beach is enveloped in rugged mountains and icy waters. Situated on the south coast of Iceland, near the village of Vik i Myrdal, it’s accessible by road, and many tours are offered to it. Taking just under two hours by car from the capital, the scenery you’ll see will be well worth the effort.
When visiting Iceland, you’ll want to put your hiking boots on and head out to the glaciers and mountains to enjoy some breathtaking hikes. Located within the Vatnajokull National Park, the Skaftafell wilderness area features huge glaciers, woodlands and a volcano.
An oasis of diverse landscapes, Skaftafell is located approximately 200 miles from the capital, so it’s one to enjoy if you have a few days there or as an all day shore excursion.
Located next to the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Diamond Beach is a magnificent beach with volcanic black sand and pieces of ice. A popular location for both nature lovers and photographers, it’s home to migratory orcas and seals throughout the year.
Even though the beach is located on the other side of the country to Reykjavik, if you have several hours to spare or your cruise ship is docking nearby, this is a must see that isn’t to be missed.
Hvalnes Nature Reserve
Situated on a small peninsula, near the town of Vik, the Hvalnes Nature Reserve features a black sand beach, rocky cliffs and impressive mountains (including the Eystrahorn mountain). A geological masterpiece, it's known for its rich birdlife and astounding plant life. Throughout the summertime, thousands of whooper swans and puffins.
One of the most photographed waterfalls in Iceland, Skogafoss is a popular tourist attraction and one that’s often visited by guided tours. 82 feet wide and featuring a drop of 197 feet, not only can you view the waterfall from an observational platform and on its volcanic shores, but you can gaze upon thousands of nesting seabirds that call the area their home.
What to do in Iceland For a Day
Alongside the above attractions, there are so many different activities you can enjoy during your time in Iceland. If you’re looking for some inspiration, we’ve created a list of top things you can do during a day in Iceland if you’re on a cruise around it.
Enjoy a Whale Watching Tour
If you’re a nature enthusiast, heading out on the water for a whale watching tour in Iceland is a great way to spend a few hours. And with so many on offer around the country, no matter where you’re stopping off, there’s a high chance you’ll be able to enjoy one nearby. Throughout the day, you’ll get the chance to see not only humpback whales and blue whales, but puffins, seals and dolphins.
Go Icelandic Horse Riding
Another popular activity to enjoy in Iceland is Icelandic horseback riding. Unique in their size and appearance, Icelandic horses are some of the most beautiful in the world. And for those that love horseback riding, there’s no better place to do it; surrounded by stunning scenery.
Enjoy a Night in Reykjavik
If you’ve opted to stay in Reykjavik overnight or you’ve got an overnight stay with the cruise you’ve booked, you’ll be pleased to know that the capital is known for its bustling nightlife, entertainment venues, restaurants and bars. Offering something for all tastes and ages, you’ll have plenty to discover if you’ve got an evening there. Reykjavik is also host to annual festivals such as the Winter Lights Festival and Culture Night which offer a mixture of arts, history and other entertainment.
Visit Lake Myvatn
Situated in northern Iceland, Lake Myvatn is a shallow lake that’s located not far from Krafla volcano. A habitat for waterbirds, brown trout and Atlantic salmon, the area is dominated by volcanic landforms. A unique landscape, it’s within easy reach of Akureyri (accessible by bus) but a little further from Husavik and Reykjavik.
Kayak in the Westfjords
There’s no denying that kayaking is a thrilling experience. And it’s made even more exhilarating when you’re in a location that’s naturally beautiful. The Westfjords are exactly that. With crystal clear water, puffins, labyrinthine fjords and villages surrounding it, the Westfjords are one of the country's most awe-inspiring regions.
Hike a Volcano
When in Iceland, you should book a tour that takes you to a volcano. One of the easiest to hike in the country is the Fagradalsfjall. Only 40 kilometres from Reykjavik, the hiking trails around it provide plenty of incredible views that will take your breath away.
Go to Husavik
A quaint town on the north coast of Iceland, Husavik has rapidly increased in popularity due to its appearance in the 2020 film, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. A picture-perfect town, there’s lots to see and do throughout it including the historic Húsavíkurkirkja church, the Husavik whale museum and geothermal baths.
See the Northern Lights
Frequently on people’s bucket lists, the northern lights are a natural phenomenon that’s caused by solar storms and sun flares. Producing an array of colours, seeing the northern lights in Iceland is a wonderful way to spend your time there. Plus, you can often see the northern lights from cruise ships in Iceland due to the lack of light pollution and its proximity to the Arctic Circle.
See our recent blog post, top tips for seeing the northern lights for more information.
Go Wild Fishing
Whether you’re an avid fisherman or you simply want to try a different activity in Iceland, wild fishing is a fun activity you can do during a stop off for a day. Locations such as the Galtalaekur River offer diverse fishing spots that have plenty of different marine life, including brown trout and salmon.
Meet the Latrabjarg Razorbills
A hidden gem in Iceland, the Latrabjarg Cliffs are known for being one of the best places to see both puffins, arctic terns and razorbills. The latter type of bird is often mistaken for a penguin, and you can frequently see them throughout the summer months in not only Iceland but also in northern Scotland.
To increase the chances of seeing them, visit between mid-May and August. The Latrabjarg cliffs themselves are 441 metres high and 14 kilometres long.
What's the Best Time of Year to go to Iceland?
You might be wondering what the best time of year to go to Iceland is. And whilst this mystical and breathtaking country is fantastic to visit year round, if there’s certain types of activities you want to do whilst you’re there, you’ll want to ensure that you plan in advance as to the time of year. To help guide you, we’ve created a list below of what to do in Iceland in summer, winter or year round.
What to do in Iceland in Summer:
- Whale watching (April to late September-early October)
- Icelandic horse riding
- Kayaking in Westfjord
- Hike a volcano
- Go wild fishing
- Meet the Icelandic birdlife
What to do in Iceland in Winter:
- See the northern lights
- Tour the Golden Circle
Activities in Iceland You Can Enjoy Year Round:
- Visiting Reykjavik and Húsavík (amongst other cities/towns/villages in Iceland)
- Go to Lake Myvatn
What to do in Ísafjörður Off a Cruise Ship
A significant and popular destination is Ísafjörður in Iceland. A stop off for cruise ships, people are often wondering what attractions/activities they can do around it. A beautiful town in the Westfjords, it’s surrounded by dramatic mountains, wooden houses and boasts a rich maritime history dating back thousands of years.
Top attractions in the town include the Westfjords Heritage Museum (which exhibits its maritime history, including fishing gear), the Ísafjörður Culture House (originally a community hospital, dating back to 1925) and a family-run micro brewery that makes a variety of craft beer. And whilst exploring it, you might even see Arctic foxes, seals, whales or puffins.
Encapsulating the charm, history and natural scenic beauty of Iceland, Ísafjörður has plenty on offer for visitors of all ages. And although it is remote, the breathtaking landscapes surrounding it make it an amazing place to enjoy a day trip.
What to Bring on Holiday to Iceland
When packing for a holiday, you’ll want to consider the time of year you’re travelling, along with what activities you’ll be doing. And when it comes to Iceland, what you pack will be a lot different to what you would pack for a holiday to the Caribbean.
Of course, if you’re visiting attractions like the Blue Lagoon you’ll want to pack swimming gear regardless of the time of year (it’s open year round too!). You’ll also want to pack layers, whether you’re travelling in winter or summer, so that you can be as warm as you want, along with hiking boots and waterproof clothing.
What to Pack for a Iceland Summer Getaway
- Insect repellent
What to Pack for a Iceland Winter Getaway
- Winter coat
- Thermal underwear
- Warm socks
How Much Does a Holiday to Iceland Cost?
Often, the first thing that comes to mind about Iceland is how much it costs to visit it. Considered to be one of the most expensive northern European countries, accommodation, flights, food and other aspects you’ll have to consider when travelling there can set you back thousands of pounds.
Of course, there are ways you can cut down your costs, like booking hostels, eating at wallet-friendly restaurants and comparing the different excursions available. But an alternative is booking an Iceland cruise.
Cruising is a good way to explore Iceland on a budget that suits you. With many cruise lines offering all inclusive packages, with accommodation, food and more included in the price of your fare, all you’ll have to worry about is spending money. And with some starting as little as £800 each, you’re guaranteed an unforgettable time without the large bill at the end.
Alternatively, if you’re looking to push the boat out, you can opt for a luxury cruise. With luxury cruise lines from Oceania Cruises to Seabourn and Regent Seven Seas offering cruises around Iceland, you’ll have a getaway with opulent accommodation and 5-star service attached.
Should I go on holiday to Iceland?
You might be wondering whether Iceland is the best destination to visit for you. If you like to see breathtaking scenery, go on adventures to see incredible sights and love a mixture of bustling cities and countryside, Iceland offers the perfect getaway for you.
For those travelling solo, Iceland has plenty of activities to enjoy. Iceland is also considered to be one of the safest destinations, with the crime rate in the capital being very low; therefore it’s a great place to visit for those on their own. Alongside group tours being on offer throughout the country, visiting the top attractions such as the Skogafoss Waterfall, attractions such as the Grjóti Village are wonderful to visit on your own.
If you’re travelling with your partner, there are lots of romantic and fun activities to take advantage of in Iceland, including seeing the northern lights, enjoying a spa day at the Blue Lagoon and indulging in decadent cuisine throughout the country. Known for its delicious food, including its fresh seafood and Flatkaka (rye flatbread) amongst other native dishes, there’s food for all preferences there.
Alternatively, if you’ve got your family in tow and you are looking for your next family cruise, Iceland is a fantastic option. For kids, there’s attractions such as the Saga Museum and Maritime Museum, along with events in the Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik. Families will also love exploring the glaciers and waterfalls, or in the summer months, heading to one of Iceland’s beaches for a swim.
Groups of friends also have plenty of things to do and see, including snow mobile tours, hiking tours and lots of bars to enjoy in the capital. Whether your group of friends love adventurous activities or to relax and explore different areas throughout the country, there’s enough to keep them entertained throughout the trip.
Is an Iceland Cruise Worth it?
After reading the above, you might be wondering whether a cruise to Iceland is worth it and right for you. Whether you’re travelling solo, with a partner, a friend or with your family, it’s clear that there is plenty on offer. Regardless of whether you want to spend time hiking up a volcano, enjoying a thrilling kayaking activity or you simply want to wander around an area and discover all of its surroundings, Iceland is the ultimate destination.
With so many different cruises available, with different itineraries and price ranges, you’ll soon find an Iceland cruise at a time that suits you down to a tee. A way of unwinding on a ship that’s bursting with amenities whilst you stop off at various Icelandic destinations, there will be so much to see and do on a Iceland cruise that will create memories that last a lifetime.
Book a Iceland Getaway with Iglu Cruise
Book an unforgettable Iceland getaway with Iglu Cruise today and enjoy a holiday unlike any other. And with so many incredible cruises to Iceland on offer to choose from varying in price and duration, you’ll find the best Iceland holiday for you.