Reykjavik Cruise Port Guide | 7 Best Things To Do In Reykjavik

Reykjavik cruise port is nestled a stone’s throw from downtown Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital and the world’s northernmost capital.

Surrounded on three sides by the sea, this enchanting island country captivates with its surreal beauty, from cascading waterfalls and bubbling geysers to the vibrant city vibes of Reykjavik.

In this Reykjavik travel guide, I share with you the Reykjavik cruise terminal overview along with the 7 best things to do in Reykjavik cruise port, including Reykjavik shore excursions (Golden Circle Tour, Blue Lagoon, Whale Watching…).

Visit also our cruise port guides to Akureyri, Isafjordur, Amsterdam, Dover, Belfast, Cork (Cobh), Inverness

Reykjavik Cruise Terminal

The port of Reykjavik consists of three cruise ship terminals: Skarfabakki, Miðbakki, and Kornagarður terminals.

  • Skarfabakki cruise terminal (aka Skarfabakki Harbour; berth length 650 m) is the main, modernly equipped cruise terminal, located around 4 km/2.5 miles from downtown Reykjavik. This terminal lies within the Sundahöfn area and can accommodate up to two large cruise ships simultaneously. Free shuttle buses are usually provided to transfer passengers downtown, while other transportation options include public buses and taxis. The ride to Reykjavik downtown takes about 10 minutes each way. Several sightseeing tour agencies and car rentals are available outside the terminal.
  • Kornagarður terminal is adjacent to Skarfabakki terminal (the distance is less than 1 km/0.6 miles) and consists of one berth that can accommodate smaller cruise vessels (berth length 184 m).
  • Miðbakki cruise terminal is conveniently located in the historic Old Harbour, within easy walking distance from Reykjavik’s main city attractions, such as Harpa Concert Hall, Reykjavik City Hall, and the iconic Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral. The berth length is 205 meters.
Reykjavik downtown - Reykjavik cruise port
Reykjavik downtown. Source: Pixabay.com

Getting Around Reykjavik Port

7 Best Things to Do in Reykjavik Cruise Port

Reykjavik is best known for its vibrant cultural scene and its unique geothermal hot springs such as the Blue Lagoon. Natural landscapes made of glaciers and volcanoes and the iconic Golden Circle are best explored on a day trip from Reykjavik. Let’s check out the 7 best things to do in Reykjavik Iceland!

1. Hallgrímskirkja

The iconic Hallgrmskirkja cathedral stands tall in the heart of Reykjavik, inviting you to marvel at its remarkable architecture. Completed in 1986, it stands as the country’s tallest church, with a striking modern design reminiscent of volcanic basalt columns.

Named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrímur Pétursson, the cathedral features a distinctive tower that you can climb via the elevator. Once at the top, you can admire spectacular views of Reykjavik, the vast expanse of the ocean, and distant mountainous landscapes.

The interior of Hallgrímskirkja is minimalist, housing a large pipe organ and a statue of Leif Erikson, the Viking explorer believed to be the first European to reach North America.

Whether you’re drawn to its religious heritage, captivated by its design, or seeking breathtaking vistas, a visit to this landmark promises a memorable and enriching experience in the heart of Iceland’s capital city.

Explore Hallgrmskirkja tours and activities

Hallgrmskirkja cathedral Reykjavik
Hallgrmskirkja. Source: Pixabay.com

2. Harpa Concert Hall

Nestled on the city’s waterfront, the award-winning Harpa Concert Hall stands as a testament to Iceland’s dedication to the arts.

Opened in 2011, the concert hall is home to the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra and hosts a variety of performances, including classical concerts, operas, and contemporary music events. It also contains multiple halls and spaces for conferences, exhibitions, and events.

Harpa’s striking glass facade, designed by Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson and Danish firm, Henning Larsen Architects, reflects Iceland’s dramatic landscapes and captures the ever-changing natural light.

You can book a guided tour and take time to explore the various halls and spaces within Harpa, including the Eldborg Hall, the main concert hall known for its excellent acoustics.

Check out Harpa Concert Hall tours and activities

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center Reykjavik Iceland
Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center. Source: Pixabay.com

3. Perlan (The Pearl)

The striking Perlan (The Pearl) is a prominent landmark and cultural center that sits on Öskjuhlíð hill, just outside the city and a 10-15 minute drive from Reykjavik cruise port.

Originally built as hot water storage tanks, the structure was transformed into a multi-purpose complex and is known for its imposing mirrored glass dome and outstanding architecture.

The glass dome nowadays serves as a 360-degree observation deck, offering magnificent panoramic views of Reykjavik, the surrounding mountains, and the ocean.

Perlan houses several museums and exhibition spaces, so visitors are invited to engage with informative exhibits that dive into Iceland’s natural wonders, featuring glaciers, geysers, and the enchanting Northern Lights (“The Wonders of Iceland” exhibition).

Additionally, the Áróra Northern Lights Planetarium and the Glaciers and Ice Cave exhibition provide immersive experiences.

There is also a revolving restaurant that offers a dining experience with changing views of the city.

Explore Perlan tours and activities

Perlan (The Pearl) Reykjavik Iceland
Perlan (The Pearl). Source: Pexels.com

4. National Museum of Iceland

The National Museum, located in Reykjavik, only a 10-15-minute drive from the cruise port, is a cultural institution dedicated to preserving and showcasing the history and heritage of Iceland.

Designed by architect Guðjón Samúelsson, the building’s architecture is influenced by traditional Icelandic turf houses, blending modern design with historical elements.

Visitors can explore displays of the settlement of Iceland, the medieval period, the Reformation, and the struggle for independence in the 20th century.

Over 2.000 artifacts such as tools, clothing, and household items provide insights into the daily lives of Icelanders throughout the centuries. In addition to its permanent displays, the National Museum hosts temporary exhibitions and offers educational programs and activities for schools and visitors of all ages.

The museum also features a gift shop where you can purchase books, souvenirs, and traditional Icelandic items. There is also a café where guests can relax and enjoy refreshments.

Explore the National Museum of Iceland tours and activities

5. Golden Circle Tour

The iconic Golden Circle is a popular tourist route in Iceland, encompassing a circuit of approximately 300 km/190 miles that covers some of the country’s most stunning natural landmarks.

The tour typically includes three primary stops: Þingvellir National Park, Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss Waterfall.

Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in southwestern Iceland, renowned for its historical, cultural, and geological significance.

Located less than an hour drive from Reykjavik, the site was formed by the collision of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, resulting in a stunning landscape of rocky cliffs and fissures. Þingvellir is also home to the Alþingi, one of the world’s oldest parliamentary assemblies, established in 930 AD.

The breathtaking Gullfoss Waterfall, nestled along the Hvítá River, lies approximately 120 km/75 miles (a 1h 40 minutes drive) from Reykjavik port.

Marvel at the breathtaking two-tiered cascade, capturing the essence of Iceland’s untamed natural beauty, before finishing your journey at Geysir Geothermal Area, situated around 110 km/70 miles (a 1h 40-minute drive) from the port. Here you can witness the thrilling eruptions of the active geysers, including the famous Strokkur, which erupts approximately every 5-10 minutes, shooting hot water high into the air.

The Golden Circle Tour is a full-day tour and is highly recommended for those passengers staying overnight in Reykjavik. You can consider booking an excursion through your cruise line or with a reliable tour operator, or rent a car and plan your itinerary on your own.

Explore Golden Circle Tours

Gullfoss Waterfall - Golden Circle Tour Iceland
Gullfoss Waterfall. Source: Pixabay.com

6. Blue Lagoon

Located only 50 km/31 miles (a 45-minute drive) southwest of Reykjavik, this world-famous geothermal spa offers a unique bathing experience in mineral-rich waters heated by Earth’s forces.

Surrounded by captivating lava fields, the lagoon’s warm, milky-blue waters are known for their skin-healing properties. Visitors can pre-book tickets for a relaxing soak, enjoy the on-site amenities, and even apply the iconic silica mud masks.

To reach the Blue Lagoon from Reykjavik cruise port, consider booking a transfer or excursion through your cruise line or via independent tour operators.

Explore Blue Lagoon tours and activities

Blue Lagoon Iceland
Blue Lagoon. Source: Unsplash.com

7. Whale Watching

Embark on an unforgettable whale-watching tour departing from Reykjavik’s Old Harbor, offering an opportunity to witness the majestic marine life of Iceland’s coastal waters.

Once aboard, you’ll navigate the Atlantic waters in search of minke and humpback whales gracefully swimming in their natural habitat.

Make sure to keep your eyes open for playful dolphins dancing in the waves and charming puffins gracefully gliding across the sea!

Check out Whale Watching tours and activities

Whale watching Iceland
Source: Pixabay.com

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This article may contain affiliate / compensated links. For full information, please see my disclaimer here.

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