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 nation captivates with its surreal beauty, from cascading waterfalls and bubbling geysers to the vibrant city vibes of Reykjavik. In this article, I share with you the Reykjavik cruise port overview along with the 7 best things to do in Reykjavik port, including the shore excursions (Golden Circle Tour, Blue Lagoon, Whale Watching…).
Reykjavik Cruise Port
The port of Reykjavik consists of three 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.
- The official currency in Iceland is the Icelandic króna (ISK) but euros are accepted as well. 1 USD equals 137.61 ISK. 1 EUR equals 149.51. You can pay almost everywhere by card, except for the bus where they take only cash. See the currency converter
- Although Reykjavik has a great public bus network, downtown is easily walkable and the major city highlights can be visited on foot. Reykjavik Hop on Hop off sightseeing bus tours are also available and they usually depart from Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre, next to the Old Harbour.
- The best and most efficient way to get around Iceland is by car (check out the rent-a-car deals in Reykjavik) or on a guided shore excursion.
- The high season in Iceland typically occurs during the summer months, from late June to early September. In this period, the temperatures are milder and daylight hours longer. For useful cruise packing tips, have a look at my article What to Pack for a Cruise – Top 55 Cruise Essentials
- The major cruise lines sailing to Reykjavik include Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, Oceania Cruises, and Viking Ocean Cruises.
- Explore Reykjavik tours and activities
- Check out private transfer to/from Reykjavik cruise 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 Tour which allows you to visit Iceland’s most stunning natural wonders on a day trip from Reykjavik. Let’s check out the 7 top things to do in the port of Reykjavik!
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.
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.
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.
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.
5. Golden Circle Tour
Embark on a mesmerizing adventure beyond Reykjavik with the Golden Circle Tour, a captivating exploration that unveils some of Iceland’s most iconic natural treasures. The 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.
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. Once there, immerse yourself in the soothing waters while being surrounded by the ethereal landscapes of Iceland. Whether you’re seeking a moment of blissful relaxation or a unique geological experience, the Blue Lagoon stands as a testament to the enchanting natural wonders that this incredible country has to offer.
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. As you set sail, the icy breeze carries the promise of encounters with magnificent creatures that inhabit the North Atlantic.
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!
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