What are the best value land tours for those stopping in Iceland during their cruise stopover? Which Icelandic ports have the most exciting day-tours for cruise ships? Keep reading to discover some great choices for those arriving in Iceland by cruise ship.
Photo above from 10 Day Cruise Around Iceland by Sea
Traversing the world by cruise ship is an exciting way to visit foreign shores, and you don’t want to miss a single opportunity to explore new locations. An ever-increasing number of cruise ships cross the North Atlantic Ocean to visit Iceland from May-September. These are magical months to come to Iceland since visitors get to experience the midnight sun, which lights the night sky.
If you are lucky enough to be on a cruise that stops in Iceland, you’re going to want to use the opportunity to explore this island in the north. We have selected some tours which are tailor-made for cruise ship passengers to enjoy during their time on dry land in Iceland.
Read this article to find out about the best value tours departing from Iceland’s biggest ports. These tours are tailor-made for cruise ship passengers so you needn’t worry about timing, the tour guides will have you back on deck in good time for your ongoing voyage.
Reykjavík is Iceland’s capital city, so it naturally has the biggest ports and most opportunities for exploration. Walking around the city is an adventure in itself but if you want to be closer to Iceland’s gorgeous nature we recommend these day tours which take you out of the city.
This day tour will bring you around Iceland’s best-known sight-seeing route, The Golden Circle. It is perfect for those docking in one of Reykjavík’s harbours and want a taste of nature and history, all in one action-packed day.
You will visit Þingvellir, the National Park which has a diverse history. From being the site of Iceland’s parliament for centuries to being a shooting location for the Game of Thrones television series. Þingvellir has a fascinating past and copious amounts of natural beauty.
The original geyser, Geysir Hot Spring, is another star attraction on the Golden Circle. Geysir and surrounding hot springs, along with the third Golden Circle stop Gullfoss Waterfall, which is a show-stopping force of nature, are sure to make your stopover in Iceland really special.
After all that you will return in time to board your cruise ship and continue your journey.
If the Golden Circle doesn’t tickle your fancy, perhaps this South Coast tour will persuade you to go ashore for the day. Iceland’s South Coast is a smorgasbord of beautiful sights and this tour won’t leave anyone dissatisfied.
Among the amazing sights you’ll see are Skógafoss Waterfall and Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. The two sight-seeing favourites really show the diversity of waterfalls. Skógafoss is a powerful waterfall and the spray from it usually has a rainbow or two in it for visitors to admire. Seljalandsfoss falls in front of a cavern which makes it possible for visitors to walk around the waterfall for a real 360° experience.
Reynisfjara black sand beach is a hauntingly gorgeous location you will be stopping at. If the darkness of the black sand isn’t enough to impress, the sea stacks which sit along the shoreline are sure to have you reaching for your camera.
You will also pay a visit to Sólheimajökull Glacier and some of the charming towns on Iceland’s south coast, like Hveragerði and Vík. You’ll have to bring a packed lunch to enjoy at one of your stops.
Akureyri, the unofficial capital of north Iceland, is the second largest town in the country. The town has many options for sightseeing and is a lovely place for a day trip. If your cruise docks in Akureyri for the day these tours will keep you entertained on dry land.
If you are stopping in Akureyri and are hoping to see some of Iceland’s beautiful nature this is the tour for you. The area around Lake Mývatn offers a variety of incredibly stunning spots, making this tour great value for your money. Get ready to take photographs to make anyone who stayed aboard the ship regret that choice.
You’ll be whisked off in a small group on a minibus. First, you will bear witness to one of the most majestic sights in the country, Goðafoss waterfall, an impressive 12 metre (39 feet) tall waterfall which is the most powerful waterfall in all of Europe. Next, you will stop at Skútustaðagígar pseudo craters, a curious geological phenomenon which your guide will be able to tell you all about.
Another attraction you’ll be able to see on your minibus tour is Dimmuborgir, also known as the Black Fortress, it is an area with rather dramatic looking lava formations and a great place to stretch your legs if you stop there.
Other notable stops in the Mývatn area are Grjótagjá Cave, which fans of Game of Thrones might be able to recognize and the Námaskarð geothermal area, where you’ll see hot springs.
If you are in the mood to immerse yourself in the culture of Iceland during your short stopover, this is the tour for you. This tour will take you around the north of Iceland and stop at places which give you plenty of insight into Icelandic culture in just one day. This tour is especially exciting for beer lovers, as its last stop is a brewery.
Before that, you will visit a village named Dalvík. You’ll have time to browse around the Hvoll museum, a lovely collection of objects pertaining to Icelandic heritage and natural history collected by local people. The next town you’ll visit is Siglufjörður, there you’ll find the Herring Era Museum, among other quaint things.
There is one more stop before you can reward yourself with a beer, and it’s a spooky one. You’ll stop at a deserted farm in Héðinsfjörður, the perfect place to tell your travel companions a ghost story. Then it’s finally time to visit the Kaldi Brewery in Árskógssandur, the perfect end to your culture tour.
Ísafjörður is the largest town in the west fjords, an area known for its stark beauty. If you plan to step ashore and explore, we recommend joining a tour to get the benefit of a guide’s expert knowledge.
This tour is the perfect choice for cruise passengers in west Iceland. The expert local guide will take you and your fellow travellers around on a tour bus. The destination is a gorgeous waterfall but the journey there will bring you past equally impressive views so keep your eyes peeled out the window.
Dynjandi Waterfall is named after the loud rumble of the plummeting water, its name translates to ‘thundering’ and that’s what it sounds like. There is a possibility to hike up to the top and get a bird's eye view of this impressive aquatic feature.
On your way back to the cruise ship you will stop at Hrafnseyri, an old town which will give you an idea of what living in Iceland during the settlement era was like. After that, you will once again sail away.
Another excellent choice for a stop in Ísafjörður is this Svalvogar Circle Tour. The Westfjords region has some of the most unique and beautiful sights in all of Iceland and your local guide will drive you to the best spots to see and photograph the natural beauty.
From the comfort of a Super Jeep you'll marvel at mountain ranges as you drive along the coastline, weaving in and out of fjords. Among the spectacular sights you'll see is Kaldbakur, the region's tallest mountain. This tour is not specially made for cruise ship passengers, so make sure to double-check that you have enought time to return on board.
Seyðisfjörður is a small town in East Iceland, surrounded by mountains and waterfalls, it is a lovely place to visit. East Iceland has a lot to offer so if you’re lucky enough to dock in Seyðisfjörður, you should use your time wisely and take a tour, like the one below.
This tour will bring you around some of the most exciting locations in east Iceland. Lake Lagarfljót is best known for being the home of a mythical creature known as the Lagarfljót Wyrm, a giant serpent which has reportedly been sighted in the lake. You will be visiting Fellbær a tiny town which overlooks Lake Lagarfljót.
Your guide will also take you to an archaeological site at Skriðuklaustur, the Kárahnjúkar power station, where you’ll learn about Iceland’s renewable energy, Hallormstaðaskógur Woods and Gufufoss Waterfall.
After visiting all these different and exciting places you’ll return to your cruise ship with some great memories of your time in Iceland.
Are you planning to join a cruise which stops in Iceland? Have you tried one of these tours in the past? Tell us about it in the comment box below.