Reykjavik, Iceland cruises
Reykjavik port guide
What was once a traditional fishing village now serves as the island’s cultural center, and travelers far and wide come to experience this unique city surrounded by extraordinary lagoons, geysers, waterfalls, and volcanoes.
Perched on the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula on the southern shore of Faxa Bay, the southwestern city of Reykjavik offers guests a memorable stay in the North Atlantic.
Here’s our guide to everything you need to know about exploring Reykjavik.
Top landmarks and sights in Reykjavik
Reykjavik offers a wonderful range of things to see, giving you a generous glimpse into the history and culture of this part of the world, from the 19th-century Parliament House to the pretty streets of old Reykjavik.
The Sun Voyager
The Sun Voyager, a sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason, is described as an ode to the sun. Representing the promise of undiscovered territory, a dream of hope, progress, and freedom, this steel boat sculpture by the water makes for a picturesque sight.
The Parliament House, Alþingi
The parliament building and a historic cathedral overlook the leafy green square of Austurvöllur, a public garden home to a statue of Jón Sigurðsson, the leader of Iceland’s independence movement. During the Christmas season, you can enjoy festive displays here and view the Christmas tree gifted annually from Oslo.
Venture into old Reykjavik to wander along the colorful display of corrugated iron houses along narrow streets. Diverse architecture and quirky street art adorn this creative city, making it one of the most charming sights to enjoy in Reykjavik.
To watch the magical northern lights dance across the dark night, head to Grótta Lighthouse, located on the northwest tip of Reykjavik. With clear skies and the right conditions, you can bear witness to one of Mother Nature’s finest creations. The Grótta Lighthouse is where locals and tourists alike huddle together to watch the sky at night.
Things to do in Reykjavik
From souvenir shopping for local crafts to an afternoon spent in a state of utter relaxation at the Blue Lagoon, Reykjavik is a city that brings a wonderful range of opportunities.
The Settlement Exhibition
Learn about the city’s rich Viking history at The Settlement Exhibition and watch Reykjavik transform from a farm town into the bustling city we know today. Step into the Viking Age and discover what life was like in Iceland when the first settlers arrived. This museum is a fun family or solo affair with audio guides, virtual displays, and exhibitions.
Blue Lagoon spa
One of Reykjavik’s most sought-after attractions, the Blue Lagoon is a spa experience like no other. Located in a lava field near Grindavík, around an hour from Reykjavik, this geothermal spa uses Iceland’s volcanic landscape to produce heat power. Many speak of the unique skin benefits that the Blue Lagoon brings, so why not try it for yourself?
Shopping in Reykjavik
In a nation that loves to shop, Reykjavik boasts designer labels, gourmet treats, and a flea market where you can purchase unique souvenirs and gifts. Laugavegur is the main shopping street in Reykjavik; it’s well known for its smart boutiques and range of shops.
To take in some impressive architecture, head to the Hallgrímskirkja, the largest church in Iceland and among the tallest structures in the country at 244.4 feet high. Known as “the church on the hill,” this building features distinct curved wings alongside a tower-like exterior. An operating parish church, you can explore the grounds and perhaps hear the sound of organs.
Eating and drinking in Reykjavik
In Reykjavik, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to taste Iceland’s national dishes, from farm fresh vegetables and free-roaming lamb to aromatic cheeses and hearty lava bread. Both street food vendors and fine-dining establishments flank the picturesque streets, so you are never far from authentic Icelandic delicacies.
Reykjavik also serves a weird and wonderful array of seafood fresh from the Arctic waters, as you have never experienced before. The Icelandic menu wouldn’t be complete without fermented shark (hákarl), fish jerky (hardfiskur), minke whale, and other unique delicacies.
Iceland’s national spirit is Brennivín, also referred to as “black death,” which is produced by only one distillery in Iceland. A schnapps distilled from potato mash and caraway seeds, locals enjoy this drink on special occasions while guests are free to experiment with shots or mix it with coffee or cola for a handcrafted cocktail.
Getting around, Reykjavik transport
Reykjavik is easily explored on foot. Alternatively, hop-on, hop-off double-decker buses are widely available throughout the city and from the cruise terminal. Taxis and public buses can also be found in the center.
Reykjavik port facilities
The facilities available at Reykjavik port include restrooms, shops, internet services, a phone box, and tourist information.
Reykjavik quick tips
The krona is the local currency in Reykjavik and euros are accepted in some larger establishments. All Icelandic banks provide currency exchange services and are open on weekdays, or you can purchase currency on board your ship.
All major debit and credit cards are accepted in Reykjavik and cash can be obtained at banks and ATMs throughout the city. Some small shops may not accept card payments, so it is recommended you carry some cash with you during your visit.
Tipping is not required in Iceland, but a small bonus for exceptional service is greatly appreciated.
Reykjavik has a subpolar oceanic climate with mild winters and cool summers. On average, temperatures reach highs of 57°F during the summer in Reykjavik while the winter months see lows of 27°F.
June to August is considered the best time to visit Reykjavik due to the midnight sun and warm temperatures. However, those who wish to see the northern lights are advised to travel in February, March, September, and October when conditions are dark.