Category: Iceland

An extremely common cruise destination, here are our tips and tricks for travelling in Iceland, including what to see and do.

It’s a long way to Akureyri

After crossing the Arctic Circle at some point during the night, we have arrived in Akureyri. The weather is much better than on our last visit and the captain has no problems bringing Island Princess into port. Nor does the captain of the Norwegian Prima which is docked in front of us.

Akureyri is the fifth largest town in Iceland which means that it isn’t very big. Again, we have very few plans for this port, so we take our time disembarking and wandering slowly into town. We had planned to visit the Godafoss Waterfall just outside the city, but the cost of tours / taxis is incredibly expensive so we have to give it a miss.

Top tip: The number 79 bus runs from the stop outside the Hof Cultural Centre to Fosshall, a short walk from the Godafoss waterfall itself. The journey should take just 32 minutes and costs kr1710 (~£10) each way.

But be warned: buses are infrequent and may not coincide with your all-aboard time. And if there are two ships in town, there is a very real risk you may not get on the return bus from Godafoss.

Feeling confident? You can plan your bus journey here.

On the way we score another geocache (GC1QN6A). It’s a quick, simple cache and the view across the fjord is impressive.

We also pass a number of local tour operators and taxis touting for business. Expect to pay approx. $100 USD per person for a trip out to Godafoss.

The centre of Akureyri itself seems quite compact with one Main Street attracting all the tourist attention. There are plenty of cafés and bars, along with stores selling various trinkets and souvenirs.

As is our ritual, we stop at the Akureyri Backpackers bar and hostel. Linda is thrilled to see Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc on tap, something we haven’t really seen since visiting Bosnia back in 2019. I opt for an Icelandic IPA because I’m a sucker for new tastes.

Afterwards we head back to the ship. It’s not been the most adventurous of port days, but Akureyri seems like a nice enough town.

As we leave port, we are treated to a spectacular sunset, the sky a vibrant neon red. Last time we were here, the sun never seemed to go down…

Yes, it’s a fjord, d’uh

Today there was some early good news – the captain has managed to secure a proper berth alongside the dock in Isafjordur. We had previously been advised that this would be a tender port. As we dock it becomes clear why – the municipal council has been investing heavily in extending their docks for use by cruise ships.

Which is weird. Isafjordur is a town of approximately 1000 people and there is virtually nothing to do here. There are two large ships in today, disgorging up to 4000 visitors…

Isafjordur is tiny

This is our second visit to Isafjordur this year and we saw almost everything last time, including the accessible geocaches.

Top tip: Watching planes coming into land at the local airport is fascinating, requiring pilots to fly down the fjord and then perform a very low-level 360º turn to line up with the runway.

Following a cryptic comment on a geocaching log, we did find one new thing to look at:

Yes, a floating pedestrian crossing. Linda and I spent quite a while playing around and posing for photos while other cruisers walked past completely oblivious. They must have thought we were crazy, jumping around in the middle of the road.

Photos done, we headed back towards the dock for a stop at the Dokkan Brugghus, a local brewery. It’s not cheap, but they always have twelve fresh beers on tap to try.

The Skarfur Stout is excellent

Top tip: The brewery gets very busy with cruisers, so if you order food, it may take quite some time to arrive. Some of the tours arranged by the cruise lines also seem to finish here for lunch.

We’re gonna wreck you Vic

Reykjavik. Another port that we missed back in May due to bad weather. Today we’re moored miles out to the east of the city at the Skarfabakki Cruise Terminal. Good news: the Reykjavik tourist centre is running free shuttle buses into the city. Bad news: The Norwegian Prima has followed us into port so there are at least 4000 people trying to board the buses.

Top tip: Feeling fit? You can walk into Reykjavik town centre, but it’s about 4km each way.

When we finally get on one, the bus drops us at the Harpa concert hall. Widely regarded as a symbol of Iceland’s recovery from the 2008 global financial crisis, it’s an interesting building to observe.

As always, we are compelled to visit the local Hard Rock Café. We’ve arrived before the restaurant opens however, so we pick up the ubiquitous pin badge and head into the city centre.

Due to mobility issues, we only have two goals – a geocache and a beer. Opposite the Hard Rock Café we pass the Punk Museum, located in a converted public toilet. We briefly consider hading down the stairs but instead choose to continue up the sloping hill of Laugavegur.

You cannot spend a penny here

Christmas shops appear to be a year-round fixture in Reykjavik, so we stop in and buy a tree decoration – a mean looking cat that, according to Icelandic legend, eats badly behaved children. Perfect.

The geocache (GC85V62) is a nice easy find opposite the world-famous Lebowski Bar. However, having never seen the movie, we don’t bother to drop in.

Instead we head for the fantastically-named Bastard Brew & Food – for a Hazy Bastard beer of course. It’s not bad at all.

Ben standing outside the Bastard Bar in Reykjavik

Bizarrely, Reykjavik city centre feels like it is pitching itself as a stag/hen party destination, packed with ‘cool’ bars and nightspots. But given that a beer costs at least five times as much as Prague (upwards of £10 each), you do have to wonder who is holding their parties here.

Afterwards, we take a steady stroll back to the bus stop at the Harpa. There is a big queue and the bus is completely packed by the time we set off for the cruise terminal again. And I mean uncomfortably packed. Not cool.

Top tip: Transfer buses run on a loop, visiting each cruise ship berth in turn. You can potentially avoid the crush (and snag a seat) by walking to the bus stop at the previous berth – assuming there isn’t a massive queue there too.

Would we visit Reykjavik again? Maybe. But probably only as the starting point for a Golden Circle road trip or similar.

As we sail away from Iceland, the Captain makes a cryptic footnote to his daily report, promising us a ‘surprise’ when he broadcasts tomorrow…

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