Stark, Wild, Fascinating Reykjavik
Reykjavik is a beautiful city with the focus being its waterfront. On the water at the center of town is the Opera House and the square in front is the usual stop for the shuttles from the dock. That makes it a convenient meeting point where you will catch the returning shuttle. The waterfront between town and the ships dock also features a beautiful walking path, perfect for a stroll to take in the stark beauty of this remarkable location. The city’s waterfront is a popular area, with a view of Reykjavik’s landmark mountain, Mt. Esja across the bay. There is also the striking sculpture Sun Voyager by Jon Gunnar Arnason , a massive steel sculpture in the shape of a Viking ship.
Where Your Ship Docks– Cruise ships will normally dock at port facilities outside of town. Reykjavik is usually the supplier of shuttle service into town with a round-trip fare that seems somewhat over priced (this is probably related to the high cost of living in Reykjavik). If you don’t mind walking (weather permitting) there is a nice paved walk along the shore into town of only about two miles. There is no cruise ship terminal so ships have to make use of boarding ramps. For people with walking issues and wheelchairs it can be difficult.
Transportation – Taxis are readily available and are surprising inexpensive. A taxi tour of the city can usually be booked with TaxiReykjavik for durations of 1-3 hours for under $8 per hour. Rental cars are also inexpensive for trips out into the Icelandic countryside to visit the Rift Valley and waterfalls. MORE HERE about taxi tours.
One of the nearest attractions to Reykjavik is the Blue Lagoon. There are hourly bus transfers 7 am to 8 pm to and from Blue Lagoon from Reykjavík via Destination Blue Lagoon with a package that includes round-trip fare and admission for under US$60. To get out and see the real wonders of Iceland you will need to rent a car (rental cars are not very expensive) or book a day tour. The most popular trip is the Golden Circle.
Currency – Local currency is the Icelandic króna with about 7,000 being equal to US$1. Credit cards are readily accepted and there are ATM’s available.
Attractions – Reykjavik’s many museums offer insight into this country’s fascinating Nordic History. Start with the Saga Museum for a look into how the Vikings fought and lived with displays of wax figures depicting scenes of the earliest settlers (circa 874 AD). The National Museum displays more than 2,000 artifacts from the ninth century to the present. For a different experience, live actors at the open-air Reykjavik City Museum -Arbaejarsafn offer scenes of how settlers lived in the old days in an open-air museum, and it traces the development of Reykjavik and Iceland from their beginnings to today.
While the Blue Lagoon is located outside Reykjavik, this is a must if you have enough time in Reykjavik. The mineral-rich thermal waters are a perfect 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and the minerals and algae in the water are supposed to improve skin and even cure psoriasis. The Blue Lagoon is about an hour’s drive from the city and there is a round-trip bus ticket and admission available.
The sea around Reykjavik is popular with many types of whales, dolphins and seals. Whale watching tours also pass by Puffin Island. The whale watching season runs from late March to late October.
Another of Reykjavik’s landmarks is the Perlan, a unique piece of architecture built in 1988. It is a thermal energy operation in which natural hot water is stored for heating the city, it includes a glass dome under which a rotating restaurant is famous for its cuisine. The dome has a viewing platform with panoramic 360-degree views of the city and its surroundings. Access to the viewing platform is free of charge.
Reykjavik features a beautiful Presbyterian Cathedral as the cities centerpiece with nice shops and restaurants radiating down streets toward the sea. Be sure and have a famous Icelandic hot dog as you explore.
Hallgrimskirkja Church can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. Its steeple rises above all other buildings in Reykjavik and the church can seat over 1000 worshipers. The grounds also feature a statue of the first Viking said to have discovered America, Leifur Eiríksson. The church nave is open to the public daily and you can purchase tickets to visit the top of the tower for spectacular views of the city.
The Northern Lights usually put on a great show in Iceland if you are there early or late in the cruising season. The maximum light show lasts from October through February with some years being better than others. Follow the aurora’s forecast on this handy aurora forecast website. Also check out walking tours of Reykjavik HERE.