If your cruise stops in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, you’re in for a treat. With stunning landscapes, rich history, and geothermal wonders, Reykjavik offers plenty to explore. This guide to Reykjavik Ports and Shore Excursions will help you make the most of your visit.

Three Reykjavik Ports

Skarfabakki Cruise Terminal

Skarfabakki – Viðey Island in the background. Photo: Helgi Halldórsson

Skarfabakki is Iceland’s largest and most modern cruise ship dock, located in the Sundahöfn area, about 3.5 kilometres east of Reykjavik’s city centre. It features modern amenities such as currency exchange offices, souvenir shops, restaurants, cafes, restrooms, and comfortable waiting areas. Taxis and buses are readily available for a quick ride to the city centre or for pre-booked tours. While it offers a comfortable arrival experience, it is further from Reykjavik’s heart than Miðbakki’s. Skarfabakki can accommodate ships up to 335 meters long with a draft of 11.5 meters, making it suitable for large cruise vessels.

Miðbakki Terminal – Old Harbour

Reykjavik Harbour – Miðbakki. Photo: Helgi Halldórsson from Reykjavík, Iceland, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Miðbakki, located in Reykjavik’s Old Harbour, is smaller and more quaint than Skarfabakki. Its proximity to the city centre means you are within walking distance of key attractions like Hallgrímskirkja Church, Harpa Concert Hall, and Tjörnin (The Pond). This terminal offers a more relaxed and intimate atmosphere, ideal for first-time visitors. While it has restrooms and waiting areas, it lacks the extensive facilities found at Skarfabakki. Taxis and buses are available for easy access to the city.

Kornagarður Terminal – Sundahöfn

Korngarðar, also known as Korngarvör Harbour, is a secondary dock in the Sundahöfn area. It’s primarily used for cargo but can accommodate cruise ships, especially during peak season. This terminal has minimal amenities and lacks shops, restaurants, and currency exchange offices. Similar to Skarfabakki, you’ll need transportation to reach central Reykjavik. The surroundings are more industrial and less scenic. While not ideal for tourists, Korngarðar is an overflow option during busy times.

Reykjavik Shore Excursions

Reykjavik offers a variety of shore excursions that cater to different interests. From guided tours of the Golden Circle to whale watching and visiting the Blue Lagoon, there’s something for everyone. For those looking to go beyond the usual tours, consider exploring these hidden gems:

Elliðaárdalur Valley is a beautiful park with waterfalls and hiking trails, perfect for nature lovers. The Reykjavik Botanic Garden is a tranquil spot showcasing Icelandic flora. The Perlan Museum offers interactive exhibits on Iceland’s natural wonders and a stunning observation deck with panoramic views.

Make the most of your stopover in Reykjavik by exploring well-known attractions and lesser-known treasures. Whether disembarking at Skarfabakki, Miðbakki, or Korngarðar, Reykjavik promises an unforgettable experience.

And if your ship docks at Skarfabakki or Korngarðar, you can hop on the next ferry to Viðey Island and explore Icelandic nature, Reykjavik’s oldest house and various artworks, including Yoko Ono’s Imagine Peace Tower.

Docking in Reykjavik

Take a leisurely stroll along the enchanting streets of Laugavegur, Skólavörðustígur and downtown Reykjavik. These colourful streets have vibrant houses, quirky shops, and a lively atmosphere. You can wander alone or join the Walk with a Viking Tour for a great, guided introduction to Reykjavik and Iceland.

Iceland’s Tallest Church Hallgrímskirkja

An aerial shot of Reykjavik City with Hallgrimmskirkja in the focus
Explore our lovely, quirky city with Your Friend in Reykjavik, and let us show you the must-see highlights!

Visit Hallgrímskirkja, Iceland’s iconic church, with its 244-foot tower offering breathtaking panoramic views. Capture the unique architecture of this modern marvel set against the dramatic Icelandic landscape. We recommend walking up Skólavörðustígur to get there, a street full of history, great shops and restaurants.

Get to Know Reykjavik’s Museums

Reykjavik boasts a rich array of museums. Visit the quirky Phallological Museum, delve into Icelandic history at the National Museum, or explore the Reykjavik Art Gallery. Discover more about these and other fun things in our blog posts on The Best Museums in Downtown Reykjavik and Is the Reykjavik City Card Worth it?

Eat Your Way Through Reykjavik History

A guest showing off a bite of fermented shark
Hákarl – Or fermented shark, is a traditional Icelandic speciality; dare yourself on it’s “unique” flavour

Embark on a culinary adventure in Reykjavik. Savour hearty lamb soup, try the famous fermented shark (hákarl), or indulge in kleinur, a sweet fried pastry. For a guided exploration of Iceland’s unique flavours, join the Reykjavik Food Lovers Tour or Icelandic Sweet Tooth Tour.

Whale Watching Tour from Reykjavik Harbour

Set sail from Reykjavik Harbor on a thrilling whale-watching adventure. Witness majestic whales, playful dolphins, and soaring seabirds in their natural habitat. You can combine this with a city exploration on our City Walk and Whale Watching Tour. If puffins are more your thing, you can do a combo tour City Walk and Puffin Tour.

Perlan’s Panoramic View

Visit Perlan, a futuristic landmark on Öskjuhlíð Hill. Enjoy panoramic views, explore Iceland’s wonders through interactive exhibits, and enjoy a memorable meal at the revolving restaurant.

If you dock at Skarfabakki or Kornagarðar, you are just a stone’s throw away from visiting the beautiful Viðey Island, offering tranquil landscapes and historical sites.

If you would rather want a private tour, quite a few are on offer and you can even rent a guide! For a specialised itinerary, please contact us.

How to Get Around in Reykjavik

Reykjavik is best discovered on foot. From the cruise port, a scenic stroll along the waterfront or through the city centre will reveal landmarks, shops, restaurants, and cultural gems. Depending on your arrival point:

  • From Sundahöfn, a 40-50 minute walk will take you downtown.
  • If you arrive at Reykjavik Harbour, you’re already in the heart of the action.

For quicker options, Route 16 from Sundahöfn can whisk you downtown. You can pay with cash (630 ISK for a 90-minute ticket) or use the Klappið app. Remember, buses don’t give change. Taxis are plentiful at the cruise port and operate on a metered fare system. For more convenience, consider using the Hreyfill taxi app or calling them. Although taxis can be pricey, Hreyfill offers fixed-price private tours.

Renting a Car is the Ultimate Freedom

For ultimate freedom, rent a car. Several agencies offer rentals in the city, sometimes with cruise terminal transfers. Make sure to familiarize yourself with local traffic rules, road conditions, and parking options. This is ideal for longer stays.

Guided day trips and excursions are great for exploring Reykjavik’s surroundings and hidden gems. Tour operators handle transportation and provide knowledgeable guides, making them perfect for cruise travellers. Your cruise line can recommend specially designed day tours.

We also offer a variety of captivating walking tours, such as the Reykjavik Food Lovers Tour, Reykjavik Folklore Tour, Beer & Booze Tour, Icelandic Sweet Tooth Tour, and Reykjavik CatWalk Tour. All tours are available as private options. Visit our website for details and contact us with any questions.

This guide equips you to explore Reykjavik your way. Make the most of your Icelandic adventure!

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