On a cruise to Iceland, you’ll experience dreamy, breathtaking landscapes of volcanoes, glaciers and pristine wilderness. The country is home to more strange beauty than most places in the world. With its black sand beaches, blue ice caves and snow-covered mountain peaks, Iceland offers plenty of natural drama.
The capital of Iceland, Reykjavík, is located on the edge of the arctic circle. The majority of cruise ships dock at the Skarfabakki cruise port. This port is located just under two miles from the city center. Most tours leave from Reykjavik’s downtown area, which is easy to access from the pier.
Luckily for cruise travelers, many of Iceland’s most dramatic sights are located within easy reach of Reykjavík. Here are five spectacular things to visit on your Iceland cruise.
The Blue Lagoon
A trip to Blue Lagoon is the perfect way to spoil yourself.
At Thingvellir National Park, site of the world’s oldest parliament, you can scuba dive between tectonic plates where Europe meets America.
I come from a long line of people going west. At the turn of the century (19th/20th), many Norwegians left home for America, some for a brief spell and some forever. Some to try their luck, some for curiosity, some just for the kicks: a new country, new people, a new language, a melting pot of cultures.
But the idea of pulling up roots and settle on other shores didn’t begin there. About 1000 years earlier, Ingólfr Arnarson and Hallveig Frodesdatter from Sunnfjord in Western Norway decided to leave their homeland and give the west a go. This couple were the first to settle in Iceland, and founded Reykjavik in 874.
Scuba diving Iceland’s Silfra crevasse is an extreme adventure due to the cold temperatures, but it’s worth the experience for those brave enough to do it.
I look down into Iceland’s Silfra crevasse and I can feel the chill of the pristine glacial water drifting up toward my face. The water is crystal clear and I can see the jet black lava stone bottom 70 or 80 feet beneath the surface. A bucket list moment had finally arrived. I was diving in Iceland. It was time to plunge into some of the coldest and clearest water in the world.
Diving into the Silfra Iceland
When regular people dream of vacations they think of sunny beaches, warm weather and relaxation. Then there are scuba divers.
I have been a licensed scuba diver for the better part of my life.
The HBO hit show “Game of Thrones” takes place in a world of fantasy, but dozens of the scenes were filmed at real medieval castles and in wild forests and craggy mountainsides across Europe and Iceland.
Google Earth captured images of 33 of these real-life places for fans of “Game of Thrones,” a series based on the books by author George R.R. Martin.
For instance, the above photo showing the Arena of Meereen — featuring Daario Naharis (actor Michiel Huisman), Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) — was filmed at a bullring in Osuna, Spain.
But beware: Views of these scenes from Westeros’ seven kingdoms contain spoilers up through Season 6. [Read the Full Story About the Show’s Set Inspiration]
One of the world’s youngest islands will be drilled in an effort to understand how land forms on Earth.
The tiny island of Surtsey wasn’t even there 50 years ago. This 1.3 square kilometer island was formed off Iceland’s southwestern coast somewhere between 1963 and 1967 by a series of volcanic eruptions. And next month, a team of scientists will drill two holes into the depths of this young land. Supported in part by the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program, this will be the most detailed look at newly-formed land, which researchers hope will help them understand how molten rock, cold seawater, and the underground biosphere interact.
Being so new, Surtsey could probably boast some of the wildest, most untouched environments currently on the planet.
Scientists will look into the heart of Surtsey, an island created 50 years ago by a volcanic eruption.
Geologists and biologists are about to pierce one of the world’s youngest islands: tiny Surtsey, which was formed by a series of volcanic eruptions off Iceland’s southwestern coast between 1963 and 1967. Next month, the team plans to drill two holes into Surtsey’s heart, to explore how warm volcanic rock, cold seawater and subterranean microbes interact.
It will be the most detailed look ever at the guts of a newly born oceanic island. “Surtsey is our best bet at getting a detailed picture of this type of volcanic activity — how ocean islands start to form,” says Magnús Guðmundsson, a volcanologist at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik.
Ever since Bran Stark fell from the tower on that fateful day six years ago, people have been flocking to the places where Game of Thrones was shot. From the icy landscape of Iceland to the cobbled streets and heritage sites of Seville, Spain and the narrow lanes of Dubrovnik, Croatia, there are tours that take fans to all these places.
As the Bard said, the game is afoot. And by game, we’re talking about the one involving a certain ferrous throne. Game of Thrones fever is gripping the entire world, as it does every year since 2011. And in turn, tour operators have capitalized on GOT fever by organizing tours that take fans through all the major sites. Guides tell visitors about what key moments were shot at what site, bringing fans closer to the brutal world of Westeros.
Iceland’s is replete with spectacular natural attractions and surreal landscapes that feature tall waterfalls, massive glaciers, therapeutic lagoons, hot geysers, and more.
10. Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s most popular tourist destinations. It is a geothermal spa located in the Grindavík lava field in the Reykjanes Peninsula. The site is roughly 39 km from the capital city of Reykjavík. The warm waters of the Blue Lagoon has a significant concentration of sulfur and silica, and bathing in these waters is believed to have curing effects on people with certain skin ailments like psoriasis. The man-made lagoon is fed by the water released from the Svartsengi geothermal power plant. A strict code of hygiene is followed by the authorities here and it is necessary for the guests to shower before bathing.
Winter is coming and that means it is time to start planning for your well-deserved year-end vacation. An ode to HBO’s beloved Game of Thrones (GoT) series, award-winning travel retailer, Flight Centre, has launched a series of GoT-themed tour packages for fans to get up close and personal with their favourite set locations. For those who really want to get into the spirit of winter, Flight Centre has also gathered a list of the top Christmas Markets around Europe for an unforgettable Yuletide encounter.
Immerse in the Song of Ice and Fire
King’s Landing, perhaps one of the most recognizable set locations, can be found in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Your guided tour will transverse scenic coastlines, medieval architectures and the magnificent Dominican Monastery and Museum.
“You see this highway we’re driving on now? It’s in this spot because of the elves.”
I’m in Iceland, which at this week-point in my trip I’ve dubbed the “land of folklore.” Currently I’m on a Grayline Classic Iceland Golden Circle Tour, with my guide directing my attention to my left. On the side of the road sits two rocks, residing in the place where the road was originally supposed to have been built.
“Right when the bulldozer was about to move the rocks it tipped over, completely defying the laws of physics,” explains Jaakko. “When a second bulldozer came its engine suddenly died. Then they knew there were supernatural forces at play.”
The story goes that a clairvoyant came to survey the rocks, and told the workers it was the elves doing.