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Reykjavik cruise stop overnight

We will be on a cruise next summer that stops in Reykjavik for 2 "days". It is scheduled to arrive 12pm the first day and then stays in port overnight and leaves the next day around 4pm.

We would definitely like to do the Golden Circle hitting the major stops. We have 7 people (2 adults, 3 teenage boys, and 2 grandparents in late 70s). I was wondering if people think it is better to drive ourselves in a rental car or to book a trip either private or join a group. We do not book the cruise sponsored excursions normally because they jack up the prices.

Airport car rentals look to be cheaper - would it be better to take a taxi to the airport to pick up the rental car than getting one at the harbor?

We would also like to visit the Blue Lagoon (open 7am-midnight) and possibly do the 1-hour Mr. Puffins tour to see the puffins. What way would you arrange our activities if we do all three?

Thanks for any advice. I know we will wish we had more time but that is out of our control. We will also have one more day in Iceland at the port of Akureyri.

Posted by
1504 posts

The airport is a full 45 minute drive from Reykjavik. It will eat up precious time going to get the car and then returning it and and getting back to the cruise ship (3 hours, minimum without traffic or getting lost). There are plenty of companies that offer private tours - here's just one example: For your situation and numbers, that may be most efficient, though the typical 9 a.m. departure time doesn't quite fit in to the arrival/departure times. The normal Golden Circle tours take 8-9 hours. A quick glance at the private tour price suggests it might actually be cheaper to book a cruise ship excursion, especially since it will be tailored to the ship's arrival and departure times. Also note that it takes 40 minutes each way to Blue Lagoon (it is near the airport). On the up side, if you're going in summer the daylight hours will be long, which will help maximize your viewing of the beautiful landscapes. Enjoy your visit either way, it's a lovely place.

Posted by
65 posts

We stayed in Laugadalur (waterfront suburb of Reykjavík) which is where the cruise ships dock.

There is a car rental place within walking distance of disembarking off a ship. I saw occasional shuttles too, that took folks during rain. (I think it was Budget or Enterprise that is near the cruise ship docks. We hired a driver so I wasn’t entirely paying attention.)
There are some tour companies that have buses that will pick you up at your ship. I believe one is Reykjavík Excursions but you might want to double check their website or call them.
Also, the red hop on hop off tour buses for sightseeing in Reykjavik stop at the cruise ship docks.

Don’t dismiss the ferry to Viday (next to the cruise ship docks) for the kids. Letting them run around that island with a great view of the city is fun.

Addendum: My travel team have this additional comment. “The Enterprise car, van, truck rental facility near the cruise ship dock is likely the largest in all of Reykjavík.” They agreed it is within walking distance to dock.