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Norwegian Star near Akureyri, Iceland

Have you booked your next cruise with a port of call in Akureyri, Iceland? Lucky you! Known as the capital of North Iceland, Akureyri lies at the base of Eyjafjörður, a majestic fjord surrounded by rolling hills and stately mountains. With so many things to do, see, and experience in the port of Akureyri, you can use this guide to plan your perfect cruise vacation in this picturesque Icelandic city.

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Tourists whale watching from a ship
Go whale watching.

Go Whale Watching

Without a doubt, whale watching is one of the top attractions in Akureyri. The fjord is home to humpback and minke whales. If you're lucky, you might also see some rarer species, including orcas or blue whales. And visitors commonly encounter other mammals, such as dolphins and porpoises, during tours.

For an unforgettable experience, book a whale-watching excursion. You'll travel to Húsavík, a nearby town specializing in whale-watching tours, and head out to find the gentle giants in their natural habitat. You'll make memories to last a lifetime watching the whales dive in the water and spout through their blowholes.

Discover the City's History

Akureyri has a rich, vibrant history dating to the 16th century. Discover the culture of this region with a walk through the city. Explore historic landmarks, including the Akureyri Church and the oldest building in Akureyri, erected in 1795. A guide will offer detailed insights into this charming city's history and architecture. You can learn even more with a trip to the Akureyri Museum, which houses artifacts detailing the city's history from its settlement to the modern day. Don't miss a chance to explore the culture and traditions of this Icelandic region.

Aurora over Fjords near the arctic circle
Aurora over Fjords near the Arctic Circle.

Visit the Arctic Circle

It would be a shame to cruise to North Iceland and not make the short trip to visit the Arctic Circle. From Akureyri, take a brief 25-minute flight to Grímsey, the northernmost inhabited part of Iceland and the country's only land area within the Arctic Circle. Fewer than 100 people call Grímsey home; once you arrive, you'll know why. It feels a world away from the modern comforts of everyday life, a place where residents fish or rappel down cliffs for their food in subarctic temperatures.

When you take the polar flight to Grímsey, you'll have time to walk the streets of this remote island and meet its residents. You'll see the iconic lighthouse and encounter various birds and other wildlife. Finally, you'll step across the Arctic Circle and behold a largely unexplored part of the world. Later, when you're warm and cozy inside your stateroom, you'll reflect on experiencing something few people ever get to.

Explore a Botanical Garden

On bright summer days when the sun barely sets, take advantage of the warmth and sunshine with a trip to the Akureyri Public Park and Botanic Garden. It's one of the northernmost botanical gardens in the world, containing over 3,500 species of plants, trees, and shrubs. Most are native to the Arctic region or other northern climates, so you might see plants you've never heard of before.

Better yet, combine your trip to the botanic garden with a visit to a stunning waterfall as part of the Godafoss and Leisurely Akureyri package. You'll start with a trip to Godafoss, which means "Waterfall of the Gods." The name couldn't be more fitting when you watch the water rush dramatically over the cliffside. After viewing the waterfall, you'll head to the garden and enjoy a serene stroll through the lush, vibrant grounds. You'll return to the ship feeling awestruck by this region's natural beauty.

Woman on a hike enjoying the Icelandic landscape
Enjoy a hike on the Icelandic landscape.

Take a Mountain Hike

Breathe in the fresh air and appreciate the natural beauty of Akureyri with a mountain hike. A few miles outside the city, Mount Súlur rises nearly 4,000 feet in the air. It's a moderate to difficult hike that takes between four and six hours from start to finish. But once you're at the top, the views are more than worth it. You'll look down on the town of Akureyri and the Eyjafjörður fjord, soaking in the stunning scenery. It's a great way to start or end your cruise vacation, giving you a greater appreciation for this incredible region.

Relax in a Geothermal Spa

What's a cruise without some relaxation? In Akureyri, you can experience pure bliss with a soak in the warm waters of a geothermal spa. The city offers various options for hot tubs, lagoons, and hot natural swimming pools. There's even a beer spa, where you can relax in a tub of beer, hops, and yeast (though it probably goes without saying that you can't — and wouldn't want to — drink the beer itself).

For a relaxing soak with a view, head to the Forest Lagoon. This outdoor spa, situated in a forest with the smell of fresh pines all around you, provides sweeping views of the fjord. As you soak in the lagoon, the naturally heated mineral water will provide therapeutic relief to ease your tired muscles. When you emerge, you'll feel completely at peace and relaxed, ready for the next adventure on your cruise itinerary.

A cruise to Akureyri, Iceland, offers something for everyone. Whether you want to embark on an outdoor excursion, stroll the city streets, or relax in a naturally hot lagoon, you can make the most of your cruise vacation with a port of call in Akureyri.

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