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A Travel Guide to Iceland

A Travel Guide to Iceland

21 Feb 2023 Travel Tips

Why travel to Iceland?

For a small island, a trip to Iceland sure has a lot to offer. It's a world of fire and ice, hot springs and frozen waters, white mountaintops and black beaches, with a cool climate but with warm and friendly people. Natural pools of hot water steam outside in the middle of winter and lava erupts through solid rock. Travelling to Iceland is like stepping into a fairy-tale world, so why not take the chance to explore and experience the magic first-hand?

Visiting Iceland by cruise ship is the ideal way to get around. The diversity in geology is more visible from sea, much of the wildlife lives along the coast and - in addition to visiting the highlights of the island - small expedition boats can go ashore to places that are unreachable from land.

When is the best time to visit?

Every season has its charm, but when travelling by ship, the best time to go to Iceland is between April and September. There is less ice in the water, making the deep and beautiful fjords more accessible. And with the ice and snow gone, green grass and flowers start painting nature in beautiful spring colours. The sun lures the wildlife out into the open, whales are more frequently spotted and millions of birds get ready to nest on the rugged cliffs along the coast. 

waterfall and purples flowers in Iceland

Where should I go?

Exploring Iceland on a cruise gives you access to just about the entire island, with landings in both the larger ports and in smaller, secluded places. In saying that, there are so many unique attractions and landscapes around the country that fitting all of them into one holiday may seem like an impossible task! To make things slightly easier, here are some of our must-sees:
Stykkishólmur features beautifully preserved old houses and is surrounded by wonderful scenery and iconic sites on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
Westfjords is known for its stunning landscapes, including spectacular fjords and charming settlements that offer great opportunities for hiking and kayaking.
Akureyri is a lively and energetic town that lies close to many of Iceland’s renowned natural treasures, like Lake Myvatn and Goðafoss waterfall.
Grimsey is a small and grassy island just 40km off the north coast of Iceland that straddles the legendary Arctic Circle.
Bakkagerdi is known by local folklore as ‘the land of the elves’. Puffin colonies are everywhere in the fjord, making this a popular place for birdwatching.

back pebble beach

What is there to do?

Iceland is one of Europe’s best outdoor destinations. Some of our favourite ways to experience it include birdwatching, expedition boat cruising, kayaking, guided hikes, horseback riding, whale safaris and more - the list is truly endless. So if you've ever longed to walk on a glacier, visit more waterfalls than you can count, stand on a volcano, relax in a hot spring or hike some of the most scenic trails in the word, this island destination is for you.

hiking glacier

What wildlife will I see?

There is an abundance of animals in Iceland and so much opportunity to see them all. Here are some to look out for:
The Arctic fox was the only mammal on the island before the Vikings settled here over 1,000 years ago. Its thick fur both protects and serves as camouflage - white in snowy conditions and a grey-brown in the summer.
Whales of all sorts can be spotted in Iceland including species like humpback, killer, minke, blue and fin whales.
The Icelandic horse is developed from ponies and brought to Iceland by Viking settlers in the 9th and 10th centuries. It has few diseases and is protected by a local law that prohibits other horses from being imported to the country.
Birds of all kinds - both native and migratory - can be found in Iceland. This makes it a great place for birdwatching, particularly for species like Arctic terns, great skuas, harlequin ducks, golden plovers and of course the puffin - arguably Iceland’s most iconic feathered friend.

Man photographing an arctic fox in the summer in Iceland

Ready to book your Hurtigruten expedition cruise to this incredible destination? Get in touch with your local Travellers Choice agent for assistance with all your travel booking needs!

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