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Top 5 destinations in Iceland to cruise to with Princess Cruises

Author: Lucy Abbott

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Princess Cruises immerses you in memorable landscapes, history and culture with a cruise to both green and icy hotspots. Discover why these destinations are bucket-list-worthy and where to visit…

If cruising had a beauty pageant, then Iceland & Greenland would win the top prize for natural beauty.

The Land of Fire and Ice showcases unrivalled sights and gives you a cruising experience completely unlike any other – with Princess Cruises leading the way in in-depth cruises to both countries.

Princess Cruises not only takes you to the must-see and off-the-beaten-track locations but also keeps you informed of all the weird and wonderful facts about each destination along the way through tailored excursions – did you know that beer was illegal in Iceland until 1989? Or that 80% of Greenland is covered in ice?

With so many fascinating destinations to cruise to, we break it down to the top five places in Iceland and Greenland – and luckily for you, Princess Cruises visits all five.

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1. Reykjavík, Iceland

As the capital city of Iceland, it may come as no surprise that Reykjavík nabs the top spot.

Reykjavík is the perfect fusion of a picturesque, historic town full of impressive scenery and a young, cosmopolitan city – and Princess Cruises brings you to Reykjavík for exactly this reason, heightened by the handy More Ashore late-night departures, so you can enjoy the city for longer.

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Art and culture lovers can step off Princess’ plush base and admire some classic and modern Icelandic art in the Reykjavík Art Museum before heading straight into downtown Reykjavík for a coffee in one of the countless cafés – perfect for observing the locals go about their day-to-day life.

In the evening, this area comes to life with an abundance of local restaurants opening to showcase local ingredients. If you’re feeling brave you could indulge in the national dish of Iceland, Hákarl, which is made up of fermented shark.

It is almost a rite of passage for those visiting Reykjavík to take the plunge into the Blue Lagoon and experience the powers of this geothermal spa, ensuring you make the most of the free silica mud mask. To make it even easier, Princess Cruises can take you here on the ‘Bathing In The Blue Lagoon’ excursion.

Embark on a Blue Lagoon excursion with Princess Cruises and feel the healing benefits. Credit: Princess Cruises

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2. Akureyri, Iceland

Akureyri is where the nickname ‘Land of Fire and Ice’ originates from with its dramatic and varied landscape made up of volcanic craters, waterfalls and extinct (phew) lava lakes – wow will be the first, and probably the only, word coming out of your mouth.

You might be thinking – hold on, this sounds great – but how do I pronounce Akureyri? Well, here is a handy tip for you, it rhymes with Tipperary.

Albeit known for skiing, it is easily forgotten that Akureyri is placed just below the Arctic circle due to the abundance of flowers and trees that line the streets and relatively warm summers.

See all the highlights in one handy excursion with Princess Cruises, the ‘Godafoss, Botanical Gardens & Laufas Folk Museum’, such as the stunning Godafoss Waterfall and Botanical Garden, which is home to a staggering 7,500 plants from around the world – you could wander around here for hours.

Alternatively, if you want to witness both fire and ice, opt for the ‘Godafoss Waterfall, Lava Labyrinth & Hot Springs’ excursion with Princess Cruises where you will watch the boiling mud pools at one of the most active volcanic areas in Iceland as well as the Godafoss Waterfall.

Wander around Akureyri, full of vibrant flowers and tree-lined mountains. Credit: Shutterstock

3. Qaqortoq, Greenland

Now, let’s not forget about Greenland – the largest island in the entire world that is not a continent at 836,330 square miles.

The first thing that stands out about Greenland is the complete juxtaposition of an island which is primarily made up of ice being called green! Greenland also possesses almost no trees and boasts some of the purest air and water in the world – a refreshing change from the air of London, that’s for sure

Qaqortoq epitomises Greenland’s unique qualities as an art-centric hub nestled in-between rolling hills featuring 30 different sculptures by local and Scandi artists and Greenland’s oldest fountain. Your typically early morning arrival with Princess Cruises means you have time to explore as deeply as you like.

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This town is also the biggest in South Greenland and you will be amazed by the proximity of Viking ruins, glaciers and a hot spring. The town itself is a seasoned travellers paradise, with plenty of local practices to admire – such as Inuit hunting and fishing, which are both common practices in Qaqortoq.

If you want to experience a Greenlandic tradition, ensure you visit a local coffee shop to experience an, let’s say, interesting version of a coffee. Made of whiskey, Grand Marnier, Kahlua, coffee and whipped cream – we can’t decide whether this is genius or simply crazy.

A must-see is Hvalsey Church, which dates back to the Viking period. The farm estate nearby marks the last written record of Vikings in Greenland through a wedding in 1408. You can see this historic building with a guided Princess Cruises tour, where you can admire old farms passing by dotted along the shoreline on your way there.

The town of Qaqortoq will surprise you with countless hidden gems. Credit: Shutterstock

4. Grundarfjordur, Iceland

One of the oldest settlements is up next, Grundarfjordur.

Dramatic would be an understatement to describe the landscape of Grundarfjordur, with a plethora of mountains, lava fields and even volcanoes dominating the landscape.

It was here that the Icelandic sagas were composed in the 10th and 11th centuries – one of the oldest literary traditions in Europe made up of tales of religion, war and migration.

If you simply must set foot on a beach every time you cruise, then your prayers have been answered with Djupalonssandur, a black pebbled beach.

Or perhaps you want to absorb some culture at Halgafell, an impressive temple which was built to honour the heroine of a love story from ancient Iceland, Laxdœla Saga.

Explore further outside of Grundarfjordur and head over to Breidafjordur Bay for the ultimate fjord views and wildlife sightings.

Luckily for you, Princess Cruises takes you there on the ‘Easy Breidafjordur Archipelago Cruise’. Princess Cruises has tailored this excursion to give you the absolute best views of the town of Strykkisholmur, a bustling town on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula as well as the towering cliffs and impressive seascapes of Breidafjordur Bay.

Ensure you visit Djupalonssandur with Princess Cruises, a black pebbled beach. Credit: Shutterstock

5. Nanortalik, Greenland

Nanortalik is the southernmost town in Greenland and actually translates to ‘place of bears’ in Greenlandic, so you won’t be surprised if you spot a wandering polar bear on the ice – how’s the for a wildlife spotting guarantee?

You shouldn’t only keep your eye out for polar bears, Nanortalik’s water is full of an abundance of humpback and fin whales as well as seals, after all, Nanortalik port was discovered as a Danish whaling station in 1797 and many of the residents remain traditional seal hunters – see if you can spot any from your Princess Cruises base.

Of course, the highlights of Nanortalik are not concentrated on the sea – on-land highlights include the Nanortalik Open Air Museum which showcases original Inuit items, Norse ruins and colonial buildings. Ensure you step outside to visit the camp and Eskimo huts for the full Nanortalik experience.

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Perhaps the most impressive showcase of natural beauty in Nanortalik is the Tasermiut Fjord – perhaps you might notice the resemblance to the Alps with the stunning vistas.

To get the best look, visit this fjord with Princess Cruises by boat, taking you past two sheep farms before arriving at the fjord and getting a closer look than ever before. Going by boat is another way of embracing the Greenlandic way of life, as there are actually more boats than cars here, with towns not being connected by any roads.

Explore the truly unique destinations of Iceland and Greenland with Princess Cruises and experience the craft of a Princess cruise.

Iceland and Greenland destination guide

Iceland

Iceland cruise holidays offer something slightly different at each port thanks to the scattered,…

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Reykjavík

Iceland’s pint-sized capital is the highlight of many North Atlantic cruises. Passengers on smaller…

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Akureyri

Located on the northern coast of Iceland against Eyjafjörður, the small city of Akureyri is ideally…

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Greenland

Get in touch with your inner pioneer along a Greenland cruise and experience Greenland’s twinkling,…

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About Lucy Abbott

Lucy is a cruise journalist who has sailed on a variety of ships, from expedition to river – with her favourite being expedition cruising.

Lucy is interested in new sustainable ways to cruise as well as how cruising is becoming accessible for all.

She works together with Kaye Holland to keep the World of Cruising website up to date with all the latest cruise news.