Uncovering authentic local finds and having experiences that make you feel like you’ve really connected with a place are important elements in ensuring an extraordinary vacation. We’re taking advantage of our partnership with Travel + Leisure to get their editors’ recommendations and insider tips on the places you will want to visit. Here are their picks for just one of the 150 destinations they covered.
After you browse the museum’s history exhibits—on fjord geology and islanders’ early settlements, among other subjects—head outdoors to the surrounding green space. It’s one of only a few gardens that still exist from the 1900’s, when manicured landscaping was de rigueur. The wooden church on the site is an even older treasure: built in 1846, the timber structure is a great example of the rural houses of worship that were once scattered across Iceland.
Grab your binoculars before ferrying over to this island just off the coast of Akureyri. Once known for its fishing industry, Hrísey is now dominated by birds, and you can spot some of the 40 or so species that nest along the well-marked hiking trails winding through the southern half of the island (the northern section is privately owned). Tractor tours to a nearby lighthouse are also popular.
This is the world’s most northerly botanical garden—Akureyri is only about 65 miles from the Arctic Circle—but a surprising microclimate makes it possible for thousands of exotic plants to thrive here seasonally and hardy varieties to grow year-round. Look out for Iceland natives: yellow rattle and northern green orchids are especially pretty.
How about a spa day in Iceland’s incredible outdoors? Sign up for this tour to head by bus to Lake Myvatn where you can float in warm, mineral-rich waters that are believed to have medicinal qualities. To and from the cruise ship you’ll also have the chance to see Iceland’s varied wildlife and geological phenomena, from landscapes shaped by lava flows to deep caves and craters.
Be sure to visit our Shore Excursions page or speak with our onboard Destination Concierge for arrangements to any of these must-sees.