Northern Lights Cruise in Faxafloi Bay from Reykjavik
Marvel over the magical aurora borealis from the sea, with this Northern Lights Cruise from Reykjavík. This tour should not be missed by those seeking a unique way to enjoy Iceland’s most renowned natural phenomenon.
This tour begins at Reykjavík’s Old Harbour, where your vessel is waiting. This boat has a spacious indoor area you can stay warm in, with a bar that will provide you with a free warm drink, and offers protective overalls to further help stave off the cold. Of course, it also has outdoor decks for optimal aurora watching.
Once the captain is ready, the boat will set out into Faxaflói. The city lights will shrink behind you, but you will still be able to see the capital’s important landmarks, such as Harpa and Hallgrímskirkja. As soon as you are far enough from it, the light pollution will be so little that it will not affect your viewing experience.
All that is needed for the Northern Lights to show is a clear, dark sky, enough solar activity, and a little luck. Being in the middle of a pitch-black bay, with a dome of stars above, makes your odds of catching them much higher than if you were trying to find a spot in the city away from the lights and buildings.
Keep an eye on the sky until the auroras begin to descend; the guides on board will be doing the same, and are excellent at spotting signs of their arrival. As soon as they appear, you and your group will no doubt be mesmerised in silence, in complete awe of their unreal beauty.
If the lights are taking their time to show up, you are encouraged to scan the surface of the water to see if there is any whale life around. After all, Faxaflói bay has a large population of white-beaked dolphins and harbour porpoises, and minke and humpback whales occasionally linger over winter.
After a hopefully incredible aurora show, your boat will return to Reykjavík. If you don’t catch sight of them, which can happen due to the fickleness of Nature, you need not worry, as you will be able to take another cruise out for free.
Don’t miss this unique opportunity to watch the Northern Lights from the ocean. Check availability by choosing a date.
- Available: Nov. - Apr.
- Duration: 2 hours
- Activities: Boat Trip, Northern lights hunting
- Difficulty: Easy
- Languages: English
- Highlights: Reykjavík,
Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland and the northernmost capital of a sovereign state in the world.
Despite a small population (120.000 and more than 200.000 in the Greater Reykjavik area), it is a vibrant city that draws an ever increasing number of visitors. It is the financial, cultural and governmental centre of Iceland. It also has a reputation of being one of the cleanest and safest cities in the world.
The city of Reykjavik is located in southwest Iceland by the creek of the same name. Throughout the ages, the landscape has been shaped by glaciers, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and the area is geothermal. Much of the current city area area was subglacial during the Ice Age, with the glacier reaching as far as the Álftanes peninsula, while other areas lay under the sea. After the end of the ice age the land rose as the glaciers drifted away, and it began to take on its present form.
The coastline of Reykjavik is set with peninsulas, coves, straights and islands, most notably the island of Videy, and seabirds and whales frequent the shores. The mountain ring as seen from the shore is particularly beautiful. Mount Esja is the highest mountain in the vicinity of Reykjavik and lends its distinct feature to the whole area. This majestic mountain is also highly popular for climbing. Other notable mountains that can be seen from the seaside are Akrafjall and Skardsheidi and on clear days one may even see as far to the legendary Snaefellsjokull glacier, at the end of the Snafellsnes peninsula.
The largest river to run through the city is Ellidaa in Ellidaardalur valley, which is also one of Iceland‘s best rivers for salmon fishing.
There are no trains or trams in Iceland, but most people travel by car. The city also operates a bus system. There are two major harbours in town, the old harbour in the centre and Sundahofn in the east. The domestic Reykjavik Airport is located at Vatnsmyrin, not far from the city centre and close to Oskjuhlid and Perlan. The international Keflavik Airport at Midnesheidi heath then lies around 50 km from the city. Cars, jeeps and bicycles can be readily rented in the city and many organized tours are also being offered.
What to See & Do in Reykjavik
The local arts scene is strong in Iceland, with both annual events and single ones, many of whom have hit the international stage. For the annual ones please check our articles Best Annual Events in Iceland and the Top Ten Festivals in Iceland. Major events taking place in Reykjavik include the Iceland Airwaves, Gay Pride, RIFF (The Reykjavik International Film Festival), The Reykjavik Literature Festival, Cultural Night, the Reykjavik Arts Festival, Food & Fun, the Reykjavik Fashion Festival and the Sónar music festival.
Among famous people from Reykjavik are artists Bjork Gudmundsdottir, Sigur Ros, writers Halldor Laxness (born in Laugavegur) and Arnaldur Indridason and mayor Jon Gnarr. For more well-known and fairly-well known Icelanders, check our article on the subject.
You might also want to check our article on some of the many things to see and do in Reykjavik, such as visiting the city‘s many museums, exhibitions and galleries, checking out live music, visiting the Harpa music hall or the theatres, visiting the lighthouse at Grotta, the main shopping street of Laugavegur, visiting the old harbour and the flea market, going on a bird- and whale watching tour or visiting Videy island. We also have a top ten list of things to do.
Make sure to visit the public square of Austurvollur, one of the city‘s most popular gathering places, where you‘ll also find the national parliament, Althingi, the state church a statue of independence hero Jon Sigurdson, as well as cafés, bars and restaurants. Austurvollur was central in the 2008 protests, along with Laekjargata, home to the House of Government. You are also not likely to miss the great church of Hallgrimskirkja that towers over the city from the hill of Skolavorduholt, wherefrom you‘ll get a great view of the city.
Try a walk by the city pond, greet the many birds that frequent the area and visit the city hall, stationed by its banks. The Hljomaskalagardur is a beautiful park that lies by the pond, it ideal for a nice walk and sometimes concerts get held there. Further off is the campus of the university of Iceland, the Nordic house and the Vatnsmyri wetland, a particularly pleasant place, but be mindful of not disturbing the wildlife there and keep to the pathways.
For a nice swim on a warm day, we particularly recommend Nautholsvik beach.
Visit the Laugardalur valley, home to one of the city‘s best swimming pools, as well as the Asmundarsafn gallery, a beautiful botanical garden and a domestic zoo. A walk by the Aegissida beach, with it‘s old fishing sheds, in the west part of Reykjavik also holds a particular charm. The aforementioned Elllidaardalur valley is also a popular resort.
Another place that offers one of the city‘s best (and free) views is Perlan, up in Oskjuhlid hill. The hill itself is a popular resort, with over 176.000 trees and great opportunities for walking and cycling.
Travel to Alftanes to see the president‘s house at Bessastadir, which is also a historical site in it‘s own right, having been the educational centre of Iceland for centuries. Nearby is a beautiful lava field, Galgahraun, well worth a visit, though there is currently an environmental struggle going on as to it‘s future state.
The city is furthermore a short drive from many of Iceland‘s major attractions, most famously the Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon. In close vicinity you‘ll also find the Heidmork preservation area, a favourite pastime resort of the people of Reykjavik, as well as the Blue Mountains, one of Iceland‘s most beloved skiing venues.
Check our Best of Reykjavik guide further for tips on the best cheap things to do in Reykjavik, some of the best restaurants in the city, happy hours, the top ten value places to eat and our two articles on the famous Reykjavik nightlife; Nightlife in Reykjavik and Nightlife and mating.
Finally, we‘d like to stress that these are only some suggestions of the many things you might check out in Reykjavik. Whatever you choose to do, we hope you‘ll be able to make the most of your visit and we wish you a pleasant stay in our capital.Faxaflói,
Faxafloi is a large bay in the southwest of Iceland, located between the peninsulas Snaefellsnes (to the north) peninsula and Reykjanes (to the south).
The main fjords of the bay are Borgarfjordur, Hvalfjordur, Kollafjordur and Hafnarfjordur. Some of Iceland's largest towns are located by the bay and Iceland's capital, Reykjavik, lies on its southeastern shore.
Faxafloi bay is popular for whale- and birdwatching, sea angling and has great fishing grounds. In Kollafjordur is Videy Island, featuring the Lennon/One Peacetower, Richard Scerra's 'Milestones' and other attractions, along with great birdlife. The mountain ring seen from the bay, among which Snaefellsjokull glacier may be spotted on clear days, is particularly beautiful.Viðey,
From the Skarfabakki pier at Sundahofn harbour in Reykjavik (around 5 km from the center) you can take a ferry to Videy island in Kollafjordur bay.
Videy is best known internationally as the location for the Imagine Peace Tower, envisioned and built by Yoko Ono, widow of musician and ex-Beatle John Lennon. Videy had a monastery in the Middle Ages and Skuli Magnusson, often called 'the father of Reykjavik' resided here. His house, Videyjarstofa, now displays paintings by renowned Icelandic artists.
A great sculpture by one of the world's most renowned sculptors can be found on the west side of the island, Richard Serra's Milestones.
Videy is an important historical site and has beautiful nature, with spectacular rock formations along its coast. Over 30 bird species breed on the island.
Many well-known Icelanders rest in the island's graveyard, among them the great author Gunnar Gunnarsson, who wrote such masterworks as Fjallkirkjan ('The Church on the Mountain'), Svartfugl (The Black Cliffs) and Adventa ( The Good Shepherd).Esjan,
The mountain Esja, often called Esjan, is situated in Kjalarnes in the south-west corner of Iceland.
Only 10 kilometres from the city of Reykjavík across Faxaflói Bay, the mountain towers over the capital’s skyline. In reality, Esja is not a true mountain in itself, but a volcanic range, the highest peak of which reaches 914 metres (2,999 feet) tall.
Geology and History
Esja's formation dates back to the beginning of the last Ice Age. Magma rising from eruptions formed layers of lava beneath a glacier, and when the ice retreated, it ground much of it away and left the mountain in its current form.
Since Iceland is situated on the boundary between two tectonic plates, Eurasia and North America, the continuous tension pushes the sedimentary soil to the west. This makes the western part of the range the oldest (at about 3.2 million years) and the eastern part the youngest (at about 1.8 million years).
Esja is composed of basalt and tuff rock.
Hiking and precautionary measures
Because of the mountain's proximity to the capital city (less than an hour by car, or accessible by taking two regular buses), Esja is an extremely popular hiking destination for locals and visitors alike. The path up the mountain is divided into different sections, with signs indicating the difficulty of each route.
The most well-known paths lead to the separate summits of Þverfellshorn (780 metres / 2,560 feet) and Kerhólakambur (851 metres / 2,790 feet).
The highest point is called Hábunga and requires an additional three-kilometre trek northeast from Þverfellshorn. Approximately 200 metres from the top, hikers find themselves at a large rock named Steinn where they are faced with three options: continuing on the marked trail, climbing directly to the peak, or simply enjoying the great views before descending.
When hiking Esjan, it is important to be equipped with proper hiking gear, with a good knowledge of your capabilities. It is also imperative that you get the weather forecast ahead of arrival, so you know what precautions to take.
Avalanches and accidents can and do claim lives; in fact, according to The Iceland Touring Association, Esjan holds the most accidents in Icelandic nature. If you take necessary precautions and do not push your limits, however, you minimise the risk to yourself dramatically.Harpa – Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre
Harpa is Rekjavík’s premier concert hall and conference centre. Opened in 2011, it was designed by a collaboration between Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, and the Danish firm Henning Larsen Architects.
The idea for a purpose-built concert hall in Reykjavík had been tossed around since the 1880s, but it wasn't until this millennium that it began to gain traction. Construction finally began in 2007.
It’s future, however, was left uncertain in the wake of the financial crash of 2008, when it was left partially constructed and the funds to finish it were lacking. The Icelandic populace was divided between having a half-finished construction site facing their downtown or spending money no-one was sure they had.
The Icelandic government, however, decided that it was the only building in the country that warranted being raised, in spite of the dubious future of the economy, and fully financed its completion.
- Find out more with Nanna's blog on Harpa
Harpa won the prestigious Mies van de Rohe award in 2013, otherwise known as the European Prize for Contemporary Architecture, and is featured heavily in any tour of the city. Its structure is beautiful and unique; it has a facade of 714 glass panels, all of which are a different shape and built with an LED light that allows for shows whenever the sky is dark.
Olafur Eliasson is world-renowned for his large-scale installation art, and for the influences he takes from the natural world. This is clearly exhibited in Harpa; it reflects the basalt landscapes of Iceland and the dark coloured glass creates beautiful effects with the natural light.
Studio Olafur Eliasson employs 90 people, from architects to graphic designers, craftsmen to art historians. Based in Berlin, they work across the world, and are well-known for works such as London's 2007 Serpentine Gallery Pavillion and the annual event Life is Space.
Henning Larsen Architects are similarly successful. They have collaborated on the construction of dozens of buildings in over twenty countries, such as the Copenhagen Opera House and Uppsala Concert Hall in Sweden. They are currently working on the creation of thirteen buildings around the world, many of which they scored the opportunity to work on due to their competition-winning designs.
Today, Harpa is one of the jewels in Reykjavík’s crown. The hall hosts exhibitions, concerts, cultural events, meetings, and festivals such as Airwaves, Sónar and the Reykjavík Fashion Festival. Home of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra and the offices of the Icelandic Opera, it is a centre of culture in Iceland’s capital.
Many internationally known artists from around the world have performed here, including people such as Eddie Izzard and Cyndi Lauper. It also regularly showcases native talent, such as Björk and Of Monsters and Men.
- Find out more about the Music of Iceland
Below, you can see a video showing Harpa's construction.
Pickup time : 20:15, 21:15
Please be at your pickup location in time for your departure. Should your pickup location be at a bus stop and you need assistance finding it, seek guidance in your Hotel's reception or contact your tour provider directly.
Warm floatable overalls
Wi-Fi on board
What to bring: