Creeping up the charts for world’s most popular nature destinations, Iceland is dazzling. When it comes to rugged, northern locales, this one delivers with ice-covered volcanoes, geysers, glaciers, hot springs and more. You can truly feel the elements around you. The power of nature is evident at every turn. How should you experience Iceland? The two most popular ways are by small-ship cruise and road trip. Read on to decide which is right for you. 

Iceland Road Trip 

Photo by Susan Tuckey, Penguins2PolarBears - South Shore 2014

Self-drive road trips in Iceland have become a popular way to navigate and explore this land of fire and ice. You’ll drive the scenic Ring Road, as well as the magical Snæfellsnes Peninsula. With a carefully curated itinerary, you’ll be sure to hit all the highlights, but you’ll have the flexibility to spend as much time as you like at each attraction. Among the highlights of an Iceland self-driving tour: Þingvellir National Park, Gullfoss and Goðafoss waterfalls, the lunar landscapes of Lake Myvatn, the floating icebergs of Glacier Lagoon, sweeping black-sand beaches, quaint Akureyri in northern Iceland, charming fishing villages, Reykjavik and so much more. 

For an example of a full Iceland road-trip itinerary, click here. Other popular options include a South Iceland drive for quick visits and iconic highlights or a full two-week road trip, either enjoying leisurely sightseeing or going in-depth and off the beaten path. 

Combo Cruise: Iceland & Greenland 

Photo by Susan Tuckey, Penguins2PolarBears - Sisimiut, Greenland

There are numerous cruise options when it comes to exploring Iceland by sea. You may combine a trip with Greenland, circumnavigate Iceland, combine Iceland with Svalbard, the Faroe Islands, the Shetland Islands and Jan Mayen island. Together, we can map out how much you want to experience Iceland and how much you'd like to explore other areas during the same trip. Iceland/Greenland combo cruises allow for land-based tours on either end, delving deeper into the landscape of both destinations. For those with ample time, you could consider Svalbard, Jan Mayen and a full circumnavigation of Iceland, then a cruise to Greenland. 

To learn more about small-ship cruise options for Iceland (and beyond), click here

The Difference Between Cruising & Driving Iceland

Photo by Susan Tuckey, Penguins2PolarBears 2014

Aboard these various Iceland cruises, you’ll have time for kayaking, shore landings, hiking, birding, lectures and talks. With small-ship conviviality, you’re enjoying the destination with like-minded travelers and having more in-depth experiences and conversations than you would on a larger ship. Your smaller vessel may be able to access areas that self-drive tours cannot, taking you to under-the-radar fishing ports and remote fjords, even tiny islands where few tourists have stepped foot before. If you’re considering a cruise over a self-drive road trip, consider that these elements are built into the itinerary of the former. 

A self-driving route allows you to experience the varying terrain and to be immersed in Iceland’s rugged beauty from an interior perspective. You control where you go and for how long - and how fast or slow you get there. Road trips throughout Iceland, from the bustling capital city, to the island’s most remote places, are available all year-round. It’s a fantastic mode of travel for anyone who wants to truly escape, on their own terms. With plenty of wide open spaces, there is much to explore - volcanoes, geysers, waterfalls, glaciers. It’ll be hard to keep your eyes on the road! 

What sounds right for you? Exploring Iceland by land or sea? Perhaps a little bit of both. Let’s chat.