The disabled cruiser visiting Reykjavik will enjoy that the old town is flat. However, part of central Reykjavik is quite hilly and because buildings are old many are not easily accessible. Reykjavik and many sites can be on inclines, gravel or uneven surfaces. Icelandic weather can be poor and especially windy, not easy when pushing a wheelchair. The area around the harbor and sea front is flat and easily accessible, don’t miss the Harpa Concert Hall.
There are regular curb cuts for wheelchair users, making it easy to roll around. Most of the sidewalks are in perfect condition as well. All public buildings in the city are accessible, so there are a lot of places to explore. While many parts of the city are flat, there is a hill leading up to Reykjavik’s most famous landmark, Hallgrimskirkja. There are a number of wheelchair friendly taxi companies in Reykjavik. While you might get lucky and be able to flag one down on the street, it’s a good idea to look up their phone numbers, because chances are you’ll probably have to call them to come pick you up. For public transportation, all public buses in Reykjavik are accessible.
For Day Tours it is recommended to use Iceland Unlimited for a fabulous, worry-free time. All of their tours are fully wheelchair accessible – paths, parks, sights, and even the restaurant where they stop for lunch. You will travel in a high-top van with a fold-out ramp similar to the taxis. Of course, there are other companies which offer accessible day tours as well, but Iceland Unlimited is actually ran by a wheelchair user so they really know what they’re doing.
The Disabled Cruiser can see glaciers and waterfalls from car parks and Geysir and Gullfoss Waterfall will be accessible. Most of the places on the Golden Circle loop are accessible. Many of the natural sites do not have flat easy surfaces so it can be a bit of a challenge in a wheelchair. Much will demand how your chair copes with more rugged surfaces. You may find that some sites will only be seen from a car park. Public transport does not serve tourist sites.
Reykjavík is the capital and largest city in south west Iceland. It is the world’s northernmost capital of a sovereign state.
There is so much to see in the Old Town itself. Printed walking guides are available from the main tourist office.
Along Tryggvagata, the street beside the harbor, there is an enormous mosaic depicting the city’s maritime life.
Things to see include the unusual Hallgrimskirkja Church, Reykjavik Art and History Museums and Iceland’s Golden Circle tour, offering a chance to explore the island’s raw and rugged interior.
The Blue Lagoon is located about 40 minutes from town. Steaming, mineral-rich hot water from far beneath the earth forms this spectacular man made lagoon, amid a rugged lava landscape.
Where You’re Docked
Smaller ships may dock in the heart of town in the Old Harbor, but most ships will use the cruise dock about two miles from the town center. Facilities include toilets and telephones.
Shuttles are usually provided into town and taxis are also available. Also, the new Cruise Liner Visitor Center, which is small but very useful, offers currency exchange, VAT tax-free refunds, computers and internet access for a fee, local and long-distance phone service, car rentals, a tour-booking service and a nice array of duty-free souvenir gifts.
Good to Know
Tours to Iceland’s stunning interior generally include stops at waterfalls and geysers, which are well worth leaving Reykjavik to explore. However, to get close-up, you will need a raincoat or poncho.
On Foot: Most of Reykjavik’s major attractions are within a 15-minute walk of the town center. Reykjavik is a safe city, compact and easy to navigate on foot. As charming as it is, no visit to Iceland is complete without getting out into the vast interior, which lies at the city’s doorstep. The Disabled Cruiser walking/rolling in Reykjavik needs to bear in mind that areas of the city are quite hilly and steep; also since the buildings are old, many are not easily accessible.
By Taxi: Cabs are readily available at the dock and in town at the square in front of the main tourist office. Most cabs also accept credit cards. For the Disabled Cruiser there are a number of wheelchair friendly taxi companies in Reykjavik. A popular company is Hreyfill, if you call them in advance, they can even arrange a day tour for you. The wheelchair accessible taxis are high top vans with a long ramp that folds out of the back. You just wheel into the back of the taxi and the driver then secures your wheelchair into place with tie-down straps.
By Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus: The red double-decker buses originate at the Harpa concert hall. There’s a narrated one-hour tour with 15 stops where passengers can hop on or off at their leisure. Tickets are good for 24 hours. (Stop No. 14 is the Cruise Liner Visitor Center so it’s an easy and efficient way to see the major sights).
By Bus: Public buses require exact fare; drivers don’t offer change. A one-day pass can be purchased at 10-11 convenience stores. The Disabled Cruiser will be happy to learn that all public buses in Reykjavik are accessible; they’re equipped with a kneeling system and a fold-out ramp so that you can enter them in a wheelchair.
The official currency is the krona (plural kronur). ATMs offer the best rates and are available at bank locations around town. The Cruise Liner Visitor Center and the central tourist office also offer currency exchange. Credit cards are widely accepted at shops and restaurants. Some shops, like the fantastic gift shops at the Harpa concert hall, will accept euros, dollars and pounds.
The official language in Reykjavik is Icelandic. It is not an easy language to master; the tricky spelling and pronunciation is said to have changed little since the original Norse settlers spoke it. Luckily for visitors, many signs are in English, and almost everyone speaks English.
Laugavegur and intersecting Skolavordustigur are the main shopping streets. Hand-knitted Icelandic wool sweaters are both lovely and cozy and knitted hats are a local trademark.
Seafood and lamb are popular on menus. Cod is the most popular choice, but haddock, Arctic char, halibut, salmon and monkfish are also common.
Points of Interest
- Blue Lagoon – One of Iceland’s hottest destinations, this stunning outdoor geothermal spa offers steamy mineral-rich water, a boon for the skin and certain skin conditions, that’s fed by the excess underground water drawn by Svartsengi Geothermal Power Plant. The Lagoon is very handicap friendly. There is special assistance for Disabled Cruisers that are wheelchair users. Separate changing room with toilet, shower and lockers available along with use of a special wheelchair that goes in the water to get into the lagoon.
- Thingvellir National Park – Established in 1930 to protect an area of true historical, cultural and geological value, this remarkable national shrine features Iceland’s largest natural lake and amazing views of the continental rift known as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The park can be discovered by easy walk/roll on paved walkways for the Disabled Cruiser. The Öxarárfoss waterfall is about the only part of the place that is not wheelchair accessible but the track that runs up through the Almannagjá is mostly gravel and not too step a gradient.
- Gullfoss Waterfall – The “Golden Waterfall,” often complete with rainbows, wows as its rushing water tumbles down three natural, curving cascades then plunges down into a deep gorge to once again flow southward with the wide Hvítá River. There are different levels of parking. The Disabled Cruiser in a wheelchair could get close to seeing these beautiful falls with the lower level parking area.
- Strokkur – With explosive eruptions every few minutes, this awe-inspiring geyser stuns as it hurls boiling water up to 60 feet skyward. Mud pools, algal deposits and stark terrain add to the drama at this geothermal hotspot. For the Disabled Cruiser there is an accessible path to the geyser.
- Geothermal Power Plant – Iceland’s second largest power plant, Nesjavellir, sits near active volcano Hengill and Thingvallavatn, Iceland’s chief natural lake. Using nearby boreholes from 1947, this geothermal plant produces the nation’s top high-temp field.
- Krysuvik Solfataras – Situated in the middle of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge’s fissure zone, this famous geothermic field naturally produces steam vents, hot springs and super-heated mud pots whose sulfur deposits lead to a myriad of colorful crystal deposits. The paths are gravel with a nice boardwalk as it traversed the hot pools. The Disabled Cruiser will find it wheelchair accessible to a point, then their are some stairs. Upper areas are only accessible by hiking a steep hill.
- The Pearl – Spectacular in form and function, this 10-story geothermally heated masterpiece serves greater Reykjavik’s water storage needs while thrilling visitors with mesmerizing panoramic views and a glass-domed restaurant that revolves.
- Eyrarbakki Fishing Village – Nestled on Iceland’s serene south coast, this idyllic fishing village charms with majestic vistas, a sparkling shoreline with excellent bird watching and the country’s oldest preserved timber dwelling, a Norwegian kit home from 1765.
Reykjavik Accessible Excursions
Reykjavik, the largest city and capital of Iceland, is a city full of history, great theater, and exciting nightlife. For a dose of Icelandic and Viking history, visit the National Museum and visit Hallgrimskirkja, a church that features a famous statue of explorer Leif Erickson and a great spot to view the entire city. The Nordic island nation of Iceland is defined by its dramatic landscape with volcanoes, geysers, hot springs and lava fields. With a challenging terrain, accessibility in Iceland is difficult but not impossible.
Wheelchair Accessible Golden Circle Shore Excursion
This 8 hour accessible Wheelchair Accessible Golden Circle Shore Excursion starts when you meet your private tour guide at the Reykjavik cruise dock. From there, you will board your accessible van and head out on a scenic drive to the first stop of your day, the breathtaking Pingvellir National Park. Using accessible paths, your private guide will lead you through the spectacular scenery and explain the geological and historical value of the place.
Continue on south to popular and picturesque Geysir Sprouting Spring. Located by the beautiful Hvita River, this fountain Geyser which erupts about every 4-8 minutes is easily Iceland’s most impressive Geyser. You will also have free time to enjoy a lunch on your own at an accessible restaurant nearby, before heading on to your next stop.
After lunch you will head to the incredible “Golden Waterfall” which is one of the most visited highlights in Iceland. Thanks to an accessible viewing platform, you will be able to experience the majestic Gullfoss waterfall firsthand. The iconic waterfall offers a unique insight into the forces and beauty of untouched nature. On your way back to the port in Reykjavik, you will make a short stop at the oldest volcano crater in the area, Kerid. This unique carter is almost 3000 years old, and 55 meters deep.
The Wheelchair Accessible Golden Circle Shore Excursion includes fully accessible transfers in accessible vans equipped with ramps or lifts. Your tour route is completely step free and also includes accessible restroom stops.
While the natural landscape of Iceland can be challenging for wheelchair users, special paths with step free routes will be used to access the different viewpoints for each highlight. Some areas, especially around the Kerid crater have mild, uneven surfaces.
Accessible Blue Lagoon Shore Excursion from Reykjavik
This five-hour Accessible Blue Lagoon Shore Excursion from Reykjavik starts when you meet your private driver at the Reykjavik cruise dock. From there, you will board your accessible van and head out on a scenic drive along the cost to your destination for the day, the magnificent Blue Lagoon of Iceland.
Upon arrival at the Blue Lagoon site, you will enjoy 3.5 hours of exploration and relaxation on your own. The Lagoon is where the powers of geothermal seawater creates your spa experience. The site offers good accessibility features, including wheelchair accessible changing rooms, accessible shower with shower chair, accessible restrooms and a special wheelchair that allows people to enter the Lagoon waters. The deepest part of the Lagoon is about 1.60 m/5.2ft, however, most parts of it are far shallower and easier to navigate.
After your time at the Blue Lagoon, your private driver will safely escort you back to your cruise ship in Reykjavik.
The Accessible Blue Lagoon Shore Excursion includes fully accessible transfers in accessible vans equipped with ramps or lifts. The Blue Lagoon site offers good accessibility including flat rolling surfaces, strep-free routes, accessible restroom and changing room, as well as a special wheelchair to help get into the water, however, the wheelchair users will have to transfer to the special wheelchair if they wish to get into the Lagoon. The main complex offers wonderful accessibility features including elevators, electric door openers and wide gates/doorways.