Can You Get to Iceland Without Flying? Options Explored

Iceland has become an increasingly popular destination for tourists. The island’s culture and breathtaking scenery attract people from all over the world.

An important part of traveling to Iceland that would-be visitors must plan for is how to get to the island in the northern Atlantic Ocean.

Flying to Iceland is one option, but what are the others?

Other than flying in a plane, visitors can travel to Iceland by boat or ferry.

Depending on where a person is in the world, different forms of travel can be used to reach the boat or ferry.

However, there are no bridges or tunnels to Iceland, so travel by train or vehicle isn’t possible.

There are multiple options for reaching Iceland by sea, which are explained below.

Depending on a person’s starting point, there are also multiple options for getting to the seaside ports that have boats and ferries that transport people to the island.

Exactly how close are Greenland and Iceland? See Can You See Greenland from Iceland? to learn more.

Sailing may be slower than flying, but the views are amazing

How to Get to Iceland by Sea

Traveling to Iceland by sea often takes longer than flying to the island.

But if one reason visitors are going to Iceland is to see the beauty, they will likely not be disappointed in the slower navigation.

The sky, the sea, and the land offer views that won’t quickly be forgotten.

Sea travel to Iceland is common and travelers will likely not have a difficult time securing a spot on a boat or ferry.

Watercraft go to and from the island daily, sometimes dozens of times a day, giving travelers several convenient options from which to choose.

Price, accommodations, and certain luxuries are among the sailing options.

Travelers can choose less expensive options or go all in for a more complete experience.

Traveling from Denmark to Iceland

Travelers can depart from Denmark and directly sail to Iceland. There are multiple options for doing this.

One popular option is the Smyril Line, a seafaring operation located in the Faroe Islands.

It often takes 1-2 days to reach Iceland from Denmark using this service, but those who desire to take in the region’s beauty don’t complain.

One challenge of this service is its popularity. Many travelers opt for this particular line and it can get fully booked.

Not planning ahead may result in delays. Securing spots on the boat in advance is the recommended option.

Never met an Icelander? See Are Icelanders Friendly People? to learn more.

Traveling to Iceland from the Faroe Islands is common

Traveling from the Faroe Islands to Iceland

Traveling to Iceland from the Faroe Islands is common. The trip between the island’s neighbors in the northern Atlantic Ocean isn’t difficult.

Travelers often depart from the town of Torshavn, which is the capital of the archipelago. 

The Smyril Line ferry service serves the Harbor in Torshavn and transports people to Iceland regularly.

The arrival destination is Seydisfjordur, Iceland.

The ferry from Torshavn to Seydisfjordur doesn’t operate year-round. Instead, it’s active from April to October and commonly sails once a week.

It’s possible for travelers to take their vehicle onboard the ferry if they intend to use it while visiting Iceland. In total, it takes less than a day to reach Iceland. 

The ferries are equipped with almost everything passengers need for a short trip, like sleeping cabins and even fully stocked kitchens.

These luxuries make traveling by ferry easy and comfortable.

Traveling to Iceland from the United States or Canada

Since there are no direct commercial ferries to Iceland from North America, travelers desiring such a route would have to add another leg to their trip.

Perhaps the most viable option would be to travel to another Scandinavian country, and then from there take a boat or ferry to Iceland.

Taking a freighter cruise to Iceland

Many travelers want to visit Iceland on a budget. Exploring the island is only one leg of a larger trip for many people and so sticking to a controlled spending plan is important.

Researching what freighters travelers may be able to reserve a spot on could be a money-saving move if the right opportunity can be found.

Travelers from North America have ridden aboard freighters to get to Iceland because there are no commercial ferries to take.

While such a trip will undoubtedly take longer, it will ultimately save people money and perhaps enable them to see parts of the Atlantic Ocean they wouldn’t have otherwise.

It is less common today for freighters to accept passengers, so while this option is possible, it may not be a likely scenario.

Traveling Iceland’s capital city? See Do You Need a Car in Reykjavik? to learn more.

Flying to Iceland is the quickest way to get to the island

Take a Repositioning Cruise from the United States to Iceland

A would-be traveler can think of a repositioning cruise as an experience that lies somewhere between traveling by freighter and traveling by cruise ship.

Repositioning trips occur when a cruise ship ends its journey in one location, but its next journey has a different starting point. 

This requires the ship to sail to a new location, though without any passengers on board – or hardly any.

Sometimes repositioning ships offer relatively affordable spots for travelers.

A great example is the Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, which is known to make transatlantic repositioning trips from New York to Europe.

The United Kingdom, France, and Germany are the main destinations. From there, the passengers can reconnect to Denmark, then to Iceland.

This trip is generally less expensive, as a ticket can cost anywhere from $800 to $2,500 per person. The prices remain relatively low because the trip happens during the off-season.

Travelers get to enjoy all the amenities of a cruise ship at an affordable price. The itineraries are classified into two groups: seven-day one-way trips and round trips that last 27 days.

One main challenge to traveling during the off-season is that some people may not want to visit Iceland at that time. 

Traveling to Iceland part-way by train

Trains can get travelers partway to Iceland by taking them to a port where a boat or ferry can take them the rest of the way.

Trains are ideal for those who depart from European countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, or France.

Traveling by train is relatively affordable and easy to use because of the advanced nature of the railway network in those countries.

From London to Hamburg

Traveling from London will require the passengers to take a train to Hamburg. The trip takes a little over 15 hours, which might force tourists to spend the night there.

Travelers will need to catch another train from Hamburg to Hirtshals, although they might be forced to change at Fredericia, Aalborg, and Hjoerring.

This should take them another day, as trains are likely to arrive at around 5 p.m. From there, they can board a ferry to Iceland.

It could take travelers around three days to reach Iceland, but the cost is relatively low compared to flying. 

Travelers should budget the accommodation costs in their overall expenses during their traveling.

From Paris to Hamburg

A train from Paris to Hamburg takes approximately 10 hours. While in Hamburg, travelers should take the same route as the one taken by those traveling from London.

The only difference is the 5-hour time difference. 

Connecting different stations is the downside of using a train to get to Iceland. The idea of spending another day on a ferry after two days on the road is also not that attractive.

However, it’s a great opportunity for adventure enthusiasts. 

Getting to Iceland via Road

The idea of traveling to Iceland by road might sound ridiculous, but depending on the departure, it’s far from impossible.

With a modern and advanced road network across Europe, traveling to Iceland by road is achievable.

Just like using the trains, the idea is to get to Hirtshals, where it becomes easy to access the ferry.

Given that Iceland doesn’t have any internal railway network, taking a personal vehicle seems like a great idea of moving within the country.

It’s also economical and versatile compared to other means mentioned above. 

Prepare for adventure

Traveling to Iceland isn’t limited to only travel by plane. People have been using the methods mentioned above and have been able to save money in the process. 

Anyone in need of an adventure should consider any of the three methods above.

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Christian Christensen

Christian started Scandinavia Facts to explore his family heritage, raise awareness of one of his academic interests as a professor, and civilly promote the region. Please see the About page for details.

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