- Tour the 8,000-year-old Vatnshellir lava cave
- Explore the diverse beauty of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula
- Journey into the heart of the Snæfellsjökull glacier
- Ride an Icelandic horse across the northern Westfjords
- Gaze out across the ocean in the relaxing geothermal waters at GeoSea
|Day 1||Arrive in Keflavík, Snæfellsnes via Borgarfjörður, Vatnshellir Lava Cave||Snæfellsnes Peninsula|
|Day 2||Explore Snæfellsnes, Snæfellsjökull Glacier Hike||Patreksfjörður|
|Day 3||Látrabjarg, Rauðasandur & Southern Westfjords||Patreksfjörður|
|Day 4||Dynjandi Waterfall, Northern Westfjords, Horse Riding||Ísafjörður|
|Day 5||A Day Around Ísafjörður||Ísafjörður|
|Day 6||Isafjardjardjup Bay, Drive to Hólmavík||Hólmavík|
|Day 7||Discover Northern Strandir||Hólmavík|
|Day 8||Vatnsnes Peninsula, Drive to Blönduós||Blönduós|
|Day 9||Northwest Iceland, Akureyri & Goðafoss,||Lake Mývatn|
|Day 10||Dettifoss, Jökulsárgljúfur & Húsavík||Lake Mývatn|
|Day 11||Explore Lake Mývatn, Húsavík GeoSea Geothermal Baths||Laugarbakki|
|Day 12||Víðgelmir Lava Cave Tour, Drive to Reykjavík||Reykjavík|
|Day 13||A Day in Reykjavík||Reykjavík|
|Day 14||Explore Reykjanes Peninsula, Blue Lagoon Spa, Depart from Keflavík|
Day 1: Arrive in Keflavík, Snæfellsnes via Borgarfjörður, Vatnshellir Lava Cave
Velkominn til íslands (welcome to Iceland)! Upon arrival at Keflavík airport, pick up your 4WD and hit the road. Your adventure begins in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, sometimes called "Little Iceland," containing all of the country's diversity and natural wonders within 56 miles (96 km). With waterfalls, black-sand beaches, volcanic craters, and tiny fishing villages, the west coast is a treasure trove for families searching for adventure and a connection with nature.
Set out north on the Ring Road (Route 1) toward Reykjavík before taking a detour to the Borgarfjörður district—a rural area covering the land between the city's capital and the peninsula. Iceland is awash with stunning waterfalls, and today you'll mark the first day of your holiday with a visit to the celebrated duo of the beautiful Hraunfossar ("Lava Falls") and Barnafoss ("Children's Falls")—both within a short distance and easily accessible from the road. Watch in awe as the water tumbles down the countless creeks and cascades into the bright turquoise waters below.
Make your way to your hotel on Snæfellsnes' southern coast, and introduce the kids en route to some classic Icelandic legends and folk stories with a visit to Glanni Waterfall, rumored to be the home of elves and trolls. Ten minutes west of the tiny village of Arnastapi, you'll find the 8,000-year-old Vatnshellir lava cave on the southwestern end of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. An expert guide will accompany you and the kids as you walk through the extraordinarily glittering and colorful 650-foot-long (200 m) tunnel, which reaches depths of over 100 feet (35 m).
Day 2: Explore Snæfellsnes, Snæfellsjökull Glacier Hike
It's your first full day in Iceland, and what better introduction to the land of ice and fire than an exhilarating guided family hike along the mystical, 700,000-year-old Snæfellsjökull glacier volcano? After a hearty breakfast, make your way to Arnastapi to begin your adventure. A perfect introduction to a mountain glacier and suitable for children eight years and above, your experienced guide will help you don crampons and navigate the incredible shapes of the carved ice. Witness the deep crevices of the glacier as you and the kids enjoy a taste of true Icelandic mountain life.
Reward yourselves with lunch at one of the nearby fishing villages before exploring the stunning coastal rock formations between Hellnar and Arnastapi. Discover the photogenic Gatkelettur sea arch before continuing in an anti-clockwise loop to visit the evocative black-sand beach at Djúpalónssandur, where the kids will be fascinated to see the rusted remains and debris from a British fishing trawler sunk in 1948. Follow a small trail along the cliffs for twenty minutes and explore the impressive rock walls at Dritvík Cove before hopping back in the car.
If time allows, call in at The Pakkhus, a charming folk museum in Ólafsvík, to learn about local myths and legends. Otherwise, continue east, and in twenty minutes, you'll hit upon the stunning and much-photographed Mount Kirkjufell and its accompanying waterfall, Kirkjufellsfoss. Continue east through the Berserkjahraun lava field until you reach the fishing town of Stykkisólmur, where you'll catch a ferry to Brjánslækur. From here, it's a short 34-mile (56 km) drive to your hotel in Patreksfjörður, a small village perfectly placed for exploring the beauty of the Westfjords.
Day 3: Látrabjarg, Rauðasandur & Southern Westfjords
After yesterday's epic adventure, enjoy a leisurely breakfast and stroll around Patreksfjörður, where you can start the day in true Icelandic style at the town's open-air pool. Bathe in the heated waters and admire the stunning views overlooking the fjord before setting off to explore. The Westfjords area is known for its vast beaches and headlands, remote hamlets, and thundering waterfalls. Your first stop in the car is the Látrabjarg Peninsula, Europe's most westerly point, and a 38-mile (61 km) drive west.
One of the most renowned bird cliffs in Iceland, the peninsula is besieged by puffins, razorbills, and guillemots that flock each summer in their millions to nest among the 1,312-foot-high (400 m) sheer rocky outcrops. Take a gentle hike with the kids across the cliffs, waving at the friendly puffins as you go. Take in the breathtaking views out to sea before hopping back in the car to explore the golden beaches of Breiðavík and Örlygshöfn—the latter known for its sunsets in the summer and a great place to spot the northern lights in wintertime.
Don't miss the red sands of Rauðasandur, a twenty-minute drive from Örlygshöfn; the vast sandy beach takes its striking colors from centuries-old pulverized scallop shells. Home to a playful seal colony, you can take a guided tour in the summer months to visit the seals at close range and delight in watching them sunbathe as the adorable pups take their first steps to adulthood. Enjoy the stunning views across the ocean as you wander beneath the black cliffs before returning to Patreksfjörður.
Day 4: Dynjandi Waterfall, Northern Westfjords, Horse Riding
This morning set out and explore one of the Westfjords' most iconic sights—the thunderous waterfalls of Dynjandi. A 90-minute drive north from Patreksfjörður will reward you with stunning views as you reach the top of one of Iceland's most dramatic cascades. If the weather's decent, this makes an excellent spot for a picnic and stroll among the sweeping fjord backdrop.
Hop back in the car, and you'll discover why the drive between the southern and northern Westfjords is considered one of the most beautiful in Iceland. Eight fjords make up the Ísafjarðardjúp fjord system, which separates this area from Hornstrandir to the north. Continue through charming fishing villages and steep mountain passes on the drive through Arnarfjörður (considered one of the country's most spectacular fjords) and Dýrafjörður until you reach the historic fishing village of Þingeyri, the starting point for your next adventure.
One of the most memorable ways to experience the beauty of the Westfjords is on horseback. This afternoon you and the kids will be matched with Icelandic horses, perfectly suited to your abilities, whether beginner or experienced. Spend a leisurely couple of hours exploring the lush Sandar Valley as you ride alongside the river, with plenty of opportunities to stop and take photographs. Afterward, head back to Þingeyri, and grab a bite to eat at Simbahöllin— a homely café specializing in Belgian waffles, before continuing to your overnight destination of Ísafjörður.
Day 5: A Day Around Ísafjörður
Start the day at your leisure and when you're ready, head out to explore Ísafjörður. A tiny town by most standards, this picturesque gateway to the Westfjords seems positively bustling among the remote landscape. Meander through the Old Town with its quaint timber and tin-clad buildings, many dating back to the 18th century, and stop for a second breakfast at one of the cozy local cafés. Stroll to the harbor, and invite the kids to conjure images of vast whaling vessels and tall-masted ships that inhabited the dock in centuries past.
Ísafjörður's remote location is undoubtedly part of its charm. However, there are still several fishing villages within a 20-40 minute or so drive that offer a keen glimpse into traditional local life. The northernmost of these, Bolungarvík, is a short drive north and home to the Ósvör Museum. Watch the kids' surprise as the museum's curator greets visitors wearing a skin suit similar to those the 19th-century Icelandic sailors wore! In the summer months, the nearby mountain of Bolafjall offers spectacular views from the summit, accessible by car.
Either hike one of the trails near the village or check out the tiny town of Flateyri, with its unrivaled location nestled within Önundarfjörður and explore the white-sand beaches nearby. Drive to Suðureyri, with its charming peppermint-green-roofed church and town swimming pool, or head back to explore the area around Þingeyri and —and indulge in more of those delicious waffles! Learn about local heritage at the town's blacksmith before returning to Ísafjörður.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 6: Ísafjarðardjúp, Drive to Hólmavík
Wake up refreshed, revived, and ready to get back on the adventure trail. This morning, drive 138 miles (223 km) southeast from Ísafjörður to Hólmavík, a small coastal town nestled by Steingrímsfjördur, and your home for the next two nights. It's a scenic route, and your first stop is Súðavík. The adorable orphaned fox cubs will enthrall the kids at the village's Arctic Fox Center, and for smaller ones, there's a lovely garden and playground, Raggagarður, in the heart of the Old Town.
Either stop in Súðavík for a bite to eat or continue on to the Hvítanes Peninsula in Skötufjörður, where you will find the charming Litlibær Café. Both a café and tiny museum, the little reconstructed turf house serves refreshments and makes for a cute stop where the kids can travel back in time to glimpse family life in the early 20th century. Hop back in the car, and it's a 93-mile (150 km) drive to Hólmavík. Check into your accommodation and find a cozy bistro where you can hunker down for the evening.
Day 7: Discover Northern Strandir
Spend this morning exploring Hólmavík's attractions. The town's Museum of Sorcery and Witchcraft provides insight into the country's mystical heritage and how folklore and landscape have intertwined over the centuries. Venture back in time with the older kids to 17th-century Iceland with a fascinating audio guide to learn about the prominence of sorcery in the remote Strandir area. Families with younger children should head to the Sheep Farming Museum, fifteen minutes south, where little ones can bottle feed the lambs.
The rest of the day is yours to explore the northern Strandir region, known for its rugged, utterly remote beauty, which has featured as a film location for Nordic arthouse films and Hollywood blockbusters alike. Just under an hour's drive north along the coastal road, you'll find the enchanting village of Djúpavík, where Ben Affleck and Jason Momoa descended in 2016 to film scenes from the film "Justice League." Get the kids to burn off some energy with their best superhero moves as you enjoy the complete stillness of one of Iceland's most isolated corners.
Continue for just under an hour and pass waterfalls and driftwood beaches as you approach Munaðarnes Farm at the end of the road. Stop here for breathtaking views of the fjords and the Drangaskord Pinnacles (one of the country's most prominent landmarks) on the horizon. As you head back south along the coastal road, take a short detour to Krossaneslaug, a geothermal pool at the tip of Norðurfjörður. Relax in the warm water surrounded by towering mountains on either side before returning to Hólmavík.
Day 8: Vatnsnes Peninsula, Drive to Blönduós
This morning, you'll wave goodbye to Holmavik and make your way to Blönduós, a little town in the north of Iceland and positively bustling compared to the Westfjords. Roughly a 118-mile (190 km) drive, it's worth taking a detour and exploring the Vatnsnes Peninsula en route. Surrounded by Miðfjörður (the waters are famous for their salmon fishing) on the west and Húnafjörður to the east, the peninsula is one of the best places to spot seals in Iceland. If the kids are restless, task them with spotting these jolly creatures as you continue to explore the peninsula until you reach Hvammstangi.
Stretch your legs with a visit to the village's Icelandic Seal Center, with exhibits that detail the lives and history of these marine mammals. If time allows, there are plenty of opportunities for guided seal-watching and wildlife tours, including the native Arctic fox and puffins. It's around a 30-minute drive to the vast Borgavirki Fortress, a volcanic plug and one of the country's notable historical sights. According to the Sagas, the fortress was a strategic military point for the Vikings. The views from the summit are worth the rocky climb to the top.
After the kids have played Vikings atop the fortress, head 10 miles (17 km) north and follow the signs for the Hvítserkur sea stack, arguably the peninsula's most famous attraction. A nearly 50-foot (15 m) monolith rising from the sea, legend has it that Hvítserkur was once a troll, terrorizing the nearby convent of Þingeyraklaustur until he was captured by the sun's rays and turned to stone. It's just under an hour's drive to Blönduós, where the evening is yours to explore or relax.
Day 9: Northwest Iceland, Akureyri & Goðafoss
The next leg of your Icelandic family adventure starts today as you continue east toward the often-overlooked beauty of northwest Iceland. There are several must-see highlights on the way toward your destination of Lake Mývatn, and your first stop is Akureyri, known as the beating heart of North Iceland. Set at the head of Eyjafjörður, Iceland's longest fjord, and backed by picture-perfect snow-capped peaks, the town is a gateway to many of the area's stunning attractions, including Goðafoss ("Waterfall of the Gods")—one of Iceland's prettiest falls and a short 30-minute drive.
You'll find the waterfall just off Route 1, Iceland's famous Ring Road. After parking your car, enjoy a quick, easy walk to the falls. Or, you can opt for a slightly longer trek following a path that offers multiple views from several different perspectives. When the kids have had their fill of spotting waterfall rainbows and marveling at the sights, make the 28-mile (45 km) drive from Goðafoss to Lake Mývatn and your base for the next few days. Head to your hotel and enjoy some family downtime before heading out to dinner.
Day 10: Dettifoss, Jökulsárgljúfur & Húsavík
After breakfast, it's time to embark on a highlights tour of the area's gems via the country's iconic Diamond Circle, a 160-mile (260 km) route that is an impressive alternative to Iceland's famous Golden Circle. First up is Dettifoss; head to the Vatnajökull National Park to see Europe's most powerful waterfall before continuing through the park to the 15-mile (25 km) long glacier river canyon of Jökulsárgljúfur—and onward to the wonders of Ásbyrgi Canyon, known for its unusual horseshoe shape.
Formed after the last Ice Age, geologists have determined the canyon was carved out by flooding around 10,000 years ago. However, children might prefer the local legend, which credits Ásbyrgi's unusual shape to Odin's eight-legged horse, who is said to have stamped the canyon into existence. Hike one of the many trails and if you're short on time, follow the route from the visitor center that climbs the side of Ásbyrgi. Make your way to the top, where you'll be rewarded with splendid views as you continue on a flat path to the furthest point of the canyon.
From here, it's around a 50-minute drive to Húsavík, your next stop on the Diamond Circle. Considered Iceland's whale watching capital, there are opportunities to see more than 23 species in and around the bay. From April until October, the summer months are filled with excursions to nearby Puffin Island or whale watching tours. For a more leisurely afternoon, head to one of the harbor side cafés to feast on hot cocoa and cinnamon buns before returning to your hotel.
Day 11: Explore Lake Mývatn, Húsavík GeoSea Geothermal Baths
There's plenty to fit in today and before you head east to Laugarbakki, take some time to get better acquainted with the numerous geological and geothermal wonders around Lake Mývatn. Explore the Skútustaðagígar pseudocraters on the shores of the lake and loop around the smaller lake of Stakhólstjörn. Watch the steam rising from the myriad geothermal vents and stroll beneath the haunting Dimmuborgir lava formations. Follow the path through the other-worldly Leirhnjúkur lava fields, and you and the kids will feel like you've been transported to a different planet in no time.
No visit to Iceland is complete without a dip in one of the country's many geothermal pools. Head back up north to Húsavik, where you'll spend a relaxing three hours at GeoSea, a world-class geothermal bathing mecca perched along a western-facing cliffside that overlooks the picturesque Skjálfandi Bay and the Arctic Circle to the north. Enjoy quality family relaxation in the naturally heated mineral-rich seawater as you watch the boats and ships sail past. Afterward, it's a 171-mile (276 km) drive east to Laugarbakki, where you'll overnight.
Day 12: Víðgelmir Lava Cave Tour, Drive to Reykjavík
Awake refreshed after yesterday's thermal spa and hit the road for one last excursion before journeying back to Reykjavík. Just east of the Borgarfjörður district you encountered on your first day is the Víðgelmir lava cave. Formed by an eruption 1,100 years ago, the cave is one of the country's best-preserved and majestic lava tunnels. The kids will love spotting the countless icicles, ice formations, and array of stunning colors on the rock formations as you learn about the tunnel's fascinating geology and history from your informative guide.
Hop back in the car and head southwest toward Reykjavík. En route, you'll come across the little village of Reykholt. If the kids (and parents) have become addicted to waffles with whipped cream and jam, this village has one of the best cafés. As you pass back through the Borgarfjörður district you encountered on your first day, break for a stretch of the legs at Borganes, a cute little town worth exploring. Afterward, it's roughly an hour's drive south to Reykjavík, where dinner at one of the capital's many excellent restaurants awaits.
Day 13: A Day in Reykjavík
It's your penultimate day in Iceland, and the day is yours to explore the country's stunning capital at your own pace. Meander Reykjavík's compact downtown area and the main street of Laugavegur, with its myriad cafés, boutiques, restaurants, and galleries, as you head toward the harbor. Sip hot chocolate and soak in some of the cleanest air on the planet before visiting the gleaming steel elegance of the Sun Voyager Sculpture. Don't miss the Harpa Cultural Center's impossibly cool, award-winning contemporary architecture.
Meander to the old wharf, where the kids can immerse themselves in magic and mystery at the Northern Lights Center and the Saga Museum. Break for a leisurely lunch at one of the city's many excellent restaurants before taking a stroll to the towering cathedral of Hallgrímskirkja. Either take one of the many kid-friendly wildlife tours that leave from the island's capital or spend the afternoon with an experienced fisherman as you and the kids try your hand at sea fishing. The evening is yours to relax and enjoy as you wish.
Day 14: Explore Reykjanes Peninsula, Blue Lagoon Spa, Depart from Keflavík
It's your final day in Iceland. Depending on your flight time, you have several options. Spend the morning exploring the Reykjanes Peninsula and discover geological wonders such as the green-hued volcanic crater lake of Grænavatn and the colorful geothermal areas of Gunnuhver and Krýsuvík. Venture one last time across the peninsula's lunar-like lava landscape as you make your way to Kleifarvatn Lake on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and wander the lava fields of the Reykjanes National Park.
If you're still thinking about your blissful spa time in Húsavik, finish your family adventure in style with one last bath in Iceland's geothermal waters. The world-famous and family-friendly Blue Lagoon Spa is handily situated en route to the airport. Soak in the mineral-rich seawater and drift away in contemplation as the turquoise silica and algae-rich waters work their magic and settle any pre-flight tensions. Take a dip with the kids under the lagoon's waterfall and enjoy the in-water bar before seeking refreshments at the on-site café and restaurant.
With hearts full of adventure, it's time to say bless (goodbye). Make your way to Keflavík airport, drop off your rental car and board your flight home. See you soon!
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