- Plunge the depths of the dormant Þríhnúkagígur volcano
- Whizz across the Langjökull glacier on a snowmobile
- Search for the mighty humpback on a whale watching tour
- Explore the scenic Golden Circle on horseback
- Sail among icebergs on the breathtaking Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon
|Day 1||Arrive in Keflavík, Blue Lagoon Spa, West Iceland & Borgarfjörður||Snæfellsnes Peninsula|
|Day 2||Explore Snæfellsnes, Snæfellsjökull Glacier Experience||Snæfellsnes Peninsula|
|Day 3||Whale Watching in Ólafsvík||Snæfellsnes Peninsula|
|Day 4||Drive to the Golden Circle, Visit the Secret Lagoon||Golden Circle|
|Day 5||Southern Golden Circle, Tour Inside Þríhnúkagígur Volcano||Golden Circle|
|Day 6||Hot Springs & Geysers, Langjökull Glacier Snowmobiling||Golden Circle|
|Day 7||Golden Circle Horse Riding Tour||Golden Circle|
|Day 8||Vestmannaeyjar (Westman) Islands, RIB Boat Adventure||Westman Islands|
|Day 9||Explore the Westman Islands, Beluga Whale Sanctuary Visit||Westman Islands|
|Day 10||South Coast Waterfalls & Black-Sand Beaches, Zipline Adventure Tour||Kirkjubæjarklaustur|
|Day 11||Skaftafell Nature Reserve, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon Boat Tour||Kirkjubæjarklaustur|
|Day 12||South Coast Drive to Reykjavík, Puffin Watching Boat Tour||Reykjavík|
|Day 13||Reykjavík City, FlyOver Iceland Experience||Reykjavík|
|Day 14||Reykjanes Peninsula, Depart from Keflavík|
Day 1: Arrive in Keflavík, Blue Lagoon Spa, West Iceland & Borgarfjörður
Velkominn til íslands (welcome to Iceland)! Arrive at Keflavík airport and pick up your 4WD, then start your family adventure in style with a trip to the world-famous and family-friendly Blue Lagoon Spa helpfully positioned a 20 minutes drive from the airport. Soak in the mineral-rich geothermal seawater and relax as the turquoise silica and algae-rich waters work their rejuvenating magic. 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.
The first stop on your road trip is the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, sometimes called "Little Iceland," containing all of the country's diversity and natural wonders within 56 miles (96 km). From waterfalls, lava caves, and black-sand beaches to volcanic craters and tiny fishing villages, the peninsula is particularly suited to families.
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. If the Blue Lagoon has rejuvenated you post-flight, mark the first day of your holiday with a visit to the beautiful Hraunfossar ("Lava Falls") and Barnafoss ("Children's Falls")—both within a short distance and easily accessible from the road. Watch as the water tumbles down the countless creeks and cascades into the bright turquoise waters below before making your way to your hotel on the peninsula.
Day 2: Explore Snæfellsnes, Snæfellsjökull Glacier Experience
It's time to head out and explore on your first full day in Iceland. In the summer months of July and August, head for an exhilarating guided family hike along the Snæfellsjökull glacier, which dominates the peninsula. 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. Watch the kids' excitement as you hike across the glacier, taking in the breathtaking landscape as you come face to face with 700,000 years of Icelandic mountain life.
Outside of the summer months and for a slightly more sedate (but no less scenic) trip, make your way to the small fishing village of Grundarfjördur to discover the famous Mount Kirkjufell with its steeple-like peak and the dramatic falls at Kirkjufellsfoss—both featured in "Game of Thrones." Journey west toward Snæfellsjökull (enjoying the view of the glacier rather than experiencing it first-hand) and continue in an anti-clockwise loop to reach the sizeable Lóndrangar lava formations, which you can view from afar, or walk fifteen minutes to see up close.
A quick 10 minutes in the car, and you'll arrive at the coastal rock formations between the fishing villages of Hellnar and Arnastapi. Stretch your legs and discover the Gatklettur sea arch before continuing west, where the kids can let their imaginations run riot as they explore the otherworldly terrain of the Búðahraun lava fields. Budding photographers mustn't miss the startlingly atmospheric Búðakirkja black church. After some downtime at your hotel, head out to dinner and recount your favorite memories from the day.
Day 3: Whale Watching in Ólafsvík
After a leisurely breakfast, get ready to experience a classic Icelandic adventure the whole family will adore. Ólafsvík, a fishing town on the north of the peninsula, is known as one of the best spots in Iceland for whale watching. Board your boat and spend the next 3.5 hours exploring the dark seas, where orcas, humpbacks, and sperm whales often swim in the shadows of the magnificent Snæfellsjökull glacier. Kids will love spotting these giants of the ocean—and if luck is on your side, you might also catch sight of a blue whale, the largest animal in the world.
Back on terra firma, enjoy lunch in Ólafsvík and call in at The Pakkhus, the town's charming folk museum, to learn about local myths and legends. Afterward, take time to see any of the sights you didn't fit in yesterday. A must-see is the evocative black-sand beach at nearby 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 spending the rest of the day as you wish.
Day 4: Drive to the Golden Circle, Visit the Secret Lagoon
Leave the Snæfellsnes Peninsula today and make your way southeast to the Golden Circle. Discover landscapes woven with dramatic cliffs, mysterious legends, and ancient folklore as you journey 90 miles (145 km) to your first stop on this classic route—Þingvellir National Park. Meander through the Almannagjá Gorge entrance and watch the kids' amazement as they walk the path between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates and hike along the ridge toward the boardwalk to see tumbling cascades of Öxarárfoss waterfall.
Stop for lunch and take a breather before this afternoon's excursion. The Secret Lagoon, known locally as Gamla Laugin, is the country's oldest natural pool and maintains year-round temperatures between 86-104°F (38-40°C) thanks to the nearby hot springs of Hverahólmi. Bathe in the wonderfully clean, warm water surrounded by icy wilderness as you take a moment to breathe in this authentic Icelandic experience. Afterward, explore the nearby lava fields or check in at your accommodation before heading out to dinner at one of the area's many restaurants.
Day 5: Southern Golden Circle, Tour Inside Þríhnúkagígur Volcano
This morning is your opportunity to explore any of the Golden Circle sights you missed yesterday or that the children are clamoring to re-visit. Don't miss the stunning 3,000-year-old Kerið crater and its aquamarine lake. Either take a walk around the crater's rim or descend the steps to explore the water's edge. As you continue west for this afternoon's excursion, stop at the small town of Hveragerði en route. Enjoy a dip in the town's swimming pool, replete with hot baths and a natural sauna, or visit the local LÁ Art Museum and its collection of contemporary art.
Thirty minutes in the car from Hveragerði, and you'll arrive at the dormant Þríhnúkagígur volcano. Experience this wonder from the inside out with a 50-minute hike to the volcano's crater. A bucket list activity for adventurous teens, you'll start with a scenic walk to the base of the volcano, passing through lava fields and valleys with views of mountain peaks. Then, you'll brave a 400-foot (120 m) descent to the bottom of the crater in an open cable lift. Walk along designated paths that snake into the magma chamber before returning to the surface.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 6: Hot Springs & Geysers, Langjökull Glacier Snowmobiling
It's time to hop back in the car and experience the Golden Circle's famous hot springs and geysers. Stop to admire the regular eruptions of the Strokkur geyser, which blasts warm water to heights of up to 130 feet (40 m). Continue on another 10 minutes and arrive at the majestic Gullfoss, Iceland's mighty "Golden Falls" that cascades over two tiers into the glacial waters of the Hvítá River below.
If this morning was about Iceland's geothermal activity, it's time to discover the country's icy side with an exhilarating excursion to the nearby Langjökull glacier for a family snowmobile adventure. Join your guide for the ride of a lifetime as you whizz across the icy plateau, enjoy a thrilling ride traversing the rugged landscapes, and make memories as you marvel together at the magnificent winter wonderland. Afterward, enjoy an evening of great food at one of the Golden Circle's many family-friendly restaurants.
Day 7: Golden Circle Horse Riding Tour
It's your final day in the Golden Circle; the morning is yours to explore or relax as you wish. Many spectacular sights warrant a second visit, and it's easy to spend a whole day exploring the geological wonders of the Þingvellir National Park. The park is also home to the extraordinary Silfra fissure. Created by the separation of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates cutting through Iceland, this is one of earth's clearest bodies of water. If you're feeling adventurous, snorkeling between the continents is up there with Iceland's best bucket list moments!
In the afternoon, spend a couple of hours exploring the Golden Circle's beautiful surroundings on horseback. You will be matched with Icelandic horses suited to your abilities as you ride through breathtaking scenery and hear history, tales, and anecdotes about the surrounding villages and areas from your expert local guide. Afterward, head back to your accommodation before finding a cozy spot for dinner and enjoy a well-deserved rest.
Day 8: Vestmannaeyjar (Westman) Islands, RIB Boat Adventure
This morning it's back in the car for the next installment of your Icelandic adventure. It's a straightforward drive from the southern Golden Circle to the Landeyjahöfn Ferry Terminal on the southern coast. Board a thirty-minute ferry ride from the harbor to the archipelago of the Vestmannaeyjar ("Westman Islands"). Your destination is Heimaey, the largest and only inhabited island in the archipelago; it's an off-the-beaten-path gem with colorful lava landscapes and the world's largest puffin colony.
Check in to your hotel and grab a bit to eat before heading back out to sea with an exhilarating RIB boat (rigid-hulled inflatable boat) adventure. Explore the island's coast and sail along the new lava from the 1973 eruption that enlarged Heimaey by 1.2 miles (2 km). The younger ones will be fascinated to hear tales of Viking sagas and battles as they learn about the archipelago's history. Visit the sea caves of Fjósið and Klettshellir and keep your eyes peeled for the island's famous puffins as well as orcas, porpoises, and dolphins in the summer months.
Day 9: Explore the Westman Islands, Beluga Whale Sanctuary Visit
You have the whole day to explore the beauty and tranquility of the Westman Islands and several family-friendly activities available. First up is a visit to the SEA LIFE Beluga Whale Sanctuary. Home to two formerly captive beluga whales—Little White and Little Grey (rescued from an aquarium in China), the sanctuary provides first-class care to the whales, who can swim in a natural harbor lagoon. You and the kids will have the opportunity to board a boat to see the whales in their new habitat and, afterward, take a tour of Iceland's only Puffin Rescue Center.
In the afternoon, it's off to the Eldheimar Museum to learn all about the 1973 Eldfell eruption before hiking to the top of the 720-foot (219 m) high Eldfell crater that was formed and forever changed the island's landscape. There are numerous trails to cliffs and lava fields nearby if you have the energy. For a gentler introduction to the island, wrap up warmly and take the kids to Stórhöfði to see the puffins or visit the incredible Norwegian stave church at Stafkirkjan.
Day 10: South Coast Waterfalls & Black-Sand Beaches, Zipline Adventure Tour
Bid farewell to Heimaey and journey back to Iceland's South Coast, where you'll head west along the Ring Road to two of the country's most celebrated waterfalls. First up is Seljalandsfoss—button up your raincoats and witness the cascade thundering 30 feet (9 m) ahead as you take shelter in a cave under the cliff. After another thirty minutes in the car, you'll reach the immense Skógafoss—with a drop of 196 feet (59 m), one of the largest and most breathtaking falls in Iceland. Mark the occasion with a family photo as you climb the 527 steps to the viewing platform.
Continue your journey and take a short diversion via Route 218 to the Dyrhólaey Peninsula—amaze the kids with stories of the daredevil pilot who, in 1993, flew his small aircraft through the promenade's enormous rock arch. From Dyrhólaey, it's a quick 12-mile (20 km) drive to the striking black-sand beach of Reynisfjara. Wander the vast basalt hexagonal columns rising out of the sand and play trolls in homage to the 216-foot (65 m) Reynisdrangar rock pillars; according to local folklore, giant trolls that turned to stone as they tried to haul a ship from the ocean's depths as day broke.
Make time for a late lunch at one of the local restaurants in Vík before embarking on today's last excursion—a two-hour zipline adventure tour. Perfect for kids eight years old and upward, the four aptly described zipline rides—Little Rush, Gentle Giant, Leap of Faith, and Big Rush—give stunning views of the scenery below, including Dog's Waterfall and Grave Canyon. From here, it's onward to Kirkjubæjarklaustur (or simply "Klaustur" to locals) 46 miles (74 km) away, where the evening is yours to relax or explore as you wish.
Day 11: Skaftafell Nature Reserve, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon Boat Tour
The Skaftafall National Park, some 43 miles (70 km) east of Kirkjubæjarklaustur, is a glacial winter wonderland with enchanting landscapes guaranteed to captivate even the world's weariest of kids. Hike the 3-mile (5 km) trail to the striking beauty of Svartifoss waterfall, surrounded by hundreds of dark, hexagonal basalt columns that lend a mysterious quality to the nearby scenic views of the river and glacier. Continue to the magnificent Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, whose two million-year-old steep jagged walls give way to the icy river 328 feet (100 m) below.
Enjoy a hearty lunch in Skaftafell before heading to the famous Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Board your boat and sail around the icy waters as you reach the 1,000-year-old icebergs. Watch transfixed as the glittering boulders break off from the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier and slowly drift out to sea before being polished by the waves and washed ashore onto the black sands of Diamond Beach. Task the kids with spotting the playful seas that can be seen in the glacier year-round, especially in wintertime when they flock to the lagoon's mouth to catch fish.
Day 12: South Coast Drive to Reykjavík, Puffin Watching Boat Tour
Leave Kirkjubæjarklaustur behind this morning and make the 161-mile (259 km) journey west to Reykjavík. There are plenty of opportunities to stretch your legs and explore some of the South Coast's lesser-visited gems. Visit the otherworldly hiking expanse of the Þakgil Canyon with its mysteriously beautiful peaks before hopping back in the car to discover the black-sand beaches of Sólheimasandur. Venture over to the abandoned wreckage of a US Navy DC plane that crashed, with no casualties, on the beach in 1973.
Continue west to Reykjavík, and check in to your hotel before heading to the old harbor for one last stretch of your sea legs. Your captain will greet you at the harbor's floating pier before setting sail to Akurey, well known for its plentiful puffins and birdlife. Your 90-minute tour will get you as close to the rocks as possible to see the sea birds in their natural habitat. Enjoy insightful commentary from your expert guide as the boat's engine is turned off to better observe the birds and their beautiful surroundings. Your return to shore gives a spectacular view of the capital from the sea.
Day 13: Reykjavík City, FlyOver Iceland Experience
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. Indulge in a second breakfast of waffles and hot chocolate before visiting the gleaming steel elegance of the Sun Voyager Sculpture. Don't miss the Harpa Cultural Center with its impossibly cool, award-winning contemporary architecture or a stroll to the towering cathedral of Hallgrímskirkja.
In the afternoon, head to FlyOver Iceland for an exhilarating experience that gives you the feeling of flight thanks to state-of-the-art technology. You and the kids will hang suspended, feet dangling before a 65-foot (20 m) screen as a short film takes you on a breathtaking journey as you fly over Iceland. Special effects, including wind, mist, and scent, combine with the ride's motion to create an unforgettable family memory. Afterward, head out to dinner at one of the city's many great restaurants and raise a toast to your holiday adventures.
Day 14: Reykjanes Peninsula, Depart from Keflavík
It's your last day in Iceland, but there's still time to make more Icelandic memories before catching your flight home. The Reykjanes Peninsula is home to lava fields, hot springs, and the UNESCO-listed Reykjanes Geopark. Visit the geothermal area of Krýsuvík, where the kids will marvel at the hot springs and steam vents, and if time allows, discover the bubbling mud cauldrons at Gunnuhver. Older kids may enjoy the folktale of a four-hundred-year-old vengeful ghost called Gunna, after whom the hot springs are named.