Venture off the beaten track with this seven-day family road trip that takes you through Iceland's beautiful Snæfellsnes Peninsula, across the iconic geysers of the Golden Circle, and to the breathtaking waterfalls of the South Coast. Discover orcas as you ride the ocean waves on a whale watching tour, and ride horses along the glittering black sands of Vík before getting up close and personal with the colorful puffins at Ingólfshöfði Cape.


  • Spot the magnificent orca with a whale watching tour in Ólafsvík
  • Bathe in the hot springs of Iceland's Secret Lagoon
  • Enjoy a family horse-riding tour along the black sands at Vík
  • Explore inside the 5,000-year-old lava tunnel of Raufarhólshellir

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Keflavík, West Iceland & Borgarfjörður Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Day 2 Explore Snæfellsnes, Whale Watching Tour, Ólafsvík Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Day 3 Explore the Golden Circle, Visit the Secret Lagoon Golden Circle
Day 4 South Coast, Horse Riding in Vík, Drive to Kirkjubæjarklaustur Kirkjubæjarklaustur
Day 5 Skaftafell National Park, Ingólfshöfði Cape Puffin Watching Tour Kirkjubæjarklaustur
Day 6 Sólheimasandur Beach, Lava Tunnel Tour, Drive to Reykjavík Reykjavík
Day 7 Explore Reykjanes Peninsula, Blue Lagoon Spa, Depart from Keflavík  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Keflavík, West Iceland & Borgarfjörður

Hraunfossar Waterfall
Don't miss the stunning Hraunfossar Waterfall

Velkominn til íslands (welcome to Iceland)! Arrive at Keflavík airport and pick up your 4WD. 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). From waterfalls, lava caves, and black sandy beaches to volcanic craters and tiny fishing villages, the West Coast boasts many attractions for outdoor-loving families and serves as a great base to explore the rest of Iceland.

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. Mark the first day of your holiday with a visit to the beautiful Hraunfossar (Lava Falls) and Barnafoss ("Children's Falls") waterfalls—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 in Snæfellsnes, and introduce the kids to some classic Icelandic legends and folk stories with a visit to Glanni Waterfall, said to be the home of elves and trolls. Don't miss the nearby highlights of Grabrok Crater and Deildartunguhver, Europe's most powerful hot spring. Stop for waffles with whipped cream and jam, an Icelandic favorite, in the nearby village of Reykholt; known for its famous resident Snorri Sturluson, a 12th-century author renowned for his works on the Old Norse language and medieval Icelandic mythology.

Day 2: Explore Snæfellsnes, Whale Watching Tour, Ólafsvík

Whale Watching
Spot orcas with a whale watching tour at Ólafsvík 

After a hearty breakfast, get ready to explore the wonders of Snæfellsnes. Dominated by the mystical 700,000-year-old Snæfellsjökull glacier volcano (as featured in Jules Verne's novel "Journey to the Center of the Earth"), the 56-mile (90 km) long peninsula is home to treasures often overlooked in favor of the more well-known South Coast.

Make your way to the small fishing village of Grundarfjördur and discover the famous Mount Kirkjufell with its steeple-like peak and Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall—both featured in "Game of Thrones." Journey west toward Snæfellsjökull and continue in an anti-clockwise loop to reach the coastal rock formations between Hellnar and Arnastapi. Stretch your legs and discover the Gatklettur sea arch before uncovering the other-worldly terrain of the Berserkjahraun and Búðahraun lava fields. Budding photographers mustn't miss the startlingly atmospheric Búðakirkja black church.

In the afternoon, head to Ólafsvík and spend a thrilling afternoon whale watching. Board your boat and spend the next 3.5 hours exploring the dark seas for orcas and sperm whales. Create mini marine biologists in the making and watch the kids' excitement as they spot these giants of the ocean. Your captain will get you as close as possible without disturbing the whales. Depending on the time of year, you might also catch sight of white-beaked dolphins and humpbacks. Spend the rest of the afternoon and evening at leisure, recounting your favorite memories from the day.

Day 3: Explore the Golden Circle, Visit the Secret Lagoon

Golden Circle
Discover the majestic cascades of Iceland's Golden Circle
Plan your trip to Iceland
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

This morning you'll wave goodbye to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and make your way southeast to the Golden Circle, where you'll discover landscapes woven with dramatic cliffs, mysterious legends, and ancient folklore. It's a 90-mile (145 km) drive from Snæfellsnes to your first stop on this classic route—the Þingvellir National Park. Meander through the Almannagjá Gorge entrance to the park and watch the kids' amazement as they walk the path between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates and marvel at the geological wonders along the Mid-Atlantic Rift

Hike along the ridge and head toward the boardwalk to see the waterfall of Öxarárfoss as it tumbles into the fissures below. Hop back in the car and adventure east toward the Golden Circle's famous hot springs and geysers, stopping 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 105 feet (32 m) over two tiers into the glacial waters of the Hvítá River below.

Stop for lunch and take a breather before this afternoon's excursion. The Secret Lagoon, known locally as Gamla Laugin, dates back to 1891 and maintains year-round temperatures between 86-104°F (38-40°C) thanks to the nearby hot springs of Vaðmálahver, Básahver, and Litli Geysir. Take a moment to breathe in this authentic Icelandic experience and drift away as you enjoy the steady supply of fresh, clean, warm water surrounded by icy wilderness. Afterward, explore the nearby lava fields or drive to your accommodation before heading out to eat.

Day 4: South Coast, Horse Riding in Vík, Drive to Kirkjubæjarklaustur

Meet and ride Icelandic horses with today's excursion
Meet and ride Icelandic horses with a horse-riding excursion in Vík 

Iceland's South Coast is known for its impressive black sandy beaches and breathtaking waterfalls—this morning, you'll visit two of the country's most celebrated cascades. First up is Seljalandsfoss—button up your raincoats as you witness the water roaring 30 feet (9 m) in front of you from the safety of a cave under the cliff. After another 30 minutes in the car, you'll reach the immense Skógafoss—with a drop of 196 feet (59 m) and a width of 82 feet (25 m); it's one of the largest in Iceland. Climb the 527 steps to the viewing platform for a family photo to remember.

Continue your journey and take a short diversion via Route 218 to the  Dyrhólaey Peninsula—where a nearly 400-foot (120 m) promenade showcases some of the best views of the southern coast. After leaving Dyrhólaey, it's a quick 12-mile (20 km) drive to the striking black sands of Reynisfjara Beach. Wander the vast basalt hexagonal columns rising from the sand and explore the beach's large caves. Fire the kids' imagination as you play trolls in homage to local folklore and the origins of the 216-foot (65 m) Reynisdrangar rock pillars that jut out from the ocean's depths. 

Head to the seaside village of Vík and find time to try some of Iceland's delicious pastries, such as the classic vinarbrauð, before embarking on today's last excursion—a gentle family horse-riding tour. Visit the stables, where the kids can meet their sweet-tempered ponies before setting out for a ride along the black sand beach. From here, it's onward to Kirkjubæjarklaustur, 46 miles (74 km) away, where you'll spend the next two nights.

Day 5: Skaftafell National Park, Ingólfshöfði Cape Puffin Watching Tour

Explore Iceland's famous Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon 

This morning you'll journey east from Kirkjubæjarklaustur to Skaftafall National Park in the southeast of Iceland. Vatnajokull, Europe's largest glacier, dominates the enchanting landscape. Nestled between its glacier tongues is the nature reserve. Start with an easy hike to Skaftafellsjokull Glacier and continue to the picturesque waterfall of  Svartifoss. For landscapes straight out of "The Lord of the Rings," head to the magnificent Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon and its steep jagged walls, believed to be two million years old.

The area surrounding Iceland's famous Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon is akin to a wintry fairy tale. Glimpse the enormous 1,000-year-old icebergs before they break off from the Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier and then head over to nearby Diamond Beach, where the kids will marvel at the glittering boulders flow down from the sea and onto the beach's black sands. Enjoy lunch in Skaftafall and a well-deserved rest before this afternoon's tour.

If you're visiting in the summer months, get back on the adventure trail toward Ingólfshöfði Cape, just south of Hof via the Ring Road, to spend a few hours in the company of puffins, fulmars, and razorbills. The Cape's secluded location is the perfect environment for nesting, attracting thousands of seabirds each year. Getting there is half the fun—kids will love the journey in a  tractor-drawn hay cart that takes you over the marshlands. Once there, continue on foot with a scenic 1.5-mile (2.5 km) hike around the reserve and savor the views as you enjoy some family time spotting the famed puffin colony.

Day 6: Sólheimasandur Beach, Lava Tunnel Tour, Drive to Reykjavík

Explore the Raufarhólshellir Lava Tunnel

Today marks the last full day of your Icelandic road trip. Venture west along the South Coast, where you can stop at some lesser-visited gems, including the stunning Þakgil Canyon (an other-worldly hiking expanse) and the Sólheimasandur black sand beach. Take a tour to discover the wreckage of the US Navy DC plane that crashed, with no casualties, on the beach in 1973. 

Continue along your route to Reykjavík, and around 18 miles (30 km) before you reach the island's capital, you'll get to your next destination—the spectacular Raufarhólshellir Lava Tunnel. Curious young minds will love venturing back in time to see the inner workings of a volcanic eruption. Discover Iceland's longest and best-known lava tube with a guided family tour of the impressive 4,500-foot (1,360-m) tunnel. Don't miss the whimsical ice sculptures formed inside the cave entrance in wintertime.

Continue west to Iceland's capital, where the rest of the day is yours to explore as you wish. Visit some of Reykjavík's iconic sights, including the modern Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral and the Sun Voyager Sculpture, or take one of the many child-friendly wildlife tours that leave from the city. Head out to sea and watch for the magnificent minke and humpback whales, or spend the afternoon with an experienced fisherman as you and the kids try your hand at sea fishing.

Day 7: Explore Reykjanes Peninsula, Blue Lagoon Spa, Depart from Keflavík

Create memories to last a lifetime—until the next time Iceland

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.

For a more leisurely end to your road trip, finish your family adventure in style with a trip to the world-famous and family-friendly Blue Lagoon Spa. Soak in the mineral-rich geothermal seawater and drift away in contemplation 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.

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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Map of South Iceland & Snæfellsnes Peninsula: Family-Friendly Road Trip - 7 Days
Map of South Iceland & Snæfellsnes Peninsula: Family-Friendly Road Trip - 7 Days