Family Exploration with Puffins & Whales

  Family of 2 adults and 2 children visited Iceland in June 2017

“This will be our first trip out of the country with our children that does not involve a tropical beach. Iceland is a relatively short flight from us and completely different than anything we have near us in Maryland. I like the idea of being able to get around easily in a car and getting the kids to have a greater appreciation for the beauty of our world. While we would like some hiking, our kids are 9 and 4, so short and easy is ideal. I have done some basic research to start and initially I was thinking of driving the Ring Road, but then thought maybe it would be better to see less places more in depth knowing that we can always return again. So I was thinking of the Penninsula that starts with an "S" (I can't spell it!) and the southwest coast or the West Fjords. I'm feeling like the Peninnsula and Southwest coast may be the best way to start, but would love to have some help! I am a photographer and love to see the natural beauty of the places I travel to and any fun animals or unique things along the way. I am highly allergic to horses, so that is probably our only real limitation for this trip.
- Julie M.”

Rico Bittner, a local specialist from Iceland, helped this traveler put together a customized itinerary.

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Trip planning highlights

77 messages exchanged
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Travelers completed their trip!

Summary of the trip planning conversation

Below are some useful excerpts from the trip planning conversation
Julie M:
Hi! I look forward to speaking with you! I also forgot to mention that my kids would like to see puffins and whales if possible! Thanks.

Hi Julie,

There are some opportunities along the way to see puffins, and whale watching is good on the Snaefellsnes peninsula. You should skip Glymur because it's too hard for a 4-year old, and even the relatively easy hike to Svartifoss is borderline - but if your kid is very active or likes walking then it should be ok. 

One place I would suggest adding a night at though is Vestmannaeyjar. They are often overlooked but amazingly beautiful and with a very special history, and great fun for kids with the ferry transport and small island experience. The largest puffin colony in Iceland also happens to be in Vestmannaeyjar. You have enough slack in your itinerary for this, if you are interested.

Julie M:
I would like to see Reykjavik, but I am thinking that we may forgo the city to see more nature and small towns along the way. Could we alter the schedule to do that? The Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Golden Circle and Glacier Lagoon are all things that we would like to explore. However, after looking at a map, the Glacier Lagoon seems further out than anything else and I don't want to feel rushed either. As a photographer I tend to stop all the time!

I have read through your message in detail and can suggest the following draft itinerary:
Day 1: Morning arrival in Iceland. Pickup rental car at KEF airport. Drive to the South Coast, and see Seljalandsfoss & Skogafoss waterfalls, Dyrholaey arch and lighthouse, and Reynisfjara black sand beach. Overnight in Vik area. 
Day 2: Travel further east to the Vatnajokull glacier region, visit Skaftafell for a short walk in the nature, and visit Ingolfshofdi nature reserve (via a haycart transfer!) which is a very good place to spot puffins. Stay one night in the Southeast. 
Day 3: Do an amphibian boat tour on the Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon (you will get to taste a 1000 year old ice cube!). Travel back west and take the afternoon ferry over to Vestmannaeyjar islands. Overnight in Vestmannaeyjar. 
Day 4: Time for a short hike on the island (f.e. to Eldfell, your 4 year old) and to visit the unforgettable Eldheimar museum, which depicts in great detail the infamous volcanic eruption on Heimaey island in 1973, and visit Iceland's southernmost (and windiest point) Storhofdi and look out for puffins. Late afternoon ferry to the mainland and overnight. 
Day 5: Explore the Golden Circle (Thingvellir, Gullfoss, Geysir). Overnight in Borgarfjordur fjord or southern Snaefellsnes. 
Day 6: Explore the Snaefellsnes peninsula: Snaefellsjokull glacier, Hellnar and Arnarstapi beaches, and the various craters and lava formations scattered around the region. Whale watching tour and a guided visit to Vatnshellir cave. Overnight in Stykkisholmur. 
Day 7: Travel back towards KEF airport, with an optional lunch stop in Reykjavik city. You can visit Gunnuhver hot spring, Reykjanesviti lighthouse and the "bridge between the continents" in the afternoon. Overnight in Keflavik. 

Julie M:
Hi Halldor! This itinerary looks great. The only thing we want to change is taking out the Vestmannaeyjar islands and add an extra day at the Snaefellsnes peninsula. My husband would like to stay in one place for a couple of nights and we thought that may be the best place to do so. Once we get that part corrected, I think we are good to go! 

Great, below is the adjusted itinerary and price with an added day at Snæfellsnes instead of Vestmannaeyjar. 
It's a little cheaper because we have cut out the ferry and Eldheimar admission. 
You can already book your flight tickets and then I suggest we immediately proceed with your itinerary. I can see availability now everywhere on your route.

Julie M:
Hi Halldor. Our trip was fantastic! We traveled with ease and were in awe of the natural beauty everywhere we looked. I absolutely loved the puffin tour not just for the all the amazing birds, but for the trip in the wagon as well. I felt like we were on another planet and the colors and reflection of the sand were striking. My husband really liked getting to see the glacier lagoon. The kids loved everything! We also really liked the journey itself and finding random little places to pull off and explore. Our family has decided that in the near future, perhaps when we find ourselves traveling over to Europe, we would like to stop in Iceland again and make our way up to the West Fjords. I have been telling everyone about how easy you all made my travel planning and how wonderful Iceland is for families. Thank you so much and when we find ourselves heading back that way, I will be in touch for sure!
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