“We are traveling with two 17 year olds (our sons). We are a very active family who enjoys Nordic skiing and hiking. We also are interested in the music scene and culture of Iceland (including great food of course). We would like to enjoy the Northern lights and some hot springing too.
- Allison R.”
Chris McCarty, a local specialist from Iceland, helped this traveler put together a customized itinerary based on 2-Week Ring Road Self-Drive Itinerary: Highlights of Iceland and the Remote Westfjords.
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Trip planning highlights
Grand Tour of Iceland along the Ring Road
Summary of the trip planning conversation
Hi Allison, welcome to kimkim! I'm Chris and I will be your kimkim travel specialist for your trip to Iceland.
For your trip, would you like to ski for a few days in Iceland? There are a couple regions that I can recommend to you. 2 weeks is a great amount of time, I would recommend driving the Ring Road.
Here are 2 example itineraries, one for 8 days, and one for 14. The detour to the Westfjords will be a little more difficult in winter because some of the roads are closed, but there are also a few ski resorts in that area, so it could be worth it if you would like to ski.
Take a look and let me know what you think, and I can put together a custom itinerary based on your feedback.
We do lots of skiing here where we live so unless is was skiing to get to a destination, I think we would avoid the resort skiing. Too many cool places to see. If possible we would like to have a few hours of physical activity most days and limit the driving (recognizing we need to travel to see the sights). If there were two to three spots to stay with an opportunity for day trips. Seeing the Northern Lights would be wonderful. Hot springs, popular and perhaps remote... Maybe an ice cave... Must sees, and a Reykjavik experience which involves the local music scene.
Here's an idea for a trip plan for you and your family where you will spend more time in some of the areas so that you don't drive as much each day. I think it would be hard to only stay in 2-3 places over 12 days, because there are few major roads so you would be driving the same road sections each day.
Let me know what you think and I can further customize it based on your feedback.
Hi Chris, I see your point regarding the going back and forth on one road. If there would be an opportunity for a hike to a hut and out with some sights or hot pools on the way a bit off of the beaten track we would love that. We have done a number of backpacking trips as a family. We also are in mountain country in BC here so also enjoy getting some elevation for views over the course of a day.
There are a number of good places for hikes along this route:
- Glymur Falls
- Several hikes through lava fields or along basalt cliffs while in Snaefellsnes Peninsula
- A hike at Skogofoss for a long as you want to follow the canyon and waterfalls
- A short hike at Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon
- Many good hiking trails at Skaftafell along the south coast.
You can see the Ice cave while you are near Jokulsarlon as part of a guided tour. Would you like me to look into some cross country skiing options for you? The Guided hut hikes don't really start up again until June, but there are some snowshoe and cross country skiing options.
Given some good hiking options at that time of year that would be good enough :). A guided ice cave tour would be good too.
Given that you have 13 days, I would recommend the 14-day ring road tour minus the Westfjords section (since some roads won't be passable). This would be about 11 days around Iceland and leave 2 more for Reykjavik area.
I am warming up to all the driving, recognizing that the many of the big hikes are not possible at this time of year. That being said, we would enjoy any which may be possible. I wonder if we could stay at Borgarfjordur Estryi? There is a guesthouse there with a spa below with a studio apartment which would suit us well. Our kids are in a successful band and although we would not be there at the time of the Breslin Music Festival it would be cool to see the place. We would definitely want to do the ice cave if possible given this is the time of year to do it.
Hi Allison, yes you can spend a day in Borgarfjordur Estryi, that would be a good place after the Lake Myvatn area after Day 6. Since you have a bit more time than in the custom itinerary, I can just add that after day 6 and push everything else back a day. At the end, would you prefer to have another night in Reykjavik, or to be closer to the airport?
We have booked our flights. A few more days in the North would be great. Again, love activity, so perhaps if t of year allows a snowshoe or hike into somewhere cool would be good.
Hi, I made the updates to the itinerary.
Thank you. We are interested in the Crystal Ice Cave for sure. Maybe the Moderate Glacier Hike but maybe would have that in as a tentative option if possible. We would hope to stay in a few places where there is little light pollution so we can see the Northern Lights without a tour.
Most of the places along the tour will be away from light pollution. Reykjavik is really the only place where that would be a problem. This means you will have a good chance of seeing the northern lights without a tour. If you like, I can find a place a bit further outside Akureyri (the only other larger town where you will stay).
We were really pleased with Chris's response time and the trip schedule for making our way around the country. It was clear that Chris was not aware that a few of the sites and one of roads were closed for the winter. I also specifically asked about Glymur falls in the winter and if the log was across the river and what it would be like in March. Chris said the log would be there, however it was clearly marked on the sign at the trailhead that the log is not there in the winter. The hike was very snowy. We were prepared for that. Good hike either way but again some misinformation given the time of year. Our accommodation was generally excellent and very comfortable for our family of four. The OK hotel was good but the "pull out couch" was not long enough even for me to sleep on (I'm 5 foot 5 inches) let alone two 17 year old boys. Just good to know if you are putting a family in there it would work for two young kids.