If your looking for a break from the heat of summer, then grab a seat (or 5) on the discounted Icelandic airline, WOW, and give your fall wardrobe a trial run as you circle the magical isle of Iceland.
Day 1: Adjust in Reykjavik
Day 2: head out of town! Spend some time exploring the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
Day 3:head to northern Iceland. Make a stop at the Skagafjordur tourist information center to explore the earth sheltered building and have a pic-nic. We also found Icelandic poppies growing across the street. If you aren’t familiar with seals, you could stop at the seal center.
Day 4: Akureyri Take today easy, maybe go horseback riding and grab a milk shake at Kaffi Ku-a local dairy farm. Definitely explore Kjarnaskogur -a large city park in Akureyri with multiple play grounds, trials and streams.
Day 5: Akureyri You have options- explore lake Mývatn or the small coastal towns around the area.
Day 6: head East making sure to stop at the smelly and vibrant geothermal fields. It is well worth the side trip to Borgarfjardarhreppur to look for puffins!
Day 7: Egilsstaðir. Have another low key day at a farm stay. Build some fairy houses and throw rocks in streams. Grab some delicious food at the nearby organic farm.
Day 8: Make your way South. This is a long drive with few accommodations. Prepare yourself and plan lodging early. A camper van would come in handy here. Everywhere in Iceland is so beautiful that anywhere you can turn off is a great place to stop and break up the journey. However, the glacier lagoon is a must see!
Day 9: explore the South of Iceland. Top picks: The beach at Vik and the waterfall Seljalandsfoss that you can walk under.
Day 10: Golden Circle. The geysers and the hot rivers are favorites among children. Grab a place with a hot tub for some low key unwinding.
Day 11: Reykjavik. Take a day to explore the city. My children wanted to walk through the ice cave at Perlan multiple times!
Day 12: Say your goodbyes and grab some food for the plane.
If you have a couple extra days try getting to the wilderness center thats a bit inland from east Iceland, or you could try to fit in the arctic fox center in the west fjords.
Favorites among the children:
- Getting an up close look at the puffins at Borgarfjardarhreppur
- Walking around in patches of snow along the road
- Building fairy homes
- Throwing rocks in streams
- River Swimming
- Exploring Kjarnaskogur -a large city park in Akureyri
- Climbing on top of earth sheltered buildings
- Ice cave at Perlan
- Getting splashed as you walk behind the waterfall
- Hestaleiga in Akureyri has an excellent horseback riding option for very young children.
Things I’d skip:
- Borgarnes: the cultural center is expensive and the audio guide will not hold the attention of small children. If you are really interested in the viking past and traveling with 2 adults then try checking it out while the other adult walks down the nearby boardwalk with the children.
- The “Farmers Market” in Borgarnes is more just a storefront with local items and local meat. Nothing that caught my attention.
- Looking for puffins in coastal N. Iceland. Its a long drive out of the way to the puffin spots, and the location on the east gets you much closer to them with safer viewing points.
I always opt for 1 or 2 locally made artisan goods rather than gobs of imported kitschy stuff.
- Crafting wool
- Sweater or other knitted goods
- Wooden animals
- Felted animals
- Sheep skin
Restaurants are very expensive. Book lodging with kitchenettes and cook at home or make picnic lunches whenever possible. Opt for skyr (Icelandic yogurt) at breakfasts and maybe some sheep cheese for meals to still get that local food excitement.
Though we did not rent a camper van, there are some larger options available that would make a memorable and enjoyable experience.
I think Airbnb is a game changer for traveling families and I usually book all my stays this way. Utilize smaller places with sofa beds rather than multiple bedrooms to save money. Sometimes you owners are even able to put in a port a crib for you. Here were a few of the airbnbs we stayed at:
- Top pick: Ellen’s farm stay in Gíslastaðir (East Iceland). A very relaxing farm with a creek, horses, and friendly pup. Ellen was very accommodating, especially in regards to our baby. She brought in a port-a-crib, a high chair, and put away in small hazardous items through out the home. There were toys for our other children and an art table with paints, canvases, and brushes. ( https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/2611203 )
- Top pick: Siggi’s apartment in reykjavik that my children still talk about! There were 3 bedrooms in addition to the family room and kitchen. There was also a nice size yard with a trampoline, plenty of free parking on the street, and a child’s room with fun bunk beds, toys, and a swinging chair. Close to Perlan in a quiet, family friendly neighborhood ( https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/23284671 )