Iceland with kids: A 2 week Iceland road trip itinerary

Iceland 2 week itinerary Jokulsarlon

Iceland is truly magnificent.  No matter how many photos you see, nothing prepares you for the sweeping views, changing scenery and fresh air of this amazing country.   We visited Iceland with kids and drove Iceland’s ring road – the circular route that takes you around most of Iceland.  It’s the perfect way to take in all of Iceland’s beautiful sights.

An Iceland ring road trip is definitely possible with small children (ours had just turned 4 and 2 when we went).  There’s a lot to do in Iceland for kids – it’s like a living geography lesson, but fun.  Our kids haven’t stopped talking about the Strokkur geyser, the fumaroles at Lake Myvatn and the icebergs at Jokulsarlon.  You might also be surprised at the adventurous tours that you can take with small kids in Iceland, too.  Iceland is definitely a family friendly place!

If you’re considering going to Iceland with family take a look at our suggested 2 week Iceland ring road itinerary.  We made the mistakes so you don’t have to!

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Iceland road trip with kids: a 2 week Iceland ring road itinerary

Iceland with kids

I’ve put together a 2 week Iceland ring road itinerary with kids. 

This itinerary is not exactly what we did but the route does come with the benefit of hindsight.  We made a few mistakes and would change a couple of things if we went again; this itinerary is how we’d do it.  I hope our experiences help you plan your trip more effectively than we did!

While we loved our trip, the main issue was that we really needed a couple more days on the ring road.  We had 11 days in total and drove the ring road in 7 days.  This meant we had two really long days of driving which was tiring for everyone; not ideal with two small kids.  While 7 days to drive around Iceland’s ring road might be OK for adults, it’s just a bit too rushed for a young family.  So I’ve added in a couple of extra days for this itinerary which should make the journey easier for you.

When to go to Iceland with kids

Iceland with kids

As we’re now tied to the school holidays we travelled in August.  Summer is high season in Iceland so some places were busy, especially in the south. However the long days and good weather made up for that.  It’s best to do this itinerary in late spring, summer or early autumn as the daylight hours mean that you can take your time and don’t have to worry about driving in the dark.  You can also visit many of the natural attractions late in the day or evening, so you can pack more sights in to your day.

If you want to visit Iceland in the winter to see Northern Lights you will have to go much slower due to dark days and icy conditions.  Some of the timings in this itinerary may not work in the winter.

Where to stay in Iceland with kids

Family friendly accommodation can be quite tricky to find especially if you’re on a budget. We found that most hotels were too expensive so we used AirBnB for most of our lodgings.  Book as far in advance as you can!  If you’ve never used AirBnB before then you can get travel credit by signing up through this link.

Throughout this post I’ve given links to suggested places to stay at each destination – most are homestays and apartments rather than hotels.  All are suitable for families of 4 or more.  You’ll find plenty more options on booking.com.

Our Iceland road trip map

I’ve added a map of the route with the main sights mentioned in this itinerary on it.  It’s colour coded by day which hopefully makes it easier to follow the itinerary.  It really doesn’t matter which way you drive the ring road – we went anticlockwise and saw the busiest sights first.

Of course this itinerary doesn’t cover everything there is to see along the ring road.  You could spend months in this stunning country, but I’ve tried to pick out the most interesting things in Iceland for kids to do.  There are more adventurous things you can do if your kids are a bit older; I’ll mention them where appropriate but bear in mind that we didn’t do them ourselves.

I’ve added more posts about what we did each day – these posts have more information and detail on timings and are linked under each section.  I’ve also written a post about general tips for travelling around Iceland with kids.

Day 1: Reykjavik

Iceland road trip with kids Reykjavik

It’s most likely that you’ll be arriving into Iceland at Keflavik airport.  This airport is some way from Reykjavik and it’s best to pick up your hire car at Keflavik itself – there are plenty of options.  Click here to take a look at prices.

If you’re arriving into Keflavik early in the morning as many flights from the USA do, then you have a couple of options if it’s too soon to check into your accommodation.  You can take a relaxing dip in the Blue Lagoon, which opens at 8am (book in advance, more details at the end of the post) or you can visit Viking World (a Viking museum), also very close to Keflavik airport.   Viking World opens at 7am, will serve you breakfast, and is an interesting stop if you’re not too jet-lagged to take it in!

Solfrar Reykjavik with kids

For this itinerary, you’ll need to set aside one day in Reykjavik itself.  Reykjavik is fairly compact and so you can get a feel of it in a day.  Make sure you walk down Reykjavik’s main street, Laugavegur.  From here it’s easy to find your way around the city.  Another unmissable stop is Hallsgrimkirkja, Reykjavik’s famous church, which is the best place for getting an aerial view of Reykjavik.  Our kids enjoyed taking a stroll down by the harbour to see Harpa the opera house, and the famous skeletal ship sculpture a little further along.

If you’re interested in Iceland’s history there are some great museums in Reykjavik.  There’s the Settlement Museum, telling the story of Iceland’s discovery and colonisation, or the Whale Museum, both found in central Reykjavik.

To get more information and details on Reykjavik, take a look at our post on what to do in Reykjavik with kids.  There’s plenty to keep adults interested too!

You could spend at least a week in Reykjavik and its surrounds – there’s so much to do.  If you don’t have two full weeks to drive around Iceland’s ring road you could base yourself in or near Reykjavik and take day trips instead.

Where to stay in Reykjavik

Hotels in Reykjavik can be expensive.  Families are probably best off using serviced apartments to keep costs down.

Try the Swan House near Laugavegur Street – these are serviced apartments with kitchens and nearby parking.  Check prices and availability here.

41 – A Townhouse Hotel has a variety of super stylish serviced apartments which can sleep couples or families of up to 5 people.  I love the Scandi decoration in these!  They’re right in the centre of Reykjavik, on Laugavegur Street.  All apartments have a kitchen; some have a balcony.  Click here to book.

For larger families or groups Legacy Apartments are a good choice.  They are centrally located, near Hallsgrimkirkja.  The apartments come with an open plan living area and kitchen.  See if they’re available for your stay here.

Day 2: The Golden Circle

Iceland road trip with kids Gullfoss

One of the most popular day trips from Reykjavik is the unmissable Golden Circle.  Seeing the Golden Circle will take a full day as the stops aren’t right next to each other, but it’s worth the trouble.  The Golden Circle encompasses some of Iceland’s best natural sights.

Start at Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park, about an hour’s drive from Reykjavik, where you can see the edge of a tectonic plate and walk surrounded by gorgeous scenery.  You can also dive and snorkel in the Silfra fissure, a crack in the tectonic plate filled with crystal clear water.  The husband and I took it in turns to do this – I loved it but he wasn’t so keen.  Click here to book your snorkelling experience.

After you’ve looked around Thingvellir, drive another hour or so to see Geysir and Strokkur geysers.  Although you’ll probably only see Strokkur erupt, it’s still thrilling for the kids.  The last stop on this route is usually the magnificent Gullfoss waterfall, one of Iceland’s most powerful falls.  Make sure you take your waterproofs if you want to get up close!

Take a different way back to Reykjavik and stop at Kerið crater if you can; a sapphire blue crater lake surrounded by earthy red soil makes for a pretty stop.  Alternatively if you don’t want to go back to Reykjavik you can stay in the area to avoid doubling back on yourself the next day.

Full details of how to self drive around the Golden Circle or how to take a tour around the Golden Circle can be found in this post: Around the Golden Circle with kids.

Day 3: Reykjavik to Vik

Iceland road trip with kids waterfalls

Your Iceland ring road trip starts today!

Begin your Iceland road trip by driving an easy stretch along the south coast towards the seaside town of Vik.   Total driving time is only about 2-3 hours, but allow the whole day to reach your accommodation as there are plenty of stops along this route.

You’ll be passing volcanoes and glacier covered mountains, and the meltwater from these glaciers makes for some pretty waterfalls.  Stop off at the delicate Sejalandsfoss waterfall which you can walk behind, and climb up to the viewpoint next to the much more powerful Skogafoss waterfall for a stunning view.

We also made a pit stop at the Eyjafjallajökull museum which tells the story of local farmers and the impact that the 2010 eruption had on their lives. Unfortunately, this museum has since closed so if you’re interested in finding out more about Icelandic volcanoes you could try the new Lava Centre at Hvolsvollur instead.

Iceland road trip with kids Dyrholaey puffins

There are also secret hot springs and abandoned plane wrecks to find along this route.  You probably won’t be able to squeeze everything into one day if you’re visiting Iceland with kids, but pick and choose what interests you the most.

Make the penultimate stop of the day at Dyrholaey, where you can take a cliff-top walk looking over Reynisfjara black sand beach.  The main things to see are a lighthouse and a stunning archway which the sea has carved into a cliff, although you can get a better look at the arch from Reynisfjara beach itself.  If you visit in summer you’ll be treated to the sight of puffins nesting all over the cliffs – a surefire hit with the kids.

Reynisfjara beach Iceland with kids

From Dyrholaey drive the short distance down to Reynisfjara beach itself to look at the famous lava columns and caves, as well as letting the kids play on the black sand.  Star Wars fans will recognise this part of the coastline from the first scene in Rogue One.

Just be aware of the sneaker waves at Reynisfjara.  Sneaker waves are sudden huge surges which have washed tourists out to sea.  Don’t take the warning signs lightly and don’t let the kids near the waves or turn your back on the sea.

There are more details and ideas for the south coast in this post: Reykjavik to Vik: Along the south coast of Iceland.

Where to stay in Vik

Try the Black Beach Suites which are centrally located in Vik.  There’s a family room and some suites have a terrace so you can enjoy the views if you get the weather for it!  Check prices and availability here.

Nausthamar Apartment is only 5 minutes away from the beaches at Vik and is suitable for up to 6 people so if you’ve got a bigger family then this is a great option.  Click here to check availability for your stay.

Or if a hotel is more your thing then the Icelandair Hotel is also right in the middle of Vik with good views over the beach.  Staff can help you to arrange glacier tours.  Click here to check prices and book.

Day 4: Vik to Hofn

Scenery near Vik, Iceland with kids

Start out early from Vik, as there’s plenty to see along the 4 hour route to Hofn. You’ll probably notice that the ring road gets quieter from now on as you venture past the busiest sights.  It might be a good idea to top up your fuel tank now – there aren’t many petrol stations here and careful planning is required!

The ring road takes you through vast moss covered lava fields from an especially cataclysmic eruption.  When there’s a particularly beautiful stretch of scenery, you’ll often see a lay-by which you can pull into to take photos, and there are several along this part of the road.

Iceland road trip with kids Fjaðrárgljúfur

The next stop I’d recommend along this way is an utterly stunning canyon, called Fjaðrárgljúfur (don’t ask me how to pronounce it).  You’ll find the canyon just before you reach the next major town on from Vik, Kirkjubæjarklaustur. To get there you need to take a left turn off the ring road – there’s a small sign but I used google maps on my phone to find the turn.  Follow this track to the end where there’s a small car park.  If you’ve packed a picnic then Fjaðrárgljúfur makes a good lunch stop.  Make sure you walk all the way to the far end to see the waterfall from the viewpoint – it’s a nice easy hike even with small kids.

Skaftafelljokull, Iceland with kids

Svartifoss Iceland with kids

Photo from Iceland.is

You won’t be able to linger too long, as just along the road lies the glacier Skaftafellsjökull.  You can walk to its edge and if you have more time on your itinerary, you can spend some time hiking in the area.  Also worth seeing is the waterfall Svartifoss, which is surrounded by black basalt columns, similar to the ones on Vik’s black sand beach.  Both the glacier and the waterfall are a 45 minute walk from the car park so be sure to allow enough time here.

Iceland road trip with kids Jokulsarlon

Further east you will drive right past Jokulsarlon glacier lake, and on the other side of the road, Diamond Beach.  Both of these places are unmissable!  If I had to pick, I’d say that Jokulsarlon is probably my favourite stop in Iceland.  Or Lake Myvatn. It’s a tough choice!

At Jokulsarlon you can take a zodiac trip out onto the lake if your kids are old enough.  Click here for more information and to book your zodiac boat trip.

Ours were too young for the zodiac so we took a ride on an amphibian boat instead.  This was a mixed success – it went down really well with our daughter but our 2 year old son was less than impressed with his lifejacket and took some calming down, much to our chagrin.  Click here to book your amphibian boat tickets.

However, you don’t really need to take a boat trip out on the lake.  While you’ll get a great view and hear a talk about the icebergs and the glacier (if you can pay attention to it whilst trying to placate your child) the view from the lakeside is just as good.  Make sure you look out for seals swimming in the lake – we saw several.

Iceland road trip with kids Diamond Beach

Just over the road, Diamond Beach is a black sand beach covered in the icebergs washing out to sea from the glacier lagoon.  It’s at its best in the winter but there’s still a fair bit of ice on it in the summer.  It’s a great place to take photos; the white surf and blue-white of the ice against the black beach makes for a striking contrast.

Where to stay near Hofn

Stay overnight in or near Hofn.  We loved the huts at Lambhus, another hour or so on from Jokulsarlon. These are only open in the summer months but have fantastic glacier views.

Alternatively, you could try staying in The Milk Factory which also has views over the glacier, family rooms, free parking and wifi.  Click here for prices and availability.

If you’d rather stay in the centre of Hofn then take a look at Hotel Hofn.  There’s a restaurant here which might make a nice change from self catering if that’s what you’ve been doing!  Family rooms are available.  Take a look at prices and availability here.

Day 5: Hofn to the East Fjords

Iceland road trip with kids East Fjords

We didn’t stop in the East Fjords and drove the entire distance from Hofn to Akureyri in a day.

Yeah.  Erm.  Don’t do this unless you have to.  It’s far too far for one day.  The kids were stellar; we stopped frequently, everyone survived, but it took about 8 hours of constant driving with only very brief stops.

I thought we would be able to have a couple of leisurely stops on the way.  Naively I’d planned in lunch at Seyðisfjorður, a pretty town in the East Fjords, and another stop at the famous waterfall, Dettifoss.  However, it quickly became apparent that this wasn’t going to happen.  While the distances didn’t look too bad on the map, the ring road wound its way up and down so many fjords that we just seemed to be crawling along with little progress.

And then the main road turned to gravel, slowing us down further.  We wrote our detour to Seyðisfjorður off and stopped at Egilsstaðir for lunch instead.  Several hours later, we missed Dettifoss too.  Nobody could face another hour out of the way.

I’m not sure how I managed to screw up the distances so badly (I thought it would take 5 hours and I told the husband less, too).  Actually, I am sure.  Google Maps lies.  It’s all their fault.

Despite grumbling about my complete brain-fart, the husband and I agreed that we got some of the best views on this part of the route.  The Eastern Fjords were gorgeous, and we didn’t even see the best parts, apparently.

Where to stay in the East Fjords

I would definitely, thanks to Captain Hindsight, recommend a stop on this route, probably at Seyðisfjorður.  I’m still annoyed we didn’t make it there!

Seyðisfjorður Apartment can sleep up to 6 people so it’s a good choice for a large family.  Highly rated and in the centre of town, you can check prices and availability by clicking here.

Studio Guesthouse Seyðisfirði has a range of apartment sizes for families and couples and is also centrally located. Click here to check availability and prices.

More accommodation can be found around Egilsstaðir, which is the main hub in East Iceland.  Try Skarðas Country Cabins, just outside the town for a countryside retreat where you can enjoy beautiful views.  Click here to check prices and availability.

Day 6 and 7: East Fjords to Lake Myvatn

From your overnight stay in the East Fjords, you can visit Borgarfjorður Eystri, another recommended stop in this area, before continuing towards Lake Myvatn.  Borgarfjorður Eystri is a cute town with turf houses and there are plenty of walks in this area, from short hour-long trails to longer hikes.

Dettifoss IcelandPhoto from Iceland.is

Visit Dettifoss, Europe’s biggest waterfall, on the way to Lake Myvatn.  There are two roads from the ring road which lead to Dettifoss.  Road 862 is paved.  Road 864 is gravel but many say that the view from this road is better and the walk to the waterfall is shorter.  Your choice.

On the way to Lake Myvatn Iceland

On the way to Lake Myvatn Iceland

After you’ve admired the waterfall, continue on the ring road towards Lake Myvatn.  The scenery suddenly changes along this part of the route.  The greenery vanishes and you could forgive yourself for thinking that you’ve strayed onto another planet.  It’s no coincidence that astronauts train in this inhospitable part of the world.

Iceland road trip with kids Lake Myvatn

If you possibly can, spend all of Day 7 at Lake Myvatn as you won’t be able to see everything this area has to offer in an afternoon.

Lake Myvatn is an incredible place, and pretty much the reason for us travelling the whole ring road.  We weren’t disappointed.  There’s a huge variety of natural wonders to see here.

Iceland road trip with kids fumaroles

At Lake Myvatn you can experience the fiery side of Iceland.  You’ll explore crater lakes, dip your toes into an underground pool, walk on still-smoking lava and take in the sulphur-laden air of volcanic vents.  It’s definitely a memorable place for the kids!

Lake Myvatn Nature Baths

Photo from Iceland.is

There’s a more peaceful side to Lake Myvatn too; you can stroll through a pretty forest down by the lakeside, watch out for the rare species drawn to the lake and finish your day in hot springs at Lake Myvatn Nature Baths, a less touristy version of the Blue Lagoon.

Godafoss waterfall Iceland

We based ourselves in Akureyri, Iceland’s second city, which is about an hour’s drive away.  It worked out OK for us but it would have been better to stay in the area.  It’s a picturesque drive through fjords and past the lovely waterfall Godafoss.  Godafoss is worth a detour from Lake Myvatn even if you don’t plan to visit Akureyri.

Find out more here: 10 incredible things to see at Lake Myvatn.

Where to stay near Lake Myvatn

Dimmuborgir Guesthouse is a great option for families.  The guesthouse is well located, right in the middle of the things you’ll want to see at Lake Myvatn.  There are different accommodation options depending on how many people you’re travelling with, and the views are stupendous.  Click here to book.

Skutustadir Guesthouse is also located right by the lakeside, by the southern shore and the pseudo craters.  There’s a family room and a two bedroom cottage on site suitable for families.  Click here to check availability and to book.

Vogafjos Farm Resort is on the eastern shore of the lake.  It’s not too far from the Myvatn Nature Baths and has a great restaurant on site, set in a cowshed.  This is worth visiting even if you’re not staying here. There are family rooms available.  Click here to book your stay.

Day 8: Whale Watching at Husavik

Iceland road trip with kids whale watching

Nearby, the town of Husavik is the place for whale watching.  Several companies operate out of Husavik and whale sightings are all but guaranteed in the summer months.  All of the companies have great reviews and there’s little to choose between them.  We went with Gentle Giants.  You’ll need to book in advance as with all of the tours in this itinerary. Click here to buy your tickets.

We were lucky and got another perfect day, with the sea calm and still.  The tour lasted 3 hours and we were given warm suits to wear, which were necessary even in summer.  They didn’t have small enough suits for the kids so we just rolled the arms and legs up.  Happily, the boy was content to be bundled into a life jacket this time (I had been quietly panicking ever since Jokulsarlon that we’d get a repeat performance). We’d advise taking lots of snacks and drinks for your kids to keep them occupied.  There isn’t really any room on the boat for games or toys and I don’t even need to say that small children get bored quickly.

Once we found the whales we were treated to a great show and the whale spotting was then enough to keep the kids’ attention. We counted seven humpback whales and a minke as well as some puffins.  The boat’s captain was clear that they would keep a good distance from the whales and that we wouldn’t be chasing them, so as far as ethics go we were satisfied that we weren’t bothering the animals.

Husavik whale watching Iceland with kids

During the journey back to Husavik the crew handed out hot chocolate and Icelandic pastries.  The husband and I got double portion as the kids had been lulled off to sleep by the excitement and motion of the boat.  The view of Husavik as the boat returns to the harbour is lovely and wandering around the town is a good way to relax after the whale watching.  There is a good whale museum just next to the harbour too.  We didn’t manage to look in as we didn’t think the kids had it in them to concentrate any more.

You can spend the night in Husavik or drive to Akureyri, Iceland’s second city, just over an hour away.  Alternatively, if you don’t want to bother going to Husavik, whale watching trips also operate out of Akureyri, and they’re probably cheaper too.

Where to stay in Husavik

Gamli Skolinn Husavik Click here to book your stayhas several apartments for 4 – 6 people in an old school building close to the centre of Husavik.  The apartments are spacious and modern with kitchen and dining areas.  .

Bay View Apartments is suitable for families and has fabulous views of Husavik. There’s a kitchen and shared lounge, and a terrace to sit out on to make the most of the views.  Click here to check availability and book.

Where to stay in Akureyri

Skajaldarvik Guesthouse is located just outside of Akureyri.  Facilities include a hot tub and a kids’ playground.  There’s a great restaurant on site too if you’re tired of self catering!  Family rooms are available.  Click here to check availability and book.

If you’d prefer to stay in the centre of Akureyri then try K16Apartments. They can sleep 4 people and have fully equipped kitchens.  The sea views are a bonus!  Click here to book your stay.

Day 9: Akureyri and Siglufjorður

Akureyri botanical garden, Iceland

Spend the morning exploring Akureyri, Iceland’s second city.  Despite its status, Akureyri is pretty small and is easily seen in a few hours.   In the summer months the botanical garden is beautiful and provides a change in scenery.  It’s a rare place in Iceland where you can let the kids run around without worrying that they’ll fall off a cliff or something. The cafe here is nice but prices are shocking!

Iceland road trip with kids Siglufjordur

In the afternoon, drive 90 minutes along the stunning north coastal route to Siglufjorður.  We were keen to see a typical Icelandic village as we’d missed out on Seyðisfjorður earlier in the trip. This route takes you off the ring road and if you’re pressed for time you could skip Siglu and just carry on journeying west.

Siglufjorður is an absolutely tiny town and was once a mecca for herring fishing.  The herring have long since disappeared but there’s a museum dedicated to the industry which shaped the town.  It’s a very picturesque place and I think I picked out several houses I wouldn’t have minded living in!

Cute turf houses in Siglufjordur Iceland

Otherwise there’s some good hiking in the surrounding hills, or you can just put your feet up in the luxury hotel.  I wish I could say we stayed here but it was sadly out of our budget; we stayed in a hostel around the corner instead.  But we did treat ourselves to some drinks on the terrace while the children played.

We were utterly sick of self catering and eating pasta and sauce by this point in our trip and so we sucked up the cost and ate out in Siglufjorður.  We got good pizzas in Torgið which was a nice, family friendly restaurant and definitely a good option.

Eating Icelandic pastries in Siglufjordur

In the morning before we left we grabbed some kleina from the bakery for breakfast – the kids were agog at all the sweet treats available and we stocked up which kept everyone happy on the long drive!

Where to stay in Siglufjorður

Siglufjordur hotel Iceland with kids

The hostel that we stayed in doesn’t seem to be open now so try the Herring Guesthouse, just behind the church. There are several different modern self-catering apartments including two bedroom flats suitable for families.  Click here to book your stay.

Siglunes Guesthouse has quirky rooms with a retro vibe.  While the rooms don’t have kitchen areas, there’s a Moroccan restaurant on site and communal lounge spaces.  Click here to check prices.

If you’re able to spend a bit more then the lovely Siglo Hotel, pictured above, is your best bet. There’s a bar and restaurant on site, as well as a hot tub.  Click here to check prices and availability.

Day 10 to 11: Siglufjorður to Stykissholmur

Iceland road trip with kids Glaumbaer

It’s a long way from Siglufjorður to the Snaefellsness peninsula.  We managed to do this leg of the ring road in another long day of driving (5 hours) but you can stop for the night along the way if it’s too far.  If we’d had longer in Iceland we’d have stopped about halfway.  Three interesting stops broke up our long journey, and of course the scenery helped too.

We stopped at Glaumbaer, a turf farmhouse set in a magnificent valley where we explored traditional Icelandic life, and just gawped at the scenery.  The farmhouse is set out as it would have been used a few hundred years ago although its history stretches back nearly a thousand years.  It made a nice change to be looking at something cultural as well as the landscape.

An hour and a half further down the road, we stopped at Kolugljúfur canyon for lunch.  This is a pretty little canyon with bridges over its waterfall.  We had a quick look around and ate our lunch (pastries from the bakery – delicious!).  There are walking trails around the canyon but we decided just to carry on to our last stop.

Eiriksstadir Viking longhouse, Viking sites in Iceland

We finished our sightseeing at Eiriksstaðir, a reconstructed Viking farmhouse on the site of the home of the famous Eirik the Red.  This is another turf farmhouse but inside it’s very different to Glaumbaer.  You can talk to costumed staff and ask them anything about Vikings and take a hands-on look at typical Viking possessions and tools.  After spending an hour or so here we headed off to our accommodation near the fishing town of Stykissholmur.

Hvitserkur rock formation Iceland

If you’d like to break the journey into two days, you can stay near Hvammstangi and try to spot seals nearby.  Stop in at the Icelandic Seal Centre in the town where you can get some pointers.   There are also some interesting things to find on the nearby beaches, like the rock formation of Hvítserkur (above), so there are plenty of options to fill another day.

This area is great for finding out about Iceland’s Viking history – read this post to learn more: Exploring Viking sites in Iceland.

Where to stay in Hvammstangi

Solgardur Apartments sleep between 4 and 6 people and are centrally located in Hvammstangi.  They have fully equipped kitchens and large living areas – good for families with small kids.  Click here to book.

A little outside Hvammstangi, Bessastaðir Guesthouse is found on a farm next to the sea.  The property is an entire home which sleeps up to 6 people and has access to a large garden.  See if it’s available for your dates here.

Day 12: Snaefellsness Peninsula

Iceland road trip with kids Kirkjufellfoss

The Snaefellsness Peninsula is beautiful; it’s a shame we didn’t drive all around it.  We did manage to get as far as the famous Kirkjufell mountain but we then cut through the peninsula on our way back to Reykjavik.

I’d had a whole day of sightseeing planned in the area, but we were all fairly exhausted and decided not to push the kids too much.  Instead we drove back to Reykjavik and went to the Viking World museum near Keflavik airport, which makes a good alternative to the Blue Lagoon if you don’t want to go there.

Rock formations at Dritvik Iceland

Photo from Iceland.is

On the rest of the peninsula you can find beautiful beaches at Skarðsvík and Dritvík (above photo) as well as stunning rock formations at Arnastapi.  This peninsula is home to the glacier Snaefellsjokull and so you can also do some glacier exploration if you’re inclined.  A good road runs all the way around the peninsula making exploration easy.

Just off the road between the beaches and Arnastapi you can take a tour of some lava caves at Vatnshellir if your kids are aged 5 and up.  Pre-booking is recommended; when I looked a few days before we arrived at Snaefellsness it was all sold out for our dates.  Click here to book your tickets.

Where to stay on the Snaefellsness peninsula

Hotel Stundarfridur is a brand new hotel just off the ring road, near Stykissholmur on the north of the peninsula.  We stayed in some little huts just next to the site so we can vouch for the amazing location!  Family rooms are available, as well as an on site restaurant and lounge.  Click here to check prices and to book.

On the southern side of Snaefellsness, try Lava Water Accommodation. You’ve got a choice of accommodation here; choose between self catering apartments with private kitchens or guest rooms with access to shared kitchens.  There’s also a garden on site.  Click here to check prices and availability.

Day 13: Ice Cave at Langjokull Glacier and return to Reykjavik

Iceland road trip with kids Langjokull glacier

Langjokull Ice Cave

Icy adventures await at Langjokull glacier where you can take kids into a man-made ice cave.  This was the only place that we could find where we could step into a glacier with such small kids. It was cold – do be prepared!

The Ice Cave can only be visited as part of a tour. You can do the tour as a day trip from Reykjavik (we did) or on your way back to Reykjavik from the Snaefellsness peninsula (what we should have done).  You can meet on location at Hotel Husafell.  Click here to book your tickets.

If you want to be picked up from your hotel in Reykjavik then click here to book your tickets.

From Hotel Husafell we got into a coach which took us a little way up towards the glacier.  As the coach obviously can’t drive over the glacier itself, we transferred into a monster truck.  The kids loved this bit – who wouldn’t?  We bounced over the ice for about 20 minutes until we reached the Ice Cave.  We stepped out of the truck into a blizzard (which we hadn’t been expecting in August) and so bolted straight for the entrance to the cave.

Iceland travel tips

Once inside we were given crampons to fit over our boots and a guide led us through the tunnels and into various chambers that have been carved in the glacier.  You can even get married inside the Ice Cave – they’ve got a chapel with fabulous acoustics (if your guide is Thor then ask him to sing for you).

We carried the kids through the caves as the ground was wet and slippery.  I’d recommend waterproofs for small children as the suits that the company provided were too big for our kids.  Water drips from the roof of the caves so you could get quite wet.  You’ll also need to make sure that you’re wearing hiking boots.  The whole thing lasts for about 3 hours so there’s plenty of time to make some extra stops on your trip back towards Reykjavik.

The way back to Reykjavik

There are several things to see on your way back to Reykjavik.  Very close to Hotel Husafell you’ll see two lovely waterfalls, Barnafoss and Hraunfossar, which are worth a quick look.  There’s a shared car park for both these waterfalls and a cafe serving hot food and drinks so it’s an ideal pit stop.

Hraunfossar waterfall Iceland with kids

Hraunfossar is a gentle spill of water from an underground source; its water appears out of nowhere from the rock.  This waterfall stretches for nearly a mile and it’s very pretty.  There are a couple of viewpoints and bridges crossing the river so you can get a different perspective.

Barnafoss waterfall Iceland

Just along the river, Barnafoss is a totally different beast.  As the river narrows, it turns into a furious torrent gushing down the rocks.  There’s a small rocky bridge across the waterfall and it’s said that two young children were lost in the water when they tried to cross, giving the waterfall its name: Children’s Waterfall.

The town of Reykholt isn’t much further away.  At Reykholt you can find out about Snorri Sturluson, Iceland’s answer to Shakespeare.  There’s a museum dedicated to him here and you can also see the pool outside the house where he was eventually murdered.  We had wanted to look around the museum but it was shut for no apparent reason the day we visited.

Our last stop before Reykjavik was the hot springs of Deildartunguhver, where the river is almost boiling; the spring bubbles out of the ground at a scorching 97°C.  Huge pipes carry the spring water away to homes in Borganes and Akranes – all very interesting but don’t expect anything on the scale of Lake Myvatn’s attractions. You can buy greenhouse-grown tomatoes from Deildartunguhver, and there are some thermal baths nearby, although we didn’t check them out ourselves.

Day 14: Blue Lagoon and home

Iceland road trip with kids Blue Lagoon

Well, you can’t leave Iceland without a quick dip in the Blue Lagoon, can you?

Yes, it’s touristy and busy.  Yes, it’s expensive.  But it’s a good way to kill a few hours before your flight home.  We’re glad we visited, despite the initial howls of protest from both our kids as we entered the lagoon.  Yes, we’re that family.

Kids’ entry is free up to 13 and the minimum age is 2.  You must pre-book, and in plenty of time.  There are different tickets depending on whether you want more spa treatments and drinks – we just went for the very basic package which entitled us to the lagoon and a face mask, which obviously we didn’t get to try as we were too busy with the kids to remember!

A tip: borrow their towels.  You don’t want to be carting more soaking items home than you need to.  Hire a robe too – it’s cold when you get out, or when you’re trying to coax your screaming child into the water.

***

That’s a wrap: your Iceland road trip with kids is over.  You won’t forget it, that’s for sure!  Have you been to Iceland with kids?  What did we miss out?  There’s bound to be something!

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An itinerary to help you plan a 2 week family road trip around Iceland's famous Ring Road. See everything from Reykjavik, Vik, Jokulsarlon iceberg lagoon, Lake Myvatn, Snaefellsness peninsula and more.

Take the kids to Iceland. Use this 2 week itinerary to plan your ring road trip with kids.

Take the kids to Iceland. Use this 2 week itinerary to plan your ring road trip with kids.

Flying With A Baby

41 thoughts on “Iceland with kids: A 2 week Iceland road trip itinerary

    • Emily Cole says:

      Hi Shere, Iceland is indeed expensive but there are a few things you can do to spend less.
      Airbnb was by far the cheapest accommodation we could find – about £120 average per night.
      You should also self cater and use cheap supermarkets like Bonus for shopping. Beware hidden charges for your flights – the budget airline we used charged for seat choice, hold baggage and all carry on bags too which made the flights a lot more expensive than we first thought.
      Petrol was expensive I think – I’ll have to ask my husband as he paid for it! We picked the smallest cheapest car we could find – it was OK.
      The sights are free though!
      Thanks for the Slovenia tip – I’ll take a look!

  1. Jocelyn says:

    Iceland is definitely on my list, but the hotels are so expensive, even more so than London! I wouldn’t mind going in the winter…I want to see the Northern Lights

  2. Sandy N Vyjay says:

    I loved the look of this itinerary. It pretty much incorporates everything. Also the fact that it is done with kids in mind is so convenient. Iceland is indeed a white wonderland and this itinerary is of immense value to families heading out to Iceland for the first. time.

  3. Sia says:

    Some seriously gorgeous landscapes! I’ve always wanted to visit Iceland – it looks so beautiful and mystical! Would definitely see why your kids were so impressed, I can imagine me being like a kid there as well. Would love to visit Dyrholaey and see the puffins up close as well!

  4. Skye says:

    Iceland unfortunately remains on our list and we will definitely be taking a toddler there so this is such great information. The Sejalandsfoss waterfall ans Skogafoss waterfall just looks incredible and so surreal seeing the ice floats just offshore. What lucky kids you have to see all of this up close!

  5. Ariana says:

    I absolutely LOVE a good itinerary especially when it is put together by someone whose kids ages are similar to ours. Iceland seems so popular on Instagram at the moment, it keeps climbing my bucket list. Coming from #fearlessfamtrav

  6. Sabine says:

    Great post. We will be going to Iceland with our kids (10, 13, 15) end of August for two weeks, doing the ring road. Your detailed itinerary is super useful for our planning. Thanks.

  7. Helen says:

    We are planning to go to Iceland but only for 8 days. Is there anything that I can take off from your two week itinarary to be able to condense it in a week?

    • Emily Cole says:

      Hi Helen, do you have 8 full days or does this include travel time? Driving the ring road is possible in 8 days but there will be a couple of long driving days as we found – you might have to do the Hofn to Akureyri slog! You can miss out the viking stuff and the ice cave on Langjokull. You probably wouldn’t have time for the golden circle or much of Reykjavik itself (but there are other waterfalls and crater lakes elsewhere!).
      If you decide not to do this you can take day trips from the Reykjavik area. I would recommend taking a trip along the south coast to see as far as Jokulsarlon – allow at least 2 days for this (some say it’s possible in a day but only in the summer and honestly I wouldn’t do this). You can then explore the Snaefellsness peninsula in the west for a day or two. You can even fly up to Lake Myvatn for a day trip from Reykjavik to Akureyri. I’m pretty sure you can go whale watching from the south too.
      Basically, if you’re going in the summer and you don’t want a relaxing time you can pack a lot into a week as the sun doesn’t set until very late and the natural sights are always open. But if this doesn’t suit you then take some short trips along the south coast and west coast, and take your time. There’s plenty to see and Iceland is gorgeous wherever you go.

  8. Janine says:

    We’re planning a trip to Iceland in August with our kids (9, 7 & 2) for 10 days. We’d like to hire a car and do a portion of the amazing trip the you did. We travel a lot with our kids, but have found that our youngest isn’t great with changing accommodation too frequently in a trip. We’d love most of all to explore the South and West of Iceland while also possibly visiting the Lake Myvatn region. Can you recommend two towns that we could station ourselves out of so we can take day trips instead of driving the entire ring round? Thanks!!

    • Emily Cole says:

      Hi Janine, thanks for your comment. I’d say Vik or the surrounds would be good for the south coast – you can then get to Jokulsarlon and the nearby glacier for some activities easily. There are the Westmann islands just off the coast nearby too – we didn’t get to them but they sound interesting. In the west, the biggest town on the Snaefellsness peninsula is Stykkisholmur which is pretty and gives you access to most of the west coast, and a ferry to the westfjords which we also didn’t see. If you wanted to go to Lake Myvatn you could take a day trip from Reykjavik if you fly to Akureyri… Any more questions just ask!

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  11. Yin says:

    Hi Emily, thank you so much for your awesome itinerary! We are going to try to follow your itinerary to the T. We are staying 14 days, but flying out on day 14. We have older kids, 9,11 and 13. They are very adventurous girls and love to bike and swim. For sure would love the Blue Lagoon and try to do kid friendly safe snorkeling. Do you think they have that?
    Any recommendations or changes to your itinerary for our kids, what would you take out and add for our older adventurous girls. Not sure if the girls will enjoy whale watching for a long time plus they are a bit sea sick. Also for day 2, for the Golden Circle trip where should we stay if we don’t want to back track to Reykavik. What is a closer place from Golden Circle to where we are heading to Vik in you itinerary?

    • Emily Cole says:

      Hi Yin, I’m glad you’ve found the itinerary useful. I’ll do my best to help with your questions!

      If you don’t want to backtrack to Reykjavik then try staying near Selfoss, Hella or Hvolsvollur – all towns on the ring road and they seem to have lots of options. However there are guesthouses dotted all along the Golden Circle route.

      If you don’t want to do whale watching then leave out Husavik and spend an extra day at one of the other stops – I’d suggest one of the glaciers. I think pretty much all of them run the same sort of activities. The glacier near Hofn, Vatnajokull, is the largest so I’d suggest there https://visitvatnajokull.is/activities/

      For adventurous kids you could try some glacier activities like snowmobiling, hiking or dog sledding. There are also places where you can go horse riding and there’s some white water rafting near Varmahlid in the north – although I’m not sure on the minimum age for this. There are also tours of lava caves you can do. You could take a detour to the Westmann Islands which are just off the south coast, pretty much opposite Seljalandsfoss waterfall.

      The minimum age for snorkelling in Silfra is 12 unfortunately. A (pricey) alternative could possibly be Inside the Volcano dot com – they say their min age is 12 years but they’ve made exceptions so it doesn’t hurt to ask. (They flatly said no to my kids though, haha!)

      Hope that helps, and any more questions please just ask.

      Emily

  12. Ryan Biddulph says:

    Whoa now that is a cool place Emily. Desolate and stark but then you have some green and snow-capped mountains and all the trimmings of an epic spot. Seriously awesome.

  13. Ashton Mayne says:

    Hi Emily! Thank you SO MUCH for your thoughtful blog post, as we are wanting to plan a trip to Iceland with our kids. What time of year did you go? I’m trying to book things in advance but it’s proving to need to be WAY in advance. Thanks!

    • Emily Cole says:

      Hi Ashton, we went in August. We booked everything in December and found that lots of the cheaper accommodation was already booked up! I would book as soon as you’ve decided on your itinerary and that includes any tours or experiences you want to go on too. Hope you have a great time!

  14. Jen says:

    Hi Emily,

    We are enjoying a short stopover in August with an 18 month old and a 3.5 year old. I was wondering if you had to choose between the whale watching tour OR the cave tour (from Reykjavik) which do you think you’d choose?

    • Emily Cole says:

      Hi Jen,

      I think I’d probably choose whale watching as it’s more likely to entertain your 3.5 year old. However we had trouble with our 2 year old on one of the boat trips when he refused to wear a lifejacket and screamed the whole time :-/ Bring lots of snacks to entertain them when you’re waiting for the whales and for the way back once the novelty of being on a boat has worn off!
      Your 18 month old might not like the ice cave, but if you choose this option make sure you’re well wrapped up with hats scarves and gloves (we were underprepared!). There is more variety on this trip though, especially if you stop off at the waterfalls en route, so if your kids have short attention spans then perhaps the ice cave is best!

      Hope you have a great time whichever you choose.
      Emily

  15. Denisse says:

    Thank you for such a detailed post about your trip with your toddlers. We will be in Iceland this August-2018, with our 3.9 years old tornado (ha!). I have been freaking out about this trip with him, and it was funny -and very familiar- to read about your kids having a meltdown over life jackets or about entering the water at the Blue Lagoon. We too, are that family abroad with the full-toddler madness onboard. Thanks again for sharing your experience and your itinerary.

    • Emily Cole says:

      Hi Denisse thank you – I’m so glad you liked the post and found it useful. Kids certainly keep it interesting don’t they – usually in an unexpected way! Good luck with your tornado in Iceland – I’m sure you’ll have a great time!

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