We spent the summer of 2016 touring Iceland. Now we're writing a guidebook to tell you exactly what you want to know:

How to take the whole family abroad and survive the process unscathed.


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Things to Do

Things to Do

Icelandic Horses: How to see them and where to ride them

Icelandic horses are unique, and their history is amazing.

Here’s a quick summary. In the year 982 (yes, nine eighty-two!) a law was passed in Iceland forbidding any horse from being imported into Iceland. A horse can leave the country, but it can never come back. And this law has been in place continuously for over 1,000 years.

These Icelandic horses have a unique characteristic. Most (all?) horses can walk, trot, and gallop. But Icelandic horses have two more gaits: The Tölt, and Flying Pace. Both of these gaits are considered to be extremely smooth for how fast they are. Read more

Things to Do

South Coast Tours with Arcanum in Iceland- Glaciers, Snowmobiles, and ATVs!

The South Coast of Iceland is one of the most popular areas for tourist to visit when they venture out of Reykjavik. There’s a lot to see and do: waterfalls, glaciers, black sand beaches, and more.

Arcanum is a tour company that operates in south Iceland, and can take you beyond what you are able to see and do on your own. They offer 3 different tours; we were lucky enough to try all 3 with various subsets of kids. Any of these tours could be a highlight of your vacation. See below for our reviews … and lots of pictures!

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Things to Do

Fakasel: The Icelandic Horse Park

UPDATED August 2017: Fakasel’s web site is now more or less blank. Sadly, please treat the information below as nostalgia only, since you won’t be able to visit! See our new post about other options for seeing and riding Icelandic horses.

UPDATED MAY 2017: Fakasel’s web site says there are temporarily closed, and it has said that for about a month. I don’t have any additional information, but it is strange for an attraction to be “temporarily” closed as we approach the busy summer tourist season. I’ll let you know if I found out what’s going on.

Perhaps I should work on a list of underappreciated things to see in Iceland. I’d put the Westman Islands on there. The petting zoo Slakki. Probably the local thermal pools. I’m not quite sure Fakasel makes the list, but the afternoon show might come close. The large tour bus companies seem to have discovered this place, but maybe not people touring on their own.

Fakasel is on Route 1, between Hveragerði and Selfoss. Those are some of the first towns you will come across heading east from Reykjavik; Fakasel is about 40 minutes from the center of Reykjavik. And right as you pull into the parking lot, you’ll know you’ve arrived.

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Things to Do

Buggy tour with 4X4 Adventures Iceland

The Blue Lagoon seems to overshadow all of the other things you can do in Grindavik, or on the Reykjanes Peninsula. It feels like I’m on a bit of a crusade to get people to experience other things in Reykjanes: In particular, I’m a big fan of the Reykjanes Geopark (which really takes up most of the peninsula.)

One more adventurous tour we tried in Grindavik was a buggy tour with 4X4 Adventures Iceland. These tours allow you to explore the Reykjanes Geopark in a very different way. The word “buggy” might not convey the right tone here– think of an ATV, but one that can hold 4 people. Here is a picture of the ATVs, taken from the 4X4 Adventure’s web site:

Photo by Kevin Boutwell (www.kevinboutwell.com)

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Things to Do

Road conditions in Iceland during different times of year

A common question people ask is, “What will the roads be like when I will be in Iceland?” This is a difficult question to answer. Let’s start with a few generalities, and then dive down into some specifics over the last year:

  • In the summer (say mid June through mid September), barring a recent storm, most roads should be in good shape. Many F roads may still be closed until July, but you should avoid F roads in Iceland unless you really know what you are doing.
  • In the winter (say December through March) you should expect at least some slippery spots throughout, even on Ring Road and other major roads. Ice and slush and blowing snow will be common, even if they are just in limited spots.
  • The rest of the time (so, mid September through November, and April through mid June) the answer varies with the year. You should be fine most of the time in May, though you can still have snow in May, especially in the mountains. Here’s a picture from May 29, 2016 on the mountain pass from Egilsstaðir to Seyðisfjörður in East Iceland:

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Things to Do

Using a GPS in Iceland

Icelanders have been having fun recently laughing at tourists who are misled by their GPS devices. One guy drove 5 hours up to Siglufjörður instead of 45 minutes to Reykjavik. (We are happy to hear that while he was there, he visited the excellent Herring Era MuseumWe really liked it too!)

Last month, a tourist was invited to a family BBQ when their GPS led them astray. And then there was the time … well, let’s just let I Heart Reykjavik tell it.

We relied on Google Maps almost exclusively for our journeys around Iceland. We have gotten slightly lost, but nowhere near enough to become famous. Here are some of our experiences and recommendations. Read more

Things to Do

Whale Watching in Iceland– Tips and Tricks for Families

We spent nearly 3 months in Iceland; when I ask the kids what their favorite thing was, the answer is immediate. “Whale watching!” Well, that’s the answer from some of them; some of them didn’t go. They were too worried about getting seasick on the 4 hour ride. But the rest of us tried 3 different trips; here are the tips and tricks we have learned. Knowing what I know now, I think everyone in our family could have enjoyed whale watching!

north sailing boat world better Read more

Things to Do

The Blue Lagoon- visiting with kids

The Blue Lagoon was one of the last places we visited in Iceland. By that time, we’d already been to many pools and spas all over the country. And the Blue Lagoon is much more expensive than any other pool or spa in Iceland. So let’s just say that the bar was set pretty high for me to recommend it.

blue lagoon sign

I was just about ready to write off the Blue Lagoon entirely when we got to the front entrance. Or, rather, didn’t get to the front entrance. Read more

Things to Do

Swimming with kids in Iceland: Navigating the locker room

The public pools in Iceland are beautiful and warm and a great place to take your little ones any time of year.  (Swimming outside with snow in your hair is a really cool experience!)  It is well worth the effort of getting everyone ready for the pool.  BUT yes, what you’ve heard is true–you are expected to shower naked (soap, shampoo, and all) before entering the pool.  No, you can’t skip that part.  No, your kids can’t skip that part, even if they don’t want to be naked in front of strangers.  What you need to know, then, is how it all works; that’s what we’ll tell you in this post.

With my kids, at least, part of making a new and anxiety-inducing situation more comfortable is talking through it step by step beforehand so that they know exactly what to expect.  Kids who feel like experts and who are telling you what happens next are not kids who are worrying!  So in this post, we will try to give you the info you need to let them become experts.  All the pictures here are from public pools, not the fancier spas, so they won’t be showing the upscale end of things! Read more