January 10, 2018 at 9:48 am #2764
We are thrilled to be visiting Iceland from August 16-26. We are a family of 4, and our kids will be nearly 5 and nearly 7. We will have a car, and are thinking of visiting the SE coast (as far over as Jokulsarlon), the Golden Circle sights, and Reykjavik. We would love to get your suggestions on how to best break up the itinerary so as to minimize wear and tear on the kids and too much unpacking/packing. Any suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much! Your site is a great resource.January 10, 2018 at 4:43 pm #2769EricKeymaster
Hi! Thanks for reading. I think you’re in the perfect situation to take our 1 week itinerary and include every option. Something like this:
Day 1: Reykjanes Geopark. This will get you to some amazing sites on your first day, but also keep you close to the airport. You could consider the Blue Lagoon if you thought you’d be up for it after the flight. Make sure you book tickets for the Blue Lagoon once you know when you are going!
Reykjavik. Relax, walk around if you’re not exhausted from the flight. Take a nap early if needed, or try to stay up until 6 PM and then crash. Consider the Laugardalur area: Reykjavik Family Park and Zoo, Ásmundur Sveinsson Sculpture Museum, Laugardalslaug thermal pool. Those are all just a couple minutes drive from each other, but it’s about 10 minutes away from the main downtown harbor area.
Stay in Reykjavik.
Days 3 and 4: 2 days in the Golden Circle. See what sounds good from our Golden Circle with kids post
If you took 2 days here, you could spend 1 day exploring everything that isn’t the big 3 attractions: Raufarholshellir lava cave (make sure the kids are careful walking on the rocks!), Ljósafoss Power Station Visitor’s Center, Kerið Crater, Slakki (great for kids the ages yours are), Faxi waterfall. You could stay in or near Flúðir.
Days 5: Westman Islands. This is an unusual recommendation, but I loved the Westman Islands. I think the 35 minute ferry ride is a great adventure for kids. Stay overnight and explore. Take the bus tour from Eyja tours and explore the Volcano Museum.
Maybe plan to take the ferry one morning and then return the following morning. This leaves a lot of time on the island, so take some time to relax too!
See my Westman Islands with kids guest post.
Day 6: Head east toward Vik. Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Skogafoss waterfall (both right off of Ring Road), Reynisfjara and Dyrhólaey. Stay in or around Vik.
Read up on the “sneaker waves” at Reynisfjara!
Days 7-8:Hit the rest of the South coast past Vik. See our post here about the south coast of Iceland. Spend one night far East, and then the second night back near Vik again? Book lodging down here super early!
Day 9: Travel day to head back. If you ended up staying near Vik, you’re you’re about 2 1/2 hours away from Reykjavik. If your kids liked the Volcano Museum on the Westman Islands, consider the Lava Centre mentioned in the South Coast post. Also consider a visit to the Icelandic Horse Center.
Day 10: Reykjavik harbor area. Do a Whale Watching trip. (See our tips for whale watching in Iceland.) Visit the Whales of Iceland museum beforehand. (Be sure to consider the family ticket!) Icelandic Fish and Chips for dinner; explore the little Volcano House attached to it. Maybe a hot dog at the hot dog stand.
Day 11: Visit the Blue Lagoon in Grindavik if you didn’t on the first day.
If you have time, see Keflavik (the town near the airport). Visit the Viking Museum, and the settlement zoo next door.
And check out the Keflavik harbor area, including the Gaintess in the mountain and the sculpture by the water.
Then back to the airport- it’s only about 10 minutes away from these parts of Keflavik. This is assuming you have some time on your travel day home.
Whew. Hope that all makes sense. Let me know what you think!January 10, 2018 at 10:47 pm #2770
Thank you so much for the speedy response and for the wealth of fantastic information/suggestions! We really appreciate the time you put into crafting such a thoughtful response, and your insights are tremendously helpful!! We were originally planning to go straight to the SE coast area for a few days and then be based in Reykjavik for a week so that we could meet up with another family, but our plans have changed and the other family is no longer coming, which gives us a lot more flexibility and more opportunity to spend time in the other places. As you mentioned, it can be really tricky to find lodging in some of the areas along the coast, so we are hoping to keep the reservations we’ve already booked for the first few nights, which would mean going from the airport to Hvolsvollur on the first day. We get in very early in the morning, so we are hoping the kids will just be able to get some sleep in the car, and we can make some stops along the way as their mood permits. We have 2 nights in Hvolsvollur and then we had booked either 1 or 2 nights in Hnappavellir, right between Skaftafel and Jokulsarlon. We don’t currently have anything booked beyond that, and we were thinking that during those first 3-4 nights, we would definitely like to do the Westman Islands, Jokulsarlon, Skaftafel, Reynisfjara, Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Skogafoss waterfall, and maybe Vik. Would you recommend going to Reykjavik after that and then the Golden Circle, or the other way around? We also want to do the Blue Lagoon at some point when it most makes sense. Any further thoughts or suggestions you have would be great!!January 14, 2018 at 10:09 am #2772EricKeymaster
Hi! If you’re in Hvolsvöllur, you definitely need to see the Lava Centre Museum– it should only be a couple minutes from where you’re staying!
I think you’re good for the South Coast then. I would probably use Hvolsvöllur as a base to see some of the south coast– it’s an hour or less to get to Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss, Reynisfjara and Dyrhólaey. Then you scoot over east to see the rest, and stay in Hnappavellir. You’d backtrack a little from Dyrhólaey back to Hvolsvöllur; you could also try to squeeze those in as you drove east to Hnappavellir.
You could decide to spend a night after that on the Westman Islands? Or see it as a day trip from Hvolsvöllur. But it might be a nice stopping point driving back from Hnappavellir; it would be about 3 hours to the ferry port from Hnappavellir. Then you could head up to the Golden Circle from the Westman Islands, then to Reykjavik, and then to the Blue Lagoon / Reykjanes at the end. That way you’re more or less heading west to east on your way back from the south coast.
Good luck and have fun!January 22, 2018 at 2:58 pm #2777
Thank you so much- this has been supremely helpful!!
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