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Why traveling through Iceland with kids is a must

Iceland is one of the most photogenic countries in the world. And very easy to navigate through because of the Ring Road that covers the entire country in a loop and along the entire coastline. Driving the Route 1 (as the Ring Route is formally known) will get you to so many highlights that it’s hard not to stop every five minutes. The great infrastructure and the size of Iceland makes it very easy for families to explore in 2 to 4 weeks. Since this is the Ultimate Road Trip Guide of Iceland this itinerary covers the entire country. With this guide you have all the ingredients for the best Iceland road trip!

Time wise following this guide means that if you like slow travel this self-drive will take 4 weeks of your time, but you can also cover it in 3 weeks. We did the latter, but in hindsight 4 weeks would’ve been the better option. When you travel with teens 3 weeks is great. But with toddlers that take naps you simply cannot see and do it all in the span of 3 weeks. This all applies if you travel around Iceland by car or camper. Public transportation won’t get you to all the spots in this guide.

Popular travel destination

Iceland is a very popular travel destination. If you ask travelers about Iceland, they’ve either been there or it’s high on their bucket list. And that’s not a wonder. The landscapes are gorgeous and treats you to many natural phenomena that will blow your minds. Where else in the world can you find glaciers, active volcanos, geysers, waterfalls and northern lights in a country of this size? Add the many sagas you can tell your kids and they’ll be on the lookout for trolls and elves everywhere you go.

View of the Snæfellsnes peninsula in Iceland

Best time to travel

This is actually up to what you’re looking for. When you’re traveling with kids you’re probably traveling during the summer months. July and August are ideal if you want to access more remote areas with a 4WD car or campervan. It will still be windy.

Because of Iceland’s fickle climate it’s not uncommon that you’ll experience all four seasons in a single day multiple times during your trip. Oh, and let’s not forget the many hours of daylight. During high season Iceland sees about 20 hours of daylight. They don’t call Iceland the land of the midnight sun for nothing! Bring something you can cover windows with. Caravans, campers, hotels or AirBnB’s do have blinds, but more often than not you’re still left with light in your room or camper.

Iceland in the winter months

You’ll get the chance to see the country’s stunning landscapes in a magical light. And take part in winter activities like ice caving and snowmobiling. Partly or completely frozen waterfalls and more impressive glacier lagoons are also must-sees in winter. Oh, and of course, a better chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis I already mentioned before.

Road tripping through Iceland with young children

The question I get asked most often when it comes to Iceland is: is Iceland suitable for toddlers? With toddlers I wouldn’t road trip in a campervan or caravan outside of July or August. This time of year you’ll still have to hire warm bedding or sleeping bags and bring tights, warm clothes and thick coats to keep everyone warm and comfy. Every other month of the year it just simply gets too cold to keep the youngest warm enough. If you’re hiking with kids in a back carrier, make sure it has a raincover you can attach to it. It will keep the wind out and it keeps them dry.

Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world. Icelandic people are more reserved and quiet, but they are very warm towards kids. My toddler got many winks and smiles while we where there.

So in short, yes, Iceland is a good choice for a trip with kids!

Costs of a family trip through Iceland

The only negative thing I can say about Iceland is that it’s very expensive. Petrol, groceries and eating out is more expensive in Nordic countries than in other parts of Europe. So keep that in mind when you’re saving up for this family road trip through Iceland.

Iceland’s highlights

Whale and orca watching

Most of travelers will want to spot whales and orca’s. Peak months for whales are June and July. The first half of the year you’ll have a chance to spot orca’s while in Western Iceland, for instance the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. We went there in July and they had just left, so keep that in mind. In Northern Iceland you have a chance of spotting humpbacks from May to August, which gives you a bigger window during high season. Use Get Your Guide to book your whale watching tour.

Spot the Northern Lights

Who doesn’t want a chance to see the Aurora Borealis? Well, you can’t see them every night. The conditions need to be good. Meaning clear conditions, darkness and a surge in solar activity. The best time to spot them by visiting from mid-October through March. You can get extremely lucky and spot them in August, but chances are slim. Don’t book a trip to Iceland just to see the Northern Lights, because the weather on this island is just too fickle. Choose other locations where clear conditions are more of a guarantee, like Tromso in Norway, the Canadian Arctic or aboard an Alaskan cruise.

How to get around

Being a top travel destination, Iceland is extremely well connected by air and car. Iceland has some great roads. If you stay on the Ring Road you can do this with a 2WD, F-roads are only (partially) possible with a 4WD. In winter some of these F-roads are closed, because they’re not safe to drive.

There are no trains in Iceland, but you can explore the country by bus. We road tripped through Iceland by campervan for the majority of the time, that’s the main focus of this blog post. But we also used buses and had a great experience. They were on time, clean and comfy. Just be aware that it’s quite expensive to travel by bus and in winter service might be limited due to the weather

If you want to ride the bus in Reykjavik you can buy loose tickets or multi day passes at various supermarkets in the city. To book your transport via a bus company, we recommend using a website called Get Your Guide. We used them to get from Keflavik airport to the centre of Reykjavik. They will show all the deals bus companies offer and you can make your pick based on reviews by customers.

Epic family road trip around Iceland

This ultimate road trip guide around Iceland covers the entire island. In 3 to 4 weeks you and your family can cover this entire itinerary. This road trip itinerary is based around Route 1, aka the Ring Road or Hringvegurinn in Icelandic. This ring road encircles the island and is approximately 1.333 kilometers long. This itinerary takes you along the entire ring road, but also takes you off road through all that Iceland, one of Europe’s most rugged and beautiful countries, has to offer.

Ultimate Family Road Trip Guide: Iceland- map of Iceland

The start of your ultimate road trip through Iceland

Our family choose to drive north from Reykjavik. Away from the busy Golden Circle in the hopes that it would be less crowded there once we were already on the last leg of our itinerary. But it doesn’t matter which way you start. It’s up to you to follow our route up to Reykjavik, western, northern, eastern and southern Iceland or if you want to drive it the other way around.

It all has to do with the things you want to see and do. If you’re visiting during a month were you have to be in eastern Iceland to make sure you still have a chance to see orca’s or you want to see puffins in southern Iceland before they migrate elsewhere, that will likely influence your decision in regard to your starting point.

Booking a 4×4 campervan

Before we dive into the ultimate road trip guide through Iceland, I want to talk about the option of renting a 4WD for your self-drive.

Before you rent a car or a camper, you have to decide if a 2WD is enough for your self-drive tour, or if you need to rent a 4WD. If you only want to cover everything along route 1, you do not need to hire a 2WD. Since we wanted to access parts of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, the Westfjords and drive on the occasional gravel road, which were (partly) F-roads, we needed to hire a 4×4 campervan. Please make sure your rental company allows you to access certain F-roads and if the insurance you booked with them includes those F-roads. Show them your itinerary before you drive off in your campervan so you can still change your plans accordingly.

Our tip

We chose to rent our campervan through Motorhome Iceland. Great customer service via email and they took enough time to explain everything we needed to know about the van at pick-up. They also offer pick-up and drop-off from Keflavik Airport to their office (24/7 service). The reviews they get are great, they are recognized by the Icelandic Tourist board and that’s why we chose them. We don’t have a partnership going with this company, the link isn’t an affiliate link, we just really loved their campervan and their service.

Renting a campervan online

Try to avoid the crowds at the Golden Circle in high season

This tip is not airtight, but worked for us, so I will share it with you. It explains why we ended our trip at southern Iceland, instead of starting there.

Friends of us started out in the south and ended in the west and it was much busier at attractions within the Golden Circle in July than it was in the first week of August, when we were there. In short: this is why this road trip itinerary starts and ends in Keflavik.

And now the perfect itinerary: the ultimate road trip guide: Iceland. Done in a 4WD around Iceland in 4 weeks. A trip of a total distance of roughly 3000 km. Which takes about 32 hours in one go. But that’s not going to bring you the adventures you and your family are looking for, right? Take it slow and admire all that Iceland has to offer.

Reykjavik

After you’ve arrived at Keflavik airport you could start your road trip immediately. But I highly advise to start your trip with a visit to the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik. Take a shuttle bus to Reykjavik and stay there for a few days, before you pick up your rental and start your road trip. You don’t need a car in Reykjavik and it will save you a few days of rental costs if you sightsee without a car.

Beautiful Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik Iceland

The other reason is, that it will give you and your kids time to figuratively and literally acclimatize while in the comforts of a city and in a hotel or AirBnB.

A day in Iceland can feel like going through spring, summer, fall and winter all within a few hours time. Which means you might need to buy some extra warm clothing or warmer camping gear. If that’s the case and you’re already on the road, it will be difficult to find clothing and/or camping stores. You’re more than likely forced to drive back to Reykjavik. And starting in Reykjavik also means that you’ll quickly learn more about the Icelandic culture, food and its people!

Rainbow road up to Hallgrimskirkja in Reykjavik Iceland

The city centre is relatively small. Everything is at a walking distance and the things you have to see and do are:

  • a visit to Hallgrimskirkja
  • check out architectural gem, Harpa
  • eat an Icelandic hot dog at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur 
  • check out souvenir shop Thor, your kids will love the huge wooden Thor in the shop
  • visit Whales of Iceland
  • go on a whale watching or puffin tour
  • get lost in the city and check out all the cute colored houses

Pick up your car or camper at one of the rental companies in Keflavik. When you leave, first stock up on supplies. After that you make the decision to either drive up north via the route 35, about 10 minutes before you reach Selfoss, and drive around the island from there. Or continue your way east along the Golden Circle. In case of the latter you’ll have to read this ultimate road trip guide through Iceland in the order of your own itinerary. You can probably start your reading right below, but after a few you’ll probably have to scroll further down.

Graenavatn

In the Reykjanes Peninsula make a quick stop at Graenavatn. A small lake with an appropriate name. Graenavatn translates to Green Lake. The lake is seafoam green due to the amount of sulphur in it. It’s about 45 meters deep in the centre and that’s the reason why the color is greener in the centre of the lake.

Graenavatn lake near Reykjavik in Iceland

Shop at supermarket chains everywhere you spot them

Top tip is to shop at bigger supermarket chains, like Bónus or Krónan. Normally I would advise you to always shop locally and help smaller entrepeneurs, but that will likely leave you broke at the end of your trip. These supermarkets can be found in larger cities, like Reykjavik, Akureyri and Egilsstaðir. In smaller cities or more rural areas you’ll mostly find local supermarkets. They normally don’t offer as much variety and often more expensive. So whenever you spot a Krónan or Bónus, go for it!

Kerid Crater

Shortly after you’ve left route 1 for route 35 you’ve entered the Grímsnes area of South Iceland. Here you’ll find an impressive crater lake, called Kerid. Vivid reds and greens (the latter depending on the season of course) outline the crater. Picture perfect azure colored water fills up part of the crater. Minerals from the rocks seep into the water, hence the color.

Volcanic crater lake Kerid Crater in Iceland

Gullfoss Waterfall

The first waterfall of many is one of the most iconic. If you’ve been researching for your road trip you most definitely have seen multiple pictures of this impressive waterfall. There are two cascades that make up Gullfoss. The first drop is about 11 meters and the second is longer, about 21 meters. Gullfoss means Golden Falls, which is where the Golden Circle got its name from.

Iconic waterfall Gullfoss in Iceland

Geysir & Strokkur

The next Golden Circle site is one of the most famous of the world. Even as a young child I had heard about Geysir. And it’s a site that doesn’t disappoint. Geysir doesn’t spout anymore, but its sibling Strokkur does. Every few minutes it spouts water about 30 meters into the air. An awesome site to see and hear!

After checking out Strokkur explore the rest of this hot spring area with boiling mud pits and a few smaller geysirs. You can also walk up to a great viewing point.

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Eruption of geysir Strokkur in Iceland

Thingvellir NP

Þingvellir NP is part of the Golden Circle and one of the three national parks of Iceland. Most people pick one thing to see in this park, as part of their Golden Circle tour. But it deserves a longer visit. This beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site offers a wealth of things to see and do. Iceland’s largest natural lake can be found here, you can take a dive in the Silfra fissure, spot waterfall Öxarárfoss and walk one of the many hiking trails.

But the coolest thing is that visiting this park gives you the chance to stand on two continents at the same time. Can you imagine standing with one foot in Europe and the other in North America? Two tectonic plates, one being the North American plate and the other the Eurasian plate, collide in this park.

Hiking around Logberg (Law Rock) in Thingvellir NP in Iceland

In conclusion, this NP is worthy of a high recommendation in this Ultimate Road Trip Guide of Iceland!

Gerduberg Cliff

Worthy of a short visit is the Gerduberg Cliff. The Gerduberg basalt columns that reside on the cliff are perfectly symmetrical and it’s almost as if they where cut by hand. You can few them from below and walk up to them and be granted with a fantastic view all around you. The cliff is over a kilometer long and will surely impress you.

Seals of Ytri Tunga

Our toddler wasn’t as impressed with the Gerduberg cliff. But we told him that if he would give us 30 minutes there without throwing a fit, we would show him something very special. A 30 minute drive from the cliff you’ll find a private beach called Ytri Tunga. The owner permits everyone to enter his land to check out the amazing wildlife there: seals.

You can find them chilling on the rocks next to the water and they’re unimpressed by humans. Some people came way too close, so please keep a decent distance from these wild animals and don’t disturb them.

Our toddler loved them! And so did we, because it doesn’t get much cuter than a bunch of chubby seals.

Spotting seals in Ytri Tunga in the Snæfellsnes peninsula in Iceland

Budir Black Church

As we are making our way up to the Westfjords we still have some sights to see in the gorgeous Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Next in this ultimate road trip guide of Iceland is Búðakirkja, aka Budir Black Church. One of 3 black churches in Iceland and the only one on this list. It’s not just the picture perfect black church, but the surroundings of it that makes this site a must-see.

Oh, and if you want to warm up with a hot drink, visit the hotel next door. Your kids will definitely by surprised by all the taxidermy birds and even an arctic fox.

Black church at Budir in the Snæfellsnes peninsula in Iceland

Lóndrangar Beach

Lóndrangar are a collection of basalt volcanic dykes sticking out from the ocean. They are the remainders of a crater, which has been eroded to its current form by the sea. Many refer to Lóndrangar as a castle built on a cliff reaching out at sea.

Walk up to a viewpoint where you get rewarded with amazing views all around, lots of seagulls resting on the edges of the cliffs and if you’re lucky with a few puffins. I stand corrected, it does get cuter than a bunch of chubby seals, puffins are the cutest animals on the planet. Bold statement, I know, but I stand by it.

You can get a little closer to Lóndrangar. Just follow the trail on the right side of the parking lot and this hiking trail will lead you almost unto the beach. They seem to open and close the beach every now and then. When you visit this beach be sure to check if it’s open or not.

By the way, as the saga goes, this land belongs to elves. They like it quiet, so make sure you don’t disturb them while you’re here. This story will probably be a hit with the kids. They’ll look for them in every nook and cranny.

Ultimate Road Trip Guide: Iceland - blog post

Saxhóll Crater

A 15 minute drive from Lóndrangar you’ll find Saxhóll Crater. Although this crater isn’t filled with azure blue water like Kerid, it is still cool to stand on top of it. Thinking about the fact that it once shot boiling hot magma from the earth, sculpting the landscape around it.

And that landscape is the second reason you should keep an hour free in your road trip planner to visit the crater. From the top you get great views over the Atlantic Ocean and the dried lava fields of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

Ólafsvik

The cute fishing town of Ólafsvik only has 1000 inhabitants. It is a great village to stay if you want to explore the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Enjoy your time birdwatching, hiking and exploring the beaches.

Ólafsvik is also a great town to book a whale watching tour. And from February to early July you can even spot orca’s while out at sea. This is the best area in Iceland for an encounter with killer whales.

harbor of Olafsvik - Iceland

Kirkjufell

If you or your teens are fans of Game Of Thrones then Kirkjufell Mountain is probably on your bucket list. This mountain is the backdrop to the scenes where characters like Jon Snow, The Hound and Jorah Mormont hope to catch an undead wight. And it is also the place where the Night King was born. You can find Kirkjufell on the north shore of Iceland’s Snæfellsnes Peninsula, near the town of Grundarfjörður

With its pointy peak this impressive mountain comes in sight a few minutes before you park your car on the small parking lot right next to route 54. You can hike around it and climb it in 1,5 hours, but it is quite a steep climb. Right below you’ll find a pretty lake that ends in sea.

Across the road from Church Mountain (meaning of the word Kirkjufell) you’ll find a small yet gorgeous waterfall, named Kirkjufellsfoss. Don’t just check out the waterfall, but walk around it and right there you can shoot the perfect picture of Kirkjufell Mountain with Kirkjufellsfoss right in front of it.

Kirkjufell is one of the highlights of this ultimate road trip guide of Iceland. You should definitely see it!

Kirkjufell mountain in Iceland
Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall in Iceland

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Hólmavik

Like Olafsvik, Hólmavik is a cute little fishing town. And it is a great place to start a whale watching tour from. And it’s also more quiet than Reykjavik, Akureyri and even Olafsvik. Not more than one boat left the harbor on the day we set out to sea.

Whale watching tour from Hólmavik in Iceland

Hvítserkur

In Húnaflói Bay a 15 meter tall basalt rock stack protrudes from the water. A wondrous thing. Icelandic people call it the troll of Northwest Iceland, but my family and I believe it looks more like a dragon drinking from the water. Others believe it looks like an elephant or a rhino. Why don’t you and your family check it out and tell me what creature you see in Hvítserkur! Don’t just pass right by it on the beach, but make sure to walk the 400 meter viewpoint trail and you get to see it like in our pic below.

The drinking dragon in Hvitserkur in Iceland

Akureyri

Time for another city trip. If you’ve followed this complete ultimate road trip guide of Iceland, this is the first city you see after Reykjavik. The capital of the north: Akureyri, only 100 kilometers from the Arctic Circle, is an important fishing centre and port and has lots to offer to tourists. Don’t be surprised to find cruiseships in its harbor. Akureyri is definitely worth visiting, and more and more people are aware of that.

You don’t need more than a day here, make sure to visit Akureyri’s Botanical Garden, for a nice stroll with the kids. You will spot lots of arctic plants here, because of its near vicinity to the Arctic Circle. And after that stroll it’s time for some ice cream. Get it from Brynjuís, known in Iceland as the place that sells the best soft serve ice cream in the country.

Strolling through Akureyri in Iceland

Mývatn

Lake Mývatn and its surroundings is an area so beautiful, that you should stay here for a few days. This area is part of the northeastern answer to western Golden Circle: the Diamond Circle. Mývatn means mosquito lake and that seems like a great name. Iceland doesn’t have mosquitos, but it does have midges, which is kind of the same thing, don’t you agree? But don’t let the midges stop you from visiting the lake. Its geology is insanely beautiful because it sits about an incredibly active geothermal area. On the lake you will spot multiple tiny islands, that are referred to as pseudocraters, but are in fact basalt columns.

Besides hiking around the lake, you can do lots of other kid friendly hikes here or ride to the Víti volcano. But the absolute top thing to do in Mývatn is a visit to its nature baths! A family activity that everyone will most definitely enjoy. Forget about the extremely busy Blue Lagoon. Here you will find true serenity and relaxation as a family. Enjoy a drink in the water and the beautiful surroundings.

View of Lake Myvatn in Iceland
Swimming at Myvatn nature baths in Iceland

Dettifoss & Selfoss

More beautiful waterfalls? Absolutely! Dettifoss is known as one of Europe’s most powerful waterfalls. A true highlight of the Diamond Circle route. A must-see from this ultimate road trip guide of Iceland! When you get close enough you will feel the ground shaking under your feet. And it is loud! Impressive on all accounts.

Upriver you’ll find smaller, but wider and no less beautiful, Selfoss.

To get to both viewpoints takes a little hike, but a beautiful one.

Standing next to Selfoss waterfall in Iceland

Arctic Henge

The Arctic Henge can be found in Raufarhöfn. It’s located on the Melrakkaslétta Peninsula, the northernmost village on the Icelandic mainland. Only the island of Grímsey, lies further north.

Like Stonehenge, the Arctic Henge is like a huge sundial. The stone arches on site are arranged to capture the light of the Midnight Sun as it moves across the sky in summer. To name an example, on June 21st it aligns perfectly with the south arch. It is still a work in progress, but nobody seems to know when they’re resuming work on the Arctic Henge. For a few years now, there hasn’t been any progress.

The Arctic Henge in Iceland

Studlagil Canyon

Stuðlagil Canyon was created when river Jökla forced its way from the highlands to the North of the island. You can find it in Eastern Iceland in a glacier valley called Jökuldalur. Standing in and around the valley you can spot high and very impressive basalt columns. You can take multiple hikes around the canyon and through it.

Our teen said that walking through it made him half expect to see magical creatures like dragons or unicorns. We agreed, it’s kind of otherworldly and certainly a magical place that takes your breath away!

Studlagil Canyon in Jökla in Iceland

Egilsstadir

Egilsstaðir is a great place to stay to discover the area around this village. There’s not much to do in the town itself, besides shopping, having a meal at one of the restaurants and going to the visitors centre.

Other than that it’s the town in Eastern Iceland that can serve as a base to visit  the Vök Natural Baths, hiking in Hallormsstaðaskógur forest and searching for Lagarfljót Wyrm at Lagarfjlót lake.

Who’s Lagarfljót Wyrm? The more vicious sibling of the Loch Ness monster, because the Wyrm is not just a monster, it’s a venom spouting worm!

Hengifoss

Near Lagarfjlót you will find a very special waterfall, that deserves a separate spot in this ultimate road trip guide of Iceland. And that’s Hengifoss. Park the car and hike your way up to Hengifoss in about an hour. It’s a beautiful scenic hike up and you shouldn’t forget to look back behind you, because walking up means you get a great view of your surroundings, for instance of Lagarfjlót lake.

On your way up you’ll first see a mini version of Hengifoss, fittingly named Litlanesfoss.

Hengifoss is surrounded by layers of basaltic strata with thin layers of red clay in between. It looks like a chocolate cake filled with jelly and it’s a beautiful sight. We walked around and sat down for a bit. Surrounded by sheep easily navigating their way through rocks and pebbles and unphased by our presence.

The water coming down from both Hengifoss and Litlanesfoss ends up in lake Lagarfjlót.

Hengifoss waterfall in Vatnajokull NP in Iceland

Seydisfjördur

Seyðisfjörður is your last stop in East Iceland and is a small and cute village. It’s known for its rainbow road leading up to a church. A lot of the 700 residents of this town and most of the local businesses pitched in to color the bricks and show their support to the LGBTQ community. On both sides of this street you’ll find local shops and restaurants. Very photogenic and cute!

Rainbow street in Seyðisfjörður in Iceland

Sadly you’re nearing the end of your road trip, you’ve arrived in the South of Iceland. And you’re close to the Golden Circle, where it all began. But, don’t worry, there are still a lot of highlights to check out! You’re not done yet.

Diamond Beach

The next two places in this ultimate road trip guide of Iceland are located right next to each other. First is Diamond Beach, a strip of volcanic black sand filled with large chunks of ice from the icebergs. A magical thing to see for the whole family. I recommend visiting Diamond Beach early in the morning. If you want to take pictures without large crowds of people taking selfies with it and you want your kids to have room to play around a bit, you have to be there around 8am or 9am. It will be worth it!

Diamond Beach located by Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon in Iceland

Jokulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

On the other side of the bridge you’ll find Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Both Jökulsárlón and Diamond beach are part of the Breiðamerkursandur glacial plain. Where else in Europe do you get the chance to hang out at and on a glacier lake filled with different sizes of icebergs? The world is such a wonderful place.

Oh, and I just mentioned hanging out on the lake. You can book a trip on an amphibian boat tour and explore the lagoon. They offer life vests for all their guests and there’s no age limit, so you can also bring your baby or toddler along, they have life vests on offer in all sizes.

Don’t forget to search for seals. You’ll see them chilling on the ice and hunting for fish in the water.

Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon in Iceland

Skaftafell

Skaftafell is the place to be for hikers. Short and easy trails lead you to sites like waterfall Svartifoss or Skaftafellsjökull. There’s also a large campsite here where I advise you to stay (pre-booking advised during the high season). They offer all the amenities you need, there’s a restaurant on site and there’s also a visitor centre where you can find hiking maps, buy souvenirs or book a tour to go on a glacier hike.

While I went on a small hike with our toddler, dad and our teen went on a glacier walk and had the best time!

Glacier and ice hiking in Iceland

Reynisfjara

The basalt rock columns that you can see at Reynisfjara beach are the same type as at Stuðlagil Canyon. But in a much different setting. Located at a beach with beautiful black sand, you’ll find these basalt columns perched against the rock wall. But that’s not all. When you look out at sea, you’ll see basalt pillars in different shapes and sizes coming out the water looking like a bunch of impressive giants.

I’m probably boring you with this next line at this point. But I will say it anyway: this truly is another must-see that you have to add to your road trip itinerary.

Black sand beach and basalt columns in Reynisfjara in Iceland

Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck

In the beginning of the 70s an American plane crashed at a black beach in Sólheimasandur. They never removed it and what’s left of the plane became a real tourist attraction. It takes two hours to hike up there, so that might be a challenge for smaller children. But it’s an easy hike and a beautiful scenic one.

There’s no sign to show you the way. Just search for Sólheimasandur parking lot in Google Maps, park your car there and start your hike.

A hike up to the plane wreck in Sólheimasandur is not possible during winter time. You won’t be able to drive up to the parking lot. Which is your starting point of the hike.

Solheimasandur plane wreck in Iceland

You’re actually allowed to go inside the plane. But please don’t follow in the footsteps of many influencers and stand on top of the plane or on the wings.

Let’s make sure that others get to enjoy the plane in its present form. Breaking parts of it might make the site unsafe and lead to the decision of removing it all together. And that would be a pity for fellow travelers who want to visit the plane wreck.

Skogafoss

Almost at the end of the ultimate road trip guide of Iceland…. But not before writing about two of the most famous waterfalls of Iceland. Starting with Skogafoss.

As soon as you park the car, you get a first glimpse of Skogafoss. A small strip of black sand beach leads up to this high waterfall. Truly impressive. On the right of the waterfall there’s a steep wooden staircase that gives you the opportunity to walk all the way up to the top of the waterfall. Offering great views of course!

Skogafoss waterfall in South Iceland

Seljalandsfoss

Last waterfall, but certainly not the least is Seljalandsfoss, one of the most famous waterfalls. And not without reason. You can walk behind it! A cavern behind it gives you the chance to walk around the entire waterfall.

Top tip: go early in the morning, otherwise you’ll be walking there with hundreds of other tourists who are taking day tours from Reykjavik. Or are extending the Golden Circle tour by adding a few extra waterfalls on their day trip.

The trail behind the fall is muddy and the rocks slippery. We carried our toddler in our back carrier. I wouldn’t advise to let a toddler walk by itself. At the end you have to climb a little bit over slippery rocks. Which brings me to my second tip: wear a raincoat or a poncho, you’ll get soaking wet!

Walking behind Seljalandsfoss in South Iceland

Hvolsvöllur

This one’s for the kids. End your road trip at Valhalla Restaurant and Saga Center. Kids can learn about the history of vikings, and sagas like the stories about valhalla. End your visit with lunch or dinner in the restaurant. You’ll be eating great burgers and fries in viking style!

Valhalla restaurant and saga center in Hvolsvollur in Iceland

After visiting Hvolsvöllur you either end your trip in Reykjavik (a 1,5 hour drive from Hvolsvöllur) or drop off your vehicle in Keflavik (a 2 hour drive).

I hope this complete itinerary helps you with the planning of your family road trip. Iceland offers lots to see and do for adults and kids. You’ve seen towering waterfalls, swam in geothermal baths, visited black sand beaches and your kids searched for fairy tale creatures. The land of ice and fire is a great and easy destination for a family road trip! And if you have any questions about this ultimate family road trip guide of Iceland, you can shoot me a question in the comments or send me an e-mail.

About me Sas Crossing Countries

Hi, I’m Saskia!

I travel the world with my family of 4 and write about our adventures.

Sas Crossing Countries is a family travel blog. It’s created to inspire other parents to travel the world with their kids. Gift your kids the world! It’s the most valuable present you can give them.

With all the experience I have as a traveling parent I’ve got lots of tools and tips for you. So on this site you’ll not only find family travel blog posts, you can also download FREE pocket guides, travel checklists and eBooks from my resources page.

All that I share can be used to plan your own ultimate family road trip!

Get FREE ebook The Ultimate Beginners Guide: Planning a Family Road TripBecome a member of my private family travel Facebook group


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About me Sas Crossing Countries

Hi, I’m Saskia!

I travel the world with my family of 4 and write about our adventures.

Sas Crossing Countries is a family travel blog. It’s created to inspire other parents to travel the world with their kids. Gift your kids the world! It’s the most valuable present you can give them.

With all the experience I have as a traveling parent I’ve got lots of tools and tips for you. So on this site you’ll not only find family travel blog posts, you can also download FREE pocket guides, travel checklists and eBooks from my resources page.

All that I share can be used to plan your own ultimate family road trip!

Get FREE ebook The Ultimate Beginners Guide: Planning a Family Road TripBecome a member of my private family travel Facebook group

Get my FREE eBook!

The Ultimate Beginners guide: Planning a Family Road Trip

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