Iceland, it seems, is on everyone’s travel wish list. Tourism is now the island’s biggest industry and the number of tourists travelling to Iceland has risen by as much as 30 per cent every year for the last four years. Visitors come for myriad reasons but mostly they come to experience the magic. This, the land of fire and ice, is a country where legends are woven into the cinematic landscape, where geothermal wonders appear at every road bend and the midnight summer sun bathes everything in a warm, pinkish glow. For families, it’s a fairytale destination with lots to see and do; kayak among icebergs, chase the northern lights, ride a horse across the volcanic landscape and more. When planning your family holiday in Iceland, here are eight can’t-miss activities!
8 Things to Do in Iceland
It’s hard to go wrong when choosing what activities to do in Iceland with kids; this is a country whose history and geography conjured up the perfect setting for giants and elves (some of the population still believe in magical creatures today). But if you had to choose the top things to do in Iceland then the following eight experiences should definitely make the cut.
Drive the Golden Circle
This popular 300km drive runs from Reykjavík to central Iceland and back. The Golden Circle is a great way to see some of the main sights, including the national park Thingvellir, the waterfall Gullfoss and the geysers Geysir and Strokkur. It’s an easy introduction to Iceland but does not scrimp on mind-boggling landscapes or fun, adventure activities.
Swim in a Lagoon
There’s a reason why Iceland is often called the land of fire and ice; it’s positioned on “hot spot” where lots of geothermal activity happens and it is also home to lots of glaciers. This unique topography has resulted in numerous hot springs and geysers all over the country. The most famous of these thermal pools is the Blue Lagoon, located halfway between the centre of Reykjavík and Keflavík International Airport (Reykjavík’s closest airport). Kids will love splashing about in this giant, warm bath, and the lagoon even provides arm bands for under 5s. There’s a swim-up bar for adults and mud treatments are offered. If you’re looking for something a little wilder then there are plenty of other lagoons to choose from including the Secret Lagoon near Flúðir, one of Iceland’s oldest pools.
Be Wowed by the Waterfalls
You don’t have to look far to find a waterfall in Iceland and Gullfoss (a main stop along the Golden Circle route) is one of the most popular. Gullfoss means “Golden Waterfall” in Icelandic, so called because of the golden-brown appearance of the roaring glacial water on a sunny day. Rainbows often appear over the spray, making for a truly magical sight. It’s an easy destination for families and paths allow even young children to walk down for a closer look at the thundering falls. Be aware, however, that guard rails are little more than thin ropes.
Say Hello to the Wildlife
Forget zoos or aquariums, Iceland’s great outdoors is home to majestic horses, wild puffins and more than 20 different species of whales. Iceland is known for its beautiful breed of Iceland horses that more closely resemble ponies than stallions. Farms and ranches are everywhere along the highways and can easily be visited with children, some also offer riding tours and can last anywhere from a half day to 10 days.
The best time to see whales is from April to October but whale watching tours from Reykjavik are operated all year. Peak season is from June – August when over 20 species, including the Orca, Minke, Humpback and Blue Whale, can be seen in the North Atlantic and Artic oceans on either side of the island.
During summer months over 60 percent of the world’s puffin population are found on this island. They arrive in late April to breed and leave at the end of August. These uber cute birds can be spotted at locations all around Iceland but the easiest spots from Reykjavík include the islands Akurey and Lunday, both just a short ferry ride from the city center.
Bounce on Moss Covered Lava Fields
Rolling green moss covered lava fields are everywhere in southern Iceland. As well as looking otherworldly, the moss disguising the lava’s hard edges is also extremely bouncy – particularly to little feet! The lush green moss creates a natural trampoline for kids as they run, skip and hop across the uneven fields. Some fields are bouncier than others, ask your guide for recommendations or just rely on trial and error.
Watch the Geyser’s Blow
The highly active Geysir Hot Spring Area is a favourite stop along the Golden Circle route where boiling mud pits and exploding geysers providing a natural kind of entertainment. Strokkur is the more active geyser, spouting clouds of water 30 metres into the air ever few minutes. A simple rope barrier allows you to get up close to the splash zone. Learn all about how this geothermal activity occurs in the on site Geysir Visitor Center.
See the Floating Icebergs
Watch the beautiful blue-and-white icebergs float slowly around the large glacial lake of Jökulsárlón. Located at the edge of Vatnajökull National Park, the easiest way to experience this otherworldly landscape is by joining a tour from Reykjavík; some of these tours include boat rides that sail among the floating icebergs. If you’re feeling really adventurous, join a tour that includes ice caving and glacier hiking.
Marvel at the Northern Lights
Thousands of visitors flock to Iceland annually for the chance to see the magical green and purple lights of the Aurora Borealis dance across the night sky. However, as well as being one of the islands biggest draws, they are also one of the country’s most elusive and unpredictable attractions. The best time of year to see them is from October to April when there are long dark nights. Boat and bus tours can take you to the best spots, check with tour operators to determine the best time to go…and then keep your fingers crossed!
Getting Around Iceland
The easiest way to get around the island is hire a car, although if you’re visiting during the winter months then you’ll probably want to have a driver as well unless you are experienced at driving in snowy conditions. There are several car rental agencies on the island and cars can be booked through a travel agent, at the airport or directly after arriving in Iceland. This is your best bet for the cheapest car rental options in Iceland.
The Best Time to Visit Iceland
There’s a reason why most tourists visit Iceland from mid-June to August. Weather-wise, these summer months are the easiest for a family vacation. But don’t discount other seasons; the winter months create a snowy wonderland and off-season rates make this time of year a considerably cheaper time for a family holiday. Christmas is a big deal in Iceland and you also have more chance of seeing the famed Aurora Borealis.
You May Also Enjoy the Following Posts:
Pin For Later!
Bookmark this post by pinning the image below to one of your Pinterest boards