Iceland Visit
April 22, 2005 8:19 AM   Subscribe

We're planning a family trip to Iceland in June (3 adventurous kids 3 to 8 yrs). Any suggestions on how to spend a week?
posted by vega5960 to Travel & Transportation around Iceland (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If the older kids are at all interested in science, the continental divide might be pretty cool to them. The site of the first Althing is a large meadow that should have plenty of flowers and room for frolicking kids. Going up onto a glacier to play in the snow is a possibility. They also might like to see some of the geysers and waterfalls, although there are not American-style railings and such to keep them out of dangerous areas in the parks I visited.
posted by amber_dale at 8:43 AM on April 22, 2005

The beach at Vîk is gorgeous and has black sand. And of course the Blue Lagoon is a must. There are also extinct volcanos around that the kids will get a kick out of climbing on.

Amber_dale is dead on about the safety... I had my heart in my throat as my traveling companion went skipping down the icy path to Gullfoss (big falls, giant drop) one winter day.
posted by xo at 8:50 AM on April 22, 2005

The path to Gulfoss won't be icy in June, but yeah, a little treacherous. But nothing to worry about.

I agree with what they've said, especially Vîk. If you can, Lake Myvatn in the northeast is beautiful. There's a spot where you can pull over and walk along forest (!) paths and litte gardens next to the lake. Sorry to be so vague, but it's mentioned in the Myvatn section of the DK Iceland book. The Haverarond mud pits are also impressive. See here.

You should definitely rent a car, if you can. One of my favorite things was driving the mellow, two-lane 'ring road'. We were there in May before things really got hopping, so there were parts of the trip where I felt like we were truly alone.

When in the north, this place is cozy, super friendly, and has amazing breakfast.
posted by drobot at 11:06 AM on April 22, 2005

Also, if you find yourselves in Eyrarbakki, a fishing town maybe an hour or so South and East of Reykjavik, Rauda Husid is a great, casual restaurant.

Also, this might be an obvious thing to say, but the fish in Iceland is amazing. Skyr is also good. It's a sort of yogurty milk thing. I ate it for breakfast on cereal.

There is a waterfall that you can walk behind (fun!) called Seljalandsfoss - info here.
posted by drobot at 11:19 AM on April 22, 2005

Check out this previous AskMe thread for suggestions about what to do in Reykjavik.

Given that you've got a week, I'd suggest a trip to two places:

1) Skaftafell National Park is absolutely gorgeous and well worth visiting. Hiking and trips to the glacier are a must. Svartifoss is an absolutely beautiful waterfall that is easily accessible from the park's entrance.

2) The Westman Islands off the south coast of Iceland are a great place to explore. There's a still active volcano that last erupted in 1973 (nearly destroying all the town and sealing off the harbour to the fishing community). You can hike up the volcano (there's a sign warning you to be cautious, but otherwise there are no barriers or restrictions on access) and get a great view of the whole island. Even today, underwater volcanic eruptions in the area forming new islands in this area, even today. A boat trip around the island and into the caves on its coast is also recommended.

There are lots of places all over the island where you'll be able to get a ride on an Icelandic horse; although you might appreciate it's unusual 5th gait if you are a more experienced rider. Frankly, I found the other four frightening enough!

Iceland is a beautiful place and pretty well wherever you decide to go, you're sure to find jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery, as well some of the best educated, friendliest people you're ever likely to meet.
posted by filmgoerjuan at 11:24 AM on April 22, 2005

If you are renting a car I would say you have to do a bit of travelling. The black beach at Vik (previously mentioned) would be cool for the novelty factor but don't expect to spend time with the bucket and spades because it was bloomin cold with rough seas when I went in June/July. Having said that, there were plenty of days wandering around Reykjavik in t-shirts.

You HAVE to go whale watching too but that will probably be more enjoyable for the older children. There is a service out of Reykjavik but I recommend going up to Husavik in the north-east of Iceland where the chances of sightings are much better. We saw a couple of blue whales up there that hadn't been seen in the bay for about 7 years. We didn't see any other whales but then that was because we were madly chasing the biguns. Saw a few dolphins and lots and lots of puffins too and recommend North Sailing for the trip.

I didn't go to the viking village but think the kids would have a blast.

Definitely have a trip to the blue lagoon for a splish splash for the kids and a bit of pampering for yourself. Try the free silica mud in the buckets - makes your skin gorgeous :D Tip - keep the kids away from the vent 'islands' as the water is VERY hot.

If you have the cash, splash out on a jeep trip up to the glaciers. Unfortunately it was far too windy to go right up to go on the skidoos when we went but they took us to other places instead (more waterfalls etc).

That's all I can think of immediately as I don't have kiddywinks but as an adult I had a fantastic time and want to go back again. Iceland is a beautiful place so have a fab time - but be prepared for the hole it will burn in your pocket.
posted by floanna at 4:43 PM on April 22, 2005

Oooh and if you are in Iceland for 17th June it's their Independence Day. Try to be in Reykjavik for then because there is lots going on and very family orientated. Lots of free music and festivities to be had.
posted by floanna at 4:51 PM on April 22, 2005

See also this AskMe concerning Iceland. Funnily enough I´m writing this on the last day of a field trip to Iceland where we have managed to do loads. I was here on holiday 7 months ago and got much less done. The difference is having a car. There aren´t many buses and what there are take a while to get around. Definite things to do are the Blue Lagoon, Gullfo´is is good but Geysir (I thought) only OK. My students were pretty impressed by the Kerid volcanic crater and were happy to wander around it for a few hours, this isn´t a particular point on any tour I´m aware of, but it´s free and is striking and if you´re going along the number 1 road then its easy to get to (eg if you´re going to Vik). One thing to be aware of is the state of the roads. The map we had showed all the main roads but some are tarmaced and some are just dirt with lots of big stones. I´m not entirely sure about this but it may be that road numbers with three digits are rougher, while single or double digit are ´proper´roads, can one of the icelanders here comment?
Other options are paid for trips, horse riding, (as Iceland has its own horses), whale watching, (though doing this from Reykjavik may prove disappointing, the north coast Akureyri/Husavik is supposed to be better), there´s cycle hire in town, there are also some good swimming places, on sundalagurvegur is a big heated swimming pool with hot tubs, slide, etc that will be a cheaper day out. There´s also a sea-pool on a beach near the city airport where they direct geothermally heated water so that you can sit on the beach then swim in heated sea water right up against the sea ´proper´.
Theres shop called this is iceland on the main shopping street in Reykjavil where you can get info and book trips.
posted by biffa at 2:44 AM on April 23, 2005

Thanks alot! I will definitely get a car and check out as much of this as possible. My two girls love horses so the Icelandic horses will be a big hit.
posted by vega5960 at 10:17 AM on April 23, 2005

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