There is so much to see and experience along the Ring Road. It is not easy to decide which sites you would like to visit. Every trip I plan to Iceland is unique to the family traveling. Here is a sample of the Ring Road itinerary that worked best for my own family with children ages, 8, 6 and 4.
Day 1 Arrive Keflavik Airport: While many travelers, take the overnight flight to Keflavik airport. We chose the day flight getting us into Iceland after 11:00pm. This worked well for us because we took a 5 minute taxi ride to our apartment rental and put the kids to bed = No jet lag! The day flight from Boston is not offered year round, just the busy summer season and I would only recommend this option if you plan to spend the first night in Keflavik. The additional travel time to Reykjavik may be a bit too late and little ones will likely fall asleep in the bus ride.
Day 2 Golden Circle: Pick up Rental Car or Motorhome from Keflavik Airport and head out to explore Iceland! I recommend visiting the Golden Circle first. The sites like Geyser and Thingvellir are really not to be missed but they are the most popular attractions in Iceland. It is easy to get around the area; it is well marked and a great introduction to Iceland. If you visit at the end of the trip, you may feel disappointed by the crowds and tour buses so it is best to do it first.
Day 3 Waterfalls and Black Sand Beaches: In my opinion you can’t miss either Seljalandsfoss or Skogafoss. Yes, they are both gorgeous massive waterfalls in Southern Iceland but visiting each is a unique experience. Seljalandsfoss is special because there is a wide safe comfortable walking path behind the waterfall that loops around to the other side. It is unforgettable experience to stand behind all that rushing water! Just be sure to wear waterproof clothes or have a change of clothes, YOU WILL GET WET! Skogafoss is special because it is even taller and you can climb the stairs along the side to get a unique perspective looking down the waterfall. And of course, a visit to South Iceland is not complete without visiting the black sand beaches outside Vik overlooking the rock formations of Reynisfjara. We spent far more time running, playing catch, building rock formations and climbing basalt columns than we had planned but it was a hard place to leave.
Day 4 Glacier Fun: If you ask my children, this day was the best. Most people visit this area to take a trip around Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. There are several ways to visit the lagoon, but with young kids the Amphibian Tour (Duck boats to Bostonians) is the only option. For adventurous families with older kids, kayaking and Zodiak tours are a more adrenaline pumping option. However the most exciting part of our day was a snowmobiling tour of Vatnajokull. Again there are other ways to visit the largest glacier in Iceland but I certainly recommend this unforgettable experience!
Day 5 East Fjords: This stretch of the Ring Road is breathtaking. It is certainly difficult to keep your eyes on the road along the way and make sure you stop for a few picnic snacks. In order to visit the charming towns that make the East Fjords famous, you will have to drive off the Ring Road. I recommend Seydisfjordur. It is a picturesque town and Walter Mitty fans will not be disappointed driving down this famous stretch of road. In addition to Seydisfjordur, this family had to visit Borgarfjordur-Eystri to see the amazing puffin colony! It is a 1 1/2 drive over a stunning mountain pass to get to the town each way, but totally worth it if you are as puffin obsessed as my 4 year old. This was a very LONG day but it is hard to say No to a little girl and her puffin obsession.
Day 6 Turf Houses and Hot Springs: Get back on the Ring Road and head to the Myvatn Geothermal area. If you are looking for an off the beaten path location and an authentic turf house experience, then Saenautasel is a very cool experience! Definitely the most unique spot for tea I have ever visited, and my children loved running the grounds and playing with the farm animals. The greatest attraction in the area is the Myvatn Nature Baths. There is very little in the surrounding area and barely any guests in the main pools. This is in stark contrast to the very crowded, very luxurious Blue Lagoon. Each have their own draws but Myvatn Nature Baths was perfect for this active family.
Day 7 Mud pools, lava fields and caves: There are so many attractions in this area for the nature enthusiast. The geothermal activity has created some gorgeous and fascinating sites and the hiking trails are endless. For Game of Thrones fans, my personal favorite spot was clambering through the cave where Jon Snow and Ygritte shared a special moment. Another favorite spot along Lake Myvatn is an active dairy farm with the most delicious ice cream imaginable.
Day 8 Akuryeri and northern Fishing villages: Akuryeri is the second largest city in Iceland. It is a great stop if you are missing civilization at this point of your trip but we spent the night in Siglufjordur an hour north of Akuryeri. The tunnel to get to the village is worth the ride and our family was really looking forward to staying at our own log cabin with a hot tub over looking the cold Northern Waters. It was a great way to spread out and relax in our own little home with no attractions on our list to check off. Pure paradise!
Day 9 Home of the Icelandic Horses: Northwest Iceland is the best place to ride Iceland horses. There are many farms offering trail rides for riders of all levels, being up close and personal to these glorious creatures is not to be missed! Another favorite spot is Fossutun Troll Garden. Just a fun spot to run around, learn troll games and Icelandic Sagas and enjoy the last few hours of fresh Icelandic air before heading to Reykjavik
Day 10 Reykjavik: Time to return your rental and visit the “big city” of Reykjavik. It is a great city to explore independently. It is laid out neatly and very small, easy to walk around and extremely safe and comfortable. It certainly is not easy to say good bye to Iceland but a stuffed animal puffin for the plane ride home makes it a little easier.
Stay Tuned for more details on our trip to Iceland and some great tips for traveling with families. If you are not sure driving the Ring Road is for you. Go here to help you decide what works best for your family or email me and we can discuss a customized itinerary for you.