It’s the start of the week, and you’re struggling to get out of bed.
The phone will start ringing at any moment, so you hurry to grab a bite. But the few moments of calm before work soon end, and now you have to trudge through the week. That’s enough to make you want to go on a holiday!
You can have it all if you plan a getaway to Iceland. Perhaps, somewhere in the mountains, near the coastline, or a wildlife sanctuary? This gorgeous country is the ideal place to rewind and spend quality family time, so keep reading.
Table of Contents
Most Popular Family Activities In Iceland
1. Land Of Fire And Ice
Iceland is often called the land of fire and ice owing to the many volcanoes, lava caves, and glaciers dotting the country. This leads to significant geothermal activity, with geothermal water contributing almost half of the hot water supply in the capital.
The country has several geothermal pools, with 17 in Reykjavik alone. The most famous is Blue Lagoon, 40 minutes from the capital and a short drive from the airport. It’s open to the public between 9 am and 9 pm, and you can borrow bathing suits for $28-$215 for a quick bath.
You can drive to many hot springs, which comprise boiling fumaroles, spouting geysers, or bubbling mud pits. But some hold calm, tranquil waters at just the right temperature, perfect for taking a dip.
If you have time, drive around the Ring Road in summer on a 15-day self-drive tour. Get down at Keflavik airport, hire a travel guide who will curate a detailed itinerary, and turn on the GPS to the nearest hot springs.
2. Thingvellir National Park And Golden Circle
The major attraction of Iceland is its stunning landscapes which will leave you in awe. Leaving the geothermal pools behind, you can drive through the Golden Circle, which is like stepping into the fantastical land of Narnia!
It’s not far from Reykjavik, and you can cover it in a day without rushing through the different spots. You can either opt for a guided tour or drive upto central Iceland and back while visiting Thingvellir National Park, Geysir hot springs, and the Gullfoss waterfall.
Guided tours across the Golden Circle run between 9 am and 5 pm and cost $90USD or 10,900 ISK. Children between 3 and 12 years will get half-off.
Thingvellir National Park will hold special meaning for kids since it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can even go snorkeling in the crystal waters of Silfra ravine inside the park. So, keep driving from Reykjavik, all the way through Vesturlandsvegur, Þingvallavegur, and Suðurland for 38 kilometers.
Note that you will have to pay parking fees for a private vehicle; that’s why some tourists take a bus. Once inside the park, you can visit a 19th-century church, go hiking, camp under the stars from June to September, or traverse the pristine forests on Icelandic horses.
Tours in Thingvellir National Park range from $83-$131.
3. Wildlife Encounters
For a wildlife lover, Iceland is heaven! What better way to explore the country than booking a cruise to view puffins and whales?
The island is home to more than half of the world’s puffin population, with multiple tours running from May to August. And you can spot these cute black and white birds for just $48!
For whale watching in Reykjavik, travel to Iceland anytime and catch these gentle giants in action. You can spot orcas, humpbacks, minke whales, dolphins, and porpoises for $90 on a 3-hour tour. 20 different species of whales visit the country, but they are most abundant in summer, which makes ethical whale watching in Iceland popular.
Apart from exploring scenic landscapes, you can go skiing in Iceland, which is one of the most popular sporting activities. And it’s also a brilliant way to spend time with the family, provided everyone is up for it!
There is 75 km worth of ski slopes across this Nordic island nation and upwards of 10 ski resorts. All these resorts are situated at 1000 m above sea level, so imagine the adrenaline rush when gliding down the mountains at high speed.
For skiing, either head to Southern Iceland or venture up North. The southern resorts are more accessible and only an hour’s drive from Reykjavik airport. On the flip side, the snow season lasts from January to April, and you only have a limited window to make all travel arrangements. Not to mention, the rush of tourists will be pretty high.
The North of the country is remote, but it’s also a skiing paradise owing to the much colder climate. You can travel anytime between November and May to explore any of the skiing tracks – Böggvisstaðafjall in Dalvík, Tindastóll near Sauðárkrókur and Húsavík, Hlíðarfjall in Akureyri, Siglufjörður, Tindaöxl in Ólafsfjörður.
Here are the details of some of these popular resorts:
Open from 2.30 pm to 7.00 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and from 4.00 pm to 7.00 pm on the remaining weekdays. On weekends you can visit the resort between 11.00 am and 4.00 pm with day passes costing between ISK 1,700 and ISK 3,300.
This resort has 15 km slopes and 7 chair lifts, but expert skiers will enjoy the 1.9 km stretch of challenging slopes. It remains open between 10.00 am and 4.00 pm on all days, with day passes costing ISK 5,800 for adults.
Sauðárkrókur only remains open between 4.00 pm and 6.00 pm and is perfect for both beginners and intermediate skiers. The resort runs for 2.4 km with an entry fee of ISK 4,000 for adults, while you will have to pay ISK 1,500 for kids.
5. Go Into A Glacier
When we say “into a glacier,” we literally mean into a glacier, and it’s one of the main attractions in Iceland. Langjökull is the country’s second-largest glacier, with man-made tunnels and vehicles to carry you deep into its icy interiors. As you move from one chamber to the next, you come across different themes and attractive lighting installations.
You will be surrounded by a stunning ice wall on all sides, and it will take 3-4 hours to complete the tour. Prices range from $150 to $250, and you can drive from Reykjavik, situated 102 km from Langjökull.
Are you already packing your bags and looking at flight tickets? We won’t stop you but should tell you that most tourists prefer to tour Iceland in summer (June-August) with their families.
It will be comparatively warmer compared to the harsh winter climate, and hikers usually travel between July and August as most trails are open. However, winter comes with its allure of Northern Lights, dog sleds, and skiing destinations, so you might be tempted to book your tickets later in the year.
Long story short, Iceland is open to tourists all year round, and each season has its fair share of memorable activities. Pack your bags today!