Iceland with kids: 9 day road trip itinerary around the ring road

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Iceland Svartifoss waterfall  736x482 - Iceland with kids: 9 day road trip itinerary around the ring road

In the summer 2017, we spent 9 days in Iceland with kids (aged 5 and 3 at that time) driving around Iceland’s ring road, for what was going to become one of our favorite road trips so far.
We were amazed by what Iceland had to offer: countless waterfalls, volcanoes and lava fields, black sand beaches, geothermal hot springs, Icelandic horses, glaciers and fjords.
Our 9 day itinerary in Iceland wit kids below includes day-by-day maps, suggestions on where to stay during your Iceland road trip and highlights that should help you prepare your own road trip.

What is Iceland’s Ring Road?

The Ring Road, also known as route 1, is a national road that circles the entire island and that was completed in 1974. A Ring Road road trip will show you the best of Iceland.

How many kilometers is the Ring Road and how long does it take

The Ring Road is about 1 332 km (828 miles). We recommend spending between 7 to 10 days (if you have more time, that’s even better) to allow for enough time to admire and enjoy most stops.
Our road trip lasts 9 days but we would definitely have stayed a bit longer if we could.  We had to skip walking on glaciers and visiting some ice caves because our daughter  was too young for the activity, so you might want to allow for some extra days here and there. 

Ring Road clockwise or counterclockwise

That is completely up to you. A lot of people prefer starting with the South because it is packed with must-sees (particularly up to Höfn), so they tend to start with this section instead of having to visit it at the end of their trip, after all the driving.
That’s said, we waited until we were in Reykjavik to decide which way to go. We looked at the weather forecast and opted for a counterclockwise Iceland with kids itinerary to avoid the rain.

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Our 9 day in Iceland with kids Itinerary Overview
We included a detour by the Snaefellsnes peninsula to our Ring Road itinerary:
  • Day 1: Reykjavik and the Golden Circle
  • Day 2: Selfoss to Vik
  • Day 3: Vik to Höfn
  • Day 4: East fjords
  • Day 5: Detifoss and lakeMyvatn
  • Day 6: Godafoss and Whale watching
  • Day 7: Skagafjörður and Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls
  • Day 8: Snaefellsnes peninsula
  • Day 9: Reykjavik
Iceland with kids Ring Road Itinerary - 9 day in Iceland

Our 9-day Iceland with kids itinerary – a road trip driving around Iceland

This itinerary in Iceland with kids can be done clockwise or counterclockwise, and is easy to adapt to your own needs.  

Day 1: Reykjavik and the Golden circle

We arrived in Iceland the night before, and got our rental car at Keflavik airport.
We pre-booked a compact car with two child carseats and it was fine for most sections of our trip. There was some spots though where a 4×4 would have been better (near Detifoss and to reach the geothermal hot spots we visited).
After a short night in Keflavik, we decided to have a quick tour of Reykjavik, before heading out to the Golden circle.

Reykjavik is a colorful compact city that you can visit in a day. We parked our car near Hallgrímskirkja, visited the church, the Sea Voyager and strolled around the city main street, Laugavegur.

Then, after a short hour drive, we arrived at the Golden circle.

The Golden circle, a 300 km trip, is one of the most popular circuit in Iceland. You are likely to meet a lot of tourists on day trips from Reykjavik, but despite the crowd it should definitely be included in every Iceland with kids road trip.

The first stop is the Þingvellir National Park that you will reach after an hour drive journey from Reykjavik. If you want you can dive or snorkel right where the North America and Europe tectonic plates meet!!

Then comes Geysir. This was one of the favorite spots of the kids. They were amazed by Strokur eruptions (one every 8 mins) and weren’t too bothered by the sulfur smell. 

Next come Gullfoss, the first of a long series of impressive waterfalls you will be seeing during your Iceland with kids trip.  We are able to get better views after a short, slippery hike.

We finally stopped at Kerið crater. It is a volcanic crater lake filled with blue-green water. 
It was the only site where we had to pay an entrance fee (2 Euros per person).

Iceland with Kids - Gulfoss waterfall
Gulfoss waterfall

Day 1 itinerary detail: All the day-by day maps are clickable and will give you the detail about the different stops of this Iceland with kids road trip. Click on the map below.

Iceland Itinerary Day1: Reykjavik and the Golden Circle

Where to stay:  We stayed in a guesthouse not far from Selfoss, which had a little playground that the kids really enjoyed – Guesthouse Vatnsholt.

Day 2: Selfoss to Vik

After spending the night in Selfoss, we headed to Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, an impressive 200-feet waterfall. You can go behind the waterfall to enjoy different views. Needless to say that the kids were so exited and didn’t mind getting soaking wet afterwards. Be careful with kids, the path is very slippery.

We then stopped at Seljavallalaug, one of the oldest man-made hot pool in Iceland. This is one of the stops in our Iceland Road Trip, for which a 4×4 would have been better than our compact car as the road is not paved. One you reach the parking lot, you will need an 15 minutes easy-hike to access the pool. We were a bit shocked by how dirty the changing rooms were, yet it didn’t stop from swimming. The water was green and a bit slimy -Hubby didn’t enjoy it but the kids and I didn’t mind.

If you are looking to include more hot spots or lagoons to your trip, check out the lagoons of Iceland from Five Family Adventures. 

Next came Skógafoss, yet another fascinating waterfall. The parking is right by the ring road. Then, we stopped at Sólheimasandur site, the popular plane crash site. There is a good one hour walk (kids pace) before reaching the plane.

The last stop of the day was Reynisfjara beach, famous for its basalt columns created by volcanic eruptions and its black sand. The kids loved watching the puffins and running in the black sand.

Day 2 itinerary detail: Click on the map below for more details.

Iceland Itinerary Day 2 - Arborg to Vik

Where to stay: We spent the night in the Black Beach Suites in a suite with a terrace and an amazing view!

Day 3: Vik to Höfn

One our third day, we visited Fjaðrárgljúfur, a dazzling canyon and definitely one of my top 3 spots in Iceland wit kids. The hike until the last view-point is nice and easy. This canyon is not a very famous spot as it requires a detour by a gravel road, but it was fine with our 2wd.

Iceland Itinerary Day 3 - Fjaðrárgljúfur

Skaftafell national park was our next stop.  This park offers a lot of different hikes but we opted for a short one to see Svartifoss waterfall, which is surrounded by black basalt columns.

Iceland with Kids - Svartifoss waterfall

We then headed to Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon, where we got to see seals and the Diamond Beach.

Day 3 itinerary detail: Click on the map below for more details.

Iceland Itinerary Day3 - Vik to Hofn

Where to stay: We stayed in a guesthouse in the middle of nowhere, but with a superb view and in a fully renovated apartement, Lón Guesthouse.

Day 4: The east fjords

Although our main destination was Seyðisfjorður, we  ended up stopping a lot to take pictures because the views from the road were incredible.

Once in Seyðisfjorður, one of the most picturesque town, we walked around the main street in town, took pictures and saw Blaa Kirkjan, a blue church.

Iceland with Kids - Seyðisfjorður

We then headed back to Egilsstadir, and decided to try a local swimming pool. The kids (and the parents) loved swimming in a 30 degrees pool while the outside temperature was 10. The pool had armbands available, slides, three different Jacuzzi with different temperatures and a cold one (2 degrees). Obviously I couldn’t resist the urge to try it. It was a great experience, I felt reinvigorated and full of energy.

Day 4 itinerary detail: Click on the map below for more details.

Iceland Itinerary Day 4: Hofn to Egilsstadir

Where to stay: We stayed in a farm, Setberg, where the two friendly dogs were a good entertainment for our kids.

Day 5: Detifoss and Myvatn

We first stopped at Detifoss, Europe’s largest waterfall, which you can reach by two different roads (one paved and one gravel) before continuing to lake Myvatn.

Iceland with Kids- Detifoss waterfall

The lake region is breath-taking and offers a huge variety of wonders to visit.

We started by Krafka:

  • Viti Maar, a circular crater filled with blue water
  • Leirhnjúkur, a broad volcanic terrain with bubbling sulfuric pits and ashen lava fields. The kids loved the surreal landscapes and said it looked like they were on the moon.

We then headed to Hverir, a large geothermal field, full of bubbling mud cauldrons, and easy to spot from the Ring Road. The kids didn’t like the smell but enjoyed the colorful landscape.

We took a break in Lake Myvatn Nature Baths, a less touristy version of the Blue Lagoon and spent a couple of hours enjoying the relaxing hot water.

After that, we went searching for Grjótagjá, a small lava cave. It was used as a location for filming an episode of Game of Thrones (season three episode, Kissed by Fire).

Day 5 itinerary detail: Click on the map below for more details.

Iceland Itinerary Day 5: Egilstadir to Lake Myvatn

Where to stay: Our guesthouse was in a remote area, a short drive away from the Lake and was perfect for a quiet gateway for a night!

Day 6: Godafoss and Whale watching

Our first stop was Godafoss or waterfall of the Gods.

We then headed to Akureyri, and spent a couple of hours visiting the town, before going to Hauganes, the start of our whale watching trip. Luckily, the sea was calm and still and we were able to spot dolphins and four humpback whales. The tour lasted three hours, which was fine for our son but a bit too much for our daughter (she fell asleep and was barely interested by the whales).

Learn more about Whale Watching in Iceland.

Iceland with Kids - Whale Watching

Day 6 itinerary detail: Click on the map below for more details.

Iceland Itinerary Day6: Lake Myvatn to Hauganes

Where to stay: This was our favorite b&b – the host was very nice, helpful and she made us a wonderful breakfast. Plus, there is a hot tub in the garden!

Day 7: Hvítserkur and Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls

Despite our numerous breaks, the drive was too long for the kids. One should probably keep Barnafoss and Hraunfossar for another day.

We stopped at Hvítserkur, a 15 meters monolith, or a petrified troll according to Icelandic legends.

We then visited Paradise Hollow, which is a beautiful small oasis near the waterfall Glanni and ended our visit by a stop at Barnafoss and Hraunfossar.

Iceland with Kids - Barnafoss and Hraunfossar waterfalls

Day 7 itinerary detail: Click on the map below for more details.

Iceland Itinerary Day7 : Hauganes to Boargarnes

Where to stay: We stayed in a guesthouse in Borganes, in two separate rooms.

Day 8: Snaefellsnes peninsula

This day was dedicated to a round trip around the Snaefellsnes peninsula, which is often called Iceland in miniature.

Even by a rainy day, we could tell why people who visited this area fell in love with it. It is home to so many stunning sites and you could see volcanoes, waterfalls, rock formations, hot springs, beaches…

Our first stop of the day was Landbrotalaug, a natural hot-pot at the entrance of the peninsula. Our daughter was so excited to go inside the pool despite the pretty high temperature of the water (it felt like it was 40° inside but that was really nice because the outside temperature was around 8°C). It is not very large, but the three of us could sit inside it and relax. My son was not as adventurous and chose to skip this activity. The hot spring is not easy to find and at the time of our visit, there were no signs on the road, so check out the google maps coordinates before heading there. Then we stopped by Búðakirkja, an iconic little black church before heading to Hellnar Sea Cliffs. After visiting this little fishing village and admiring the waves, we crossed the Snæfellsjökull National Park, popular for being an entry point to get to the center of the earth in the Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Our last stop in the peninsula was the Kirkjufell mountain, the most photographed mountain in Iceland. It can be seen in season 7 episode 6 of Game of Thrones.

Day 8 itinerary detail: Click on the map below for more details.

Iceland Itinerary Day 8 : Snaefellsnes peninsula

Where to stay: For our last night, we stayed in a hotel in Bogarnes. If the kids were not with us, we probably would have driven to Reykjavik directly, but they were exhausted.

Day 9: Reykjavik

For our last day in Iceland, we drove back to Reykjavik and went through the Hvalfjordur Tunnel, a 3.5-mile tunnel that is built under the sea. The kids were pretty exited.
We arrived at Reykjavik after an hour drive and spent the morning wandering around and admiring the street art.

Iceland with Kids - Art Street in Reykjavik

It’s started raining around 1 pm, so we decided to head to a swimming pool. Probably not what comes first to mind as a rainy day activity. 
However, the kids were thrilled to jump, swim on a hot pool under the rain and use the numerous slides. 

Our flight was very early on day 10, so we headed to the airport late in day 9 and gave our rental car. We then waited in the hall for registrations to open. Even with kids you can find a quiet spot to rest and wait, if you don’t want to get a hotel for a few hours.

Our Iceland with kids Itinerary in video

I hope you enjoyed this Iceland with kids Itinerary and  get a sense of why we fell in love in this country.  If you have any questions, please feel free to leave us a comment below.

Pin Iceland with kids itinerary – PIN ME FOR LATER

This Iceland with kids itinerary along the ring road will give you some inspiration about your future trip to Iceland. Do not hesitate one second to add Iceland to your bucket list!

This Iceland with kids itinerary along the ring road will give you some inspiration about your future trip to Iceland. Have you been to Iceland with kids? What did you enjoy most?

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    1. You are right to bring saving up. Even if you can find a good deal for the flight tickets (with WOW for instance), you will still have to pay for the car, the accommodation, the food, the activities. And they are not cheap in Iceland!
      But it’s worth it.

    1. You should definitely consider a trip there, it is a great destination for families, and a not so long flight from the UK.

    1. We were there in July, so supposedly one of the hottest months. We only spent one day in tee-shirts though :p and the temperature was around 8-12°C.

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