With it’s lava fields, glaciers and other-worldly landscapes, Iceland has long been on our family bucket list. So when we finally pulled the trigger and bought our plane tickets we wanted to make the most of our 10 day trip to the Land of Fire and Ice. We decided to split our time between exploring the Snaefellsness Peninsula and taking a road trip from Reykjavik to Höfn.
Road tripping in Iceland is relatively easy. Distances are relatively short and most sites are well marked and easily accessible from the Highway 1 or the Ring Road. We spread the drive out over a couple days to give us ample time to explore and enjoy each stop. Keep reading for our favourite stops in Southern Iceland!
At approximately 60m tall and absolutely beautiful, Seljalandsfoss is one of the best known waterfalls in Iceland. This waterfall is worth a visit even if you just want to look at from a distance. But what really makes Seljalandsfoss special is the fact that if you are willing to get a little wet, you can strap on the little one in a carrier and take a path right behind it. Make sure you have good shoes as the rocks can get a little slippery as you can closer to the waterfall.
Skógafoss is one of Iceland’s biggest and most impressive waterfalls. It can be viewed up close either from the base or by ascending a steep staircase to the top. We chose to stay at the bottom as I was still in my first trimester with baby #2 and climbing all those stairs seemed a bit too ambitious for me that day! That said, we can assure you that even from it’s base you will be impressed by the shear force of this behemoth up close. Make sure to put on your rain gear as you will definitely get wet. In fact, getting sprayed by the water was definitely a highlight for Millie who asked to go back to the waterfall for the rest of the trip.
Sólheimasandur plane crash
The Sólheimasandur plane wreckage consists of what is left of a US Navy Plane that was forced to crash land here in the 1970s. Everyone survived the crash but the plane was left behind and is still there for exploring. We debated whether to even attempt a visit with a toddler given that you can no longer drive directly to the site and an 8km round trip trek over a mix of rocky terrain and sand is required. But, after some thought, and equipped with our sturdy Mountain Buggy Terrain and rain gear we decided to give it a go.
Was it challenging to visit? Yes. Was it worth it? Double yes! Walking in intense wind on what feels like the moon to explore a plane wreck is definitely one of the more unique things we have done in our travels. If you are up for a bit of a challenge, we definitely recommend you add it to your itinerary.
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
A visit to the Black Sand Beach right outside of Vík is on nearly every Iceland itinerary. The beach has lots of open space and is lined with the beautiful Reynisfjall cliffs and is a great place to explore with a toddler.
Skaftafell National Park to see Svartifoss
Framed by dark basalt columns made from lava, Svartifoss was one of the most unique waterfalls we have ever seen. A relatively easy uphill hike from the Skaftafell National Park visitor’s centre will reward you with beautiful views of this natural wonder.
The Hofskirkja church is still active today and was the last turf church to be constructed in the traditional Icelandic style. Only a handful of these unique churches remain in Iceland today so make sure to hop off the Ring Road for a quick visit during your road trip.
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon Boat Tour
The Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon Boat Tour was a highlight of our Icelandic adventure. We sailed between icebergs, tasted 1000 year old ice and remarked at the impressive crew who helped clear a path through the ice for the boat. We had heard that during the summer solstice that it was best to pre-arrange your tickets so we booked the Amphibian tour with Glacier Lagoon Tours before even arriving in Iceland. We aren’t sure if the tours were actually sold out, but we were definitely happy to not have to wait in the long line of people buying tickets onsite. If you are hungry while you wait for your tour to start, make sure to grab a hot dog at one of the food trucks in the parking lot. They are absolutely delicious!
Directly across the road from Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is Diamond Beach. Here, icebergs from the lagoon drift off to sea and beautiful diamond like pieces break off and wash ashore. It’s unique, beautiful and definitely was a hit with the toddler.
Tips for Parents
- To break up the drive between Reykjavik and Höfn book a stay at Fossar Cabin. This charming A-frame cottage is set in a mossy lava field with a small creek, has adorable sheep grazing out your front window and is definitely one of the most magical places we have ever stayed. Our toddler was charmed by the animals and unique landscape and we just couldn’t get enough of the views.
- Bring rain gear for the whole family. Whether you are exploring waterfalls or simply braving the weather, with Iceland’s ever changing weather, you won’t regret it.
- Bring a sturdy stroller and a carrier to be sure you are equipped to visit all of Iceland’s beauty.
- If you happen to be traveling with other adults and are comfortable leaving your kiddo for a half-day, book a glacier hike. We were fortunate enough to have parents join us for part of our adventure and as a result got to enjoy the most epic glacier hike date.