Must See Stops on the Ring Road with Kids

Iceland’s ring road is incredible and memorable.  We just returned from a 2 week Iceland family holiday around the whole country with our 2 year old son.  There are so many amazing things to do in Iceland with kids, here is a list of what not to miss.

1)  Awe at the Skogafoss Waterfall

Skogafoss, one of Iceland’s largest waterfalls, cascades right near the Ring Road and was hands down our family’s favorite waterfall.  Rainbows reflect in the mist of the pounding water, and verdant green vegetation ornates the rocky cliffs surrounding the falls.    The walkway up to the falls is easy terrain for children to explore, and our toddler enjoyed throwing stones into the run off of the beautiful cascade.  Think about bringing a picnic lunch, this is a beautiful place to enjoy a roadside snack.


2)  Explore the Historic Buildings of the Skogar Museum

Immediately next to Skogafoss waterfall stands a lovely cultural museum which our son absolutely adored.  Not only do they have a collection of interesting vehicles  from firetrucks to vintage construction equipment, but they have an assortment of Icelandic homes from different time periods that children are welcome to explore.  Our son loved peering into the Icelandic turf houses.  The outdoor space was perfect for our toddler to run and burn some energy, and we all found the museum well maintained and interesting.


3)  Go Barefoot on the Icelandic Black Sand Beach of Reynisfjara

Reynisfjara located near Vik, is a breathtaking Icelandic black sand beach surrounded by imposing geometric basalt cliffs.  Our son wouldn’t stop raving about the “black beach” for the rest of our trip, as he loved sinking his feet into the pebbles, building stacks of rocks, and throwing them into the ocean.  The setting is breathtaking, easy to navigate with children, and the beach is long and offers lots of space if you want to break away from the crowd and explore.


4)  Conquer Icebergs on a Jokulsarlon Boat Tour

The turquoise and fluorescent blues of the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon border on the surreal.  As you approach on the ring road, its hard to believe this incredible place lurks immediately beyond your rocky surroundings.  While quite touristy, Jokulsarlon is not to be missed and is a wonderful place to explore with children.  There are two boat tours, the zodiac and the amphibian, and the amphibian has no age cutoff, so infants can travel around and watch the bobbing icebergs along with their parents.   Jokulsarlon is cold so dress in layers, and book your tickets ahead of time to ensure your date doesn’t get booked up.  Keep your eye out for seals as we were lucky to catch one diving amongst the icebergs.


5)  Imagine in the Dimmuborgir Lava Fields

Marked with unusual shapes and formations, the winding paths at Dimmuborgir are easy both on the imagination and on the short legs of children.  Pillars of lava form towers, pillars and caves, and clearly demarcated level paths make for easy hiking with the little guys.   We followed the Church path which took us about 2 hours, and along the way our son searched for imaginary “troll houses” and “dragon lairs”.


6)  Feed the Cows at the Vogafjos Restaurant

I think if you splurge on one meal in Iceland with your kids, this should be the one.  This warm and inviting cafe brings the farm right to the table with windows from the dining room directly looking into the barn where the cows are milked.  As well as having a beautiful view of Lake Myvatn, the restaurant serves multiple delicious house made treats including mozzarella, Geysir rye bread, and raw smoked lamb.  Everything we ordered was delicious, from the appetizer sampler to the heaping slice of cake to finish our meal, and the staff was warm and welcoming.  After our meal, our son had a blast feeding the cows and calves in the barn, which is open to all visitors.

7) Learn about the Sea at the Husavik Whale Museum

By the time I booked our trip, all of the hotels around Myvatn were booked, we we stayed 2 nights in Husavik in order to explore that area.  We were so happy that we did.  Husavik is a fishing town with beautiful views of the ocean, and our son really enjoyed the Husavik Whale Museum.  While small, the whale museum is very well done with beautiful skeleton replicas and several interesting exhibits about whaling in Iceland. They also had a dedicated toddler room with toys and books which my son didn’t want to leave.

8)  Meet the people in Isafjordur Iceland

Hidden behind a thick layer of fog tucked away in a fjord, something about Isafjordur stole our hearts.   After over a week of transience on the Ring Road, it felt good to step out into a living and breathing town with the real comforts of home.  We really enjoyed just walking and exploring the small town, and every where where we stopped was charming, from the small boutique stores, to the town bakery, to the excellent restaurants.  Everything was walking distance, and the town was beautiful manicured and easy to navigate.  It was one of the best places where we felt we saw Icelandic life at its purest, and we really got a glimpse of how Icelandic families live.

9)  Take in the Fjords on the Ferry Baldur

If you decide to explore the Western Fjords, don’t miss the Ferry Baldur.  The ferry takes you between the Western Fjords and the Snaefellsness peninsula, and stops at Flatley island.  You have the option of getting off and spending some time on Flatley Island, which we missed because we travelled late in the day, but we still enjoyed the trip immensely, and it significantly cut our time in the car which is all you can ask for with a 2 year old.  We were all in awe of the efficiency by which the Baldur Ferry staff squeezed vehicles including oversized vehicles with hot tubs on them into the tiny hull of the ship.  We really enjoyed the breathtaking views particularly as you arrive in Stykkisholmur, and the boat was a relaxing and refreshing way to continue around the island but enjoy some time outside of the car.

10)  Embrace the Wonder of Viking World

So, we were skeptical too…  This unfortunately named museum is located approximately 10 minutes from the Keflavik airport, so we figured we would give it a try when we arrived early the day of our flight.  We were so pleasantly surprised.  The museum itself is beautifully curated, with several exhibits dedicated to viking life, as well as an impressive recreation of a viking ship that families can enter and explore.  One of the most interesting parts of the museum was a gorgeous hall filled with colorful dioramas depicting Nordic mythology. Our son was fascinated by the dramatic stories and graphic illustrations.  They also have a cafe and a children’s play area, so this was the absolute perfect location to kill some time prior to boarding your flight.

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