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KeeKee's Corner
Iceland Adventures: A Family Vacation Wonderland


Iceland is a magical island in the North Atlantic Ocean, perfect for a family vacation full of nature and adventure.

Don’t be fooled by the name Iceland; much of the country is quite green and lush, especially in the summer.

In a country the size of the state of Kentucky, there are so many incredible sites to explore and experiences to be had. Not to mention, it’s one of the safest countries in the world and one of the happiest.

Only 300,000 people live in the country. 75% of the people live in Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital city, and the rest live in the country’s 100 towns and villages. Iceland is divided into seven different geographical regions. Each region differs slightly in respect to the culture and landscapes.

Whether doing a 3-day stopover on your way to Europe or making Iceland your entire vacation, it’s a fantastic destination for families thanks to its…

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Iceland is known for its stunning natural landscapes, including waterfalls (there are over 10,000), geysers, glaciers, volcanoes, and the Northern Lights.

During summer, something magical happens – the sun doesn't set at night! This is called the Midnight Sun. Imagine your kids playing outside at midnight in broad daylight! It occurs because Iceland is so far north, close to the Arctic Circle. The sun peeks below the horizon and then pops right back up again!

There is a wide range of outdoor and adventure activities suitable for families, such as hiking, horseback riding, glacier tours, and even ice cave exploration.

It’s home to unique wildlife, such as puffins and Icelandic horses. Kids will love the chance to see these animals in their natural habitat.

The best way to explore Iceland is by car on its many road trip routes. Here are a few of our recommendations.

This 186-mile Golden Circle route starts and ends in Reykjavík. It’s an easy drive for a family year-round. It can take 5 hours with stops, or you can make a few days of it. Start by exploring Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital city.

Reykjavík has many family-friendly attractions like the Reykjavík Zoo and Family Park, the National Museum, and the Perlan Museum with its planetarium. You can take boat rides from the harbor for whale watching and dolphin and puffin spotting. There are also many day excursions from here, like horseback riding, glacier climbing, and venturing inside a volcano.

Then head out along the Golden Circle to explore three iconic natural wonders: Thingvellir National Park, Strokkur Geyser Geothermal Areas, with the 59-foot-wide geyser gushing boiling water 100 feet into the air, and Gullfoss Waterfall with viewing platforms to enjoy its majesty fed by glacial waters.

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Thingvellir National Park is the site of the continental divide, a giant crack in the Earth along the tectonic plates where Europe and North America drift away from each other. In this park, you can stand on both the North American and Eurasian continents at the same time.

The fissure between the plates, called Silfra, opened in the ground in 1789. It has since been filled with clear glacial meltwater and offers the incredible experience of swimming, snorkeling, and diving between two continents. (Note: children must be 12 or older for the experience.)

This 828-mile route takes you around the whole country. It requires at least five days and is ideal in the summer as winter can be snowy and icy.

There are many Iceland highlights on this route. Hveragerði is the town of hot springs. Iceland’s biggest waterfall is Skógafoss Waterfall, which you can walk behind in the summer. Visit the country’s largest national forest, Hallormsstaðaskógur Forest, and one of the best-preserved craters in the world, Hverfell Volcano. You’ll also find Vatnajökull National Park, home to Europe's largest glacier (more on that below).

Vik is an adventurous little beach town two and a half hours from Reykjavík. It’s a great base for adventure, like glacier hiking, zip lining, horseback riding on Iceland’s famous black sand beaches, and ATV beach riding.

Whale Watching: While you can take a whale-watching tour from Reykjavík or other coastal towns, the best place to go is in the north, Húsavík, the whale capital of Iceland.

Horseback Riding: Across the country, you can find Icelandic horseback riding adventures. The adorable fuzzy Icelandic horses arrived in Iceland over 1,000 years ago and are often mistaken for ponies. Known for their gentle temperament, this is a fun family adventure.

Glacier Adventures: Embark on a glacier tour, where you can walk on glaciers or even explore ice caves in the winter.

Vatnajökull National Park, in Iceland’s southeast, is home to Europe's largest glacier. Take a zodiac boat ride through the frozen waters of Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon to get close to the floating icebergs that have calved from the glacier. Explore Diamond Beach, where blocks of diamond-like glass shards cover the black volcanic sand beach.

Langjökull, in West Iceland, is the second largest glacier in Iceland. Here, you can venture to the top via a special truck AND go deep inside via a man-made tunnel to learn about glaciers and see the blue-colored ice formations.

Gullfoss Waterfall in Ireland

Puffin Watching: The Westman Islands, a 2-hour drive east of Reykjavík, are home to the largest Atlantic puffin colony in the world. Puffin peeping begins here in April.

Soak in Hot Springs: There are 45 natural springs in Iceland, with Hveragerði, an hour from Reykjavík, having the hottest springs. Your family can also enjoy this unique experience in the town next to Reykjavik at Sky Lagoon in Kópavogur, which offers a series of geothermal pools overlooking the ocean. Or at the famous Blue Lagoon, close to Iceland’s main airport.

Northern Lights: If you visit Iceland in the winter, you can try to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) between November and early April. This natural light display is a magical experience that draws many to Iceland.

Iceland has something to offer year-round. If you want to try for Northern Lights and ice cave excursions, winter is best. In summer, you can experience glacial boat tours, puffin watching, and the Midnight Sun.

No matter the time of year, Iceland’s weather can be unpredictable, so it’s important to dress warmly and be prepared for changing weather conditions. You can expect winter temperatures to be around the 30s and summer to be around the 50s.

With so many options, using a Travel Advisor can be very helpful for planning your Iceland family vacation. Guided tours can also be great options for Iceland, especially if you want to see the Northern Lights, so you can leave it to the professionals to get you there.

The country’s natural beauty and unique experiences make it an excellent destination for family vacations.

Iceland Adventure Awaits!

AAA Travel Advisors are available to help you navigate and plan all the details of your Iceland vacation with special Member benefits and savings. Find an Advisor

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