” Iceland is not a destination. It is an adventure.”
Iceland is a scarcely populated country, located near the top of the globe that is on everyone’s bucket list. I planned to drive the Ring Road with Hubby for summer ( 2016 ) but we had a baby so the trip was postponed for 2017. I wanted to share our itinerary with you and some tips on traveling Iceland with a 1 year old.Iceland is divided into 5 major regions: The Southwest, Southeast, East, North and West Iceland. We had 7 full days and that was definitely not enough. I would recommend at least 2 weeks (maybe longer). The best would be to spend at least 3-4 days in each region to take your time and enjoy the scenery. We landed in Keflavik International Airport 35 minutes away from Reykjavik. We decided to drive counter clockwise and start The Golden Circle and go up towards East Iceland where majority of the highlights of the country are located.
We rented a Van/Camper for the week. The company provides free shuttle pick up/drop off from/to airport. For the week the camper costs us about $2000 since we added extra Gravel and Sand/Ash insurance and Wifi. You cannot park overnight at any public/private area unless you are in a campsite. Some Campsites take the camping card, sold for $150-180 at grocery stores/gas stations and sometimes at car rental places. Campsites charge $15-20/per person during peak season (June-Aug). We hit up Kronan Grocery Store on the way after picking up our camper. We bought simple items for the week; things like bread, PB&J, pasta and sauce, Ramen, Coffee, baby food, Fruits, and oatmeal. It cost us close to $100-110 usd. They DO have a Costco, but we found that out after we got all our food. That definitely would have been a better spend.
The Golden Circle and the Southwest
From Reykjavik on Route 1 ( Ring Road ) turn east on Rt 36 towards the Golden Circle and its highlights: We hit up the top 3 attractions of The Golden Circle.
1. Pingvellir National Park. This is one of the 1st stops on the Golden Circle. The Vikings established the world’s first democratic parliament, The Alpingi, in 930AD here at this national park. The Visitor Center is located right on Rt 36. After the Visitors Center we drove about 1/2 a mile and you can find a gravel parking lot on the right and a sign for Oxararfoss Waterfall. The hike is about 10 mins and the first part of the path is rugged and rocky but doable with a baby on a carrier. Then half way to the Falls they made a wooden platform so its much easier.
2. Geysir. One of Iceland’s most famous tourist attractions. Geysir is the original hot water spout and every other ones out there are named after it. It is active but has not erupted since 1916. The one next to it is called Strokkur is as faithful as Old Faithful from Yellowstone ( USA ) and erupts every 10 minutes.
3. Gullfoss.This is Iceland’s most famous ( and used in Movies/Shows ) waterfall. There’s a path on the left side that can take you up close to it but its pretty misty. I recommend to bring a poncho or a good raincoat/jacket. I had Maison on a carrier but you can also use a stroller since the path is paved. There’s a parking lot right up close to the falls.
CAMP: We stayed at a town called Hella. It was right on Rt 1/Ring Road. The campground was $15/per person and they had hot showers in the site. They also had a gas station nearby and few restaurants.
DAY 2: Seljalandfoss/Skogafoss/Plane crash site
We continued on Rt 1 and our first stop for day 2 was Seljalandfoss (waterfall). From Rt 1 continue south east and make a left on Porsmork Road 249. You can actually see Seljalandfoss by the road. There’s a gravel parking lot facing the waterfall. You can walk behind it ( path on your right past the wooden staircase ). It gets really wet so best to wear rain gear. I was able to walk behind the falls with Maison on a carrier and I was wearing a poncho. It was very slippery but I had my husband help a bit. The way up to the exit was a little rocky and slippery as well.
Skogafoss Waterfall ( next stop) Go back to Rt 1 towards southeast and you will see the sign for Skogafoss on your left, a few miles after Seljalandfoss. Any word with the FOSS in it pertains to a waterfall. This is one of the most instagrammed waterfall in Iceland. You can actually walk right up to it. There’s a wooden staircase on the right that allows you to walk up and see the top of Skogafoss. Theres also a campground right by it and you can set up a tent or park your camper and enjoy the view.
** see the rainbow?
US Navy DC-3 plane crash in 1973 ( 3rd stop) It is located on Solheimansandur Beach. It is a private land and the owner actually gated up the entrance so you cannot drive up to the plane crash any longer, but you can hike to it. It is about 4 km ( one way ) hike. It was a very easy hike but I would not recommend using a stroller unless you have the one with the big big wheels. The path is rocky and sandy so you might get stuck with a regular small/medium sized wheels ( stroller ). This site used to not be so popular with the tourists, but the past few years, a lot more people are coming here. (because of the Justin Bieber music video and bloggers/instagram). So the owner actually gated up the entrance so that people can’t drive onto the beach. Now, you must hike it. It took us about 1 hour with a baby. If you really want this place all to yourself and not have too many people around the site, then I would recommend to come really early in the morning. (before 8:00am or late late afternoon maybe after 6-7:00pm in the summer)**directions to the crash: from rt 1 continue east towards Vik. After you cross a bridge with yellow blinking lights and a road on your left towards SOLHEIMAJOKULL you will see a gravel parking lot/road access and a wooden gate. Follow that path after you park and it will lead you to the plane ( stay on the left path).
CAMP: We stayed at VIK campground for the night. The fee was $16/per person. This was one of the best site we stayed at. The view was amazing. Theres a gas station right in front of the campground so you can fill up before heading East and maybe grab an N1 Hotdog. Free WiFi and hot showers available in this site.
DAY 3: SouthEast Icelanddetour: Black Sand Beach VIK: Reynisfjall / Reynisfjara beach.
The day before we were supposed to end our day at the beach but when we got there it was packed. We would not be able to take any good photos if we stayed so we woke up really early the next morning ( 4am ) and went to the beach. It was empty just how we wanted it. The perks of renting your own vehicle and driving to the site yourself rather than taking a bus tour. Don’t forget to check out the cave behind the basalt rocks. It so amazing. If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones it looks like it’s made of dragonstones. ** this beach was used in the movie Star Wars Rogue One and GOT ( East watch of the Wall )
Vik to Hofn is about 240-260km and this drive is out of this world. Vatnajokull Ice Cap dominates this part of the country. This was my favorite part of the island. Its so vast and isolated that you hardly past any towns. I would recommend to fill up your tank either at Vik or at Kirjubaejarklaustur because its a long way to Hofn ( major town ). Svinafellsjokull The path on my left ( picture ) it can take you right next to the glacier but please do not climb onto it! (you could actually fall and die) This island is so rugged and raw that they did not have any ropes whatsoever that separate you from the landscape. Always be aware, use common sense and respect nature. If you want to walk on a Glacier, then you can take one of the many tours available in downtown Reykjavik. The sign to come here is right on Rt 1 and the road will take you all the way to the Glacier Lagoon. The road is Gravel and our camper was able to make it.
Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon
This is right on the Ring Road/Rt 1. Coming from the south the parking lot should be on your left so keep and eye out. This is BEFORE Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. Theres a cafe located at the bottom of this glacier. I wish the view was the lagoon but if you get hungry, at least you can be warm and enjoy really good soup/bread here. This place was really windy and cold. I did not stay out too long. It is also quite a hike down to the lagoon from the restaurant. I did not want to hike with Maison because the path was steep towards the lagoon and very Rocky. Safety first always with a baby. But you can actually go all the way down and right up to the water and see the Glacier.
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
One of the most popular lagoons of Iceland. You can actually see chunks of ice on the side of the road and under the bridge. You can even walk on Diamond Beach and see the Ice up close. This was easier to hike with a baby. You can also go on a boat tour and they will take you closer to the ‘bergs.
Camp: Hofn Campground
Price: $25 per camper
Amenities: hot showers & Laundry
Day 4: Hofn / Viking village in Stokknes / Seydisfjordur town
We woke up later than planned because we were so tired from the day before. But, we were able to add a stop before driving up to Seydisfjordur. We went to Stokknes and it’s a privately owned farm/land which was the set for the TV series: “Vikings.” They have a small cafe when we were there in 2017 and served sandwiches and pies. The fee to see the Viking village was 100 kronos and they have campground nearby, closer to the beach for 2000 kronos.
Continue driving on RT 1 to RT 96 to RT 92 then RT 93
Camp: Seydisfjordur main town Cost: $20-25 per camper
Day 5: Myvatn nature bath / Dettifoss / Hverir
We woke early again to drive up towards Myvatn. The first stop was Dettifoss waterfall. This was the falls used in the introduction of the movie Prometheus. You can walk up super close to the edge and there are no rails; just a tiny rope to separate you from falling to your death.
We then visited Hverir which is smaller version of Yellowstone National Park in the US. We’ve been to Yellowstone, so anything smaller it doesn’t impress me much but it did for sure smell like hard boiled eggs.
Myvatn Nature Bath
I actually liked this more cuz it felt more natural. Also there’s a great view of the surrounding areas while you swim. Plus they allowed babies under age of 2 in the water unlike Blue Lagoon. The only downside since I’m not comfortable taking showers nude with everyone all open. They have less own private stalls in this one. But for sure cheaper and very family friendly.
Fee: $37 per person and Maisey was free.
Camp: Hlio Campground
Day 6: Akureyri
The biggest town in the north. We just passed through after we grabbed groceries and spent the night. It kind of looks like Reykjavik but smaller and they have tiny heart shaped traffic lights. Its a cute little town. I wish we had time to stay longer to explore.
Day 7: Snaefellsnes Peninsula
I under-planned this drive of the trip. We literally need 2 full days to see this place. The road is mostly gravel and you can’t drive very fast. We only had time to see the Moss Fields. Although you can see some Moss closer to Reykjavik but this one is secluded and you hardly see anyone for miles. This place is so magical.
–We also were able to see KIRKJUFELL. We saw it before the episode came out on Game Of Thrones, when the Hound and the night watch where trying to capture a Wight aka zombie to show Cersei.
DAY 8: Reykjavik
We decided to spend our last night here since we were flying out early the next day for Denmark. We just added a week of stopover in Iceland and I wished we stayed 2-3 even 4 weeks here. Our last day was spent doing laundry at Laundromat Cafe. They have maybe 6-8 small machines in the basement with a kid’s playroom and a full service restaurant upstairs. No strollers allowed inside this cafe. You can leave it outside. But this place gets too packed. The entire country is so secluded, then you come here and every tourist is here. Also we did stop by at THE BLUE LAGOON. I did not enjoy this part of our trip.
BLUE LAGOON: PROs & Cons
- Very Posh
- Amazing lay out
- minimal design
1. Staff not that friendly
2. Not that kid friendly
3. Its feels like a community pool with a swim up bar but prettier. It was packed and we went early in the morning closer to 8am.
4. EXPENSIVE $55 for the cheapest package PER person
5. Felt like Disneyworld. Too Touristy for me.
This was recommended by our hotel concierge. All the food is locally sourced. They did not have a high chair but Maisey was fine sitting in the booth area. The best part about this restaurant is that your right across from the famous church Hallgrimskirkja. We were sitting by the window and we could see the church as we were eating.
TIPS SUMMER visit to ICELAND:
- Groceries: BONUS/COSTCO/KRONAN
- Renting a CAR/CAMPER will give you more flexibility
- Wear the correct layers. We only bought a good raincoat/water proof jacket and a Patagonia Fleece and we were warm and cozy. The weather in the summer was 39-40 deg at night and 60-64deg daytime.
- Camp Grounds take cash or credit.
- DO NOT BUY BOTTLED WATER. You can literally drink straight out the tap. They have the best tasting water ever…
- SAFETY first. Most of the places we saw had no protection gates/rails
- Using a baby carrier was easier and we only used our stroller maybe few times. Also a raincoat/poncho would be helpful so you can hike under waterfalls with your baby and not get wet.
- Make sure you bring enough batteries for your gadgets.
- EAT N1 HOTDOGS: Its the best hotdog I have ever tasted.