The best word to describe Iceland is ‘mythical’. It does exist (and has its own airline, so wardrobe or fireplace transit is thankfully not required), but its landscape feels like a faraway planet. It’s the perfect place to let the imagination—and outdoor activities—run wild.
Whether you have kids, or you just enjoy acting like them every now and then, Iceland caters to that little adventure-seeker inside you. There’s almost nothing you can’t do in this country, and the beauty is that it can all be found in a fairly condensed area; try quad biking, cave tubing, volcano hiking, whale watching, blokarting, dog-sledding (year round on the glaciers), ice climbing, scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing or horseback riding. And then perhaps an evening ghost tour.
We suggest a small circuit of the country for families—not too much moving about but enough to keep things interesting. Begin in the capital of Reykjavik as your jumping off point for a day trip around the Golden Circle—you’ll see Þingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Falls (the largest in Europe), and Haukadalur, a remarkable geothermal valley with hot springs and geysers that erupt regularly. After that, get away from the tourist path with a visit to Hotel Budir in Snaefellsnes (we speculate that this may have been Snuffleupagus’ birthplace), where you can enjoy the coastline, whale watch, or go glacier hiking. Finally, head to South Iceland and stay at Hotel Ranga, where the activity list goes on and on, and you can always cap the day with a viewing of the northern lights, as seen from the parent-tested (and approved) jacuzzi.
Amy Smithers still has no idea how to pronounce Snaefellsnes, and applauds the population of Iceland on their remarkably twisty tongues.