Iceland is famous for its volcanoes and there is no better one to visit than the one that erupted in 2010, Eyjafjallajokull. From the unlikely little village of Vik in Iceland, there are lots of family friendly activities to do with kids (including Eyjafjallajokull) that will give a fantastic taster of what Iceland is all about – glaciers, waterfalls and huge volcanoes. For family adventure holidays, this is hard to go past.
The Destination: Vik With Kids
Iceland with kids is a fascinating blend of ancient Viking culture and some magnificent scenic natural wonders. But too often visitors fly in to visit the Golden Circle and Reykjavik with kids, without exploring any further. For a bit more insight into what else the country has to offer, it’s worth investing a couple of nights in Vik.
[For more travel tips on Iceland with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story about the Golden Circle.]
While Vik town itself is quite small and not necessarily a tourist must-see, it is surrounded by some of the most memorable natural sights that you can easily see on a road trip to Iceland with kids. It is well within a short drive to waterfalls, glaciers, volcanoes and beaches that are all certainly worthy of day trips in themselves.
The Attractions in Vik With Kids
The most famous waterfall in Iceland is Seljalandsfoss where the water cascades about 200 feet down the cliffs.
In the summer all around the waterfall are lush green fields and running glacial creeks making for quaint scenery against the might roar of Seljalandsfoss.
If you are viewing the waterfall with kids, you can chose to either just stand in front of it to take it in or there is a hike that goes right behind and into the cavern of the waterfall so you can see the world from the other side. Beware of doing this with very small children as the ground can be quite slippery and you will likely get quite wet.
Skogafoss waterfall is a little closer to Vik than Seljalandsfoss and is very popular with campers. While the waterfall doesn’t seem as magnificent, on a sunny day it is quite common to see rainbows (always a favourite with kids). You can also hike to the top of the falls for views towards the ocean.
Camping is allowed at both waterfall sites which also have small shops selling snacks and public toilets.
Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss are both situated at the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, the famous ice cap that erupted in 2010 stranding many airline passengers with its volcanic ash. It’s worth taking a stop at the Thorvaldseyri Visitor Centre set up at one of the farms that sits at the base of the volcano. Here you can look at images and read information about what happened on the very site of the farm.
There is also a fascinating and poignant documentary on the effects of Eyjafjallajokull on the local farming community (including the family living at Thorvaldseyri) called Ash (in Icelandic with English subtitles) that you can watch as part of the inflight entertainment on Iceland Air flights.
[To read the suitcases&strollers review of Iceland Air, see the suitcases&strollers story Family Friendly Airlines Compared.]
In this vicinity is the glacier Moyrdalsjokull. Moyrdalsjokull is a super easy way to view a glacier with kids and while you can get there within a day from Reykjavik, it is only 20 minutes drive from Vik.
From the main road follow the signs in past the magnificent scenery all the way to the carpark. There is a coffee shop and toilet. If you drive past that you can park right down at the foot of the glacier with the tourist buses. From there it is only a short, easy walk to the glacier’s edge.
The closer you get, the more spectacular the scenery. The glacier is surprisingly noisy because of the dripping, melting ice and you can hang out here as long as you like, watching others embark on their glacier tours.
Arcanum Glacier Tours will take kids from age 10 and adults on walking tours of the glacier and will supply the helmets, shoe supports and other equipment but you will need to be wearing a pair of sturdy hiking boots.
You can also do glacier tours via vehicle, but you need to supply your own kids car seats. Arcanum will take children as young as infants but the costs are quite prohibitive – they only offer a 30% discount even for babies – so this may not be a realistic option.
Don’t feel pressured into paying for anything that doesn’t suit you. Even if you decide not to do a glacier tour, it is still a magical experience to just stand at the glacier and take it all in.
For an unusual beach experience, take a trip to the southernmost tip of Iceland’s mainland, Dyrholaey, to view the unique black sanded beaches.
From the tops of the cliffs you can get some great views of the local puffins nesting, wandering around and using the cliff as a launch pad for heading out to sea.
Drive down to the beach proper you can wander and explore caves, play in the black sands or have something to eat at the snack café on site.
In the winter you can spot the Northern Lights from Vik and, given that it is quite removed from the capital of Reykjavik, the views are more likely to be more spectacular.
[For more family travel tips on chasing the Northern Lights with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
If you’re looking for a morning or afternoon’s entertainment that doesn’t require sightseeing, it’s worth visiting the local swimming pool. Iceland’s swimming pools are famous and a pleasant place to hang out; even when the weather is cool, the outdoor pools are heated. The Vik pool (Manabraut 3, Vik, Iceland, +354 487 1174) has waterslides as well as a lap pool to keep everyone happy.
Family Friendly Accommodation in Vik With Kids
Farm stays with kids are a unique way to experience Icelandic life. Solheimahjaleiga is about 20 kilometres from Vik and an operational farm that has been run by the same family since 1850. Guests are welcome to visit and interact with the horses, sheep, cows, hens and dogs which can be a welcome and easy distraction for the kids after days of driving and sightseeing.
If you want something more urban, Hotel Katla has small rooms (including a triple room option) that all include wifi. What makes this particularly attractive for families is the free access to their small natural water hot tubs where you can relax and order a drink from the bar.
For more travel tips on things to do in Iceland with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story on Reykjavik with kids.