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9 Day family trip in Iceland in early September

I'm weighing the option of attempting a ring road trip in Iceland with my wife and three adult children or to make overnight trips trips to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, South Coast, Westman Islands and more time in Reykjavik. I do want to not feel rushed but would want to not omit scenic areas we should see if possible. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Posted by
2461 posts

Other than the day of arrival, how many actual days do you have? That would be helpful to know.

Posted by
7572 posts

Snaefellsness was a special 1-day driving trip on our short April trip - spending at least 1 night would’ve been wonderful.

Westman Islands weren’t readily accessible and open in early April, so we missed them, and that remains on the bucket list for next trip. A night or two there in September would be my vote.

Posted by
2153 posts

With only 9 days and not wanting to feel rushed, skip the ring road idea. We have done 3 trips there so far, including a 12 day ring road trip last summer with our 3 adult kids. You can see most of Reykjavik in a day. I would spend the bulk of your time on the south coast. Are there any activities that you are specifically looking to do?

Posted by
273 posts

Wesley, I do agree that 9 days for the Ring Road is aggressive; but I dont think impossible, because you'll surely have plenty of drivers. It will be a few long drive days, and you'd have to be very strategic in what you want to see, and how many days you spend in each location (probably not more than 1 night in most locations). For sure, with that time limit, Westfjords and Westman Islands would probably be off the table. I agree with Cyn that the Westfjords deserves its own trip, and I too anticipate going back some day just for that.

I traveled the Ring Road alone in Sept. 2018. I was in Iceland 11 days, with the last two spent in Reykjavik. I spent two nights in a couple of areas where I might have gotten away with one, and did not get up to Husavik because of it. I also didn't spend alot of time hiking waterfalls or glaciers, because of the way I had scheduled. That suited me, but if you're very active like i know mikliz97s family is, 9 days probably would not work for you.

I hope things are well in Apex. I used to live in Clayton and worked on occasion at Shearon Harris.

Posted by
2153 posts

Jean, my only concern was that he said they didn't want to rush. We had more days and still felt rushed, but of course we were the typically visitors that wanted to fit everything in, and of course that is never possible even with no time limits;)

Wesley, is there any way you can add even just a couple more days?

Posted by
64 posts

The tentative plans result in arriving very early on a Friday and returning the following Saturday afternoon. We want to experience unique sights of Iceland and certainly see the glaciers, black sand beaches, etc. Moderate hiking is fine, but too strenuous & I have issues from past cancer. I I wish I could add days but my working children limit the time we clan spend. And I need to change my profile. We live near Chapel Hill now.

Posted by
273 posts

I think that if you're trying to decide Ring Road or Snaefellsnes and south, you need to evaluate if there is anything in the North that you absolutely can't miss (and whether or not you think you'd make a trip back). For me, kayaking in the fjord near Kirkjufell (Snaefellsness) and seeing the land bridges at Arnarstapi were really a highlight. After that going north, I stayed 2 nights in Akurari, quaint but not fabulous to me. I wish that I had stayed in Husavik instead. I went to Gotafoss, but wished that I had also driven up to Dettifoss. I toured a geothermal plant near Myvatn, and visited the Krafla caldera close by. The Myvatn geothermal baths, while still nice, were my least favorite of all the baths I visited. I stayed 2 nights around Myvatn, but would have been fine with one. From there, I drove through Egilsstaðir and around the gorgeous East Fjords, and stayed the night between Hofn and Jokullsarlon. There's much to explore there; the Diamond Beach, the glacier lagoon. You could take a boat out into the Lagoon if you like, and there are glacier hikes in the area. From there, I drove west, passing many waterfalls along the way (stopping at a couple and taking photos after a short hike). I chose to go to Laugervatn for the night, so that I could drive the Golden Circle sights the next day. Visiting Fontana geothermal baths there was a great stop. I stayed a second night in Laugervatn, and really had a nice time talking to local folks. The last two nights, I spent in Reykjavik, just enjoying the city. I had already been to Reykjavik twice before, but I really do love it there.

My trip around the Ring Road would surely look different than yours, but the timeline would give you an idea of what to tweak where to see if the Ring Road is even a viable option for you. I don't think anyone here will know which is the right choice for you without more specific details about what you want to do. Although you aren't going to be making any long hikes, are you planning to stay somewhere for a few days so that your children can do outdoor activities while you and your wife visit villages? Is staying overnight and then moving hotels the next day something that you'd be willing to do? It looks as though there are plenty of ferry options to Westman Islands, so that should not be an impediment for you.

Whatever you decide, I'm sure that you'll see many amazing sights that will make you fall in love with Iceland.

Posted by
2461 posts

You do not have enough time to do the ring road. My suggestion is to spend the first two nights in Reykjavik and get over jet lag. There is the excellent National Museum of Iceland in Reykjavik which is small and very well done, the Harpa, Hallgrimskirkja, Sun Voyager sculpture on the waterfront and the quirky Icelandic Phallolgical Museum. I love Reykjavik as it is unique. Please don’t drive on arrival when you are jet lagged as driving in Iceland is a bit different than in the US and requires your full concentration. Read up on the rules of the road in Iceland. Weather in Iceland such as rain, high winds and fog can also affect your plans and driving. After Reykjavik head for the south coast. Drive the Golden Circle and have lunch at Fridheimar’s tomato farm (get reservations), go pony trekking, whale watch tour, etc. There is plenty to keep you busy on the south coast. It is really beautiful and popular for a reason. I would recommend getting a good guide book such as Lonely Planet for more up to date info.

Posted by
2153 posts

justsweetjs Was a big help when we planned our ring road trip. Her suggestion of the kayak trip was the best! We did the guided kayak fishing trip with the same guide that she did and it was a HUGE hit with all of us! When we go back next summer for the Westfjords, my husband said we have to do that again;) Anyway, I think the questions she raises to you will be helpful in deciding what is right for your family.

I definitely understand the limited time due to the kids work schedules. We were up against that too. It is funny because in the planning I had us on the go the entire time, and usually our kids are that way, but then when we had an extra day I suggested a bit hike and they said they wanted to chill. It really surprised me as that isn't their usual style. So I was out numbered;)