If you always dreamed of visiting South Iceland and now with kids you fear to go and see this stunning country, this blog post is for you. It was our favourite part of the country. This island is constant changing landscape that includes most iconic waterfalls, volcanoes and glacier. Iceland was like stroke of lighting. We landed in the morning, picked our campervan and we decided to immediately hit the Ring Road.
I should mention that you don’t need to rent campervan to see Iceland. If you are looking for the alternative, you can simply stay in Reykjavik and Vik which will allow you to have a base and travel by car to main attractions.
A WORD OF CAUTION
South Iceland is an extremely kids friendly, however it does need to be treated with careful. We have seen tourists close to the raging waves, dangerously close to the edge of the cliffs or even walking behind the ropes. It can be really easy to overestimate our powers…the weather changes extremely quickly and sometimes you can get a wind from nowhere. This message is not to scare you…our entire time in Iceland we felt safe, but we always took appropriate actions to prevent any accidents. This included changing our plans, skipping some stops or putting kids in the carriers.
Here are few tips how to stay safe with kids in Iceland:
- Don’t get too close to the sea – I know it is fun for kids to throw the stones in the water or play ‘running away from waves’, but we visited it in June and the weather was freezing cold and waves extremely high even on the sunny day; apparently biggest amount of deaths is
- Don’t lose a sign of your kids, particularly while taking pictures
- Never underestimate how quickly the weather can change – we had snow, rain and sun within 5 mins of driving
- Don’t ignore local advice or warning signs
- Drive carefully as some roads can be icy even during summer season – Iceland had a huge tourist boom in recent years, but unfortunately infrastructure struggles to keep up with it; keep in mind that roads are narrow with many one-way bridges
- Don’t stop in the middle of the road, you would be surprised how many people do it
- Always put yourself and kids in layers – it is easier to take them off rather get cold
- Put your toddler in the carrier – there were few sights that we felt it was necessary to keep our overexcited and wild toddler on the leash
- Stay away from the edge
- Check your weather forecast in the evenings and mornings, then plan appropriately or change plans if necessary
OUR ITINERARY FOR SOUTH OF ICELAND
1. SELJANDLOSS + GLJUFRABUI
As soon as we picked up our campervan and did the weekly shop, we decided to straight hit the road to see some waterfalls. After just 1h 45mins we reached Seljalandsfoss. What makes it different and better from others is the option to walk behind the torrents of the falling water. Just make sure to wear waterproofs (no jeans) as you will get wet.
Best place to snap a picture: Behind the waterfall (though you need a wide angle lens), there is a little platform on the right hand side which is just perfect to capture the waterfall, from the wooden bridge
Parking: around 700kr (automated machines which accept cards or cash)
Time: 1h; you are parking 5 mins from the waterfall
Crowds: Very busy, arrive first thing in the morning otherwise wait for the quieter moment as usually waves of the crowds arrive at similar time
EXTRA TIP: Right next to the Seljalandsfoss waterfall there is another waterfall that lots of people miss out – it is hidden in a CAVE! It is only 5 minute walk. We entered with our 2 & 3 yrs old girls and loved it. Make sure to go inside.
Skogafoss was probably our favourite waterfall to see with kids in South Iceland. You can walk as close as possible as there are no ropes, but closer you get wetter you get. There is a legend that says the first Vikings stashed some gold in the cave behind the waterfall.
Best place to snap a picture: Get as close as possible to the waterfall, you will get wet but you won’t get anyone on the picture
Time: 30minutes – 1h (you can walk to the top)
It is the most famous black sand beach in Iceland. This is a place of wild and dramatic beauty where the roaring waves of the Atlantic Ocean power ashore with tremendous force. In Icelandic legend, it was said that the Reynisdrangar (basalt stacks) are the remains of a battle between two local trolls and a three-masted ship.
Please be extra caution, particularly if you are travelling with kids. The waves are extremely powerful at this beach so make sure to not get too closed.
Best place to snap a picture: Standing on Reynisdrangar for the iconic picture, if you arrive close to golden hour/sunset look right for the spectacular golden sun over Dyrholaey
Vik is a charming little village on the South of Iceland. That is where we stayed overnight, and it is commonly picked as a base. Here you will find fuel, restaurants, cafes, supermarkets, etc.
Mydral church was our favourite stop.
Best place to snap a picture: Walk up the hill for the iconic picture with the church
Want to discover more, check https://guidetoiceland.is/best-of-iceland/the-ultimate-guide-to-the-south-coast-of-iceland
1. FJADRARGLJUFUR CANYON
It is a massive river canyon. Probably one of the most incredible and unique spots we visited in Iceland. Take your time to hike around it. As there are lots of steep drops, if you have an active toddler, I would advice to carry him in the carrier or keep him/her close by.
Best place to snap a picture: Several platforms to capture different points, make sure to walk all the way back for the best views and discover the ‘secret waterfall’
Fjallsarlon is a glacial lagoon, much less frequent than a big sister Jokulsarlon. The lagoon is smaller which means you are much close to the glacier. We were the unique ones there, so made the experience even more incredible. Make sure to wear many layers as it was extremely cold in June.
Best place to snap a picture: You can walk right of left from the cafe
This is a famous glacier lagoon where icebergs break off and float through the lagoon to the sea. Incredible to watch icebergs to pass. The kids mostly loved to watch seals swimming close by, something you won’t see anywhere else in South Iceland. Girls totally loved throwing some stones to the water too.
Best place to snap a picture: Walk down to the water; dependent on the season you might want to walk across the bridge to the Diamond Beach
If you would like to read more about glacier lagoon, check this article: https://guidetoiceland.is/best-of-iceland/the-ultimate-guide-to-the-south-coast-of-iceland#jok
If you had only few days to explore Iceland, South region would be first in line for us. It has so much to offer and the most incredible variation of landscape to see.
If you would like to discover more, here is our blog post about Iceland in Campervan with Kids