My son became interested in researching our family’s ancestry in his early teens. With our Norwegian background, it was not surprising that his research led him to discover a connection with the Vikings in Iceland. This discovery added all the more incentive for our family to explore this fascinating country.
Learn about the 9 really cool things we did in Iceland that got two boys excited to learn about history, geography, biology and geology.
1. Inside a Volcano
Looking at a volcano is exciting enough but in Iceland you can actually descend 400 ft down inside the magma chamber of a dormant volcano. The vibrant colours within the chamber are breathtaking. Our whole family agrees that this is one of the coolest things we have ever done.
2. Into a Glacier
The next day we travelled to Langjokull, Iceland’s second largest glacier. But not just to look at it and take a picture of it but to actually venture deep into the glacier through the largest man-made ice tunnel in the world.
3. Thingvellir National Park – Where You Can Walk Between Two Continents
Iceland sits on two tectonic plates, the North American tectonic plate and the Eurasian plate. Iceland is the only place in the world where you can see the edges of both and have the thrill of actually walking between two continents.
4. Geysir Geothermal Area
In the south-western region of Iceland is the geothermal area of Haukadalur Valley. Less than a two-hour drive from Reykjavik, the Haukadalur Valley is home to famous hot springs, including Geysir and Stokkur. Stokkur erupts every five to ten minutes shooting a jet of boiling water up to 140ft in the air. Seeing a geyser is amazing but let’s face it, the original geyser called Geysir well that’s pretty cool.
5. Reynisfjara Beach
With its rare black sand and basalt columns, there is much to explore on this volcanic shoreline. The black sand is lava that cooled once it hit the water. While on Reynisfjara, you can see a basalt cliff that resembles a staircase to heaven. It is a natural pyramid and was formed by columnar jointing. There are many basalt columns throughout Iceland, but this is by far the most exceptional.
6. Whale Watching
There is nothing quite like the anticipation of watching for your first glimpse of a whale. Our boys were thrilled to watch a whale and her young one playfully interacting with dolphins as they swam together alongside our boat. It is a beautiful thing to watch your child excitedly engaging with naturalists as they experience rare sightings that will leave them in awe of nature.
7. Viking History
If you are interested in Viking history, take a journey to the north of Iceland. Not only is this a beautiful drive but it is also rich in Viking history. We turned an eight-hour drive into an exciting game of spotting roadside monuments marking the location of historic Viking battles.
If you go back through Iceland's history, Vikings are often credited with discovering Iceland. While other groups of people lived there before they arrived, not many stayed due to the harsh living conditions. When the Vikings settled in Iceland, they brought Viking and Norse influences that shaped the country. To this day, Vikings are celebrated in Iceland, and there's even an annual Viking festival in Hafnarfjörður that is the oldest and most significant festival of its kind.
8. Saga Museum
History is brought to life in this museum in a unique and exciting way. Life size figures recreate key moments in Icelandic history, moments that have determined the outcome of the Icelandic people. Saga museum gives visitors a glimpse into a culture that not only survived but thrived in a challenging environment.
9. Blue Lagoon Spa
Ok I admit, this day was mostly for me. But with its close proximity to the Keflavik International airport, the mineral rich water was welcomed by everyone as the perfect way to recover from jet lag. Even a spa day, if planned well in the itinerary, can be appreciated by the kids.
Planning an itinerary that excites you and your family is what excites me. When you are ready to explore Iceland, please reach out to me.