FLOAT AMONGST ICEBERGS & HIKE UP TO GLACIERS
If there’s one place in Iceland that best captures the sheer jaw-dropping “wow!”-ness of the country, then it’s JÖKULSÁRLÓN. This deep, dark lagoon is full of bluey-white icebergs that have broken off the front of Breiðamerkurjökull, a crevasse-filled tongue that runs down from the Vatnajökull Glacier.
Spend the morning watching them drift under the Ring Road bridge and off into the Atlantic, and getting close-up views out on the lagoon itself. Glacier Lagoon Boat Tours runs trips amongst the bergs, either in an amphibious craft (5700 ISK, under 13s 2000 ISK, under 6s free) or, to get even closer, a zodiac (9800 ISK, under 13s 5000 ISK, not available to children under 10). It’s quite an eerie feeling gliding amongst the floating ice chunks, spotting the seals that rest in furry lines along the edge of the ice shelves. After your boat trip, cross the road to the aptly named DIAMOND BEACH, an equally spectacular spot where ocean-bound icebergs are washed up onto a black-sand beach and glisten like rough-cut jewels.
For an afternoon of scenic hiking, follow the Ring Road west and then Route 998 north (55km in total) to SKAFTAFELL. Part of the much larger VATNAJÖKULL NATIONAL PARK, in summer the Skaftafell area’s upper reaches are carpeted in wildflowers, and you can follow one of the easy trails to the face of the SKAFTAFELLSJÖKULL GLACIER (roughly 30min each way) or to SVARTIFOSS, a waterfall that drops over a row of black hexagonal basalt columns (also around 30min there); the path to Svartifoss leads on to SJÓNARNÍPA, a panoramic viewpoint overlooking the glacier and the mountains beyond (another hour and a quarter or so from the falls). Maps are available from the visitor centre at the park’s entrance.
If you’ve got older children in tow, there’s also the exciting option of hiking on a glacier (from 8 years old) and trying your hand at ice climbing (14 years old and over) instead. The excellent Icelandic Mountain Guides, who operate out of the visitor centre, will kit you out with crampons and ice picks and lead you safely across the crevasses that ripple down the park’s SVÍNAFELLSJÖKULL GLACIER (10,900 ISK for hiking, 19,900 ISK for hiking and ice climbing).
WHERE TO STAY
THE LIJOMA LOWDOWN
Delve deeper with our tips on what to read and watch before you go, foods and drinks your kids must try, and some key cultural advice
From historic cottages to contemporary hotels on the edge of the Interior – our pick of the most memorable places for families to stay in Iceland
NEED TO KNOW
A handy overview of Iceland’s weather and climate throughout the year, with recommendations for the best time to visit
Pre-trip practicalities, including getting there, visas and passports, health and safety and how to get around
MORE AMAZING TRIPS
Eight days across Morocco, from spice souks to the Sahara
Eight days taking in Dubrovnik and the best of the Dalmatian coast