Family Camper vacation in Iceland

8 Days, Two Kids, & A Camper van on the Ring Road of Iceland

“You’re​ ​doing​ ​what?​ ​​ ​You’re​ ​driving​ ​a​ ​camper van​ ​around​ ​Iceland​ ​for​ ​eight​ ​days​ ​with kids?​ ​​ ​Your​ ​kids?”​ ​​

This​ ​was​ ​the​ ​common​ ​refrain​ ​we​ ​heard​ ​from​ ​our​ ​friends​ ​after​ ​I booked​ ​a​ ​camper van​ ​from​ ​​ ​for​ ​a ​​trip​ around​ ​the​ ​Ring​ ​road​ ​of Iceland.​ ​​ To​ ​be​ ​fair,​ ​our​ ​friends​ ​know​ ​our​ ​children​ ​well.​ ​​ ​Our​ ​two​ ​boys​ ​are​ ​12​ ​and​ ​9 years​ ​old,​ ​and​ ​on​ ​the​ ​wild​ ​side.​ ​​ ​Picture​ ​two​ ​shaggy​ ​hockey​ ​players​ ​that​ ​never​ ​sit​ ​still and​ ​never​ ​stop​ ​wrestling​ with ​each​ ​other,​ ​and​ ​then​ ​add​ ​in​ ​some​ ​dirt​ ​and​ ​insatiable appetites.​ ​Our​ ​Ring​ ​road​ ​journey​ ​really​ ​began​ ​thirteen​ ​years​ ​ago​ ​this​ ​week​ ​when​ ​I married​ ​my​ ​best​ ​friend​ ​and​ ​travel​ ​partner.​ ​​ ​After​ ​years​ ​of​ ​traveling​ ​the​ ​world together,​ ​we’ve​ ​realized​ ​some​ ​things​ ​about​ ​one​ ​another.​ ​​ ​To​ ​summarize,​ ​my husband​ ​can​ ​sleep​ ​anywhere,​ ​eat​ ​anything,​ ​and​ ​never​ ​complains.​ ​​ ​On​ ​the​ ​other​ ​hand, my​ ​entire​ ​trip​ ​will​ ​go​ ​to​ ​hell​ ​if​ ​I​ ​don’t​ ​have​ ​a​ quiet​ ​place​ ​to​ ​sleep​ ​at​ ​night​ ​away​ ​from crowds.​ ​​ ​In​ ​addition,​ ​I​ ​need​ ​an​ ​endless​ ​supply​ ​of​ ​safe​ ​snacks​ ​in​ ​case​ ​the​ ​food​ ​choices get​ ​too​ ​adventurous.​ ​​ ​​With​ ​good​ ​sleep​ ​and​ ​food,​ ​I​ ​can​ ​go​ ​anywhere.​ ​​ ​Fortunately,​ ​so can​ ​my​ ​little​ ​guys.

I​ ​was​ ​surprised​ ​to​ ​find​ ​little​ ​information​ ​about​ ​taking​ ​kids​ ​to​ ​Iceland,​ ​so​ ​I decided​ ​to​ ​record​ ​our​ ​experiences.​ ​​ ​​First​ ​things​ ​first,​ ​though:​ ​​“myth​ ​busting.”​ ​​ ​

First myth–It’s​ ​difficult​ ​to​ ​get​ ​there.​ ​​ ​The​ ​nonstop​ ​from​ ​Dulles​ ​was​ ​5.5​ h​ ours​ ​and inexpensive.​ ​​ ​Within​ ​several​ ​hours​ ​of​ ​the​ ​airport​ ​are​ ​some​ ​of​ ​the​ ​most​ ​beautiful​ ​sites in​ ​the ​​world​ ​(we ​thought​ ​that​ ​Iceland​ ​was​ ​New ​Zealand, ​ ​Ireland, ​ ​Glacier​ ​National Park,​ ​Olympic​ National​ P​ark, ​​and​ Jackson​ ​Hole​ ​all​ ​combined​ ​into​ ​one​ ​place).​ ​​ ​​​If​ ​you live​ ​on​ ​the​ ​East​ Coast ​of ​the​ ​United​ States,​ ​you​ ​could​ ​easily​ ​take​ ​a ​long​ ​weekend​ f​or​ a​ short ​trip​ ​to​ Iceland​ ​(though​ w​e ​would ​prefer​ t​o ​have​ ​2-3​ ​weeks​ ​there​ ​when​ we return).​ ​​ ​

Second​ myth–It’s​ ​too​ ​expensive.​ ​​ ​Hotels​ a​re​ ​easily​ ​the​ ​same​ p​rices​ a​s​ New York​ City​ ​and​ ​San ​Francisco,​ ​and ​food​ ​is​ just ​a​ ​little​ ​more​ than​ ​eating ​​at​ ​Disney World,​ ​which​ ​admittedly​ i​s ​expensive.​ ​​ ​However,​ ​if​ you ​rent ​​a​ ​camper van ​​and ​use the​ ​local​ ​grocery​ ​stores,​ ​you​ ​can​ ​travel​ very​ ​reasonably.​ ​ ​​Cook​ ​your​ ​own​ ​dinners,​ e​at the​ ​plentiful​ ​hot ​dogs​ ​for​ ​lunch, ​and​ save​ ​up​ ​a ​​little​ ​money​ f​or​ some​ ​whale-watching and​ a​ ​few​ ​memorable​ restaurant​ ​meals​ ​of​ ​lamb​ and​ langoustines.

Before ​ ​you​ G​o.

When​ ​we​ ​travel ​​with​ ​kids,​ ​we​ h​ave ​some​ basic ​​rules ​​that​ ​have​ ​helped​ u​s ​survive many​ ​international​ ​journeys:

  1. Good​ ​sleep​ ​almost​ ​every​ ​night
  2. Feed​ ​everyone​ ​regularly.
  3. Pick​ ​activities​ f​or​ t​he​ ​kids.
  4. Pick​ ​activities​ ​for ​the​ ​adults.

Planning​ ​Your ​ ​Lodging​ ​and ​ ​Travel:​

​Rent​ ​the​ ​perfect​ ​camper​ ​van​ ​EARLY​ ​in​ y​ our planning​ ​process. ​ ​​I​t ​was​ ​quite​ easy​ ​to​ ​find​ ​camper vans​ ​that​ ​hold​ ​2​ ​people​ but​ ​much more​ ​difficult​ t​o​ ​find​ ​the​ ​larger​ ​camper vans​ t​hat ​hold​ ​a ​​family​ without​ ​upgrading​ t​o
a​ ​regular​ R​V ​​(recreational​ ​vehicle). ​ ​​We ​began​ ​looking​ ​for​ ​a​ ​van​ a​bout​ f​our​ ​months before​ w​e​ ​went​ ​to​ ​Iceland​ ​and​ ​found​ ​very​ ​few​ ​to​ ​choose​ ​from​ t​hat​ ​were​ large enough​ ​for​ ​4-5 ​ ​people.​ ​​ Working​ with​ ​was ​very​ ​easy–you​ ​can​ ​compare the​ ​different​ ​vans​ ​on​ ​their​ ​website​ and t​hey​ ​answered​ ​all​ ​of​ ​our​ ​emailed​ ​questions almost​ ​immediately​ ​(even​ l​ate​ ​at​ ​night!)

When​ ​choosing​ t​he​ ​van, ​ ​I​ ​went​ ​with​ ​a​ ​5-person​ ​van,​ t​he​ Renault​ ​Master​ 5​ .The​ ​larger​ ​van ​provided​ ​a​ ​larger​ ​lower​ ​bunk ​ ​(great​ ​for​ t​he​ ​parents)​ ​and​ ​an​ ​extra seat​ i​n ​the​ v​an.​ ​​ ​One ​warning,​ ​there​ ​are​ ​three​ ​front​ ​seats​ ​and​ ​two​ ​in​ ​the​ ​rear.​ ​​ ​The back​ ​seats​ a​re​ ​rear-facing​ ​and​ ​only​ h​ave​ ​one​ ​window.​ ​​ ​If​ ​family ​ ​members​ have motion​ ​sickness,​ ​the​ ​California​ ​Camper Van ​ ​(a​ ​Volkswagen)​ ​offers ​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​more windows​ but less ​sleeping​ ​room​ ​for​ ​the​ ​adults.

Family Camper Van

When​ ​touring​ ​around,​ ​we​ h​ad​ ​one​ ​of​ ​our​ k​ids​ ​in​ ​the​ ​middle​ ​seat​ ​up​ ​front​ ​for​ ​better views,​ and​ ​rotated​ one​ ​to​ ​the​ ​back​ ​at​ ​each​ s​top..​ ​There​ ​appear​ t​o​ ​be​ n​o​ ​laws​ ​that prohibit​ ​certain​ ​ages​ ​from​ ​riding​ ​in​ t​he​ front​ ​seat.​ ​​ ​Fortunately​ our​ k​ids​ a​re​ n​o longer​ ​in​ ​car seats​ ​or​ boosters.

Our​ ​van​ ​came​ ​with​ ​everything​ ​that​ ​one​ ​would​ ​need,​ including​ ​cooking supplies,​ two​ ​gas/butane​ ​stoves,​ ​5​ c​hairs,​ ​two​ ​nice​ ​tables ​​(one​ ​for ​inside​ ​the​ ​van​ and one​ ​for​ outside)​ ​and​ some​ ​storage, ​ ​along​ ​with​ ​a​ s​ink​ ​with​ ​a​ ​good​ ​amount​ ​of​ fresh​ ​water storage.​ ​​ ​We​ ​were​ ​at​ peak​ time​ ​in​ ​August,​ ​but​ ​still​ ​the​ v​an​ ​offered​ significant​ ​savings over​ ​sleeping​ ​in​ ​a​ ​hotel​ ​room​ ​every​ ​night​ ​and​ eating​ ​in​ ​restaurants.​ Our ​van​ ​was also​ e​quipped​ ​with​ ​a ​heater​ ​(yeah,​ you​ w​ant​ one), ​ ​a​ ​small​ ​fridge,​ ​nice​ ​sleeping​ ​bags and​ ​surprisingly​ ​comfortable​ ​foam​ mattresses.​ ​We​ ​did ​bring​ ​a​ ​lightweight​ ​tent​ ​in case​ the​ ​kids​ w​anted​ ​to​ ​camp​ ​out​ ​for​ a​ ​night,​​​ but ​that​ w​as​ ​never​ ​used.​ ​​ ​We​ ​brought a​ ​12×12​ r​ain​ ​cover/​ tarp​ ​from​ ​REI,​ ​and​ ​some​ ​collapsible​ ​poles​ ​in​ ​one​ ​of​ ​our​ ​checked bags. ​ ​This​ ​was​ ​worth​ i​ts​ w​eight​ ​in​ ​gold. ​ ​The​ ​extra​ expense​ and​ ​weight​ ​in​ ​our luggage​ ​was​ w​ ell​ ​worth ​ ​it​ ​to ​ ​have​ ​a​ ​covered​ ​outdoor​ ​living​ area​ ​on​ ​the drizzle​ ​days and​ t​he​ ​reliable​ ​heavy ​dew​ ​that​ ​occurs​ ​in​ t​he​ ​evenings.

Family camper van dinner

Our​ v​an​ also​ ​had​ ​room​ ​for​ ​all​ ​four​ o​f​ ​us​ ​to​ e​at​ a​t​ ​a​ t​able​ ​inside​ ​the​ ​van​ ​in​ case​ ​of​ b​ad weather.​ ​​While​ ​we​ ​were ​ ​pretty​ ​lucky​ ​weather-wise,​ ​​ ​there​ w​ere​ ​a ​few​ ​days​ o​f ​​rain, and​ ​one ​day​ ​of​ ​seriously​ ​unbelievable​ ​wind.​ ​​W​e​ ​definitely​ appreciated​ ​having several​ ​different​ ​eating​ ​areas.

Dinner inside the Camper

After​ ​booking​ ​the​ ​van,​ I​ ​ ​chose​ ​flights​ ​from ​the​ East​ ​Coast.​ ​​ ​Although​ ​the​ ​red-eye flights​ ​are​ ​the​ ​least​ ​expensive, ​the​ ​short​ ​flying​ ​time​ ​doesn’t​ ​allow​ ​for​ ​much​ ​sleep​ ​for anyone.​ ​​ W​e​ flew ​out​ o​f ​DC,​ a​ ​short​ ​drive​ ​from​ ​our​ ​house. ​ ​Icelandair​ ​was​ great,​ ​with wonderful​ inflight​ ​entertainment.​ ​For​ ​the​ ​exotic​ ​allure​ ​of​ ​Iceland​ ​and​ ​most​ people believing​ ​it​ ​is​ a​ ​country​ ​being​ ​somewhere​ n​ear​ ​the​ ​moon, ​it​ ​is​ ​a ​surprisingly ​short and​ ​easy​ f​light.​ ​Be​ ​sure​ ​to​ watch the​ ​great​ I​celandair​ ​info​ ​videos​ ​on​ ​things​ ​to​ ​do​ ​and see.​ ​They​ a​re​ ​narrated​ ​by​ ​Icelandic​ ​goddesses.​ ​​ ​They​ a​re​ ​all​ ​pretty​ informative,​ ​and if ​nothing ​else, ​​“Elfis”​ ​provides ​tips​ ​on​ ​driving​ i​n​ Iceland.​ Two​ rules​ ​you​ ​will​ l​earn:  Don’t​ hit​ sheep…they​ a​re​ indeed​ ​everywhere,​ ​and​ ​watch​ y​our​ ​speed​ ​on​ ​the ​gravel.

In​ ​the​ ​hopes​ ​of​ ​starting​ ​the​ ​trip​ ​out ​well-rested,​ ​we​ ​chose​ ​to​ ​arrive ​ ​late​ ​at night​ ​and​ ​to​ ​pay​ ​for​ a​​ ​hotel​ ​in​ ​Keflavik.​ ​​ ​Hotel​ ​Keilir​ ​was​ ​one​ o​f ​ ​the​ few ​hotels​ ​that​ ​I found​ ​that​ ​offered ​ ​a​ ​“family”​ ​room,​ ​which​ h​ad​ ​four​ ​single​ ​beds.​ ​ ​Most​ ​other​ ​hotels would​ ​have​ ​required​ ​booking​ ​two​ ​rooms​ ​to​ ​house​ ​our​ ​family,​ ​which​ ​was​ ​simply​ ​too expensive.

Packing​ ​and​ ​going:

So,​ ​what​ ​do​ ​you​ ​want​ ​to​ ​bring?​ ​​ ​Bring ​multiple​ ​water-resistant,​ ​warm​ ​layers​ ​and good​ ​gore-tex,​ ​waterproof​ ​shoes​ ​or​ ​hiking​ ​boots.​  ​In​ ​August,​ ​the​ ​high​ ​temperatures were​ ​in​ ​the​ ​mid-fifties​ ​and​ ​the​ ​lows​ ​were​ ​in​ ​the​ ​forties.​ ​​ ​Other​ ​important​ ​items included​ ​head​ ​lamps/torches,​ ​rain​ ​gear,​ ​​ ​flip-flops​ ​for​ ​the​ ​showers​ ​and​ ​geothermal areas​ ​and​ ​warm​ ​jackets​ ​for​ ​sitting​ ​outside​ ​at​ ​night.​ ​If​ ​you​ ​are​ ​a​ ​light​ ​sleeper,​ ​​eye masks​ ​are​ ​a​ ​must.​ ​My​ ​husband​ ​and​ ​children​ ​had​ ​zero​ ​problems​ ​sleeping​ ​and​ ​never used​ ​them.​ ​I​ ​certainly​ ​did.

Lightweight​ ​easy/fast​ ​drying​ ​travel​ ​towels​ ​(large​ ​size)​ ​are​ ​a​ great​ ​for​ ​showers​ ​and the​ ​hot​ ​springs.​ ​I​ ​had​ ​one​ ​large​ ​one​ ​for​ ​each​ ​person.​ ​​ ​Importantly,​ ​the​ ​towels​ ​(along with​ ​a​ ​roll​ ​of​ ​duct​ ​tape)​ ​can​ ​also​ ​be​ ​used​ ​to​ ​cover​ ​windows​ ​to​ ​keep​ ​out​ ​ambient​ ​light while​ ​you’re​ ​sleeping.

With​ ​four​ ​people​ ​in​ ​a​ ​van​ ​for​ ​eight​ ​days,​ ​organization​ ​was​ ​a​ ​must.​ ​In​ ​the​ ​hopes​ ​of keeping​ ​the​ ​van​ ​organized,​ ​we​ ​used​ ​different​ ​colored​ ​packing​ ​cubes​ ​for​ ​each​ ​family member​ (​ there​ ​is​ ​limited​ ​storage​ ​in​ ​the​ ​vans​ ​other​ ​than​ ​keeping​ ​everything​ ​in​ ​your bags).​ ​Once​ ​we​ ​got​ ​to​ ​the​ ​van,​ ​we​ ​stored​ ​our​ ​large​ ​duffels ​under​ ​the​ ​bunks​ ​and would​ ​just​ ​pull​ ​out​ ​the​ ​appropriate​ ​cube​ ​for​ ​each​ ​child/adult​ ​when​ ​needed.​ ​​ ​They worked​ ​incredibly​ ​well,​ ​and​ ​avoided​ ​the​ ​mess​ ​of​ ​​ ​pulling​ huge​ ​roller​ ​bags​ ​out​ ​and digging​ ​through​ ​them.​ ​​ ​If​ ​you​ ​have​ ​a​ ​“gear​ ​hammock”​ ​or​ ​a​ ​net​ ​that​ ​you​ ​can​ ​suspend from​ ​the​ ​van​ ​roof,​ ​bring​ ​it​ ​along.​ W​e​ ​didn’t​ ​have​ ​a​ ​gear​ ​hammock,​ ​so​ ​we​ ​fashioned one​ out​ o​f​100​ ​feet​ o​f​ ​paracord. ​The ​extra​ ​space​ w​as​ invaluable.

Camper storage space

Finally,​ a​​ ​word​ a​bout​ ​planning​ ​for​ ​cooking​ i​n​ ​the​ v​an.​ ​​​ ​provided​ ​everything that​ w​e ​absolutely​ ​needed.​ ​​ ​They​ h​ad​ ​a ​very​ n​ice​ ​cook stove​ ​that​ r​an​ ​off​ ​butane, and​ ​another​ ​small​ ​canister​ ​stove​ t​hat​ ​ran​ ​off butane/propane​ canisters.​ T​here​ w​as​ a​ new​ ​canister​ ​of​ ​each​ ​in​ ​the​ ​cooking​ b​in.​ ​​ ​Extra​ ​fuel​ ​is​ ​available​ ​at​ ​almost​ ​any ​gas station​ ​or​ ​camp ​stop​ but​ ​wasn’t​ ​cheap.​ ​There​ ​were​ ​plates,​ ​stainless​ ​forks,​ ​spoons, knives,​ ​cutting​ ​boards, ​ ​scrubbers,​ ​whisks,​ ​spatulas, ​ and​ serving​ ​spoons.​ ​​I​ ​would​ say if​ ​you​ ​do​ a​​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​cooking,​ b​ring​ ​one​ o​r​ two​ o​f​ y​our​ ​favorite​ ​knifes. ​ ​My​ ​husband​ ​is particular​ ​and​ ​it​ ​was​ ​really​ ​nice​ t​o​ ​have​ a​​ ​decent ​chef​ ​knife ​​along,​ though​ t​he​ knives in​ ​the​ ​kit​ ​worked ​very​ w​ell. ​Insulated​ ​coffee​ ​cups​ ​from​ home​ ​were​ ​helpful​ ​for coffee,​ ​soup,​ ​oatmeal,​ and​ l​ ate​ ​night​ ​beverages. ​ ​The​ ​final​ ​thing ​to​ ​consider​ ​would​ b​e a​ ​small​ ​cooler. ​ The​ ​refrigerator​ i​n​ t​he​ v​an​ c​an​ h​old​ ​a​ tiny​ ​amount​ ​of​ ​milk​ ​and yogurt, ​and ​​a​ cooler​ ​would​ b​e​ ​a​ ​great​ addition ​to​ ​hold​ eggs, ​beer,​ ​cheese,​ etc.​​ ​We were​ ​unable​ t​o​ ​find​ ​a ​cooler​ ​during ​our​ t​ravels​ ​so​ w​e​ substituted ​a​ plastic ​bin​ ​with​ ​a lid,​ ​and​ ​just​ ​added​ ​a​ ​bag​ ​of​ ice​ ​each ​day.​ ​.

Roadside cooking

Day​ ​1—Hotel​ ​night​ ​in​ ​Keflavik

Plan​ ​ahead​ ​for​ ​day ​​1.​ ​If​ ​your​ ​flight​ ​lands​ ​late​ ​(and​ ​many​ ​do,​ ​judging​ ​by​ ​the airport​ ​that​ ​was​ ​absolutely​ ​bursting​ ​at​ ​midnight​ ​when​ ​we​ ​landed),​ ​you​ ​will​ ​need​ ​a hotel​ ​room​ ​before​ ​you​ ​get​ ​to​ ​your​ ​van.​ ​​ ​​ ​will​ ​pick​ ​you​ ​up​ ​the​ ​next​ ​morning from​ ​your​ ​hotel​ ​and​ ​drive​ ​you​ ​to​ ​the​ ​rental​ ​office​ ​where​ ​you​ ​get​ ​to​ ​meet​ ​your​ ​home for​ ​the​ ​trip (editor’s note: Pickup and drop-off service has ceased).​ ​​ ​Our​ ​nonstop​ ​flight​ ​from​ ​Dulles​ ​arrived​ ​at​ ​Keflavik​ ​at​ ​11:40pm​ ​local​ ​time (7:40pm​ ​our​ ​time).​ ​​Knowing​ ​that​ ​many​ ​things​ ​were​ ​closed​ ​outside​ ​of​ ​the​ ​airport, we​ ​had​ ​our​ ​first​ ​hot​ ​dogs​ ​(an​ ​Iceland​ ​staple)​ before​ ​even​ ​getting​ ​to​ ​baggage​ ​claim. With​ ​dinner​ ​complete,​ ​we​ ​were​ ​fortified​ ​for​ ​a​ ​trip​ ​into​ ​Duty-Free​ ​for​ ​some​ ​supplies. Alcohol​ ​is​ ​significantly​ ​cheaper​ ​in​ ​Duty-free​ ​than​ ​on​ ​the​ ​road,​ ​so​ we​ ​grabbed​ ​some wine​ ​and​ ​some​ ​Baileys​ ​for​ ​our​ ​hot​ ​chocolate.​ ​​We’ve​ ​never​ ​been​ ​impressed​ ​with Duty​ ​Free​ ​in​ ​the​ ​past,​ ​but​ ​it​ ​is​ ​imperative​ ​to​ ​use​ ​before​ ​you​ ​leave​ ​the​ ​airport​ ​if​ ​you want​ ​any​ ​alcohol​ ​during​ ​your​ ​trip.​ ​Decent​ ​Icelandic​ ​vodka​ ​or​ ​the​ ​things​ ​like​ ​the local​ ​spirit​ ​Brennivin​ ​in​ ​the​ ​airport​ ​is​ ​$25​ ​a​ ​liter.​ ​Buying​ ​the​ ​same​ ​bottle​ ​in​ ​one​ ​of the​ ​Vinbúðin​ ​stores​ ​on​ ​the​ ​road​ ​will​ ​set​ ​you​ ​back​ ​$60​ ​or​ ​more.​ ​​ ​Wine​ ​is​ ​roughly double​ ​outside​ ​the​ ​airport.​ ​​ ​No​ ​other​ ​foods​ ​need​ ​to​ ​be​ ​bought​ ​in​ ​duty-free​ ​unless you​ ​want​ ​specific​ ​snacks​ ​or​ ​treats​ ​that​ ​you​ ​might​ ​not​ ​find​ ​in​ ​the​ ​many​ ​Icelandic grocery​ ​stores.

A​ ​taxi​ ​to​ ​the​ ​hotel​ ​was​ ​a​ ​necessary​ ​expense​ ​after​ ​the​ ​long​ ​travel ​ ​day…$45. Taxis​ ​are​ ​easily​ ​obtained​ ​from​ ​the​ ​taxi​ ​line​ ​just​ ​to​ ​the​ ​left​ ​once​ ​you​ ​exit​ ​the​ ​airport. THERE​ ​IS​ ​NO​ UBER ​IN​ ​ICELAND.​ ​​ ​It​ ​was​ ​a​ ​quick​ ​drive​ ​to​ ​the​ ​hotel.​ ​Luckily,​ ​once​ ​we arrived​ ​at​ ​the​ ​hotel,​ ​everyone​ ​put​ ​on​ ​their​ ​eyeshades,​ ​slept​ ​through​ ​the​ ​hotel’s breakfast,​ ​and​ ​were​ ​ready​ ​to​ ​go​ ​in​ ​the​ ​late​ ​morning.

Day​ ​2—Camping​ ​at​ Þingvellir​ ​National​ ​Park

After​ ​a​ ​quick​ ​breakfast​ ​in​ ​the​ ​room,​ ​the​ ​​ ​SUV​ ​picked​ ​us​ ​up​ ​and returned​ ​us​ ​to​ ​the​ ​airport​ ​car​ ​rental​ ​area​ ​to​ ​pick​ u​p​ ​the​ ​camper van.​ ​They​ ​were​ ​very​ ​nice and​ ​efficient.​ ​They​ ​ran​ ​through​ ​the​ ​operations​ ​of​ ​the​ ​van​ ​and​ ​its​ ​amenities​ ​including the​ ​free​ ​unlimited​ ​wireless.​

After​ ​this​ ​short​ ​but​ ​helpful​ ​orientation,​ ​we​ ​headed​ ​to​ ​the​ ​Bónus​ ​store,​ ​where we​ ​bought​ ​supplies​ ​for​ ​the​ ​week​ ​(sliced​ ​meat,​ ​milk,​ ​cereal,​ ​yogurts, ​noodles,​ ​pesto, ramen,​ ​tortillas,​ ​bananas,​ ​avocados,​ ​beans,​ ​orange​ ​juice,​ ​fruit,​ ​and​ ​snacks).​ ​​​ ​​A​ ​side note,​ ​we​ ​were​ ​under​ ​the​ ​impression​ ​from​ ​several ​tourist​ ​books​ ​that​ ​most​ ​stores​ ​in Iceland​ ​had​ ​very​ ​limited​ ​hours,​ ​but​ ​we​ ​never​ ​had​ ​an​ ​issue​ ​with​ ​stores​ ​being​ ​closed since​ ​we​ ​usually​ ​traveled​ ​during​ ​daytime/evening​ ​hours.

We​ ​had​ ​3pm​ ​reservations​ ​at​ ​the​ ​Blue​ ​Lagoon,​ ​which​ ​had​ ​been​ ​booked​ ​online several​ ​months​ ​in​ ​advance​ ​(book​ ​well​ ​ahead).​ ​​ ​Kids​ ​that​ ​are​ ​ages​ ​12​ ​and​ ​under​ ​are admitted​ ​free​ with ​their​ ​parents,​ ​which​ ​makes​ ​this​ ​unforgettable​ ​experience reasonably​ ​affordable​ ​for​ ​a​ ​family.​ ​​Although​ ​the​ ​Blue​ ​Lagoon​ ​sees​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​tourists, it​ ​never​ ​felt​ ​overcrowded,​ ​was​ ​professionally​ ​done,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​kids​ ​just​ ​loved​ ​it. Questioning​ ​which​ ​package​ ​to​ ​get?​ ​Comfort​ ​gives​ ​you​ ​towels…go​ ​for​ ​it.​ ​We​ ​had​ ​no reason​ ​to​ ​need​ ​a​ ​bathrobe​ ​anywhere.​ ​I​ ​can​ ​imagine​ ​on​ ​really​ ​cold,​ ​windy​ ​days,​ ​it might​ ​be​ ​necessary​ ​but​ ​it​ ​is​ ​a​ ​pretty​ ​short​ ​walk​ ​between​ ​the​ ​locker​ ​room​ ​and​ ​the warm​ ​water.

The Blue Lagoon

​After​ ​several​ ​hours​ ​at​ ​the​ ​Lagoon,​ w​e​ w​ere​ ​clean​ ​and​ ​showered,​ ​and​ ​drove​ t​o​ our first​ ​stop,​ ​Þingvellir. ​ ​​​Despite​ ​being​ ​less​ ​than​ ​an​ ​hour​ ​from​ ​the​ ​airport,​ ​it​ ​felt​ like​ ​the national​ ​park​ ​that​ ​it​ ​is​ ​and​ ​was​ ​a​ ​gorgeous​ ​and​ ​quiet​ ​place​ ​to​ ​camp​ ​for​ t​he​ ​night. The​ quietest ​campsites​ ​are​ ​in​ ​the​ ​field​ ​across​ ​from​ ​the​ ​information​ c​enter​ ​(go​ ​far​ ​left for​ ​the​ ​most​ ​privacy).​ T​here​ ​was​ ​plenty​ o​f​ room​ ​for​ ​the​ k​ids​ ​to​ ​play​ ​Frisbee​ ​and soccer.

Þingvellir Camping

Lazy Camper van days

Day​ 3​ –Camping​ a​t​ ​Þakgil

Our​ ​third​ ​day​ came​ early​ ​at​ 4​am​ ​when​ our​ ​12yo​ f​ell​ out​ ​of​ ​the​ t​op​ ​bunk.​ ​​Although there​ ​is​ ​a​ ​side​ r​ail​ ​on​ ​one​ ​end​ ​of​ t​he​ ​top​ ​bunk,​ ​the ​combination​ o​f ​two​ ​restless​ ​boys and​ ​slippery​ ​sleeping​ ​bags​ ​were​ ​too​ ​much​ ​for​ ​our​ ​son​ ​who​ h​ad​ ​slept​ ​backwards​ o​n the​ ​bed.​ ​​ ​No​ ​injuries​ ​reported,​ ​and​ ​we​ ​even​ ​made​ ​it​ ​back​ ​to​ b​ed​ f​or​ ​a​ ​few​ ​more hours.​ ​​They​ flipped​ ends​ ​thereafter​ ​and​ ​no​ ​further​ ​gravity​ ​assisted​ ​unexpected​ ​bed exits​ ​occurred.​ ​We​ ​had​ ​an​ ​extremely​ ​long​ ​day​ ​that​ ​day​ ​as​ w​e ​did​ ​the​ entire ​Golden Circle ​(Þingvellir,​ ​the​ geyser​ ​in​ ​Haukardalur​ and​ ​Gullfoss).​ While​ ​a​ ​long​ ​day,​ i​t​ ​is easily​ ​doable.

Gullfoss with the family

If​ ​you​ ​want​ ​to​ ​explore ​Þingvellir​ a​round​ t​he​ lake​ ​or​ s​pend​ ​extra​ ​time​ a​t​ ​Gullfoss, then​ ​it​ ​might​ ​be​ ​a​ ​two-day​ event.

Overnight ​​was ​at ​a​ beautiful​ and​ R​EMOTE​ campground​ ​called​ ​Þakgil​ ​outside​ of Vik.​ ​​T​he​ ​drive​ begins​ five​ ​kilometers ​​east​ o​f ​Vik ​and​ ​then​ i​s ​over​ 1​5 km​ ​north​ ​into the​ mountains.​ ​​The​ ​dirt ​road​ h​ad​ t​o ​​be​ ​taken​ ​very​ ​slowly​ ​and​ ​carefully ​with​ t​he​ v​an, and ​the ​steep​ ​curves​ ​might​ not​ appeal​ t​o ​nervous​ ​drivers.​ ​​ However, ​​the ​end ​canyon and​ cave​ ​was​ ​well ​worth​ ​the​ ​drive.​ ​​​It​ ​was​ ​another ​quiet​ ​and​ ​gorgeous​ ​night​ o​f stories, ​​soccer ​and ​dinner.

Þakgil Campgrounds

Travel with kids

Day​ 4​ —Camping​ at ​ ​Skaftafell

The ​morning​ s​tarted​ ​with ​​the ​scenic ​drive​ ​back​ t​o ​Vik,​ w​here ​we​ ​hiked​ o​n ​the black​ s​and​ ​beach​ ​with​ ​incredible ​views ​​and ​beautiful ​weather.​ ​​We​ d​id​ ​the​ ​steep hike ​​to​ ​top​ ​the​ ​bluff​ a​t​ w​est​ ​end​ ​of​ town​ ​with ​gorgeous​ ​views​ ​of​ bird-covered​ cliffs and​ ​the​ ​glacier​ i​n​ ​the ​distance. ​ ​Literally,​ w​e​ d​rove ​​to​ ​the​ ​top​ ​of​ t​he​ t​own, ​and​ found three ​other​ ​cars.​ A​ ​great​ ​quick​ lunch ​hike​ ​with​ ​well-marked​ switchbacks.

The Drive to Vik

After​ a​ ​stop ​for ​​ice,​ ​we​ d​rove ​to​ ​Fjaðrárgljúfur ​and ​hiked​ ​up​ ​the​ ​canyon.​ ​​ ​A​ short drive ​brought​ ​us​ t​o ​Skaftafell​ ​National ​Park.

Skaftafell National Park

There​ i​s​ ​only​ ​one​ ​campground​ ​in​ t​he​ ​park,​ ​but ​after​ ​driving​ ​to​ ​the​ ​far​ w​est​ ​end​ ​of the​ ​campground,​ w​e​ ​had ​few​ ​neighbors​ ​and​ ​a ​beautiful​ ​view,​ ​but​ ​a​ ​long​ ​walk​ ​to​ ​the bathroom.​ ​​ ​​​As​ ​a​ ​light​ sleeper, ​I’m​ ​fine​ ​with​ ​that​ ​sacrifice.​ ​​Third​ ​and​ ​final​ ​hike​ ​of​ ​the day​ ​was​ ​to​ Svartifoss​ ​Falls.​ ​This ​​brought​ ​some​ ​protests​ ​from​ ​the ​youngsters​ ​but​ ​was well​ ​worth​ ​it. ​(though​ ​if​ ​you​ ​want​ ​the​ b​est​ ​photos,​ ​get​ ​up​ ​there​ i​n​ ​the​ ​morning)

The campgrounds in Skaftafell

Day​ ​5–​ ​​ ​Camping​ ​at​ ​Höfn

With​ ​the​ ​eyeshades​ ​and​ ​window​ ​covers,​ w​e​ ​slept​ ​late​ ​again.​ ​​ ​On​ ​the​ ​day prior, we​ signed​ ​up​ ​for​ ​a​ ​glacier​ ​walk​ ​at​ ​11:30​ ​with​ ​Iceland​ ​Mountain​ ​Guides. ​I​ ​would recommend​ ​booking​ ​well​ ​in​ ​advance,​ ​since​ ​we​ ​only​ ​got​ ​our​ ​tour​ ​after​ ​another​ ​family cancelled.​ ​There​ ​are​ three​ ​companies​ ​in​ ​main ​visitor​ ​area​ ​and​ ​all​ ​seem​ ​to​ ​be​ ​very organized.​ ​​ ​​The​ ​kids​ ​were​ ​thrilled​ ​to ​learn​ ​how​ ​to​ ​use​ ​crampons​ ​and​ ​ice​ ​axes​ ​for​ ​the first​ ​time​ ​and​ ​our​ ​guide,​ ​Ian,​ ​was​ ​brilliant​ ​in​ ​keeping​ ​our​ ​wild​ ​children​ ​from​ ​falling in​ ​any​ ​crevasses.​ ​​ ​This​ ​was​ ​not​ ​inexpensive​ ​but​ ​the​ ​glacier​ ​walk​ ​was​ ​a​ ​true​ ​highlight. Round​ ​trip​ ​was​ ​around​ ​3​ ​hours​ ​and ​was​ ​filled ​with​ ​scientific​ ​information​ ​including about​ ​glacier​ ​formation.

Glacier hike with the family

After​ ​some​ ​snacks,​ ​we​ ​visited​ ​the​ ​glacier​ ​and​ ​ice​ ​creations​ ​at​ ​Fjallsárlón​ ​and Jökulsárlón​ ​Beach.​ ​​Kids​ ​loved​ seeing​ seals​ ​swimming​ among​ ​the​ ​icebergs​ ​and​ ​we also​ ​took​ ​the​ ​opportunity​ ​to​ ​gather​ ​some​ ​ice​ ​for​ ​our​ ​“cooler​ ​box”​ ​(Free​ ​ice…lots​ ​of it).​ ​​ ​This​ ​place​ ​is​ ​unbelievable​ ​beautiful.​ ​It​ ​can​ ​be ​​surprisingly​ ​crowded​ ​and​ ​we​ ​did encounter​ ​a​ ​traffic​ snarl​ ​getting​ ​across​ ​the​ ​bridge​ ​but​ ​it​ ​should​ ​not​ b​e​ ​missed.

The ice lake Jökulsárlón

Crystal beach in Iceland

Million dollar view

As​ ​a​ treat ​​for​ ​surviving​ ​several ​days​ i​n ​​a​ s​mall​ s​pace​ ​together,​ ​we​ h​ad​ a​ ​wonderful dinner​ i​n ​Höfn​ ​at​ P​akkhús​ ​restaurant.​ ​​ ​Although​ ​they​ d​on’t ​take​ ​reservations, ​​we had​ no ​difficulty​ getting ​in​ ​at​ ​5:30pm ​​for ​an​ ​unforgettable​ meal​ ​of​ l​angoustines​ ​and lamb.​ ​​ ​​We​ ​had ​plans ​to​ ​stay ​​the ​night ​outside​ o​f ​​Höfn​ ​near ​the ​Viking​ C​afé,​ w​hose owners​ ​have ​built​ ​a​ ​replica​ ​of​ a​ ​Viking ​village​ f​or​ ​a ​movie​ ​set.​ ​​However,​ w​hen​ ​we arrived​ a​t ​8pm,​ w​e​ realized ​that​ the​ ​campground​ w​as​ ​actually​ a​ ​​tiny ​​parking​ ​lot already​ ​full ​​of​ ​campers,​ ​and​ ​we​ ​returned​ ​to​ ​Höfn​ ​to​ ​stay​ ​in​ ​the​ ​city ​campground. ​ ​It was ​crowded, ​but​ t​hey​ ​have​ ​plenty​ o​f ​​space ​and ​a​ BIG​ ​plus ​​here-​ ​they ​will​ ​wash ​and fold ​ ​your​ ​laundry ​​for ​very​ ​little​ ​money.​ ​Do​ ​this ​first​ ​when​ you​ ​get​ ​into​ t​own​ ​as​ t​he laundry​ ​service​ ​gets ​​filled​ u​p ​quickly.

Day ​ ​6–Camping​ ​at​ ​Atlavik

Before​ w​e ​left​ t​own, ​we ​headed ​​for ​​the​ community​ ​pool.​ ​​​It​ i​s​ ​a​ very​ ​nice​ aquatic center​ ​with​ ​two​ ​large​ ​hot​ ​tubs,​ ​a ​​large​ ​heated​ ​lap ​​pool, ​and ​also​ ​several ​​water-slides! It ​​rained​ t​hat ​morning​ ​but​ ​the​ ​kids ​didn’t​ m​ind ​the ​rain​ ​and​ ​we​ enjoyed ​the​ ​hot​ ​tubs.

The​ p​lace​ ​also​ ​has ​very​ ​nice​ ​showers,​ ​and​ ​no​ ​lines​ ​compared ​to​ ​the ​campground. After​ a​​ ​few​ h​ours​ o​f​ ​water​ ​fun​ ​and​ ​relaxation,​ ​​w​e ​​treated​ ​ourselves​ ​to ​an anniversary​ ​lunch​ ​of​ ​langoustines​ a​t​ H​umarhöfnin​ ​(yeah, ​it’s​ ​worth​ ​it…the langoustines​ ​are​ ​famous​ ​here​ and​ f​or​ ​good ​reason).

Humarhöfnin Lobster restaurant

After​ ​rolling​ ​out​ ​of​ ​this​ ​amazing​ ​lunch,​ ​we​ headed​ ​up​ ​the​ ​coast ​​of ​Eastern​ ​Iceland along ​the ​fjords. ​W​e ​spent ​​the​ ​overnight​ ​at​ ​the ​Atlavik​ ​campground​ ​on​ ​the​ ​shore ​​of Lagarfljót,​ ​where​ w​e​ searched​ ​for​ ​the​ ​rumored​ ​lake​  monster.

Atlavik campground

Our​ ​site​ ​was​ ​beachfront​ ​and​ ​spacious,​ ​but​ ​no​ ​sightings ​of ​​the​ ​“lake ​​worm.” ​ ​This​ i​s​ ​a fantastic​ ​campground​ ​with​ ​sites​ ​surrounded​ ​by​ ​trees​ (​all​ ​of​ ​the​ ​trees​ ​in​ ​Iceland appear​ ​to​ ​be​ ​here, ​because​ ​there​ ​aren’t ​​many​ ​elsewhere).​ The​ ​lake​ ​is​ ​very​ ​opaque from​ ​glacial​ ​till…and​ ​very​ c​old.​ ​Be​ ​aware,​ ​there​ ​is​ ​no​ ​check-in​ ​location;​ ​you​ ​just​ ​find a​ ​nice​ s​pot​ ​and​ ​in​ t​he​ ​morning,​ ​someone​ w​ill​ ​come​ a​ round​ ​and​ ​swipe​ y​our​ ​card. Laundry​ ​is​ ​available.

Camping in Atlavík

Day ​ ​7–​ ​​ ​Camping​ a​t​ ​Lífsmótun

After​ ​reluctantly​ ​leaving​ ​our​ ​beautiful​ ​campsite,​ ​we​ ​stopped​ ​at​ ​the​ ​waterfalls Dettifoss​ ​and​ ​Selfoss. ​More​ ​waterfalls​ ​you​ say?​ Yeah, ​​there​ ​are​ ​lots ​but​ ​these ​are worth​ i​t.​ Especially​ ​since​ t​here ​are​ ​multiple​ ​volcanic​ ​areas​ ​including​ ​the​ ​most​ ​recent big​ ​time​ ​lava​ ​activity​ ​in​ ​Iceland​ geologic​ ​history.

Powerful Dettifoss waterfall

A​ short​ ​hike​ ​at​ ​the​ ​lava​ ​field​ ​at​ ​Leirhnjúkur​ ​provided​ ​a​ ​good ​geology​ ​lesson​ ​from​ m​y husband.​ ​ ​After​ ​a​ ​quick​ stop​ ​at​ ​Stóra-viti​ ​of​ ​Krafla, ​we ​headed​ t​o​ t​he​ ​Mývatn​ ​Nature Baths​ f​or​ ​soaking​ ​and​ ​showers​ (​kids​ a​gain ​are​ ​free).​ ​​ The​ ​Mývatn​ ​baths​ ​were​ ​much more​ ​natural​ ​and​ ​scenic​ ​than​ ​the​ ​Blue​ ​Lagoon​ ​and​ ​the ​​kids​ w​ere​ ​surprised​ ​by​ ​the sulfur smell, ​whereas​ ​at​ t​he​ ​Blue​ ​Lagoon,​ ​it​ ​is​ ​almost​ ​non-existent.​ ​It’s​ ​definitely present​ ​at​ ​Mývatn​ ​but​ ​not​ ​off-putting​ ​and​ ​well​ ​worth​ ​the​ ​low​ ​cost​ ​of​ ​admission. Showers​ ​and​ ​amenities​ a​re​ ​very​ ​good.

Mývatn Nature baths - North Iceland

Grjótagjá​ c​ave,​ ​famous​ ​for​ ​the​ ​“deflowering”​ ​of​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​characters​ ​of​ ​Game of​ ​Thrones​ ​allowed​ ​my​ ​children​ ​to​ ​learn​ ​the​ ​word​ ​“deflowering.”

Inside Grjótagjá

Although ​we ​had​ ​planned​ ​to​ ​stay ​at​ ​Lake​ ​Mývatn​ f​or​ ​the ​night,​ w​e​ r​an​ ​into​ ​larger than ​expected ​crowds, ​and​ ​instead​ ​drove​ ​on​ t​o​ a​ ​small ​town​ ​named ​​Laugar.​ ​​​Home for​ t​he​ ​night​ ​was​ a​t ​​Lifsmótun​ ​campground​ ​where ​all​ ​campsites​ a​re​ ​separated​ ​with hedges​ ​and​ ​shrubs​ ​allowing​ ​for​ ​lots​ ​of​ ​quiet​ ​and​ ​privacy.​ ​It’s​ ​curated​ ​like​ ​an​ ​English garden​ ​with​ ​high​ ​shrubs​ ​and​ ​very​ ​manicured​ ​lawns.​ ​The​ ​owners​ ​are​ ​very​ ​nice.​ ​This is​ ​absolutely​ ​worth​ ​driving​ ​a​ ​few​ ​extra​ ​kilometers​ ​to​ ​such​ ​a​ ​beautiful​ ​spot.​ ​​ ​By​ t​he way,​ ​the ​bathrooms/showers​ ​are:​ ​1.​ ​Heated​ ​2.​ ​Very​ ​nice​ and​ ​clean​ ​and​ ​3.​ ​Not crowded.​ ​A​ ​heated​ ​shower/bathroom​ ​area​ ​is​ ​often​ ​taken​ ​for​ ​granted​ ​but​ ​not​ ​after 10 days​ ​in​ ​Iceland…it’s​ cherished.

Lifsmótun​ ​campground​

Day​ ​8–​ ​​ ​Camping​ ​at​ ​Hvamstangi

In ​the​ ​morning,​ ​we​ ​drove ​ ​through​ ​the​ ​rain​ ​to​ Húsavik.​ ​​​After​ ​an​ ​informative​ ​stop​ ​at the​ ​Húsavik​ ​Whale​ ​Museum,​ ​we​ ​spent​ ​three​ ​hours​ ​whale-watching​ ​with​ ​Gentle Giants.​ ​I​ ​have​ ​no​ ​allegiance​ ​to​ ​any​ o​f​ ​the​ ​companies,​ ​and​ ​there​ ​are​ ​many​ ​in​ ​Húsavik, but​ ​the​ ​Gentle​ ​Giants​ ​boats​ w​ere​ ​very​ ​nice,​ ​and​ ​our​ ​guide​ ​was​ ​outstanding. ​This​ ​was a ​​true​ ​highlight​ ​of​ ​the​ ​trip.​ ​One​ ​might​ ​assume ​whale​ ​watching​ ​might​ ​be​ ​hit​ ​or​ ​miss but​ ​if​ ​there​ ​is​ ​one​ ​place​ ​you​ ​take​ ​a​ ​whale​ ​watching​ ​tour,​ ​this​ ​would​ ​be​ ​the​ ​place​ ​to go.​ ​We​ ​were​ ​surrounded​ ​by​ ​whales​ ​the​ ​entire​ ​trip.​ ​All​ rain​ ​and​ ​cold​ ​was​ ​forgotten after​ ​watching​ ​over​ ​twelve​ ​humpback​ ​whales.​ ​​After​ a​ ​​brief​ ​stop​ ​at​ ​very​ ​beautiful but​ ​“busy”​ ​Goðafoss​ ​waterfall,​ ​we​ ​had​ a​ ​​great​ ​dinner​ ​at​ ​Akureyri​ ​Fish​ ​and​ ​Chips.

The ​​campsite​ ​that​ ​night​ ​was​ ​completely ​unforgettable​ ​at​ ​Hvammstangi campground.​ ​​Although ​we​ ​had​ ​a ​​long​ ​walk​ ​to​ ​any​ ​facilities,​ ​our​ ​private​ ​campsite was​ ​next​ ​to​ ​a​ ​river​ ​at​ ​the​ t​op​ ​of​ ​the ​​campground​ ​with​ ​a​ ​view​ ​of​ ​the​ ​fjord​ ​below.

Hvammstangi campground

Day ​ ​9​ -​- ​ ​Camping​ at​ ​Þingvellir​ National​ ​Park

The ​morning​ w​as​ s​pent​ ​driving​ t​o ​Glýmur,​ f​or​ t​he​ ​hike​ ​to​ t​he​ overlook ​for ​​the Glýmur​ ​waterfall.

The Glýmur hike

The river passing to Glýmur

Younger​ ​kids​ would​ ​not​ ​tolerate​ ​this ​hike ​​well​ ​as​ t​here ​is​ a​​ ​log-crossing​ over​ a​ ​​river, many​ ​steep​ ​sections​ ​requiring​ ​a​ r​ope​ t​o​ ​aid​ ​climbing,​ ​and​ ​impressively​ ​sheer drop-offs​ ​at​ ​the​ viewpoint.​ A​ ​note​ ​on​ ​this:​ ​when​ ​Iceland​ ​guidebooks​ ​or​ signs​ ​says not​ ​for​ ​kids​ ​under​ 8​​ ​and​ sturdy​ ​hiking​ ​boots​ ​required…they​ ​mean​ ​it.

Lake Þingvellir

After​ ​passing​ ​several​ ​campgrounds​ ​that​ ​were​ ​very​ ​crowded​ ​and​ ​close ​to​ ​the​ road, we​ ​elected​ ​to​ ​return​ ​to​ Þingvellir​ t​o ​pack​ ​our​ ​things​ and​ organize​ ​the​ ​van.​ ​​The Iceland​ ​wind​ ​blew​ ​all​ ​night,​ ​rocking​ ​the​ v​an​ ​like​ ​a​ s​hip​ ​in​ ​a ​storm. ​​We​ ​had​ ​heard about​ e​pic​ ​wind​ ​during​ t​he​ w​inter ​but​ ​WOW,​ ​that ​was​ ​serious​ ​wind.

Day​ ​10–​ ​​ ​Reykjavik

The Sculpture Sun Voyager

After​ ​the​ ​short​ ​drive​ ​to​ ​Reykjavik,​ ​we​ ​dropped​ ​off​ ​the​ ​van​ ​with​ ​sad​ ​goodbyes​ ​and headed​ ​to​ ​the​ ​town​ ​for​ ​a​ ​two​ ​night​ ​stay​ ​in​ ​a​ ​studio​ ​apartment​ ​in​ ​historic​ ​Reykjavik.

Lodging​ ​is​ ​plentiful​ ​but​ ​I ​would​ ​book​ w​ell​ ​ahead​ ​if​ ​you​ a​re ​planning​ ​on​ ​going​ ​when we​ ​did​ ​(Cultural​ ​Day​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Iceland​ ​Marathon).​ ​I​ ​found​ ​a​ ​fantastic​ ​apartment​ ​in downtown​ ​through​ ​Orbitz.​ ​​ ​​I ​was​ ​running​ ​the​ ​Iceland​ ​Half-Marathon​ ​and​ ​it​ ​was​ ​only a​ ​few​ ​blocks​ ​from​ ​the​ s​tart.

Reykjavik Marathon

The​ ​Marathon​ ​was​ ​very​ ​well​ ​attended​ (​14,000​ ​or​ ​so)​ ​but​ ​also​ ​very​ ​organized​ ​and​ ​an absolutely​ ​beautiful​ ​tour​ ​of​ ​the​ ​city​ and​ ​harbor.

Reykjavik half marathon

After​ ​the​ ​marathon,​ ​the​ ​afternoon​ ​and​ ​evening​ ​​was​ ​“Culture ​​Night”​ ​in ​Iceland.​ ​This is​ a​ ​very,​ ​very​ ​big ​deal.​ ​​ They​ ​shut​ ​down​ ​the​ ​entire​ ​downtown​ ​area​ ​to​ ​cars,​ ​and​ ​you can​ ​take​ ​a​ ​bus ​​into​ t​he​ ​city​ ​center​ ​for​ free.

Culture Night in Reykjavik - Final event

There​ ​are​ ​more​ ​than​ ​100,000​ ​people​ ​that​ ​flood​ ​the​ ​city​ ​for​ ​the​ ​300+​ ​free​ ​events.​ ​In every​ street​ ​and​ ​city​ ​square,​ ​there​ ​are​ ​stages​ ​(literally​ ​everywhere),​ ​for bands/music​ ​and​ ​art​ ​along​ ​with​ ​vendors​ ​for​ ​handiwork/jewelry,​ ​and​ ​food​ ​and beverage​ ​trucks.​ ​Later​ ​in​ ​the​ ​night,​ ​everyone​ ​gathers​ ​at​ ​the​ ​main​ ​park​ ​for​ ​the​ ​final event,​ ​the​ ​​Festival​ ​Concert​ ​at​ ​Arnarhóll.​ ​There​ ​was​ ​a​ ​massive​ ​outdoor​ ​stage​ ​at​ ​the city​ ​park​ ​Arnarhóll​ ​with​ ​an​ ​equally​ ​large​ ​crowd.​ ​They​ ​had​ ​man​y​ ​great​ ​bands​ ​​ ​and musicians​ ​and​ ​finished​ ​with​ ​an​ ​enormous​ ​fireworks​ ​display.​ ​It​ ​was​ ​truly​ ​incredible.

It​ ​happens​ ​around​ ​the​ ​third​ ​week​ ​of​ ​August​ ​every​ ​year​ ​on​ ​the​ ​same​ ​day​ ​as​ ​the Marathon,​ ​and​ ​if​ ​you​ ​are​ ​there​ ​in​ ​August,​ ​it​ ​should​ ​not​ ​be​ ​missed.​ ​We​ ​had​ ​the​ ​perfect ending​ ​to​ ​the​ ​perfect​ ​vacation.


Read more: Eva & Dani’s Icelandic story

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