21st January 2019
Dramatic and pristine landscapes, epic stargazing and the chance to see the aurora borealis: this wild and rugged island should top every family’s bucket list. Hannah Freedman reports
The famous Icelandic horses are commonly believed to be descendants of the first horses brought over by the Vikings in the ninth and 10th centuries. Smaller and fuzzier than the horses you’re used to seeing, they stand just 4ft 5in tall on average. They are found everywhere, and families often pull over to the side of the road to snap a selfie with these spirited animals.
The number of waterfalls scattered throughout the stunning landscape. Among the most famous are the classically beautiful Skógafoss, powerful Gullfoss (part of the popular Golden Circle tour) and Seljalandsfoss, where kids can walk directly behind its pouring water.
However, on crisp, clear nights, the darkness gives sightseers a good chance of experiencing the otherworldly Northern Lights. The shimmering aurora borealis is truly unforgettable. By contrast, in the summer, visitors get a taste of ‘midnight summer’, when there is continuous daylight.
Amount of Iceland’s landmass covered by Vatnajökull, the country’s largest glacier. One of the biggest in all of Europe, it’s more than half a mile thick in parts. Families can visit this and other glaciers spread around the country. Hike and climb on them, or go ice caving in their massive tunnels filled with mesmerising blue light.
Number of feet that puffins can dive under water. Over half the world’s population of Atlantic puffin breeds in Iceland.
The average temperature of the Blue Lagoon. You can take a dip in the turquoise waters of the famous geothermal spa no matter what time of year you’re visiting.
The year a US Navy DC plane crashed on the black beach at Sólheimasandur in southern Iceland (luckily, everyone on board survived). Kids will enjoy adventuring to the skeletal remains of the plane. Fair warning: vehicles are banned from going directly to the wreckage, and you will have to walk just over two miles to get there. But the contrast of the white plane perched on the black sand and the impressive views of the ocean makes the trek well worth it.