Iceland: Greenest Family Vacation Ever


Last week, my family and I vacationed in Iceland.

It wasn’t icy at all.

As a matter of fact, temperatures in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, and the city you’d be most likely to visit, are generally mild year-round.  They’re less cold in winter, and get less snow than NYC, plus, they have milder summers, too.  Who knew?

We chose Iceland mostly because I thought it would be a great, gorgeous adventure for my two teenagers. Because it’s a quick flight from NYC (less than 5 hours in the air), and because I had heard that, as part of the restructuring of their economy, Iceland was considering, for the first time, allowing drilling for oil in previously untouched areas.  I wanted to get there while the getting was good.

And despite the fact that it rained every single day we were there – the getting was good indeed.

Iceland is Green, Greenland is Icy

If the name “Iceland” is enough to turn you off from visiting, don’t be fooled.  Iceland is GREEN.  Lush landscapes of moss-covered lava fields cover miles of its surface, Europe’s two largest glaciers are on Iceland, too – meaning 80% of it’s land uninhabitable.

And gorgeous.

Reykjavik Rooftop

Reykjavik Rooftop

1Getting Ready to Snorkel in a continental rift 2"Hot" River, created by underground HotSprings 3. Hallgrímskirkja Church 4. On the Second Largest Glacier in Europe.

1Getting Ready to Snorkel in a continental rift
2″Hot” River, created by underground HotSprings
3. Hallgrímskirkja Church
4. On the Second Largest Glacier in Europe.

So what did we do in Iceland? Hiking, snorkeling, glacier walks, wonderfully and wonderfully expensive meals.  But let’s start with Day One:  relaxation and recovery! Here goes:


Day One: Blue Lagoon.

Over overnight flight left us sleepless and not all that interested in adventure.  So a good soak in a geo-thermal hot tub attached to a spa sounded like a great idea.

The Blue Lagoon was formed in 1976 during operation at the nearby Svartsengi geothermal power plant. Excess, naturally heated water that wasn’t being used by the plant formed pools – and people began to take notice, and bathe in them, enjoying the effects of the Natural Silica on their skin.  In 1987, public facilities were built to accommodate the crowds, and by 1995 a full spa had opened – all of it 100% powered by clean geothermal energy.

Blue Lagoon

Essentially, it’s a GIANT public hot tub, with water heated by the earth itself.  So what’s on my face in that picture?  Silica – available in stone basins throughout the facility.  Attractive, no?

When you arrive, depending on the package you’ve purchased. you get the use of a bathrobe, towel, flip flops to keep, and a coupon for a drink., redeemable at the in-water swim up bar,

Here are some quick facts about the Blue Lagoon:

  • The water temperature is 37-40°C (98-104°F), year-round.
  • The lagoon contains 6 million litres of water.
  • The water is self-cleansing – it renews itself every 40 hours.
  • Blue Lagoon is mostly ca. 0.8-1.2 metres deep. Its deepest point is 1.6 meters.
  • The water is actually white — the light makes it look blue
  • The water originates 2000 meters underground
  • On it’s way to the surface, the water collect silica, algae, and other minerals thought to be good for the skin.

It was a great visit – and our meal at the on-site restaurant, Lava, featuring traditional Icelandic specialties with a modern twist –  was  beautiful, and memorable.

All in all a great start to the vacation, and a good way to gear up for the days of adventure to follow.

Coming up Next:

We hike through a 9000 year old lava tube, snorkel in glacier water, and learn to grin and bear it when it comes to the price of, well, everything.

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