Let’s face it – traveling with kids is never easy. All the extra things you have to remember to bring, like favourite teddy bears and spare clothes in case of an accident, soon add up. It’s also the most rewarding thing you can do with your children. Seeing those wide eyes fill with wonder, when your child, say, sees a huge waterfall for the first time, is pretty special. In fact, it’s irreplaceable. Sharing wonderful adventures is all I can hope to give my little boy.
If you’re wondering whether traveling to Iceland with your kids is what you need right now, I’m here to share a few tips to help you decide (but who are we kidding, we both know that you want to go and are looking up flight prices as we speak).
We knew that our trip to Iceland would be a little testing at times, especially given the distance between locations. The main thing to remember is that the weather is incredibly unpredictable and you may be forced to change your plans at the last minute. This is easier said than done – trust me, I know! I was absolutely gutted when we were faced with the possibility of abandoning our plans to visit Vik beach (the one place I really wanted to see), due to some sandstorms in the south east of the country. Thankfully, the weather cleared up and we were able to go. It was by far my favourite place – both the beach in Vik town, as well as the beach on the other side of the hill. Here the salt rock formations can be found and are simply breathtaking. I’d be lying though, if I said that the bus full of tourists that just arrived as we got there didn’t spoil it a little bit. Well, kind of a lot, actually. If you want to beat the crowds at any of the main beauty spots, you have to get there really early. Sadly, we didn’t have the luxury, as being based on the outskirts of Reykjavik meant that we had long drives to get to any of our chosen destinations.
Prices are pretty high – in fact, 3 Subway sandwiches cost us almost twice as much when compared to the UK, coming in at a cheeky £22. The Hagkaup supermarket quickly became our favourite and we did all of our shopping there. Don’t forget mounds of snacks for those long drives! We were traveling on a pretty tight budget, so eating out every day just wasn’t an option. We cooked most of our dinners at home, and took out sandwiches to have for lunch.
Buy waterproof trousers for the whole family before you leave your country – you’ll thank me later!
To be or not to Airbnb
When searching for a place to stay, it quickly became apparent that hotel prices were much higher. We found a lovely little Airbnb on the outskirts of Reykjavik. I would definitely recommend choosing this option when traveling with kids, as not only do you get access to kitchen facilities, you tend to get more space than you otherwise would. Apartments tend to also have perks such as Netflix or Apple TV, and board games to keep those kiddos entertained in the evening. Our son got very creative with a Jenga set we found in the apartment!
Car or tour?
Traveling with young kids suits itself better to a more relaxed schedule, which is why we chose to hire a car and we’d do so again without hesitation. Need to make an urgent toilet stop because the little ones can’t wait? No problem! Want to spend more time in one place? You can, because the schedule is totally dependent on you and your kiddos. Traveling by car also means that you can pack it full of snacks and games. Uno cards became a staple on every journey, as did ‘I spy with my little eye’, although the latter took some more effort. We also brought a game console to keep our five year old entertained on those long drives. We were lucky enough to have an in-built GPS, which meant that we only had to pay extra for the car seat.
Iceland for kids
Here are a few places I recommend visiting, in no particular order:
Harpa Concert Hall – stunning architecture on the sea front – little explorers will love it!
Braud & Co bakery in Reykjavik – if you’re spending the day exploring the city, you have to make a stop here for some delicious cinnamon pastries. There are plenty of great coffee shops nearby too.
Budir – not for the church itself, but the surrounding beaches. We arrived as snow started to fall, and it was the most beautiful scene.
Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss – remember to bring those waterproof trousers, otherwise you’re going to have a very wet journey home!
Vik – by far my favourite with plenty of stones for the little ones to skim across the water.
Blue Lagoon – last but not least! We arrived at dusk on a Sunday, our first day in Iceland. Although there weren’t many kids around at this time, it was a magical experience for the whole family. Arm bands are available before you go outside, although we ended up holding our son the entire time as he can’t swim just yet. There are lots of little corners to explore. Our son still talks about our visit to the Blue Lagoon and how relaxing the water felt.
We traveled at the beginning of April, and although it was the end of winter, the road conditions still proved to be a bit tricky. One journey in particular won’t be forgotten any time soon – imagine icy roads and a steep downhill route. Although seeing the northern lights is tempting, if traveling with very young children, I’d recommend visiting Iceland closer to summer time to avoid those unpredictable driving conditions.
I have recently made a conscious decision to show our son as much of the world as possible. Experiencing new places and cultures through their eyes is simply wonderful. Experiences over things. But you know that already, my fellow travelette. Our next stop, New York!
This is a guest post by Anna Dunleavy.
Anna Dunleavy is a wedding photographer based in the picturesque market town of Southwell, UK. Originally from Poland, she moved to the UK as a teenager. Although travel wasn’t a big part of her upbringing, she’s determined to make it a part of her family life. After completing a degree in Nottingham, she turned her attention to leading a more fulfilling, creative lifestyle. Follow her travels on