Iceland, the land of breathtaking nature. A couple of people we know and who have been there were really enthusiastic! So, Iceland has definitely aroused our curiosity. It’s June and it’s about 30 degrees in the Netherlands, and even though we are big fans of the summer, the warmth and walking on slippers, we decide to visit Iceland, armed with wind jackets, thick clothes and warm hiking boots. Our journey in Iceland with kids starts in Reykjavik, where, for the next couple of days, we take our rental car clockwise on the “ring road” that runs around Iceland.
To go more inland, you need a 4×4 but seeing as we are travelling with a toddler of 2,5 years old while I’m 7 weeks pregnant of number 2 (with accompanying sickness every once in while), we choose the asphalted ring road. I have to say Iceland isn’t a country that is well equipped for hordes of little children when it comes to playgrounds and facilities such as baby beds or buggy proof (so bring a deryan and a carrier), but our daughter entertains herself just fine with little rocks, twigs, plucking flowers and other nature related things so no problem!
During our “round of Iceland with kids” we do run into lots of fun stuff which makes Iceland a great place to visit with kids though. Don’t expect kids’ clubs, animation teams or large playgrounds but more back to basic kind of activities. Our trip through Iceland in 7 days!
We’ve developed a kind of travel-tic; Wherever we visit a city or country we visit the botanical gardens first. Don’t ask me why, but whenever we open a travel guide and see a botanical garden listed, my husband and I both yell out “yeeees, let’s go there!” So, on day one in Iceland we visit the botanical garden. Not only is it a nice bit of nature you can walk through, there is lots to do for kids too. Near the botanical gardens is a kind of mini-amusement park with a couple of animals (of which seal Snorrie was especially loved by our daughter). Reykjavik, is a relatively small and compact city, so even for little legs it’s good to walk around in. A must see in the center is the Hallgrimskirkja (which means church) of course. Beautiful!
Oh and that’s right, you know what’s really weird? We’re here in the summer so it doesn’t get dark at night! We hardly close an eye the first night in our non-darkened accommodation and find ourselves wide awake at 3 AM in the morning, playing dominos…
The Hraunfossar waterfalls
If you drive around Iceland clockwise, you will soon reach the Hraunfossar waterfalls on the west-side. We are huge fans of waterfalls and we’ve passed this on to our daughter who loves them equally. The waterfalls are easy to reach with kids. You can park the car nearby and see the beauty straight away. No long walks needed and a spectacular sight. A definite must-do when visiting Iceland with kids!
Akureyri & Godafoss, say what?! Akureyri & Godafoss indeed…
Akureyri is the number two largest “city” of Iceland. It’s rather small but nice to stroll through. Every shop has a large polar bear or troll on the doorstep as a kind of advertisement. Not far from Akureyri lies the Godafoss waterfall. This waterfall is perfectly reachable by car too. Just park the car, get out and be amazed by the beauty of this place!
In this part of Iceland, up north, there is lots of beautiful stuff to see and do! Be sure to spend at least 2 days if you want to visit everything without rushing. Myvatn is a lake and lies in a very active volcanic area. In this area there are lots of ‘must sees’ such as Dimmuborgir. You can go on wonderful walks between large and impressive rock formations. There is a good network of hiking trails and it’s easily done with kids too.
Because there are short flights of stairs every now and again, we chose to bring a baby carrier, which works fine! What’s certainly worth a visit: Grjoagja (which means cave). Through this cave bright blue water flows, which is a rather pretty sight. But watch your head! Some bulges hang dangerously low from the ceiling. What you absolutely should visit is Hverarönd at Mamafjall (that’s right, try pronouncing that after three beers). This is a geothermal landscape that bubbles and hisses, full of bubbling mud pits. One does walk in sulfur air the whole time (which is juuuust peachy with my sensitive pregnant nose, not). It’s like you’re walking on another planet, it’s incredibly beautiful!
Our toddler was rather impressed by the bubbling, smoking and hissing too. A big highlight of the Myvatn region if you ask us. A little outside of this region, at about a 20 min drive, is the Viti crater Lake. This is certainly worth a visit too. You can walk all the way around the crater and enjoy some spectacular views. This is a true Iceland highlight, not to be missed on your trip through Iceland with kids!
Detifoss and Selfoss waterfalls
This is a real treat for us waterfall fans! When you leave Myvatn and drive to the north east, you will run into these beauties of nature. There is a huge parking area from where you walk a short while, about 20 minutes. It’s not buggy proof so do bring the carrier for the smallest ones. The walk alone is beautiful, like a moon landscape, and at the end you reach the enormous and impressive Detifoss waterfall. Wow!
To walk right up the waterfall, you need walk a little ‘off road’ and do some climbing. It’s lots of fun and a little adventurous for the older kids.
Sleeping in a wooden cabin in the hills
In the west of Iceland there is a place called Egilsstadir. The village itself isn’t really much, but the accommodations are great! Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, in the hills, they have these adorable little wooden cabins for rent, where you can spend the night. There is nothing around but peace and quiet, some Iceland ponies and fields of yellow flowers. Our daughter went plucking flowers for all the cabins and afterwards we pulled open a can of soup in our own cabin. So cozy!
Don’t miss Jokulsarlun
This is an absolute must when you’re in Iceland! It’s incredibly beautiful! Jokulsarlon is found in the south of Iceland and lies directly along the highway so you can’t miss it. A large, clear blue lake with enormous ice floes in it, that slowly drift out into sea. A very impressive sight to see. We’re in luck that the sky is bright blue today and the sun is shining too, making it all an even more special sight. You can go on boat rides through the ice floes and there is a little restaurant where you can have good coffee and something to eat.
Just another one… Skogafoss waterfall
Oke, oke, just one more, one last waterfall. We do happen to think this one is the most impressive. This waterfall too is easy to reach by car. When you reach the parking lot you can see the enormous waterfall from there. The most fun thing about this waterfall is you can walk all the way up to it and even stand under it if you like (not that we wanted too in this cold of course), so no fences or gates or stuff like that but just the waterfall and see how close you dare to get!
The high spouting Geysir
Last but not least, we have to visit one of the most well-known highlight of Iceland: the immensely high spouting Geysir. Busloads of people stop here each day to see the thing spout (it spouts about every 10 minutes). So, with very high expectations we visit the geyser park. It’s very crappy weather today and it’s raining cats and dogs. The sky is grey and dark and all misty too. We set off for the spouting spectacle, armed with umbrella’s and packed tightly in rain coats and boots. But we were very disappointed! Because of the mistall the steam gets lost in the air and we hardly see a thing. We were not impressed unfortunately but I can imagine it being quite the sight against a clear blue sky. If you have good weather, be sure to visit Geysir when you’re traveling through Iceland with kids.
Do you want more Iceland inspiration? Check out the best Iceland tours.
This was our round of Iceland and to sum it up, it was fantastic! The nature can be really overwhelming at times. Be sure to bring a full wallet because it’s not exactly a cheap country. For food as well as accommodations you pay quite a bit, but it was well worth it for us. It’s also just a 2,5-hour flight and when you step out of the plane, you step into a completely different world. So, Iceland with kids? Lot’s of fun, so we say go for it!
This article is written by our regular guest blogger Kim. Kim has 2 daughters (4 and 1) and is pregnant of number 3. Together with her family she goes on the most beautiful trips. Not just because travelling is lots of fun, but because it’s very educational too. Isn’t it just great showing your kids deserts, mountains, temples and castles for real instead of in a picture book? Kim and her husband Adri see the world as one large playground and enjoy going on exploring adventures with their kids each time.
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