Iceland with Kids

I’d highly recommend you visit Iceland with kids. We visited Iceland back in February 2016 with our then 4 and 7-year olds.  It was a fantastic time of year to visit, and the landscape is truly other-worldly when covered in snow.  

We stayed in a great Airbnb apartment in Reykjavik.  It had a mezzanine bed area for the kids, and almost a built in window/mini-conservatory – we guessed that Icelanders have these to try to glean as much light into their lives as possible in the depths of winter! 

View from our Airbnb apartment in Reykjavik

Iceland with Kids.

Reykjavik is a vibrant city, and it was great to be able to stroll from the apartment to restaurants and night life after long days trekking around the countryside.  Be sure to dress stylishly in the evenings despite the cold!  It is SUPER expensive in Iceland.  I believe that there isn’t a general taxation system in Iceland, rather the tax is applied to what you buy/use, so food in particular seems very expensive compared to the UK.  We stumbled upon mjolk in the local supermarket and the kids still like it to this day, despite thinking it was very strange at first!

We hired a car (4×4 is a must I think in winter) and bought a map and we drove around to see the sights independently, stopping in places where the snow was untouched and up to a metre deep.  Every holiday seems to have a sound -rack, right? Ours was Rihanna’s album Anti.  Ok, some of the lyrics may not be 100% suitable for children, so we skipped past those!

The kids loved making very deep snow angels! If you are visiting Iceland with kids, it is really important to ensure they are wrapped up well. Our kids had waterproof snow boots, thermals, and ski salopettes and jackets – as well as woolly jumpers.  Lots of layers being key so as they don’t overheat if we did stop somewhere for a bite to eat and whilst in the car.  Also hats and thermal ski gloves are a must, woollys won’t cut it as they will get soaked.  Despite this, at times our 4 -year old still did get a bit cold.

One of our favourite things to see was the various geysers People stand around the cordoned off areas and every few minutes regularly the geyser will explode a plume of boiling water into the air. Kids and adults are equally awe-struck by the regular plumes, and they are also one of the few attractions that are absolutely free! 

A small geyser up close

Also the waterfalls (partly frozen at that time of year) were spectacular and also free to visit.  Gulfoss waterfalls was our absolute favourite, and I think many others agree.  It was packed with other tourists, but is so vast you still get great uninterrupted views.  

Gulfoss waterfall in Iceland

You can see why Game of Thrones has filmed on so many occasions here.  We did actually meet some of the cast of Game of Thrones too…… Johanna’s lovely goats featured here in the Guardian!  Johanna was very friendly and we bought some lovely home made things from her shop.  

What can I say, the Blue Lagoon is also a must if you can afford it, and we spent ages there one afternoon.  It is truly bizarre to step out into the snow in your bathing costume, and then sink into the pool which feels like a giant outdoor bath.  It also had a couple of bars you can swim to and enjoy a nice milkshake (for the kids) or a beer for the grownups.    It has a couple of waterfalls you can dive under, and everybody had a lovely glow about them from the warmth of the water.  The kids looked like cherubs with tiny droplets of water forming all over their eyebrows, eye lashes and hair!  I’d recommend booking ahead as it can get busy, you can also book a table in the restaurant, but we felt it was a bit grown up for our kids at the time, but for a special occasion it would round off the day perfectly. 

Nico looks perhaps less charming in the face masks on offer at the Blue Lagoon…perhaps more like a ‘White Walker’ from Game of Thrones? 

The smell of sulphur is something that strikes you about the place, due to the volcano effect, and you even get the smell in the apartments due to the heating systems, but you get used to it in the end.  It was amazing to be able to swim around some volcanic formations at the Blue Lagoon.

Volcanic formations at the Blue Lagoon, Iceland

One thing that didn’t quite go to plan was a trip we booked to go inside Langjokull Glacier, the second largest ice cap in Iceland.   We started off up the mountains in some giant ex-Nato vehicles – they had tyres as big as us!  As we climbed , I have never seen or experienced weather like it in my life.  There was zero visibility, the trucks had to navigate by GPS alone, and these massive vehicles ended up swaying side to side as if they were going to tip right over.  A couple of times, one of the trucks would get stuck, and the other had to pull it out.  The crew stepped outside a couple of times to manage the towing and were walking nearly horizontally so as not to fly away, and in the end our trip had to be abandoned due to the extreme weather. 

Ready to visit Langjokull Glacier, the second largest ice cap in Iceland

Once we were nearly down the mountains again, the crew let us step outside to experience the power of the weather and even though it was nowhere near as bad as higher up the mountain, I have never experienced anything like it.  Within seconds the kids were crying!  The wind was exceptional and the snowflakes like pins hitting your face!  We didn’t make it all the way, but it was still an amazing adventure thanks to the team at Into the Glacier and the company gave us a full refund as well. 

Weather like we have never experienced before, the snowflakes were like pins hitting your face

I’d do it all again in a heartbeat and I’d highly recommend it for a family travel adventure.  

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