I’ve been asked a bunch of times in the last week about Iceland, so I thought I better put all my trip-planning info right here so that it’s all in one place and I’m definitely wanting to get back there this year, so I know it’ll help me too.
I first got intrigued about Iceland when I saw it on The Bachelorette (season 6, Ali’s season) and it just seemed so whimsical with its My-Little-Pony-like horses and frosty landscapes that I couldn’t help but want to visit there one day.
And then I realized that it’s about the same distance to fly to Iceland as it is to Hawaii (about 7 hours) from Seattle and that made a trip to Europe with kids a lot more doable if we used Iceland as a stopover. We decided to make the trip with Icelandair which turned out to be the most kid-friendly airline we’ve ever flown. They give the kids meals and postcards to send, little activity kits and even blankets with pillows that folded up into the coolest souvenir. This airline is the type of airline that brings back the magic of flying for kids that seems to be forgotten so often in travel these days and this is something I’m truly thankful for.
When we went we had no idea what to expect. I knew friends like Keryn from WalkingonTravels who had done a Golden Circle tour and it sounded amazing, but my husband is not the biggest fans of tours, so we looked into renting a car. However, a tour is is a great way of seeing sites in Iceland and there are sometimes really good deals and if you’re there in pretty icy months or wary of driving with kids and want to relax, it’s definitely a good way to go. I loved that Keryn took some amazing pictures here too!
We weren’t too sure what to do with carseats because we didn’t want to lug our heavy regular carseats from home all over Europe after this trip (the rest of the trip would be by airplane and train) and the daily rental fee was quite high. My lovely friend Mary from World is a Book told me to just find inexpensive boosters and bring them with us and it was easy to find ones like these to bring along(just check weights and ratings.) I also heard some good things about these air filled ones called “Bubblebum” too. (Here’s another review too!)
Mary also had some really cool posts about Iceland with her kids. She talks about the food, some sights that are free in Reyjkavik, the Blue Lagoon and the puffins.
And that’s what I really wanted to see, the puffins. But we missed their arrival by one week when we went, so I want to see puffins when we go back.
And these were a few of our own highlights: We went for three days and this was great for an overview, but we may go longer next time, we’ll see. It all depends on where we go after Iceland-the last time we went to Copenhagen, Zurich and Paris too and we didn’t have a ton of time.(Remember Iceland is a great gateway to the rest of Europe and Icelandair often offers a free stopover so it’s pretty worth it to see other places too!) We loved how there were so many kid-friendly things all over: we found little shopping carts in one store, a play area in a home store and there is nothing more kid-friendly to eat than skyr on the go. (icelandic yogurt)
We found Bergsson Mathis in Reykjavik on our last day and it was the cutest coffee shop/lunch spot. Food seemed very pricey in Iceland but we had some really nice meals. There was a cute take away area behind this restaurant too that would have been lovely to explore.
And here was our initial impression, I think I may have even written this while on the plane to our next destination.
Since we only had a few days in Iceland there is so much left that we want to see. I really wanted to go to the Laundromat cafe, but I read it was also in Copenhagen so I thought we might stop there when we went there but we missed it altogether so I need to put it on our list of places to go when we go back. Icelandic Fish and Chips was also closed when we visited so I really want to go back there and eat. I also want to check out the OmNom chocolate factory the next time we go-we picked up a few of these chocolate bars and they have exquisite packaging!
It was easy to find places on the fly because we rented a portable internet system from Trawire.com and we really liked how it made it easy to be spontaneous in our travels. We have also rented portable internet in Japan and I think wherever we can we will from now on.
We loved our stay at Hotel Ranga because they had an amazing breakfast, perfect hotel rooms for kids that like to explore and they woke us up to see the Northern lights. We also stayed at the a10 deluxe which was really convenient to the airport, to the Blue Lagoon and a Viking museum that was closed when we arrived but looked pretty amazing (on our go back list too!) We want to explore new places the next time we go and this Heydalur hotel has caught my eye (maybe because of a picture of a fox they have in the fields. Please let me know if you’ve been, I’d love to hear!)
And here are a bunch of posts I’m reading for my research for the next trip. I’ll try and keep this updated as I get the trip a little clearer in my own head, but there is so much research out there, sometimes it’s nice to have a little place to start your own dreams:
And because they wrote about visiting Grimsey Island, I would like to know a little more about getting there and this blog has some good points. I think an Arctic Circle certificate would be an awesome souvenir.
We also love coffee shops, so this list is very useful too! We managed to stop at the oldest coffee shop in Iceland called the Mokka Caffe but I’d like to check out more of them on our next trip back too!
So happy travels if you do head to Iceland with kids or without kids. I would love to hear about the things you find and love. (Especially if they have to do with animals, coffee, bakeries and ice cream.)
Takk. (Tahk.) (Thank you)
(PS. I always find it useful to figure out a few phrases in the country we’re headed to and here’s where you can find a few Icelandic words and phrases to help you out too!)