An otherworldly landscape of seemingly endless nooks and crannies to explore, Iceland is sure to ignite your child’s sense of adventure.
After a three hour flight and a short bus ride through moss covered lava fields, we arrived in Reykjavik, the northern most capital in the world. It was a pleasant surprise that our hotel, Hotel Fron, sat in a prime location amongst a parade of independent eateries and shops. Furthermore, it was only a short walk away from Hallgrímskirkja, an iconic cathedral and the intriguing Sun Voyager steel ‘dream boat’ sculpture that dominates the bay. We had pre-booked two lengthy tours for our stay as I was conscious of time (we only had two full days to take in the sights). An extra day would have been valuable just to take some time to scout out the local area.
On the first morning, Noah and I splashed around ‘The Blue Lagoon’, a geothermal spa. Water-wings for Noah were provided. As the water can reach temperatures of up to 38c, it was deliciously warm like a toasty bath on a winter’s day. Food and drink was available with a cashless system. We enjoyed the experience so much we both agreed that we could have spent the whole day there had there been enough time.
We had opted to take the ‘Golden Circle Express’ tour (provided by Grayline) in the afternoon. I warn you, this is a long day! Not impossible with a child in tow, but I feel it would be far more manageable had the activities (Blue Lagoon and Golden Circle tour) been spread across two days. Noah copes very well on tours as he likes to sleep or play on his tablet between stops. We also like to chat about the things we can see and our tour guide provided plenty of entertainment, telling us about volcano eruptions the elves that live in the rocks.
Our tour took us to three different natural wonders (I wont spoil it!), culminating into Noah’s favourite part of our holiday: Strokkur, the mighty 30m high Great Geysir. I have to admit I was taken aback by this sight. Noah was full of anticipation, watching the sizzling bubbles brew before bursting skyward (you can see this outstanding sight on our Iceland video).
On our second day, we took, arguably the most impressive tour: the ‘South Coast Classic’ (by Reykjavik Sightseeing). As we boarded our coach, we were handed tablets which we could use to listen to an audio commentary. I was a bit put off by this at first but soon realised that our ‘host’ supplemented the audio guide with plenty of his own information and was chatty enough that I ended up switching off the audio. In fact, all of the Icelandic people that we met were friendly. I should give a shout out especially to the staff at the cozy ‘Scandanavian‘ restaurant at Hotel Fron who were extraordinarily attentive to Noah and even allowed him to ‘help out’ making his ice cream dessert.
Each sight on the South Coast tour could be described as no less than breath-taking. Noah loved scrambling across volcanic rocks to catch a closer glimpse of Sólheimajökull Glacier, climbing rocks that resemble columns on the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach and watching me suffer the 370 steps (no problem for him!) to the top of the Skogafoss Waterfall. We stopped at a little town called Vik for lunch where there were some great options for kids (hotdogs, burgers, fries, etc). At sunset, we arrived at my favourite part of the holiday, the Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. This waterfall is special because you can walk behind it. Noah was a little nervous approaching the pathway that leads behind, as the waterfall’s spray is a little overwhelming. Once we were past it we were rewarded with a glorious view of the intense waterfall illuminated by a pink-orange sky. I don’t think either of us will forget the pristine beauty of Iceland.
- Food is expensive so load up on snacks to take with you on tours. They are fine with you bringing food as long as it is not smelly!
- Keep your child close and talk to them about safety. Iceland use very few ‘fences’ or ‘barriers’ so that visitors can enjoy the natural beauty of the sights. Tour guides will give you safety information so you can safely relax and have a great time.
- In certain parts of Reykjavik (like ours), tour buses are not allowed, so you may have to take a short walk to a bus stop (2 minutes, in our case). Pick up times can be rather early and it may still be dark. Don’t worry! Reykjavik has a reputation for being one of the safest cities in the world. You will also find that many other tourists are also making their way by foot. It will probably seem, to you, unusually busy for such an early time in the morning.