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Iceland with Kids part 1

by admin on August 6, 2011

While we were preparing to travel to Iceland, we noticed that there were few books on travelling there with a family. Nor was there much on the internet…so we thought we would share our thoughts about how it went down. ;) Things we did right. Things we would have done differently had we known better. I’m going to start with the basics.

South Iceland:

#1) Hostels rock. They are the way to go with kids for sure. Iceland is the kind of place where you have to book your hostel ahead of time no matter what, so you might as well book a couple of months in advance and get a private room. You can usually get a room big enough for 4 people(sometimes more). Sometimes there is a private bathroom as well–but this is rare. The hostels here were clean and the kitchens were generally well stocked. You will need hostel sheets as they are too expensive to rent. In Reykjavik, we LOVED the city hostel where we stayed. It was right next door to the pool which became an essential component to staying awake as we struggled with jet lag ;) They had a lovely breakfast which most people actually seem to participate in. This made the kitchens quite empty and easy to use. I have heard that the Downtown Hostels in Reykjavik are more ‘party’ type hostels…and, having seen their location, I am guessing that the crowd is younger and hipper…thus, probably enjoy the nightlife more than we are able to with our two young kids.

#2) Upgrade your car. As in most of Europe, cars here are small. We upgraded from the basic model(we passed on the 4×4 as it nearly doubled the basic price). We are glad we did as we discovered that there is no way you would have fit the luggage for a family of 4 in a basic model(the trunk of the car is nonexistent in this model–if you had one child, you could maybe manage with putting luggage on the other half of the backseat). We minimized our luggage and had two suitcases and one duffel bag plus my camera bag and our trunk was packed to the max.

#3) We got an iPad sim card for $20 and used that for internet instead of our iPhones. This saved us a tonne of money and headache. It was lovely to have fairly consistent 3G service to check maps, find restaurants, etc. (not to mention blog) in a place where finding internet access can at times be difficult. We just wanted to give a shout out to the phenomenal people of Iceland who helped us find the right sim card(you must go to an actual cell phone store and not a convenience store…no matter what anyone tells you). Icelanders are so incredibly friendly-one gas station clerk called around and found a place for us to go. Once we got to the right store and the sim card was in place, the website was entirely in Icelandic so the friendly clerk there spent 20 minutes getting it up and running for us. Lifesavers ;)

#4) It’s colder than you think. We weren’t really prepared for how cold exactly. The average July temperature is +17′C or so…but it is quite humid and windy so it feels much colder. Bring a good shell that is waterproof. Bring layers(even if it is summer). Bring gortex pants(when it rains, at least when we were there, it rained sideways). Bob needed a toque(winterhat).

#5) Blue Lagoon. They tell you to put conditioner in your hair before you go in(and to leave it in). Do this. Put in LOTS. The water is very hard and Georgia’s hair was really wrecked from it. We conditioned it a bunch of times as soon as we could and that made it better, but I wish I had done a better job at putting in lots beforehand.

#6) Skyr. When you go grocery shopping, pick up lots of this for breakfast. It’s like yogurt only more awesome. My kids ate it by the bucket load. So yummy.

Hope this helps anyone who is searching the net about travelling to Iceland with kids. Check out my photography blog for lots more pictures. They will slowly be trickling out…as will advice.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Colleen August 7, 2011 at 10:55 am

Our hair was destroyed by the Blue Lagoon. Yikes! Still trying to fix that!!

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Josh Solar August 7, 2011 at 1:52 pm

I will bookmark this post for future Icelandic adventures :)

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Auður from HI Iceland August 8, 2011 at 9:07 am

Hey, we’re glad to hear that you enjoyed our hostels! The Reykjavík Downtown hostel crowd is a bit younger than at the City hostel but by no means is it a party hostel. We like to think of it more like a downtown location with all the perks of such without the hustle and bustle of the Reykjavík nightlife.

Having said all that, we have a 8 year old at home and if I was traveling to Reykjavík with my family I would probably choose the City hostel too. The Downtown charm can’t beat the attraction the Laugardalur pool and the Petting Zoo have on an 8 year old :)

Plus – there’s really no free parking available at the Downtown hostel

I also maintain my own website http://www.iheartreykjavik.net – would love to hear if there was anything in particular your children enjoyed in Reykjavík as I’m working on a post featuring Reykjavík for kids/families.

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admin August 8, 2011 at 9:30 am

oops…maybe ‘party’ wasn’t the right word. I figured that the crowd was younger there and that’s really what I meant, but knowing that there is no free parking(thanks for adding that) really tips the scales back to the City hostel. Truthfully, there were few kids at that hostel when we were there as well, but–you are right–the pool and the petting zoo put it over the top for us. We were blown away by the friendliness of the staff and the cleanliness of the entire facility.

Our kids loved the Lobster soup at Saegreifinn. And, the pool for sure. They were big fans of the waterslide there. We were big fans of how warm the pools are(in North America the pools are cold). They also still talk about how windy it was on the top floor of Hallgrimskirkja. Plus, I think anyone who takes a trip to Iceland needs to try a hot dog. We enjoyed asking the standowners which one was their favorite and indulging in that. I think that one of the most lovely things about Reykjavik is how safe and cozy it feels. We never once were concerned about our welfare and the locals were so friendly and happy to help us out.

Thanks for your note. We enjoyed hostels the whole way around the country. The little cabins in Osar by the seals was one of our favorites. As well, we quite enjoyed our stay at Husey. They had a wee lamb for a pet that the kids thought was awesome and, of course, riding an Icelandic horse.

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Carman Thiessen May 3, 2013 at 9:24 am

Hey! Thanks for these tips! We’re heading to Iceland for 4 days on the way to Africa in June. We have 4 kids, ages 5-17. I can’t wait – but I don’t know where to start planning!

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admin May 3, 2013 at 9:25 am

Oh–you will have the best time. Our kids still talk about Iceland. It is such a magical place. And, enjoy Africa!!!

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Becky May 29, 2013 at 7:40 am

Do we have to worry about mosquitos in Iceland? We are traveling in June with two 1 year olds and a 5 year old. I also read somewhere that there aren’t places to wash clothes…we are staying at hostels. Do they offer laundry areas?

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admin May 29, 2013 at 8:25 am

Hi Becky…no need to worry about mosquitos. The only place on the whole island where we had issues with bugs was in Lake Myvatn. And, they didn’t bite…they were just small and everywhere. We did our laundry in the hostels. Make sure to book ahead as hostels are often full that time of year. On the hostel website we used, under ‘facilities’ it listed if it had laundry facilities. We just noted the ones that did and made sure to do our laundry when we were there. With three carseats…you will need to upgrade your vehicle. Our vehicle would not have fit the car seats nor the luggage needs for us when we had two small babies. We kept our luggage to a minimum this time so we did laundry a lot. We loved Icleand. It is the perfect trip for kids as you spend the whole time exploring nature. They just love it. Have the best time!

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