FAMILY TRAVEL IN ICELAND – 5 TIPS FOR TRAVELLING WITH KIDS

Travelling to Iceland with your family can be a daunting task. But a trip that will undoubtedly bring you closer together as a family. After all, there’s nothing quite like a dip in the blue lagoon or gazing up at the clear skies filled with dazzling Northern lights to create a bond with the kids.

Iceland Northern Lights and Starry Sky | Hidden Iceland | Photo by Brendan Bannister
Iceland Northern Lights and Starry Sky | Hidden Iceland | Photo by Brendan Bannister

For the past 11 years Iceland has topped the ranks as the safest country in the world on the Global Peace Index. This is due to the tiny crime rates, high levels of gender equality (it’s number one for that too) and social inclusion. A day won’t go by that you won’t be impressed by how well Iceland is run as a country, and how friendly the people are. Also, most Icelanders speak close to perfect English. They’re taught English from a very young age and love to practice with you and the kids. They’ll even teach the kids how to say Eyjafjallajökull if you ask nicely enough.

Lómagnúpur Mountain | Hidden Iceland | Photo by Norris Niman
Lómagnúpur Mountain | Hidden Iceland | Photo by Norris Niman

You’ve probably been told the golden circle is a must see, Reynisfjara black sand beach is essential, and of course you have to stop off at the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon for the kids to get a glimpse of the shimmering blue ice bergs. But how do you create a holiday out of all of these far off places. When is the best time of year to come? And what kind of accommodation is there for families? Hidden Iceland are part of the Family Travel Association and love to work with families to create the perfect trip in Iceland.

Sólheimajökull Glacier Hike | Hidden Iceland | Photo by Berglind Jóhannsdóttir
Sólheimajökull Glacier Hike | Hidden Iceland | Photo by Berglind Jóhannsdóttir

Here at Hidden Iceland we’ve put together a few hints and tips on how to make your travels in Iceland as fun, stressfree and educational as possible.

1. Make your family trip private

Hidden Iceland specialises in personalised travel. And what better way to personalise a trip than with a private tour. Our private tour packages can be customised to add/ remove activities that you think might not be suitable for certain family members. Hiking on a glacier has a minimum age of 10 so instead perhaps you can go on a short ice cave tour with the custom vehicle taking you right to the front of the ice cave. Does someone in the group have back problems and might struggle with a walk up the Eldfell volcano. Why not explore the Eldheimer Museum that’s literally built around the ruins from the 1973 eruption instead on our Westman Islands trip.

Westman Islands | Hidden Iceland | Photo by Norris Niman
Westman Islands | Hidden Iceland | Photo by Norris Niman

2. Make it action packed, not crammed

Doing the must see sights like the Golden Circle with the family is one thing. We actually do our trip in reverse and include a dip in the Secret Lagoon Hot Pool and lunch at the Fridheimar tomato farm over a tranquil 8 hour day. But beware of companies that offer the world and seem to be cramming in uncountable stops in any given day. This usually results in the trip either running for up to 15 hours with lots of driving, or you feel rushed at each location giving you no time to enjoy the experience.

3. Always include activities in nature for the kids

There’s only so many ‘breathtaking’ waterfalls and ‘fun facts’ you can take before the young ones start to lose focus. Every trip we run when travelling with families includes some form of activity. Whether that’s speeding boating around the Westman Islands and hiking onto a still warm volcano, or hiking on a glacier on our two day trip to the glacier lagoon you can be sure that the kids will get to stretch the legs and create long lasting memories.

3. Find accommodation in the right locations

We let you decide on your own accommodation in Reykjavik as the choices are endless. Though if you are looking for rooms that accommodate the whole family then Airbnb tends to be a good option for many families. But once you are out on the road with us then we pick the best spots to stay. Whether that’s sleeping overnight at a newly built Lilja Guest House conveniently situated near the Glacier Lagoon or picking the perfect spot to gaze at the Northern Lights with no unnatural lights or vehicles around at Hotel VOS. If you prefer luxury then Hotel Ranga and Hotel UMI are also favourites of ours along the south coast.

Northern Lights over Lilja Guesthouse | Hidden Iceland | Photo by Tom Archer
Northern Lights over Lilja Guesthouse | Hidden Iceland | Photo by Tom Archer

4. The best time to come to Iceland with kids

This is a harder question than it appears. Mainly because there is no ‘bad time’ to come. It’s more about your priorities for the trip so we’ve highlighted the benefits of each time of year for ease.

A | Basking in the Midnight Sun in Summer  (June, July and August). It pretty much stays light for 3 months straight in summer. The perfect time to see the midnight sun, play with new born lambs, and find puffins along the sea cliffs. The biggest negative for the summer is that it is the busiest time of year to come. Still by no means crowded though.

Icelandic Horse | Hidden Iceland | Photo by Tom Archer
Icelandic Horse | Hidden Iceland | Photo by Tom Archer

B | Searching for the Northern Lights and discovering Ice Caves in Winter (November to March). Our 2 day ice cave trip allows you to do both, if you are lucky. We sleep overnight in the middle of nowhere for the perfect vantage point to see the Northern Lights followed by a hike to an off the beaten path ice cave the next day. The biggest negative for the winter is the weather. Sometimes you get lucky and have a perpetual sunrise in the day and beautiful starry night. But beware the wind, rain and snow can often make the adventure feel even more real at this time of the year.

C | Off Season Calm (April/ May/ September/ October). The shoulder months are great because there are often far fewer tourists around and the weather can be just as good as the summer (maybe). And most people don’t know this but you can still see the Northern Lights in all the way to late April and as early as September.

Icelandic Horse in West Iceland | Hidden Iceland | Photo by Norris Niman
Icelandic Horse in West Iceland | Hidden Iceland | Photo by Norris Niman

5. Keep it short with breaks in between

Of course we want you to book as many trips with us as possible or some of our favourite partner tours but more than 3 or 4 days out on the road can be a little tiring with young kids no matter how great the itinerary is. We tend to suggest doing 2 days along the South coast, add in the Westman Islands in summer and finish off at the Golden Circle before giving yourself a much needed break back in Reykjavik. This is perfectly planned out in our Essential South Coast 3 day trip but can be amalgamated with our scheduled trips too. Once you’ve had a reset day in the city and explored some of the culinary delights of Reykjavik then perhaps you can go check out the most photographed mountain at Snaefellsnes or enter a Lava Tunnel along the Reykjanes peninsula.

Arnastapi In The Midnight Sun | Hidden Iceland | Photo by Tom Archer
Arnastapi In The Midnight Sun | Hidden Iceland | Photo by Tom Archer

If you would like to us to help you plan you perfect trip to Iceland please click here and we can help you find the best of Iceland.

Ryan Connolly | Marketing Manager, Guide, Co - Owner | Hidden Iceland

Hi, I’m Ryan Connolly; Co-Founder, Glacier Guide, and Marketing Manager of Hidden Iceland.

I’ve guided in multiple countries around the world and stepped foot on all 7 continents. My passion for science, the outdoors, nature, glaciers and volcanoes has led me to study and write about many aspects of my adopted home, Iceland. Notably I have been interviewed by ForbesConde Nast Traveller and Travel Pulse to name a few.

Hidden Iceland Logo | Hidden Iceland

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