Is Iceland Child-Friendly?
‘Mummy can I go with you so we can throw snow at each other?’ Madame Age 6
In December, I had the opportunity to go to Iceland for a few days, I’d been once before about 14 years ago and my husband coincidentally was there for work back in October, now I’m desperate to take my daughter back.
‘If you don’t like the weather wait 15 minutes’ a local
I’m not going to lie to you it was cold, very cold, temperatures ranged from -5 to -10 degrees but according to the locals it was an unusually cold winter, typically at that time temperatures normally hover around 0 degrees, which I found surprising. If you take loads of layers, including thermals and you will be fine, they say that summers are quite pleasant, all though the sea never warms up enough to swim in it. Nevertheless, there are loads of natural hot springs you can wallow in to warm up.
It’s on everyone’s bucket list!
Iceland is the perfect destination for families, beyond the obvious ; the natural beauty, excellent food, friendly people, and culture but because it’s so different to anywhere I’ve ever been to before, a truly unique destination. Clearly I’ve never been to Mars, but the landscape is out of this world.
Iceland is not known for vast amounts of native wildlife, except for the Arctic Fox. However, there is an abundance of Bird and Marine Life. You can take to the seas and go Whale watching, something I would love to do. As my daughter is in Puffins class this year I’m sure she’d insist on going Puffin watching. I’d also like to take her horseback riding on the small but hardy Icelandic Horses.
Most kids are drawn towards theme parks for adrenalin but there is nothing more exciting than the power of mother nature.
A drive to the Golden Circle is a must, a 160 mile round trip from Reykjavik, you could either hire a car or take one of the many minibus or 4 x 4 tours. The Golden Circle Tours include Gulfoss, Iceland’s most famous waterfall, Strokkur Geysir which erupts every 5-10 minutes and Thingvellir National Park, where you will learn how Iceland was born.
Blue Lagoon Thermal Pools and Spa
We only had a fleeting visit to Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, which was accidentally formed following activity at a nearby geothermal plant in 1976, which proved to have health benefits, but I would have loved to spend all day there. I’m sure my daughter and I would have a scream covering ourselves in mud.
Quad biking with ATV Adventures Iceland was the highlight of my trip. We zoomed along the rugged coastline in the snow. I have experience quad biking in Canada, but nothing like this. Don’t worry you don’t need experience but you do need to hold a valid driver’s license and children as young as six can go along as a passenger.
Most people have Iceland on their bucket list to see the Northern Lights. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see them, you will know by 6pm each day if the weather condition will be right to see them so you can plan accordingly. Personally, this wasn’t a disappointment for me as I grew up in Canada and have seen them in the north quite a few times.
Bizarre and Exciting Foods
Reykjavik is a foodies paradise. You can get just about anything you would get at home from Sushi to Pasta, plus you can also be a bit more adventurous and try some of the local fare. We went on a walking tour ‘Reykjavik by Food’ which was very interesting. You could try everything from Rams testicles to Sheep’s head (inclusive of eye-balls) to Fermented Shark.
They opt to eat rotten shark as this particular shark can’t be eaten fresh as it would be poisonous, as it has no kidneys and all the toxins pass through the flesh. I can’t begin to tell you how awful it tasted and requires a shot of local spirits to wash it down.
I also tried Minke whale, reindeer and several types of dried but couldn’t bring myself to try the horse or puffin.
However, if you’re children are not that intrepid you can always go for a Hotdog, arguably Iceland’s National Food, at Baejarins Beztu Pylsur or grab a burger at the Hamburger Factory. Don’t worry they won’t go hungry.
And you also have to take a trip to the Laundromat Cafe, it’s truly child-friendly with a children’s menu, but pop downstairs and check out the Laundromat, with an area for parents to read the papers or surf the net whilst doing laundry and a play area for kids. Pure genius!
(That is an iPad on his chest)
Even though Icelanders do have a lot of guns per capita, there is very little crime and you’ll feel extremely safe walking around but obviously do apply some common sense.
‘Violent crime was virtually non-existent. People seemed relaxed about their safety and that of their children to the point where parents left their babies outside and unattended.’ via BBC News Magazine
We stayed in the stunning ION hotel en route to the Golden Circle, with an award winning ‘Northern Lights Bar’ and the Hotel 101 a boutique hotel in the heart of Reykjavik, which made it perfect for exploring Iceland on foot. However, if I went with my family I would opt to hire a car and go self-catering.
Getting there and away
easyJet now operates ten flights per week to Reykjavik from London Luton, Manchester, Edinburgh and Bristol Airports.
It’s the perfect destination for families, we only live about 20 minutes from Luton Airport so it’s very convenient for us. The flight to Iceland due to head winds was just over 3 hours but it was only 2.5 on the way back.
Disclosure: My trip was compliments of easyJet for purposes of this review.