ICELAND – with children

Posted on August 17, 2013

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Iceland has been on my personal bucket list for as long as I can remember so when I heard about a number of low cost airlines opening up the route between the UK and Iceland I leapt at the chance of taking a family trip. I didn’t know what to expect but what we got was – hospitality, beautiful landscapes, dramatic settings and something I can’t put my finger on but which has captured part of my heart and made me long to return!

1. How to get around

We flew from the UK to Iceland with Iceland Express. At under 4 hours with no jet-lag it was super easy.

You can get buses around the island but we wanted to travel a bit more off the beaten track for some of our accommodation choices so we hired a car at the airport.

2. Where to stay & eat

This was the main part of our trip as the accommodation often became the real focus.

In Reykjavik we stayed in a wonderful apartment which felt super chic and as if we were living in the city (http://www.vrbo.com/304108). Really close to the centre, with the Hallgrimskirkja Church at the end of the road it was a perfect start to our travels.

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From here we moved on to a farmhouse near Selfoss, about an hour east of Reykjavik (http://www.vrbo.com/381673). Certainly a highlight for us this gave us so much space to relax and the wonderful owner, Thorey, has her own horses which you can ride and also chickens for collecting eggs each morning.

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Next it was back through Reykjavik and then heading north for a little log cabin in Grundarfjorour. This cabin was just lovely, really simple but with a great hot pot (hot tub) on the decking for watching the northern lights if they should appear! We also had the fun of ‘lampy’ the naughty sheep who kept trying to get into our cabin every time we opened the door and who had to be retrieved by the farmer a couple of times! We would all shout every time we saw him but we loved him really!!

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Finally we stayed at the Northern Lights Inn, next to the Blue Lagoon at Grindavík and set in the middle of the lava fields so it really has an other-wordly look and feel to it. I loved this hotel – they’ll even call you in the middle of the night if the northern lights appear – only if you want them to of course! And the breakfast – in particular the smoked salmon – was the best I have had ANYWHERE…ever!! It was amazing.

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For food we cooked in a lot as we were staying in self-catering accommodation. We did have a great meal at Icelandic Fish and Chips in Reykjavik and in Stykkisholmur near Grundarfjorour we had some delicious waffles (with chocolate and cream of course!).

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3. Things to do

Reykjavik is a great city to start with and to get your bearings. There are some beautiful things to see. I loved the Soldar Sun Craft Sculpture which just looks so beautiful in the sunshine.

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And nearby the harbour-front is great for a wander if it’s a nice day – with a few shops opposite for a bit of retail therapy!

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Hallgrimskirkja Church is an imposing building in the city centre, which you can climb to the top of for the most amazing views across Reykjavik:

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Outside of Reykjavik my favourite waterfall was Skogafoss where we spent a good few hours. I love the black volcanic sand beneath the rainbow filled water spray –

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Our children loved building stone towers

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and throwing stones into the river.

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It was a really simple afternoon but we had such a wonderful time here, just relaxing beside this beautiful waterfall. There’s a great cafe just down the road a little for amazing chocolate cake too!!

We also did the Golden circle one day – which included a trip out to see Gulfoss Waterfall which you could hear roaring long before you would see it:

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The cafe and shop here is brilliant too…definitely worth a stop for tea and cake and to browse their beautiful Icelandic wares.

And to see the Geysers – which make you want to jump in the water, it looks so inviting but apparently 8 people end up in hospital every week over the summer from burns due to touching the water!

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It was amazing to watch the Geyser, Strokkur spitting up its water – our children loved the anticipation of waiting for them to erupt!

4. Top Tips with children

We loved Iceland for the simple pleasures it gave us – walking along deserted beaches, making home made waffles, swimming and cafes for gorgeous Icelandic cakes.

One great activity to try in Iceland is horseridiing. The Icelandic horse is a unique breed, no horse has been imported for 800 years and it has adapted to suit the harsh environment.

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You can ride the beautiful horses all over the island and it’s a great experience for children. The farm we stayed on near Selfoss had horses there so we had a great time feeding them and getting to ride them around the fields.

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There are swimming pools full of geothermal water all over Iceland. We did make a trip to the most famous – the Blue Lagoon. I was really worried that with all the hype it was going to be an anti-climax but I couldn’t have been more mistaken. We spent the last day of our holiday floating around in the deliciously warm water, trying out the crazy weird white mud masks from big wooden buckets and just hanging out as a family. One word of warning…the water plays total havoc with your hair – mine wasn’t right for about a week afterwards so definitely tie it up if you can!

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5. What to buy

The best thing I came away with was goods made from the gorgeous Icelandic wool – hats and gloves and beautiful blankets to wrap ourselves in on our sofa at home and dream of Iceland.

The children loved picking up little model trolls everywhere we went!!

Posted in: Europe, Iceland