Traveling To Iceland With Kids

A boy and his father standing on Svínafellsjökull glacier doing a glacier walk with Icelandic Mountainguides
Gréta S. Guðjónsdóttir
Boy and his father standing on Svínafellsjökull

Remember the good old days, when you were young and single, or married but without children, and a successful journey meant remembering only to toss your toothbrush into a knapsack with several changes of socks and underwear? But now you have kids. Spontaneous adventures require a bit more planning, preparation, and pre-emptive thought. Traveling with children is akin to herding rambunctious sheep, but is also rewarding for everyone. Watching puffins on a cliff, bouncing on soft tundra, and hunting for elves will illuminate your child’s life.

From one travel guide to another, Iceland ranks as one of the most peaceful and safest countries in the world to visit—so pastoral and idyllic, in fact, it takes a volcanic eruption to get the country into the headlines. But when exploring the magnificent landscapes, the land itself commands respect, and requires special considerations, and particular attention to your child.

First off, the weather in Iceland will change without notice. Cold temperatures can occur even in August. Whether adventuring the easily accessible and well-worn Ring Road, the popular Golden Circle, or trekking a gravel mountain road in a 4x4 to visit the belly of a volcano, layer your clothing to account for a spectrum of weather conditions. It is prudent to expect to get wet, and most likely muddy.

The singular scenery makes Iceland a spectacular trip, but the scenery can be treacherous. As you view the waterfall at Dettifoss, you’ll notice the absence of guardrails around the entire crevasse. The same is true at the rim of the Askja caldera, and along the Látrabjarg Cliffs where you can hike to see puffins. As with any shoreline in the world, but probably more so along the tumultuous Atlantic surf of Iceland, never turn your back to the ocean. Rogue waves can surge without notice and drag you out to sea.

Three children playing in the moss in Iceland
Kids walking in the moss

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going” is probably not the best advice when traveling with children, especially if you decide to branch off from the well-worn paths. Kids, especially those under ten years old, require a slower pace than adults. A trail sign may indicate a walk of 5 km (3 miles), but once you reach the destination, you have to travel back again. Though many trails do not require strenuous effort, few are simple strolls through a grassy park. Many trails are steep and are gravel. If you do plan to hike, take along two pairs of shoes: hiking boots, and dry sneakers for the end of the journey.

Many magnificent sites lie right along the Ring Road, where you can pull into a lookout spot or stop momentarily down a side road. But though the highway is easily accessible year-round, it still travels through remote areas, across glacial plains, and often through flooded wetlands. Depending on how far along the 1333 km (828 miles) you travel, you can easily find yourself somewhere far from accessible water sources, food, and toilets. Be sure to carry necessary fluids and snacks. There are no big trees in Iceland, so for impromptu potty stops, you’ll need to improvise, and hope no other cars are headed your way. Rest stops along less-traveled paths often require more extrapolation and imagination.

Another thing that most outsiders would not know, is that Iceland has a very family-oriented culture.  Icelanders are very tolerant of children.  Many businesses have play areas within the building so that parents can bring their kids to work when necessary.  Further, children are given a lot more leeway when it comes to 'being kids.'  Keep this in mind when traveling with your children in Iceland; you won't have to make any excuses for bringing your child.

Don’t let the precautions scare you. Traveling with children is a rewarding experience for the whole family. Any kid who gets to see an exotic land has a notch in their belt which no other education can supply. History, geography, natural sciences, and social studies take on a concrete reality that your child will never forget. It will always give the whole family something to talk about for a lifetime.

From Icelandic Mountain Guides, Iceland’s most awarded adventure tour company, and offering a great selection of day tours and multi-day tour in Iceland. We also offer fun & adventurous Greenland tours. Cheers!

About the Author

IMG Staff Writer

IMG Staff Writer

An anonymous but well informed member of our team that enjoys sharing their knowledge of Iceland & Greenland’s stunning nature.

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