Iceland With Kids – Best 5 Day Trip Guide
The Tribe’s Review of Iceland…
Iceland with kids and specifically, how to have the best family trip possible.
Reykjavik (2 nights) and stayed in Hotel Odinsve in their family suite. Therefore, we gave this 5* – fantastic location and great room facilities.
Höfn (2 nights) and stayed in The Milk Factory in a Family Duplex. So, we gave this 5* – beautifully converted milk factory with stunning modern accommodation.
Hella (1 night) and stayed in Viking Cave in their family suite. Consequently, we gave this 3.5* – great rural location, gracious hosts, but strange decor and a little tired.
(click on hotel name for details)
What’s Hot and Whatnot
- This country is simply stunning. You could emphatically use all known superlatives to describe the beauty and spectacle of Iceland. It would still be inadequate.
- The people are fun and friendly. In addition, they go out of their way to help you enjoy your stay.
- It’s a short flight from the UK (3hrs) and the time zone is just 1hr behind GMT. Furthermore, you can use Iceland as a stopover on a UK-to-US/Canada flight and vice versa.
- Don’t be fooled by our photos! 60% of the time, it was raining. This is normal, regardless of the season and in Winter, it’s snow in most places but it’s a white-out. As a result, make the very most of your 40%.
- You’ll want to experience Iceland thoroughly, but consequently there’s a lot of driving. Hence, we covered 750 miles in 5 days. There’s a lot of zero civilisation in between sights and places of interest.
- It’s expensive. In reality, very expensive (more details below).
Iceland is a stunning place and surprisingly larger than you’d think. While it only has a population of 330,000, it’s nearly half the size of the UK. Its ring road (‘the one’) goes right around the island and at 900 miles, it will take you ten days with sightseeing. Even so, there’s plenty you’ll probably have had to miss out. By and large, it’s like trying to visit all of the English Heritage sites everywhere in a one week half term road trip, while throwing in a trip up Snowdon and Ben Nevis. Almost nobody would set out to attempt that, rather fewer thinking they stand a hope of achieving it!
If you’ve got less than a week, choose two (or even three) locations to base yourself from, because it gives you a broader feel. Yet be prepared to drive around to find good weather as Iceland has more individual storms than anywhere else on earth. It has hugely micro climatic weather systems, so as a result had 110 separate storms last Winter season alone.
The scenery is constantly changing, even when you’re on a miles-long straight stretch of the same road, the weather and light see to it that your view is always evolving. But don’t expect to come across shops, garages or civilisation because almost all of the country has none!
In conclusion, it rains here. Boy, *does* *it* *rain*! But don’t panic (like I did) and assume your holiday is thereupon ruined. It’s really no use *at all* going on BBC weather and checking in advance that it’s looking great or looking crap for your trip. Things change – for the most part – by the hour, much as a heavy rain storm feels like it has set in for the day. There are so many mountains and volcanoes and as a result of being in the middle of the Atlantic, half way between the UK and the US, forecasts here are updated hourly for very good reason.
The Weather Bible
In order to stay ahead, when you arrive in Iceland, make www.vedur.is your friend and constant companion. It’s undeniably ACE. If you look carefully, there’s a little ‘English’ icon at the top right of the page which seems like it should be obvious, but it’s not. Once you’re in and on the English pages, it’s analagous to a bible for all things Icelandic-atmospheric. Rain, Sun, Clouds, Daylight hours and Aurora forecasts are all explicitly obvious straightaway. Further, use the slider to change the time and see the effect on the map.
Above all, be prepared to change your plans for the day – try to have an adventure planned for North, West, East and South of your location. As a result, you’ll usually find some good weather. Pack good waterproofs and take them on your walks/hikes. Just as easily and quickly as the sun turns on, it turns off and the rain hits.
By all means, don’t be afraid to ask the locals for their tips on ‘hidden’ Iceland when you’re somewhere unfamiliar. As a matter of fact, almost all speak reasonable – usually great – English. They’re a welcoming and unquestionably friendly bunch. They’ll certainly advise you which tracks to drive down to find that awesome Waterfall that’s not in your guide book. Or tell you that there’s a Glacier the other side of the volcano making it presently impassable.
Car Hire and Off Roading
Hire the most expensive 4WD you can afford and all things considered, you won’t be sorry. Yet instead of ticking every option known to man on the ‘protection’ list (Sand, Gravel, Ash, Water – the lot) just opt for a minimal CDW insurance with the car hire firm and buy a comprehensive insurance from www.insurance4carhire.com and save about £100. All in all, you’ll probably never need that protection but if you do get caught in a sandstorm or ash cloud, it will save you the cost of replacing the car (not kidding)!!!
Especially relevant is making sure to hire a car that can go on F roads to make the most of seeing the country, hence the 4WD suggestion. Because almost all Glaciers and lots of Volcanoes and Waterfalls are at the end of F roads (or ‘tracks’ as we like to call them in the UK).
In effect, budget as you would at home for fuel and add 10% – while we thought we had expensive fuel in the UK, Iceland’s is even more so!
Lastly, there are very few petrol stations on most routes and you definitely do NOT want to get stranded (although the volunteer-run Iceland 112 app is a great idea). My tip – if you’re half full, basically – fill up!
Most noteworthy, eating out is very expensive. Bills were between £85 – £130 for dinner for 4 with just one beer and one glass of wine. Brexit and the recent pound performance has of course had an impact. What is £85 now was £72 pre Brexit.
Consequently, I’d be tempted to pack croissants and pastries into your suitcase, as it avoids the cost of one meal per day. We did this for Miss GMT#2 as she’s particularly fussy. Whilst in Reykjavik – albeit in the most famous bakery in Iceland – we paid £24 for four pastries and two coffees 😱 All in all, it’s not cheap to eat!
As a result of everything we did, we had the most spectacular five days. Undeniably, the kids loved the variety of things to see, learn and do. In light of the fact we’d planned lots of alternative itineraries, there were options when the bad weather hit. The photos may not have shown much rain, but I assure you – there was indeed plenty of it.
In short, make sure you pack good clothing for wet weather and you’ll be fine – you will see the sun, don’t lose hope! And remember that in essence, some of the most dramatic sights have moody and heavy skies. Consequently, they seem to fit almost perfectly with their surroundings.
If you’d like your kids to read our 7yr old’s review of Iceland, click here.
Finally, if you want to see what we did day-by-day then click here to start with Day 1 in Iceland!