When our kids were 4 and 5, we took one of our most memorable trips to date. We went to Iceland just after the infamous volcanic eruption. Flight prices had dropped hugely and we were looking for something different.
We started out in Reykjavik, which turned out to be a unique experience for us as a family. It’s a walking city, hence great for strollers, yet cabs were plentiful when we needed a ride across town. It’s a very visual town, with sculptures dedicated to famous medieval Icelandic figures, brightly colored houses, great shopping in the downtown area, and ducks and pigeons on the city’s Tjorin pond in the city’s center.
Reykjavik’s museums are also very reasonable and are real explorations into the heart of the soul of the country. The National Gallery of Iceland offers free admission daily and contains the country’s most modern paintings. The National Museum of Iceland showcases Iceland’s history and culture, highlighting the Vikings and medieval times. The Pearl’s Saga Museum features the Vikings, witches, and history of Iceland (although it is NOT as suitable for young children).
The city has many geothermically heated pools with heated slides. Kids are generally free, and adults cost just a few dollars, and they are open until midnight. We went to the biggest one in town called Laugardalslaug. It was smelly from the hot sulfur and crowded, but my kids loved it. There were indoor and outdoor swimming areas with steam baths and an enormous slide, as well as a zoo, family park, botanical garden, sports stadium and luxury spa.
We were surprised by how good the food was. One can most certainly eat on a budget and get child-friendly food in Reykjavik. We loved Icelandic Fish & Chips, a harbor side organic bistro where they toss their fish in barley butter. We also liked The Burger Joint, also on the waterfront, where $25 buys a family of four a full meal. Krua Thai, also in the waterfront area, offers good options for a family at an affordable price. Icelandic cuisine is fresh, focusing on ingredients from local farms. They also have great dairy products. Other delicacies include Belgian waffles, marzipan and hot chocolate.
We took a day trip called the “Golden Circle” which included three major sites: Geyser, a geothermal spot; Gulfoss, a majestic waterfall; and Pingvellier, a beautiful park with fantastic views. All bus tours are free for children under age 12. We also took a ride down the south coast and saw much of the country’s wonders, including glaciers, volcanic lava and geysers.
The beauty of our visit is that we were actually stopping in Iceland on our way to England. Icelandair was was offering a stopover program, which allows people traveling on flights between Europe and the USA and vise-versa, to stopover in Iceland without the expense of additional airfares.
The good news is that they are offering it again! So if you are looking for a unique trip with the kids this summer, you should think about going to Iceland. Visit Icelandair’s web site to learn more about the stopover program and consider a stop en route to your European summer vacation.
Photos courtesy of Visit Iceland.
– Holly Rosen Fink
Holly Rosen Fink is a mother, marketing consultant, writer and blogger for a number of sites, as well as her own, The Holly Chronicles .