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6 days in Iceland with kids (3&5)

We are planning a 6 day trip in mid-August with two kids (3 and 5). We are planning in sticking with the RS 6-day itinerary: Day 1&2 Sleep on South Coast (with trip to Westman Islands); Day 3&4&5 sleep in Reykjavik (will do Golden Circle and an excursion - wale watching or volcano cave); Day 6 fly out. We are planning on renting a car and car seats and would like to stay at Airbnbs (or similar) if possible to cut down on eating out and its easier with the kids (can't leave a hotel room once they're asleep).

I would love your thoughts on this itinerary with young kids. Anything we should change? Suggestions for things not to miss in Reykjavik with the kids? Also leads on towns to stay in on South Coast or even actual rentals would be great. Rentals in Reykjavik too.

We are also thinking about doing the Blue Lagoon after picking up car at the airport but we're taking a red-eye from NY and landing at 8AM so I'm not sure how the kids will handle that. Thank you all in advance for your suggestions and advice!

Posted by
3205 posts

We visited for a week in April 2015, so the Westmans were not practical at that time of year. We also stayed at a hotel that was part of an Icelandair package deal, so we didn’t rent an apartment or house. This was before Rick had an Iceland book, so we relied upon Lonely Planet and Rough Guide books for planning.

But we did hire a guide company for a 3-day excursion in the middle of our trip, driving the south coast and going as far east as Jokulsarlon.

We did a whale watching tour the afternoon of the day we arrived (landing before 8 am, but the boat trip kept us awake), and they issued us adults heavy waterproof jackets and pants. Not sure if that’s part of their procedure in August, or if they have kid’s sizes, so that might be worth determining.

Also, we didn’t visit the Blue Lagoon, but did sign up for a soak-and-stars tour, which included a bus from Reykjavik to the Laugarvatn Fontana baths, which included a buffet dinner (there’s one meal that’s a bargain!), and then we were supposed to go on a stars and Northern Lights watch, but overcast skies ended our tour just after dinner, and we returned on the bus. Because of late sunsets in August, the northern lights part probably isn’t even a consideration, but if you can get in a soak/steam/jump in the cold river/jump back in the sauna and hot pool PLUS dinner, I’d recommend that any time!

Posted by
192 posts

We took our young child to Iceland last summer. We found the country extremely child-friendly. Many attractions have “family tickets” which basically let the kids in free with two adults. Many museums had kids areas (I particularly recommend the National Museum and the open air museum in Reykjavik). The zoo was also a great excursion for us; the adults actually weren’t really looking forward to it, but enjoyed the one place in Iceland where we felt tourists were a minority. Restaurants were also great about just letting the child pick at our food, rather than ordering a separate meal. I actually really recommend Iceland with kids.

Posted by
187 posts

"leads on towns to stay in on South Coast"

How far up are up the ring road are you planning to go? I believe Rick's 6 day itinerary has you visiting Vik, so maybe you'd want to stay halfway between Stokkseyri and Vik, maybe near Seljalandsfoss. I see that Ásólfsskáli has a couple of accommodations options (literally A COUPLE lol). One of the them is Ásólfsskáli Cottage which might fit your needs. https://www.booking.com/hotel/is/asolfsskali-cottage.html

Hvolsvöllur also has some accommodation options.

Posted by
187 posts

Also, please book your accommodations ASAP. For August, a lot of places are probably already booked up by now. I checked a few random dates in August and Ásólfsskáli Cottage is already booked up.

Posted by
4684 posts

HK, I haven't been to Iceland, but I wonder if you have any observations about child-safety in a wilderness-oriented country? Even in well-developed Western Europe attractions, the American concept of child-proof fences and completely protected viewpoints often does not exist.

Posted by
192 posts

Tim-
We took the attitude that we couldn’t be as adventurous with the child as we can be on a future trip when either the child is older or doesn’t come. We didn’t really see “wilderness.” We saw lots of great outdoor things and certainly kept a close eye on the little one. For example, we didn’t drive on any F roads. It’s true that safety precautions aren’t as extensive as in the US, but we might be overdoing things here.

Posted by
540 posts

Are you planning on staying overnight on the Westman Islands, or going there as a day trip? It might be ambitious if you are trying to get there on your arrival day, and do the Blue Lagoon because of the ferry and weather concerns.. There may be things you would want to stop and see/do along the way, too. Either way, I agree, you should act soon for your accommodations. Have fun!

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks for all of your help! I've booked accommodations for the first two nights along the southern coast and realized we will actually be there for 7 days! So trying to figure out what to do with this extra day. Is an overnight on Westman Islands worth it? Or I was thinking an excursion from Reykjavik to go whale watching since my son loves whales. Thoughts or other suggestions appreciated.

Posted by
3205 posts

On our whale watching tour, they kept a running commomentary on their P.A. system about the high number of whales around us that their sonar was picking up, and we happened to be outside on the deck, and looking in the right direction when, for about 2 seconds, a huge brown shape moved out of the water and right back in. So it wasn’t like seeing Flipper on TV, with a whale staring back at the boat, or circling with its tail raised out of the water. I understand that some boats see a lot of whales, and even other sea creatures, but that two seconds was all we got — still worth it, as you seldom get to see a live whale in Colorado! :)

We used Elding Whale Watching, the oldest operators and most experienced. I’d make sure what their policies are regarding kids 5 and under, but highly recommend them! https://elding.is/