This was our first holiday as a family that involved a plane. We wanted something different and given all the terror activities at the time, somewhere that was away from the hot spots.
We did much research before going to Iceland on how easy it is with a baby, our daughter was 13months at the time. They are very hospitable and welcoming and the bus company we used for tours and travel to the airport used Britax car seats but be aware you have to call everyday before the bus comes to the hotel to get them to bring one.
Our hotel was on the outskirts of town and although it was lovely and modern I might suggest that if you are not going to hire a car try to get a hotel more central to amenities.
The ground is not the easiest to push a buggy over if it is icy and bumpy but most places are well cleared, it was only when we went to a nature reserve next to the hotel we found a problem. The weather is incredibly changeable, we went in March with hope of seeing the aurora borealis but it didn’t show until 1 or 2 am when we had already gone back to the hotel… you do feel a bit silly when the coach takes you all to a field in the middle of nowhere and everyone is stood around in the dark staring at the sky waiting for the off chance something might happen… they do give you the opportunity to re-book free of charge if the lights don’t show the first time but we only had a short break and both the following nights were cancelled as the weather was not the right conditions for the lights to show.
On our free day I insisted we go out even though the weather was changing from sun, rain, snow and back to sun all within half an hour. Plastic ponchos are a must and lots of layers. Many online reviews had people saying it was cruel and wrong to take a baby to Iceland…. erh… what about the babies that are born and raised there? This was exactly what other people pointed out. There were some lovely child clothes available in the shops but we went packed with various layers of tights and fluffy jumpers and hat, mittens and snow suit…. often we felt it too hot but the weather is changeable so you cant leave it behind. It is coldest high up or near water as the icy winds blow inland.
The Golden Circle tour took us to see the geysers which were surprisingly quiet – I expected rumbling earth or something but if you weren’t looking you would miss it. The tour also took us to the Gullfoss waterfall which was breathtaking but by far the coldest place we went my ears went numb in seconds, the baby was wrapped in all her layers plus snow suit, mittens, hat and thermal shoes and inside a buggy cozy bag but we still couldn’t stand there for too long, she seemed happy enough with her little pink nose. They have a cafe, grocery shop and amazing gift/clothes shop.
We also went to a big green house where they grow the islands fruit and veg, they also had some Icelandic ponies which were fantastic and our daughter loved them, she also got to play in the snow there as it was warm and freshly piled rather than hard or walked on.
The airport staff were great but it was a kerfuffle, especially through security, with so much stuff and a buggy and coats… make sure you allow extra time to get there… we got stuck in traffic and had to run carrying everything (not even time to put our stuff straight in buggy or the baby) all the way to gate 23 and only just made it onto the plane before they closed the gate. The baby found this highly amusing but it was a stressful start for us. They are really good with taking baby food through security but if you allow enough time you can buy it at boots in the airport and that skips the risk of security taking it or making you eat it (as I have been told they sometimes do).
There is so much to do activity wise that i would really love to go back when our daughter is older and we can ride horses across the golden circle, go caving, glacier hiking, whale watching and use the Thermal spas – we could have gone to the spa but it was advised that the hot springs have unpredictable temperatures which is risky with little ones. We also missed out on another tour of the south shore that I really wanted to do as it looked beautiful but we were only on a short break and did not want to book in too much.
My top tips are:
- Plan your trips before you go as not all run on every day.
- Hire a car – everything is much further than you expect and a car would free up your choices… everyone drives as normal and the cars are set up for the snow so it should not be too intimidating.
- Go twice – enjoy the difference on summer and winter, the north is quite frozen in the winter so it is harder to get around, most of the puffins, seals and whales are found north/north west.
- Take lots of layers, hat scarf, gloves, thermal underwear or tights, snow suit for the little ones and a deep sheltered buggy with foot muff.