"Why Iceland?" My friends ask me when I tell them I just returned from an awesome trip. When my husband and I decided to travel with our almost two-year-old son, many travel forums advised against venturing to Iceland with a toddler.
"It's irresponsible parenting!" "You will get to see so much more without the kids."
I get why some parents would opt out of a trip with their little ones. For me, leaving the baby behind felt like torture, so my two options were: travel with him, or don't travel at all.
I'm happy to report it was our best trip yet! We had the time of our lives and I've got pictures to prove it. Here's what you can do if you're planning a trip to Iceland with a toddler:
#1 Where To Stay
Hotels with a baby seem so passé. If you want an authentic, local-like stay, opt for the Blue House Bed and Breakfast Inn in Seltjarnanes. The house is extremely comfortable, perfect for a family, and continental breakfast is included in the price. If you don't mind the shared bathrooms, this cozy B & B is for you. Here's my detailed Trip Advisor review.
#2 Icelandic Horses
Petting the horses in Iceland was one of my son's favorite adventures! Many tours include a stop-and-pet-the-horses moment. Definitely a great memory for your little one. Just mind his hands!
#3 Geysers and The Golden Circle Tour
Our son had a blast watching the Geysers erupt. The dangerous zones are marked really well and it's something you shouldn't miss. To keep him entertained and away from danger, we let him hold the rope along the path. Worked like a charm!
#4 The Open Air Museum
We took a bus to the Open Air Museum in Árbæjarsafni, Reykjavík. Helga, the sweet tour guide, gave our son a big old key that made him feel in charge. This place is perfect for a toddler. There's a lot of open space to run, interesting things to see and it's cheap.
#5 The Food and Saga Tour
If your budget allows it, you should definitely book the Food and Saga Tour with Season Tours. You don't pay for the baby's spot, and he has as much fun as adults! This tour, led by chef Tyffi, takes you around Reykjavík for an incredible journey into Icelandic culture. We went to a cheese factory, a butcher shop and a fish market (and so many other places). The day ended at Chef Tyffi's house where he totally spoiled our toddler with tupperware to play with. Even his wife María looked after him for a while, so we could enjoy our food. Check out a more detailed Trip advisor review. You'll definitely have your money's worth and then some.
#6 The Reykjanes Peninsula Tour
This tour is an amazing adventure for kids. We also booked it with Season Tours and the experience blew our minds. Gunnsi, our amazing tour guide, took us to incredible sites, where our toddler discovered ice crystals under the soil, saw geothermal hot spots, black sand and a green lake! Click here for more pictures and a detailed Trip Advisor review.
#7 The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon was part of our Reykjanes Peninsula Tour, a little pricey but a unique experience. If you want to truly enjoy it, I suggest just visiting it from the outside in the Reykjanes Peninsula Tour, and planning a separate day to hang out at the Blue Lagoon. That way you'll get your money's worth. If you're ok with experiencing it for a short time, for a small fee, you can ask the tour guide to wait for your party for an hour and a half. We did just that!
#8 Downtown Reykjavík
For a nice, down-to-earth day, head for the pond right by City Hall in Tjarnargata street. If you take bread or crackers, your toddler will giggle all day feeding the ducks and birds.
#9 Where/What to Eat
Our favorite places to eat were The Laundromat Café and Icelandic Fish and Chips in Reykjavík. Friendly service, good reasonably priced food and great options for the baby. The best snack in Iceland for our toddler? Skyr! Super healthy and delicious.
#10 What to Wear
We experienced snow, sun and rain during our nine days in Iceland. A lot of wind, too! You should definitely pack winter clothes for the baby (hats, thick coats, gloves, boots and everything you can think of.) Layers, layers, layers! Don't forget your bathing suit though. Indoor swimming pools are a big thing here.
#11 ABC Life-saver Tips
A.) Have a small backpack with your toddler's favorite toys and snacks. Seriously, this saved us countless times. Alternate between toys, snacks and whatever you can think of during your tour rides (most companies have a car seat; no need to bring yours).
B.) A light weight comfortable stroller with a windshield cover is also a must.
C.) Bring a sippy cup or bottle to keep the baby well hydrated, and if you're breastfeeding, bring the boobs!
#12 Use Common Sense
Practically every corner of the planet poses a risk when it comes to dealing with a toddler. When visiting the sites, one adult was always glued to the baby. While my husband took pictures, I held his hand or carried him around. While I ate or took in the view, my husband strolled the baby around. Suffice it to say, never leave your child unattended... especially when near cliffs, waterfalls, geysers and geothermal hot spots.
#14 Let Go of Expectations
Face it. Every parent knows a toddler can go from silent to crazy tantrum in 60 seconds. Just as I knew from the start there were things I would miss out on because I was with my baby (no long hikes or volcano descents), I also knew kids get irritated during long days out. Whenever he started crying or misbehaving, we smiled and remembered: "He's just a baby." Alternating child-care between adults and keeping an open mind made our trip a thousand times more enjoyable.
#15 Pack Your Bags and Conquer
Finally, like some great philosopher once said (or it might have been a guy I knew), "Pack your bags and conquer!" Kids shouldn't hold parents back, or be an excuse not to live life. The world is full of amazing adventures, and you'd be surprised how awesome a child can be if given a chance to prove it. So next time you decide to go on an adventure, instead of spending a million dollars at Disney World, take the road less travelled, and go for Iceland with a toddler.