10 reasons to visit Iceland with kids !
Little Goguette has investigated how nice Iceland is to visit with kids and can confirm it is a wonderful destination for a family trip, especially if you enjoy being in the outdoor and discovering natural beauties, great people and a unique island !
The weather can be a bit challenging, and best time to come is from mid-May until late August. The temperature will vary from 5 to 15°, and as Icelandic people say, « if you’re not happy with the weather, just wait five minutes! », as it changes very often – just like the landscape.
Indeed, the landscape is very varied : the road may be at times surrounded by snow, then on the next turn, it’s all green; a few minutes later, it’s all grey and brown with lava stone, and then yellow again with grass and horses and sheep. At times, some smoke escapes from the ground, and then there’s a cascade with a rainbow on it…you can never be bored !
Here are 10 reasons why Iceland is great for kids :
1. A unique landscape
Iceland is like nowhere else. When landing you feel you have arrived in a desert, or on the Moon, as everything around is only stones. As a matter of fact, Iceland is often chosen as a shooting location for end-of-the-world type of movies, or for astronauts to practice before taking off!
From the geysers to the glaciers, the scenery changes very often and allows to discover many natural wonders you may see nowhere else, such as the Joculsarlon Glacier, the first one of the Arctic, or the Atlantic Rift, which separates the American from the European tectonic plates.
2. A unique history
OK, all countries have a specific history, but Iceland has two very interesting specificities: it has the oldest parliament, established at Pingvellir in the 900s (yes, more than 1000 years ago!) and has discovered what would become the American continent in the same century, with the travels of Leifr Erickson, whose statue stands with pride in front of Reykjavik’s cathedral. Not bad for a country which has less than 300,000 inhabitants !
3. Very welcoming people
Icelandic are very open to visitors, as can be seen by the number of available guest houses. Most speak English fluently (and often another language too) and have an excellent contact with visitors, not to mention with the kids.
All guest houses have guest books ! The entire world comments…and enjoys !
4. Horses, whales, dolphins and puffins galore
Iceland is mostly occupied by farmers, so wandering around, and staying in guest houses which most of the times are hold by farmers, allows visitors to get close to farm animals. Furthermore, whale watching boat tours are organized from Reykjavik, allowing seeing whales (if you’re lucky!), dolphins and puffins (the « clown of the sea »), depending though upon the time of the year, as the sea can be quite challenging sometimes.
5. Trolls and elves
Icelandic people, or at least half of them if we follow the statistics, do believe in those little creatures that come around at night, with more or less nice intentions. And it is not difficult when driving around to see fields of stones with very peculiar shapes, supposedly trolls “caught and petrified by the rising dawn”. As a historian once explained, « Iceland is anyway big enough to bear several communities” !
6. The Blue Lagoon, the hot pots and the heated pools all around the island
Being placed on a very particular place on the Earth’s crust, Iceland enjoys a very active geothermal life, one aspect of which is beneficiating from hot water (from 40 to 100°) coming directly from the underground.
Most swimming pools are located outside, and if you attend one of them, you will maybe see a funny scene which is that of a swimming lesson for kids: the teacher is dressed as for skiing, while of course all the children are in bathing suits!
Near the Keflavik International airport is the world-famous « Blue Lagoon », a huge, outdoor swimming pool naturally heated and which water is of a wonderful blue. It also provides a water rich in silica, a mineral very good for the skin.
7. Watching the most active geysers in the world
The word « geyser » comes from Geysir, a town where you can admire one of the world’s most active ones. Here, and every 10 minutes, like a Swiss cuckoo, the geyser sprays heated water in the air, in a scent close to that of a rotten egg, due to the sulfur it contains (beware of the wind as it may blow hot steam towards you).
8. Very lively volcanoes
In 2010, the entire world heard about the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, which eruption grounded thousands of planes in Europe for several days. It is one of the most recent examples of an eruption which Icelandic people are regularly facing. A small and very interesting museum has open near to the farm which is closest to it, and helps understand how people are coping with this ever changing nature.
9. The best of the sea
Not so much vegetable can grow in Iceland, because of the weather (for example, the island bears nearly no tree), though it is Europe’s first banana producer, thanks to the green houses heated by the geothermal sources !
However, the fish and langoustine are local and cooked in a very refined manner. When no restaurant or café is around, which is often the case in small towns, the local gas station’s restaurant usually serves excellent hamburgers with French fries, in a all-American style which makes one realize that Iceland is really between the two continents.
10. Cultural life
Though Iceland is really fascinating for its specific natural wonders, it cannot be depicted merely as a natural reserve. It is a little more than that. People have managed to live here for centuries while developing and transmitting a rich cultural life, and maintaining their language all the way through. The « Sagas » are one of the best examples of medieval literature; book shops are open late at night in Reykjavik, and Björk and Sigur Ros are two very lively examples of the island’s creativity.