Why Your Family Will Warm To Iceland

Here’s a TV and movie trivia question for you.

What do Game of Thrones, James Bond Die Another Day, Lara Croft Tomb Raider and Batman Begins have in common?

They were all filmed in Iceland – an amazingly beautiful country with landscapes which, I am willing to concede may well rival those of my home country of Wales!

Iceland: oraefajokull-panorama
Oraefajokull: Image Credit

If you are looking for a family holiday with a difference and a traditional beach holiday is too tame for you, then Iceland should be high up on your “must visit” list.

Whilst the Husband and I appreciate a beautiful beach, neither of us are avid sunbathers so our dream destination has to have lots of things to do and see. We like to immerse ourselves in different cultures.

So here are just three of my reasons why Iceland is on our family travel bucket list – and you should consider it too.

You can explore Iceland’s Geographic Wonders

Known for its bubbling springs, geysers and the Northern Lights, Iceland is a world away from the type of scenery most of us are used to.

Iceland - The Northern Lights
The Northern Lights: Image Credit

The Republic of Iceland is a Nordic island country in the North Atlantic Ocean with a population of 332,529 in an area of 40,000 square miles which makes it the most sparsely populated country in Europe.

The country is volcanically and geologically active and near the capital city of Reykjavík you will find glaciers, fjords, volcanos, geysers, horse trails, natural parks, and plenty of rivers for fly-fishing.

You may want to undertake The Golden Circle, a popular tourist route of around 300 kilometres which loops from Reykjavík into the southern uplands of Iceland and back.

There are three primary stops, Þingvellir National Park, the Gullfoss waterfall, and the geothermal area in Haukadalur, which contains the geysers Geysir and Strokkur.

Though Geysir has been mostly dormant for many years, Strokkur, on the other hand, continues to erupt every 5–10 minutes, shooting a column of water up to 30 metres (98 ft.).

Strokkur Geyser in Iceland
Strokkur: Image Credit

Or, you could visit the famous Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa located just a few minutes from Keflavik International Airport.

Here mineral-rich hot water from beneath the earth has formed a spectacular lagoon and is the site of a luxurious health spa in a rugged lava landscape. The lagoon’s geothermal seawater is known for its positive effects on the skin.

If you are looking for more adventurous activities, you could take the family on a glacier hike or ice climbing.

You will be walking on ice that formed thousands of years ago.  Did you know that glaciers are constantly in motion and that they flow and reform over time? This means you will find cracks and giant crevasses so you will need an experienced tour guide.

Be sure to check the minimum age requirements of your tour before you book as the more adventurous of these are unsuitable for younger children. You will also need a reasonable degree of fitness.


You can experience the culture in the capital city of Reykjavík

Iceland’s Viking heritage is all around and a great place to find out more is the National Museum of Iceland and the Culture House.  Entry to both is free if you have a Reykjavik City Card, which you can buy at the tourist information office and at many hotels.

You’ll also find many pieces of contemporary art around the city, with colourful murals on the side of many houses and buildings.

Iceland:  Harpa Concert Hall, Reykjavik
Harpa Concert Hall & Conference Centre: Image Credit

Then there is the Reykjavik Art Museum, which comprises three galleries around the city’s waterfront.
Hafnarhús houses a collection of paintings by local pop-artist Erró, and a café with beautiful harbour views.

Kids will love the The Whales of Iceland Exhibition, which houses 23 life-sized whale models or you could take them whale watching and puffin spotting on a boat tour from the harbour.

You could also visit the animals at Reykjavik’s Family Park & Zoo.

You can enjoy family friendly dining

Reykjavík has a great selection of restaurants. You can find almost any cuisine you fancy – fine dining, fusion, sushi, or traditional – and there are plenty of family friendly restaurants.

You won’t find McDonalds or Burger King but you will find KFC.  If your kids are hungry for a burger though you could try Hamborgarabúlla Tómasar, or Búllan, a popular small burger place by the Old Harbor known for its juicy burgers and great atmosphere.

Or there’s Hamborgarafabrikkan, one of the most popular burger places in Iceland located just outside the city center at Turninn Höfðatorgi.

You could also try Asia, a family run restaurant with Vietnamese / Chinese food located on Laugavegur main street which offers good value food and smaller portions for kids.

Whilst in Iceland you should try Skyr (pronounced skeer), a high protein, low fat product which is technically a cheese, but looks and tastes like yoghurt and comes in a range of flavours and also in a drink form.

Then there are Icelandic hot dogs (pylsur) made from lamb as well as pork which adds a richer flavour. These are served with sweet brown mustard, ketchup, raw onions, crunchy deep-fried onions and a parsley mayonnaise.

Kleinur Icelandic Twisted Doughnuts
Kleina:  Image Credit

Or what about Kleina?  These are traditional diamond-shaped pastries you spot in many places. They are made from a sweet dough cut into trapezoid shapes, formed into a knot and deep fried.

Now the kids are older it is a lot easier for us to choose a more adventurous family holiday and Iceland offers the chance to make some pretty unforgettable family memories.

Iceland: A Group of Puffins
Puffins:  Image Credit

Have you ever visited this “Land of the Midnight Sun”?  What would you recommend we add to our Icelandic bucket list?

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