Last month we embarked on a 10 day trip to Iceland. It was a pretty spontaneous trip, I mean as spontaneous as a trip can be with 2 small kids in tow. The opportunity to house swap came up a few months before and we just thought 'WHY NOT?'. Iceland is somewhere we've always wanted to go, the family who were looking to house swap seemed great, and that was that. Off to Iceland we went!
With 10 days we knew that we could cover quite a bit of the country, and knowing that this is probably a one off trip and that we won't be returning soon, we decided to do everything we could sanely fit in. That sane part is important when travelling with kids. I researched and planned and read and pinned like a beast.
We decided to split the trip into sections:
- Part 1- Reykjavik
- Part 2 - Road trip with overnight camping
- Part 3 - Golden Circle.
First up, Rekjavik!
The home we stayed in was centrally located, and everything was in walking distance. We hired a car for 5 days of our trip, but the first and last few days when were staying in the city we walked everywhere or got the bus. The city is pretty flat, compact and super easy to get around.
I thought I'd just list some of our favourite places in the city (kids or no kids), most of which are here on my Pinterest board.
Places to visit:
Harpa. Easily my favourite spot in the city and the kids loved it too. It's a concert hall on the harbour, but a ridiculously beautiful one. It's all glass and shadow and light and pattern and nooks to get lost in. There is a restaurant here but we just made a picnic one day and stopped there to eat. It seems like a pretty social place; there was a parent and baby group there one day, someone on their lunch with a sketch pad, tourists like us gazing at everything.
Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach. This is a really cool place. A man made beach about 20 minutes from the harbour (easily to get to on the bus). I think we were the only tourists there - it's definitely a local thing. The beach is super clean with a small play area, a little lagoon to splash and swim in (with a smaller inner pool that's a little warmer0 and a properly hot long tub which is a MUST. There's a cafe and music and the whole thing on a hot sunny day had a great beach party vibe. GO!
Hallgrímskirkja Church. This church looks out over the city, giving the most beautiful view of Reykjavik. It's an amazing building, completely different from any church I've ever been to. Our 5 year old loved looking around it and climbing to the top, so a winner all round.
The Harbour. There is loads going on at the Harbour. If you want to do any boat rides/tours (we did a short puffin watching ride that was great for our kids as lots to see in a short space of time, and PUFFINS!) then go here. There are also some great food places, a cinema, museum and the big metal sculture which is a good place to sit whilst the kids clamber.
Places to Eat:
We didn't eat out much because ££££, self catering FTW! But if you have more money in your budget for it there are loads of great guides online. As general rule I'd say that prices are similar to fancy London, without the cheap option. That's basically the deal here, there isn't really a cheap option bar the hotdog stands which are awesome, and I don't generally love hotdog,) and Noodle Station which we didn't get round to trying but were recommended to us. Places we did eat:
The Laundromat Cafe which had excellent food, with an amazing play space downstairs for kids. If you have no kids still go because it's a cool place to hag out.
Walk The Plank is a little food truck in the harbour selling crab sliders. Super delicious and perfect before or after going out on a boat tour.
Islenski Barinn (Icelandc Bar) I loved my food here. I had some amazing herring in a jar (jars are their thing) and a Missing Dog - basically a lobster roll. Really great for fish (fermented or otherwise) and a good beer.
Notes on a house swap:
For anyone thinking about house swapping, I whole heartedly reccomend it. Our experience was fantastic and we completely lucked out with the family and their home. We emailed back and forth for a month or two and became friends on facebook (this helps build the trust, weirdly) so I felt as comfortable. It should be noted that not leaving your house in state (which is usually what happens here when getting ready for a holiday) was definitely the hardest part.Although the bonus was coming home to a lovely clean house, so silver lining!
Reykjavik is a super cool, chilled out city. It's very family friendly, there is plenty to see and do and it's incredibly beautiful. If you ever get the chance, go!
(parts 2 & 3 to come....eventually.)