Iceland is so nice we went twice! There was a great deal on round trip tickets from Boston, so we both started and ended our Scandinavian adventure in this magnificent country. You can read about our first stop in Iceland here.
We gushed about our first experience here, and our second experience was even more magical – with clear skies we finally saw the mysterious Aurora Borealis! Our initial feelings held true – we still love this mystical island. There is a gentle pace of life here that you can’t help but fall in love with, and the people/rugged landscapes will leave you feeling enchanted.
The first time around, many visitors are shocked by the expensive daily costs of food, drinks, and fuel. Knowing this before you go can help you prepare – go to the local grocery store (Bonus was our favorite) and bring packed lunches with you, as well as refillable water bottles for the family.
Packing the correct clothing is also crucial to ensuring a fun trip – wet and cold children/adults are not happy! Rain and windproof clothing is essential, as well as layers – always wear layers! A good pair of boots will also serve you well in Iceland.
We have compiled a list of the three A’s: Accommodations, Adventures, and Appetite! If you have any questions about Iceland or our trip please shoot us an email!
We stayed at Hotel Laxnes in the Greater Reykjavik Area in Mosfellsbaer. There is an amazing view of Mount Esja you will enjoy waking up to every morning. This cozy hotel has 26 rooms, and you get to know the other guests at breakfast each morning (included in the cost!). We enjoyed the breakfast buffet here, a very good spread and delicious waffles!
We stayed in the family room and had a walk out balcony (perfect for seeing the Northern Lights!). The staff here is incredibly kind – due to wind we were stuck on the tarmac for 5 HOURS, not arriving at the hotel until past midnight. The amazing person working the bar waited for us to arrive, and had sandwiches for us (we are still so grateful for this!).
This hotel will forever be in our memory book, as it is where we saw the Northern Lights! After both girls were asleep one night we walked outside just hoping for a glimpse, and within minutes the Auroras had appeared. It was like magic, and we are so thankful to have seen them!
Perlan – We got tickets for Wonders of Iceland & Northern Lights Planetarium Show, and it was definitely worth it! The Planetarium show was our daughter’s favorite and she still talks about it. This the world-class museum has incredible architecture, amazing interactive exhibits, and stunning panoramic views of Reykjavík. We learned a lot visiting here, and it was a highlight of the trip.
Explore Reykjavik – The capital of Iceland, Reykjavik, isn’t a big city but there’s just something about downtown that draws you in. We walked around aimlessly for a while, popping in and out of shops, stopping for ice cream, and taking in the culture.
Hallgrímskirkja – At 74.5 metres high, it is the largest church in Iceland and among the tallest structures in the country. It is very beautiful, both inside and out, and there is an organ inside worth seeing. You can pay a fee to go to the top, which we did not do.
Grótta Lighthouse – A small lighthouse at the north-westernmost point of Reykjavik, and only accessible during low tide – this is a great place for bird watching and seeing the ocean’s great strength. The waves were huge when we visited, and it was very windy, making the light house seem more ominous.
Flytographer Photo Shoot – Have you ever wanted to have a professional photo shoot while traveling but aren’t sure where to start? We always have wanted to capture memories as a family, and usually would end up asking strangers for family photos – sometimes we would get a decent photo, sometimes not so much. We found Flytographer and could not have been happier with our stunning new family photos in Thingvellir Park Iceland. Ernir was great with the kids and a joy to work with. We highly recommend using this service on your travels – well worth it!
Blue Lagoon – Home to one of 25 wonders of the world, Blue Lagoon Iceland is a place where the powers of geothermal seawater create a spa worthy of visiting. Is it touristy? Yes – but well worth the visit. The water’s milky blue shade is due to its high silica content. They warn you ahead of time to put in conditioner (provided there) because the water will dry out your hair, and they are not kidding! Ladies (and gents) keep your hair out of the water! Children must be over the age of two, and children under the age of eight must wear floaties (which they provide). We stayed for 1.5 hours and had the BEST time here!
Brimketill – There are hidden geological gems all around Iceland and we are so happy to have stumbled upon this one! Great waves were rolling in and smashing against the rocks, throwing water at us and filling the air with the incredible sound of the ocean’s power. Here you can find hexagonal basalt columns; sea-arches and pillars, and towering lava formations. Apparently it is calm during the summer, but there was nothing calm about our time there. We could have watched the ocean’s wrath for hours, definitely a great place to stop!
Bridge Between Two Continents – Bridge between Europe and North America on Reykjanes Peninsula was built as a symbol for the connection between the two continents. We crossed the continental divide on Leif the Lucky’s Bridge – a fun place to stop!
Giganta in the Cave – You can visit Giganta in her cave, where she sits sleeping in her rocking chair. There is a bed, toothbrush, and dress all the size of a giant’s which is fun for the kiddos to see. If you are traveling with kids they will enjoy this stop, if not you can skip it. It is fun to see, and there are books about her.
Northern Lights – Check the forecast of cloud coverage at https://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/cloudcover/ and if it is clear – head out between 10pm – 2am. If you are lucky, the Auroras will make an appearance! It was cloudy our first trip to Iceland, and we had two clear nights the second time, which is when we were able to see the dancing lights!
Mímir Restaurant – Located in the Radisson Blu Saga Hotel, this restaurant will leave your taste buds speechless. Every single thing we had was off the charts – and the service was impeccable. They have a kids menu and the kitchen is open to the restaurant, allowing our kids to watch as they plated and cooked the food (huge win!). You can’t go wrong with anything you order here – everything is fresh and from the source. I don’t know that I will ever be able to eat salmon again because it was exceptional here, nothing else can compare! Thank you to the enthusiastic staff which made this a memorable last meal in Iceland!
Iceland Street Food – Located in downtown Reykjavik, this is an excellent place to stop and warm up with some delicious soup. With recipes from the owner’s grandmother – you are sure to leave full and happy (and maybe wanting a nap). You get free refills of the soup as many times as you want (except the shell fish soup – so order that one first). It is a great bargain in Iceland – we had four refills! Amazing coconut macaroons that are free were icing on the cake!
KFC – This was across from our hotel and it was a good option for comfort food for the little ones. Good food, huge play area inside! There are a surprising number of KFC’s around Iceland.
Eldur og Ís – Ice cream and crepes that are very tasty! Our girls wanted some ice cream and we found this gem in downtown Reykjavik.