Iceland Stories and Tips

Iceland Tips and Hints for Families

* Iceland is a great place to bring children on holiday - we saw families there from many different countries with children of all ages. Like most Nordic countries, children are very well catered for here. Lots of attractions have free entry for children below a certain age, most places offer significant reductions. Many museums we found often had really good play areas and activities laid on for children.

* There are lots of playgrounds scattered around Reykjavik, so plenty of places for children to let off a bit of steam in between all the sight seeing. There were always Icelandic children playing in them when we visited. Apparently Icelandic children are expected to spend a couple of hours playing out of doors every day, no matter what the weather is like.

* Find out about the Icelandic belief in elves before you visit the country. There are lots of websites and lots of stories which really capture children's imaginations. Apparently many Icelandic people used to (some still do) believe in a hidden world inhabited by elves and other such things. The lava landscape really does lend itself well to these stories. Many of the rock formations are said to be trolls, turned into stone for doing bad things.

* It is fun while walking around the city to look for the wooden elf houses in lots of the Icelandic gardens. A visit to Hafnarfjordur is also a good idea for children. This is the "elf capital" of Iceland. They think most elves live here because lines of mystical energy converge here. In this town, and many other places, they will not build a house or make a road until it has been established that there are no elves living there. Our 9 year old was fascinated and enthralled by all these stories.

* Do not forget to pack your swimming costumes and take the children swimming, whatever the weather is like - even if there is a snowstorm. The wonderful pools and hot spring baths are such great fun. The water is warm/hot and everything is so clean and family friendly. The changing rooms are great and every town and village has its own pool. Reykjavik has lots of pools, but the most fun outdoor pool for children is at Laugar. It is very cheap to get in, they have a slide and lots of inflatable pool toys and it seemed to be tourist free but somewhere local families came to relax.

* Be sure to bring the right kinds of clothing. Layering, we found, was the absolute key. Our son really did feel the cold, so had to wear several layers on the really chilly days. The weather is so changeable as well, children in particular need to be able to shed the layers if the sun comes out and they are running around. We found our waterproof, wind-tight jackets to be invaluable. You really also need walking boots that are well broken in, sunscreen and sunglasses, a woolly hat and sweaters.

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