Iceland with a Toddler: A Guide to the Perfect Vacation!

small boy toddler walks in a green field with mist on the horizon

From throwing pebbles in giant waterfall pools to floating on a lake of icebergs, Iceland is an amazing place to take toddlers.  While the idea of planning a trip to Iceland can be overwhelming, traveling to Iceland with a toddler can be surprisingly easy.  After a 14 day adventure with our one year old, here are our family’s tips and tricks to planning the best possible trip to Iceland with a toddler.  

Is Iceland Toddler Friendly?

Absolutely!  Iceland is very kid-friendly.  Not only is Iceland one of the safest countries in the world, but the people are kind and helpful.  Pretty much everyone speaks English, which makes traveling with kids low stress. 

Many outdoor sites are easily accessible with children, and museums and wildlife will help engage and keep toddlers interested.

Restaurants and hotels are also child friendly.  We couldn’t believe how many had toys and play areas dedicated to kids. Almost all restaurants had children’s menus and high chairs available.

toddler on his father's shoulders on a small bridge in Thingvellir National Park in Iceland

When to Go to Iceland with a Toddler?

Summer months (June to August) are the best time to visit Iceland as the weather is mild and days are long.  We went the end of August into September which allowed us to catch the Northern Lights.  We found the weather good at that time. Most days we wore jackets, but we weren’t ever uncomfortable.

The winter months can be challenging due to the cold weather and the short days.  Some families have a great time during the winter, but it takes more preparation.

View of the Ring Road in Iceland

Getting Around Iceland with a Toddler

We found the best way to take a family trip around Iceland with a toddler was to rent a car.  The roads are quite easy to navigate, and its the best way to really see Iceland.

We did a road trip, and took 2 weeks to travel the Ring Road, spending some extra time to see the Western Fjords and Snaefellsness Penninsula.  It could definitely have been done faster, but with a toddler we found it best to go at a slow pace.  

Toddler hiking in Thingvellir National Park in Iceland

When planning our trip to Iceland with a toddler, we scheduled 3 hours of driving a day.  This allowed us to do an activity in the day, have a long nap in the car, and then do a second activity in the evening.  The long days of sunlight allowed us to adventure further into the evening than we normally would, and that worked out with our toddler’s schedule.

By doing this, we got the benefit of a sleeping toddler during our driving time, while still planning times where he could burn some energy.

View of the Ring Road in Iceland

Pro Tip:  Prioritize your vehicle.

You will spend a lot of time in it. I would recommend getting 4WD. The Ring Road is easy to drive on, but if you want to get off and explore, the roads can get hairy.

Also consider springing for the heated seats! We rented a car from Cars Iceland which was convenient, and we were able to rent a car seat for the baby which ended up being Britax and very comfortable and safe.

Iceland with a Toddler: Packing Essentials

When packing for an Iceland trip with toddlers, be sure to pack layers.  The weather in Iceland can sometimes vary within a single day.

We made sure we all had a long sleeve base layer, vest, fleece and a shell jacket.  We were constantly switching between all of it.

Mother and toddler bundled up at a waterfall in Iceland

We splurged on a nice North Face Triclimate Jacket for our toddler. It was perfect for Iceland because it had a zip-in fleece, and an outer shell that separated, so we could layer up for rain, but just use the fleece when it was warmer. Click here to check the jacket out on Amazon.

The other thing we were grateful we had was rain pants.  I didn’t even know they existed before this trip, but there were a couple of days I was really glad we had them.

Toddler dressed In winter clothes in front of a glacial lake in Iceland

Bring good traction waterproofed hiking shoes for everyone in the family. Keen Footwear makes great kid shoes that can stand up to the elements. We bought Keen Kootenay waterproof boots for our son for Iceland. We were grateful for them, as he dipped his toes in quite a few waterfalls! Click here to check out the Keen Website and receive 30% off and free standard shipping with coupon code: FRIEND30

If you plan to road trip, invest in a portable crib. We are giant fans of the Lotus Travel Crib by Guava.  It folds into a backpack, and is super easy to take transport.  If you are staying in multiple places in Iceland, it saves you having to call each location to confirm the availability of a crib. Click here to learn more about the Lotus Travel Crib on Amazon.

While there are lots of places that your toddler can explore in Iceland, there are some that really aren’t safe. If you visit geothermal landscapes or some of the bigger waterfalls, you will want your child strapped in and close to you. Consider a good baby carrier.  We loved our Osprey toddler carrier backpack, and felt it was comfortable for hiking, and allowed our son to be up and see.  Click here to learn more about the Osprey Poco child carrier.

Don’t bother packing food, snacks, or diapers.  Iceland grocery stores are easy to navigate, and kid food isn’t hard to find. Your toddlers will be happy to munch down on the snacks available there.  Remember, kids live everywhere!

Iceland with a Toddler: Where to Stay

From hotels to Airbnbs, there lots of options in Iceland. It depends what you are looking for. We tried a little bit of everything during our 2 week Ring Road trip, and ultimately most of our favorite places were hotels due to convenience. However, hotels are definitely more expensive because we had to dine out, and you do get less space to spread out with a toddler.

Pro Tip:  Don’t stay in guest houses with toddlers.  

Guesthouses are essentially hostels, and often have thin walls and shared bathrooms.  We stayed in a couple, and while some are very nice, we felt like we were working hard in the evenings to keep our child quiet.   Also the concept of bathing the baby in a shared bathroom seemed nearly impossible. We had much better experiences in airbnb rentals, cottages, and hotels when traveling in Iceland with a toddler.  

This is a list of some of our favorite places that we stayed along the Ring Road that are toddler friendly!

Hotel Selid

Red hotel in the middle of a grass field, Hotel Selid in Iceland

From the moment we drove up the driveway, we knew Hotel Selid was special. After a long day traveling the Golden Circle, we were escorted to a room with a view of mist covered mountains. In the Hotel Selid cozy dining room, we enjoyed lamb curry and a bottle of red wine. Our toddler was welcomed with smiles and kind words. The surrounding property was perfect for our toddler who could run as far as his eyes could take him. Hotel Selid was magical, and I wish we had stayed longer.

FossHotel Eastfjords

Window with a fjord view at Fosshotel in Iceland

Fosshotel Eastfjords is located in the East Fjords, and is the perfect place to stay with toddlers if traveling the Ring Road. The views from the dock and the restaurant are incredible. Fosshotel Eastfjords is upscale, but the staff is friendly and welcoming of children. There is a really cute kid friendly museum connected to the reception area which our son really enjoyed.

Reykjavik Marina Hotel

Reykjavik Marina was the first place we stayed after landing in Iceland and it set our trip off to the perfect start. Its in a great location on the marina, and has colorful unique decor that draws children in. Rooms were not huge, but comfortable enough to set up a crib. Food and drinks were great. We would go back to Reykjavik Marina in a heartbeat if in Iceland.

Kaldbaks-kot Cottages

The Kaldbaks-kot Cottages in Husavik were one of our most memorable stays on our road trip around Iceland. The stargazing was the best that we had, and the property was fun to explore with our little guy. He even found a swing on one of the paths. Kaldbaks-kot Cottages are described as “no frills” but they are pretty nice, with a small kitchenette, heat, and warm water. We thought this was a great little set up for small families, and we were happy we stayed in Husavik which has some great kid attractions like the Husavik Whale Museum.

Iceland with a Toddler: Eating

One thing that was pretty shocking to us was how expensive Iceland was, particularly food.  

Our first cup of coffee from the gas station cost $5.00, and wine was routinely upwards of $13-15 a glass.  This was before inflation!

Big bowl of Icelandic mussels with a glass of white wine

Some of the costs can be avoided by cooking your own meals, or sticking to world famous Iceland gas station hot dogs.

However, I encourage you to spend a couple of meals dining out.  Part of the reason things are so expensive in Iceland is many things, particularly protein, are fresh and farm to table.  When we did dine out, food was incredible.  

Many restaurants are casual and toddler friendly, with high chairs and child play areas.  I definitely recommend budgeting some table service meals when visiting Iceland. 

Vogafjos Restaurant

Two calves grazing on hay in a barn in Iceland

I think if you splurge on one meal in Iceland with your toddler, this should be the one. The Vogafjos restaurant brings the farm right to the table with windows from the dining room directly looking into the barn where the cows are kept. The food at Vogafjos was amazing, and after our meal, our son had a blast feeding the cows and calves in the barn, which is open to all visitors.

Things to do in Iceland with a Toddler

When traveling in Iceland with a toddler, we recommend getting out of Reykjavik as soon as possible. Its not that Reykjavik isn’t a great capital city, but the real beauty of Iceland is its incredible landscapes.

Here’s our list of must see attractions that are toddler friendly in Iceland:

Golden Circle

Gulfoss waterfall in Iceland

One of the most famous attractions in Iceland, the Golden Circle is a 300 km loop from Reykjavik that is a great day adventure with toddlers. The stops include Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir hot springs area, and the majestic Gullfoss waterfall. The stops have restrooms, cafes, and gift shops, making it easy for families to navigate.

Read more about visiting the Golden Circle with Kids here!

Skogafoss Waterfall

Toddler and his father at the bottom of Skogafoss waterfall

Skogafoss is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland to visit with a toddler. The walkways lead right up to the falls. It is safe and easy to visit with kids, and it is absolutely breathtaking!

Thinking about a tour? This toddler friendly tour gets great reviews, and will take you from Reykjavik to visit both Skogafoss and take a boat tour on the Jokulsarlon Ice Lagoon. Click here to check availability.

Skogar Museum

Toddler and his father looking into an Icelandic turf house

Skogar cultural museum is right next to Skogafoss, and a great spot to take toddlers. The Skogar cultural museum has a collection of vintage firetrucks and construction equipment which little ones will love. It also has an outdoor museum with Icelandic homes from different time periods that families can explore.

Black Sand Beach of Reynisfjara

Toddler walking on black sand beach in Iceland

The Reynisfjara black sand beach is a must see on your trip to Iceland with a toddler. Toddlers will love sinking their feet into the volcanic rock pebbles of the beach, and they will be fascinated by the unusual landscape.

Jokulsarlon Boat Tour

Toddler and his father on boat on glacial lagoon

Some folks don’t know that the Jokulsarlon amphibian boat tour has no age cut off! The glacial lagoon is otherworldly, and can’t be missed on a visit to Iceland. Your toddler will love it just as much as you do!

If you are considering a tour, this company is toddler friendly, and can take you from Reykjavik down the Ring Road to see multiple. ites. The toor includes a boat ride on the glacier lagoon! Click here to check availability.

Dimmuborgir Lava Fields

Toddler hiking in lava field in Iceland

The Dimmuborgir Lava Fields are a fun place to explore and do some easy hiking with a toddler. We chose the Church path which took us about 2 hours, and our son loved exploring the unusual lava formations imagining “troll houses” and “dragon lairs” along the way.

Husavik Whale Museum

Toddler reading at the Husavik Whale Museum in Iceland

If you find yourself in Husavik, be sure to stop at the Husavik Whale Museum. While small, the whale museum is very well done with beautiful skeleton replicas and several interesting exhibits about whaling in Iceland. They also had a dedicated toddler room with toys and books. Our son didn’t want to leave!

Viking World

Toddler coloring with toys

Conveniently only 10 minutes from the Keflavik airport, the Viking World great stop if you have some time before your flight departs. Toddlers will love the giant viking ship at Viking World, as well as colorful dioramas depicting Nordic mythology. They also have a cafe and a children’s play area, so this was a great spot to kill some time prior to boarding your flight.

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4 thoughts on “Iceland with a Toddler: A Guide to the Perfect Vacation!”

  1. Wonderful to see a toddler in Iceland! I really liked your idea of keeping a suitcase in the car and switching as you go, that can make moving every so often a much more pleasant experience.
    We’ve been bold enough to travel with one and then two and I’ve found the Scandinavian side to be the most toddler friendly
    You might want to put that on your list 🙂 Happy Travels!

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