Why do the 2 Idiots recommend Iceland?
Let us begin by saying that Natasha will be the first one to tell you that she is not into nature—she is a city girl through and through. But even in light of that admission, she will also be quick to inform you that Iceland is the single most beautiful country she has ever seen. It is true that we believe that the country used to be a bit of a “Hidden Gem” and wasn’t on the radar of many tourists. However, the influx of people to the country has not stifled its mystique—and if anything, the outside interest has allowed the country to become tourist friendly. It truly welcomes explorers like us—and like you. Its scenic, remote beauty is easily accessible, even with a child in tow. If we were to make a list of our top 3 scenic spots in the world, Iceland would be at the top—even before a heralded spot like Patagonia.
Creating an Ideal Itinerary
Iceland’s itinerary is a bit different when compared to some of the other places we have visited in that, for instance, in a place like Lima, you could potentially only visit for a day and still see plenty. Personally speaking, we recommend traveling to Iceland for at least 3 days—but here is some information that can help you get started!
- Go to the Hallgrímskirkja
- Sculpture garden of Einar Jonsson
- Explore the city and markets
- Visit the Grotta lighthouse around sunset
- Explore the nightlife and bars
Add: Golden Circle
(Arrival or Departure Day) Add: Blue Lagoon
We flew WOW Air to Iceland. It is an Icelandic company, so you could potentially connect through Europe on WOW Air and make a stop in Iceland, which you will land in regardless of where your next stop happens to be. WOW Air is a cheaper airline, and you will pay for some baggage fees, but in our eyes, it is worth it.
Day 1: Explore Reykjavik
- Reykjavik is the largest city in Iceland and the country’s capitol. Know that the entire population of Iceland is only 350,000 people—and the country welcomes over two million visitors from across the globe every year! With that being said, tourism is obviously a big money maker for Iceland, and there are a variety of places to stay.
- We personally decided to take advantage of Airbnb, and were able to secure a great two bedroom apartment in Reykjavik that was within walking distance of downtown and many sights.
- First visit Hallgrímskirkja, which is an iconic church in town around 9:30am. We would say it’s better on the outside than on the inside, which is a bit plain. There is an elevator to go up on the top of the building. We didn’t do this, but would recommend that you do and steal a glimpse of an excellent view of the city.
- Next, go to the Sculpture Garden of Einar Jonsson at 11am, which is close to the church. You can walk here easily and know that everything is easy to navigate with a stroller. The Garden itself was quite spectacular and has a bunch of amazing pieces to view. The detail was incredible—it was crazy to think that someone had made these by hand. Spend about an hour here and then go have lunch.
- After lunch, spend 2-3 hours exploring the city. Reykjavik has a very European feel to it—and we recommend venturing into the markets and taking a look in some of the stores that are Icelandic-owned and operated.
- Let’s assume that at this point it’s about 4:30pm or so. After you are done exploring the markets, take a break in a café, and have a drink.
- Now, if it’s not Culture Fest (which happens during a few days in August every year), we recommend going to the Grotta lighthouse and arriving by 5:30pm. The reason we give the disclaimer about Culture Fest is because it is very crowded, and there are road closings and blockages. So, ultimately, we were faced with having to prove where we were staying in order to gain access to certain roads. Just be mindful of that.
- The Grotta lighthouse is really amazing—but it’s very windy and cold because it’s right on the water. Make sure you have your cold weather gear with you. You will be able to drive up to a parking lot and from there you will have a 15-minute walk/hike to the lighthouse—and this is not stroller friendly. Once you get to the lighthouse, know that you cannot go up in the building, but you have the chance to get some fantastic pictures and take in some amazing views. Try to finish up here by 7pm so you can go get dinner.
- After dinner, go explore Reykjavik’s nightlife and bars. Everything is very lively and there is so much to do. Now, a disclaimer. We had Aarav with us in a stroller, so we weren’t able to go inside the bars—but we did stand outside and have some drinks. We discovered that the people were incredibly friendly, and it was easy to listen to the live music happening outside a lot of the places.
Day 2: Visit the Golden Circle
- We have already written and discussed our time exploring the Golden Circle at length. It is an incredible drive that encompasses some areas that feature geothermal activity as well as waterfalls. Check out our post by clicking here and learn why the Golden Circle is a must see on your visit to Iceland.
Day 3-4: Travel to Vik and Stay Overnight
- We have also written about our adventure to Vik. This drive will allow you to get out of Reykjavik and explore the country side, and see some amazing waterfalls and glaciers, amongst other sites. You can find out what we have to say about it and what we recommend doing by clicking here.
A Trip Add On: Visit the Blue Lagoon
- Visiting the Blue Lagoon is a stop you can make either when you first arrive in Iceland or when you are getting ready to depart as it is on the way to or from the airport.
- We recommend booking your tickets to the Blue Lagoon in advance, so you can plan your visit accordingly (in case you are about to depart from Iceland). If you are on your way out of the country, you will want to spend 3-4 hours here before departing for the airport so you can make your flight on time.
- The Blue Lagoon is a resort that is built around a hot spring—and Iceland is known for this because of the sheer amount of geothermal activity that occurs here. Yes, the hot water does smell like Sulphur, but that’s okay. The water itself is so incredibly blue, you simply have to see it.
- You do have the opportunity to stay the night here as there is a hotel; however, keep in mind this is a tourist machine. You have a number and stand in line and there is a process to go through before you can get in the hot springs.
- The hot spring is child friendly and we treated it like a pool. The water is also not super hot, so it is not dangerous to your kids.
- They provide you with a facemask to clean the pores of your face—use it.
- We were told by some locals that the Blue Lagoon is truly only meant for tourists and that if you want to get a more authentic experience, there are other hot spring locations you can seek out and visit.
- Frankly, we were a bit torn about the Blue Lagoon. It is a nice tourist spot and fun to visit once, but we wouldn’t go back if we went to Iceland again. We could get a more authentic experience at a local hot spring.
- Carry your travel stroller and travel car seat with you—make sure it’s in your rental car at all times. These items will come in handy.
- Make sure you carry food and snacks with you. Dining times are really unpredictable in Iceland (most places close by 8:30pm)
- Visiting Iceland in the summer is ideal—otherwise it can be overly cold and not easy to explore with a child.
- Icelandic wind can be very harsh. Make sure you carry windbreakers, gloves, and hats with you for you and your child.
- Bring the puddle jumper so your child can swim in whatever hot springs you decide to visit.
- We visited Iceland in August—and it just so happened that Culture Fest was happening in Reykjavik. This was spectacular, we highly recommend attending if you can get there during this time. Additionally, by going to Iceland this time of year, we lucked out with the weather. We experienced sunny, beautiful days with temperatures in the 50s—and the days were very long.
- Icelandic people eat at very strict times, in our opinion. Breakfast is pretty typical, but you could possibly run into a problem if you don’t plan dinner accordingly. We found that dinner service would end very early—much earlier when compared to a place like Spain or Peru, where people tended to eat very late. An example for you: We were at the airport and they had stopped serving lunch at 3 pm. The airport was small, and we then had very limited options, so make sure you plan accordingly (and travel with snacks). You don’t want to go hungry.
- Reykjavik is a very expensive city, and if you are traveling on a budget you must keep this in mind. It is not unusual to pay $6 for a cup of coffee or $30 for an entrée that would cost a third of that in the States. And parents, be careful, we literally ended up buying the most expensive balloon in the entire world for Aarav. Yes, it’s true, we forked over $10 for a balloon at a fair.
- Grocery stores tend to be a bit expensive as well. We recommend you visit Bonus. Stocking up on some essentials here can help save money on food and dining out.
- People generally speak good English in Iceland, so there is no language barrier.
- Rent a car (an SUV is ideal) for your stay. The roads are easy to drive on and if you have an SUV you will be able to access certain areas that would be harder or off limits to a car.
- The lines are long at the Blue Lagoon, and the tickets are expensive as they are based on resort pricing. If you are looking to save money, skip the Blue Lagoon and visit a local hot spring.