Hildur, one of us owners, grew up only a few minutes away from Midgard Base Camp. Together with her husband Addi, she is raising two adventure-loving boys: Kristján, 10 years old and Markús, 7 years old. We asked her some questions about living with kids in the Icelandic countryside, but also what she would advise parents who are traveling with kids in Iceland.

Travelling with children in Iceland

Hildur, what is special about raising kids in the countryside of South Iceland?

It’s definitely unique how safe life is here; it’s a whole way of life. Kids are not just living in 4 walls of a house, they roam free, explore and create their own adventures – the freedom is what makes it special. Some people might say it’s more “boring” in the countryside as there are less activities that “keep you occupied”. But I highly disagree with this – it’s a place to be creative, to live the adventure. When I was a kid I could spend days outside with my friends jumping over the didges – nature was (and still is) just the best playground.
Also Icelanders are used to sticking together, there is a big community feel for the adults, but also for the kids. Age gaps don’t matter, you learn from the older kids and help take care of the younger ones.

Travelling with children in Iceland

A tricky question, I know, but are there any favorite places to go with kids?

It’s impossible to choose just one. I love off-the-beaten-path places like for example Thorsteinslundur, here around the corner (15 min drive from Midgard Base Camp). It has everything that Iceland has to offer, waterfalls, caves, and trees. A perfect place to spend hide and seek, go into the water, climb around the caves, a perfect place for a family adventure.

But I also like to take my kids into more remote places, like Þórsmörk (Thorsmork). Walk, explore unknown canyons, find secret troll/elf places and let the imagination run wild. My kids are active, they like some action and basically anything that is outdoor related: fishing, biking, camping – it’s what they grew up with, what they love, nature is their home.

But you don’t have to go completely into the wild when traveling with your kids. A visit to the Westman Islands is great for example: the boat ride to get there is part of the adventure, then take them on the rip safari, the swimming pool is great, the sealife museum is a must, even the volcano museum (Eldheimar) or just take them to the beach, walk around, climb, explore.

If you are visiting Reykjavík then I recommend Flyover Iceland – at least both my kids absolutely loved that place. And of course, wherever you are traveling make a visit to the local swimming pool a routine activity. That’s where we spend a lot of our time; the kids and also we love it and you will get to meet the locals.

Travelling with children in Iceland

Winter or summer? How does daylight affect traveling with kids?

Both are wonderful seasons. But something to be aware of is that during summer, the season of endless daylight, kids might not always get the rest they need. Even for Icelanders it is sometimes tricky to put kids to sleep when the sun is still shining. Icelandic parents might be a bit less structured or give a bit more freedom to their kids, so you will see kids still playing outside when in other parts of the world, they would probably be at home asleep.

Winter is the opposite, but the day doesn’t need to end with the sunset – we do like our winter adventures: we go out on walks with headlamps, even go sledding in the dark, look at the stars, enjoy the northern lights together and of course spend two to three hours in the local swimming pool or in our hot tub at home.

No matter if it’s summer or winter, our family loves kózy kvöld (“cozy evenings”): usually it involves candlelight, bedsheets on the sofa, ice cream and bingó kúlur sauce and the whole family watching a kids movie together. And if we are not at home, then a kózý kvöld could also be everyone snuggled up in a tent and playing card games together. Spending time together is the key!

Traveling with kids in Iceland - tips and insights

What to pack when traveling with kids through Iceland?

It’s quite easy, all you need is: food and clothes! When it comes to clothing, it’s the same principle as for the adults – the magic word here is: layers! Weather changes quickly and often, so you need to be prepared for all sorts of weather, even when going for a short hike. Food is crucial too – when traveling in the highlands or to more remote areas there are not many places to buy food and no mountain huts, so come prepared with some snacks to keep the family energy level up!

Travelling with children in Iceland

If you would have 4 days to spend with your family in Hvolsvöllur, how would you spend the time?

Day 1: One day needs to be a proper outdoor day. Markús’ favorite place is Þórsmörk (definitely also one of our favorite destinations too). We would spend the day outside, discover some canyons, hike, climb, walk around, be in the moment and just explore and play with them. If not in Thórsmörk, we would probably take them to closer places like Stóri Dímon, Efra-Hvolshellar, Tumastaðir, Gluggafoss, etc.

Day 2: Westman Islands: as mentioned before, there are endless possibilities over there, especially if the weather is good this place is a family paradise.

Day 3: A bit of a slow, local day. Both my kids love the Lava Centre here in town. After a visit, check-out one of the many playgrounds in town, the trampoline in downtown and of course go to the local swimming pool. And well, it’s a rule that after the swimming pool, you should go and buy some Ice Cream!

Day 4: The main sights of the South Coast are interesting and especially fun for the kids too. My kids love to walk behind Seljalandsfoss, get a wet spray shower at Skógafoss and then go for a Blackcrust Pizza in Vík and have a hot chocolate at Skool Bean’s Bus before driving back home to Hvolsvöllur

Traveling with kids in Iceland - tips and insights

What to avoid when traveling with kids?

1. Don’t drive too long distances. Kids are the best teachers of slow traveling, a concept that we love in Iceland. Kids see nature differently than adults, so it’s important to slow down and go their speed – allow them to explore, discover or even just pick berries for your afternoon skyr snack. Afterall, it’s a vacation, so no one in the family should feel rushed!

2. Be flexible and don’t have only predefined plans. Being in a rush, speeding from one spot to another, just for the picture is tiring for adults but even more so for kids. So leave some space in your itinerary for things that don’t go to plan, some time to relax, chill, take a nap or play. Even make a plan or a schedule with some time of no activities – time where kids can lead and can do what they want to do.

3. Make sure you have enough food! Maybe it’s only my family that gets hangry – but however your family works, it definitely doesn’t hurt to have enough snacks with you when taking a roadtrip or hiking through our beautiful backyard.

Travelling with children in Iceland

Which tour with Midgard Adventure would you recommend for families with children?

I would always recommend Þórsmörk Super Jeep Day Tour for families with children. As I mentioned before this is one of our favorite destinations to take take the kids to. Þórsmörk is a mountain reserve and it has endless places to discover. Mountains, rivers, caves, canyons and waterfalls. There are many stops on the way into Þórsmörk so the children don’t become restless in the car. There is something so special about Þórsmörk which is hard to put into words. It’s a place we go to for adventure, to allow our kids to explore, to relax, discover and breath in fresh mountain air. We just love Þórsmörk – it has a special place in our hearts. That goes for many Icelanders.

Where would you stay when traveling with kids in South Iceland?

Kids love staying at Midgard Base Camp and there is a reason for that. From the beginning we knew we wanted to create a place where families with kids are welcome. When I travel I find it really hard when I feel that my children are somehow in the way. So we have created an atmosphere where kids can take up space, we have toys, we have indoor swings and board games. We are located on the outskirst of town. Behind Midgard is a field with horses. Hvolsvöllur also has a lot of fun stuff for children like the Lava Centre, the swimming pool, Valdís Ice Cream store, an “ærslabelgur” which is a built-in bouncing bubbles, nice playgrounds and just endless nature all around. So for me this is the ideal location for families with children when exploring South Iceland and as a base when going into the highlands.

Travelling with young children in Iceland
Thorsmork Þórsmörk Iceland Super Jeep
Midgard family Iceland Tour operator and travel agency